Understanding the three basic uses of cabinetry will go a long way toward simplifying the process of choosing the right custom in cabinet lights. In the most broad and general terms, cabinets are either functional, decorative, or a synthesis of function and display. Lighting in a cabinet should support its general function and compliment its form without visual distraction or physical obstruction. Display lighting in cabinets must also create an additional, decorative appeal that enhances contents as well as interior space. It is necessary to have these basics fixed firmly in mind before trying to make any decisions on what to purchase for your kitchen, bathroom, or antique collectibles, or retail showcase display lighting.
In cabinet lights come in two main varieties: puck and linear strips. Both offer unique strengths and advantages specific to where they are installed and how they are intended for use. Failure to understand the innate strengths that both types of in cabinet lighting offer amounts to 90% of the frustration many people feel once they begin shopping online and become quickly overwhelmed by what appears to be an endless array of confusing and contradictory information and sales hype. It’s really not all that hard when you break down the basic attributes that each of these two fixture types possess.
- A puck light mounts in the center of the cabinet’s upper top space and shines illumination downward in a widening circular spread.
- A linear strip light mounts either along the back vertical top or bottom wall space, or as in the case of a Phantom strip, along the top-front, horizontal cabinet strut. VM Series Linear strip lights in cabinets cascade a gentler and even wash of light than the kind produced by puck lights.
Linear strips are ideal for all LED cabinet lighting applications with the exception of those with mirrored back panels. They also provide very good task lighting in kitchen cabinets above eye level where the wiring and fixture of puck lights will more than likely appear unsightly to visitors who open cabinet doors.
Knowing these basic facts helps determine in advance what will work best for a particular purpose, environment, and task. The following examples constitute general guidelines recommended by our Lighting Agents as helpful points to consider when choosing between fixture types.
Over the Counter Kitchen Cabinets:
Low voltage lighting strip lights are better here for the reasons already mentioned above. A puck light in a kitchen cabinet will be clearly visible to anyone who opens the cabinet. Both the fixture and the more intense concentration of light (along with visible wiring) will also tend to work against the decorative design elements of today’s larger, more hospitality oriented kitchens.
Under counter cabinets:
On the other hand, the opposite is often true with larger kitchen cabinets near the floor where pots and pans are stored. Puck lights in these cabinets remain hidden from normal view, and the more intense output they produce makes it easier to find utensils and cookware more quickly. As a task lighting source, fluorescent under cabinet lighting are often used in this application.
Fine Antique and Curio Cabinets:
Without a doubt, linear strip lights in or under cabinets are almost universally superior to puck lights when decorative appeal is the foremost consideration. Linear in cabinet lighting strips like the ones we manufacture at Phantom are designed to hide themselves along horizontal (TM Series) or vertical (VM Series) shelf edges. This allows the viewer to better see lighted contents without noticing the fixtures.
Retail Display Cabinets:
Sporting good stores often display guns in cabinets with a red back plane and a glass door that keeps weapons safe under lock and key. Similar cases are also used to display expensive diamonds and gemstones. Cabinet lights in these environments need to be as sophisticated and as low profile as possible to not only showcase the value of expensive merchandise, but to also emphasize higher price points with a truly complimentary, luxury lighting fixture using LED lamps.
Again, linear strips with LED or low voltage xenon lamps accomplish this very effectively. They can be combined with low voltage lighting strips that minimize power cost without diminishing impeccable presentation. Phantom in cabinet light strips combine sophisticated decorum with practical energy efficiency, complimentary installation consulting, and user-friendly adjustment features found nowhere else in the world.