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Undercounter lighting is necessary to both the aesthetics and overall functionality of kitchen design and workflow. Dark spots under cabinets make it hard to see colors and work with tools. Food preparation is difficult (and sometimes a bit unsafe) if you do not have an adequate source of glare-free light to work with. It is also more difficult if the light is unevenly distributed or brighter in some places than in others.

Fluorescent under cabinet lights have long been used for undercounter lighting sources for many reasons. Originally developed as energy efficient task lights, fluorescents could operate for long hours with lower energy cost and less frequent lamp replacements. It made sense to then adapt these same sources to indoor task lighting applications like under undercounter kitchen lighting. In some ways, they are ideal for this task—provided the lighting is uniform and aesthetic outcome is not the highest priority.

Fluorescent undercounter kitchen lights are segmented fixtures that mount in series underneath the rear of the cabinet. Depending on type and origin of manufacture, these segments vary in length. Ideally, these segments can be lined from side to side, end to end, and evenly distribute light across the countertop.

Fluorescent undercounter lighting can work very well in such a setting if the counter features a matte finish that reflects virtually no light, and provided that the fixtures can completely line the posterior undersurface of the cabinet. You will encounter problems, however, if you are looking to build a custom home with more sophisticated cabinetry and countertop design.

Custom cabinets vary and cabinet light solutions cut to standard lengths cannot precisely match their horizontal surface. A series of fluorescent fixtures can still be installed here, but there will be gaps on one end or both due to the fact that standard lengths, even when combined, may not precisely match horizontal measurements. You will see an immediate, noticeable deterioration in the quality of undercounter lighting. Dark spots will appear under the sides of your cabinet due to the lack of lighting uniformity.

The problem becomes more compounded if you are planning to install a granite or marble countertop. Because these surfaces are so reflective, glare becomes just as much of an enemy as shadow. Fluorescent undercounter lights installed at the back of the cabinet will not work here because they will shine light forward across the counter which will then reflect up into the eyes.

For these situations, LED undercounter lighting with linear strips is much more effective than fluorescent lighting. Because they mount to the forward undersurface of the cabinet, they direct light backward away from the eyes and provide a higher quality aesthetic. Custom made strips are to be preferred above standard-sized linear strips because they can be manufactured to fit the exact horizontal dimensions of the cabinet. Glare shields should also be present, with options in light distribution angles offered by the manufacturer as well. Lights should also fitted with dimmers so homeowners can adjust countertop lighting to match general room lighting levels. Furthermore, multiple lamp options should be made available to the builder who needs freedom of choice in selecting light source and color temperature.

To meet all of these requirements, Phantom Lighting engineered the TM series linear task light for kitchen cabinet lighting. The TM strip light can be fitted with your choice of incandescent, xenon, or LED festoon lamps. This series comes in 5 available trims, each one having a specific light distribution angle that allows you to precisely match beam spread in kitchen cabinet lighting applications. TM linear strips are 100 percent dimmable, so homeowners can easily and instantly adjust light levels. Each strip is also glare shielded to minimize spill light and direct the majority of luminance away from the eyes into the back splash.

We have further developed our technology with the patenting a new LED festoon lamps that can closely imitate the color rendering and luminance output of xenon—at only 60 percent of the power consumption. Furthermore, heat sinks built into our festoons make it a cool-operating light source that can be left on for long periods of time without measurable heat buildup.

You can order Phantom LED festoons in the warm color temperature of 2800K, the slightly cooler 2950K, and the cool color 5000K. You can also order incandescent and xenon lamps in the same color temperatures for special, luxury under counter lighting applications. If this is your decision, we recommend you use dimmer controls to minimize heat and power consumption, which will also help keep temperature down and maximize lamp life.

We manufacture cabinet lighting fixtures in our Houston, Texas facility. A network of nationwide lighting supply sales representatives fans out throughout all 50 states into cities like Scottsdale, Arizona, Seattle, Washington (SEA), Los Angeles, CA (LAX) Boston, Massachusetts (BOS), Princeton, NJ (EWR), Philadelphia, PA (PHL), Dallas, Texas (DWF), Chicago, IL (ORD), Baltimore, MD (BWI), and Minneapolis, MN (MSP). We also service clients internationally, with lighting manufacturer representatives working out of Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America.

We invite you to contact us toll free 800-863-1184 to obtain more information on all of kitchen and display lighting products. You can also request cabinet lighting literature on our Phantom Lighting website, visit our Phantom Lighting mobile website, or read through the many informative summaries and FAQs located on our cabinet lighting blog. All of these resources, including our online virtual lighting showroom contain a wealth of information about our custom; low-voltage lighting products that are the dream come true of art lighting designers and cabinet lighting builders on two major continents.