The kitchen is the heart of the home. While this area is popular for congregating, sometimes more light is needed. A popular place to put a little extra light is under the cabinets. Not only does light underneath the cabinets look amazing, but it helps the cook ensure they are getting the right ingredients. Regardless of whether it is for fashion or functionality, there is a proper way to install these lights safely.
There are many light choices on the market. The lights should lay flush on the underside of the cabinets. There will be a pre-scored knockout hole in the back of the light fixture. These holes are usually around ½ inch. Following the knockout hole, mark the wall that is adjacent to the light. Try to find a stud to anchor to. Using a spade bit, drill out the marked hole for the wiring.
Before starting any major project it is essential to unhook the electric. While some people just turn off all power to the home, it is only necessary to turn off the area that is being worked on. An electric tester works great, or use a lamp plugged into a close outlet. The old receptacle box will no longer be sufficient, as there will need to be a box that can accommodate two light switches. Loosen the wires and remove the old electric box. Take a new electric box and trace around where the old one was and where the new one will be. Tracing will make cutting the hole much easier. Using a drywall knife, cut out the section of the drywall where the new box will be installed. Pry out the old receptacle and make room for the new one.
Wiring is not really a hard job, but it is a bit mundane. It is imperative to check and double check wiring before closing up everything. There will need to be approximately 12/2 NM of electric cables. It will need to reach from the pre-drilled holes over to the new electrical junction box. There needs to be about 2 ft. of slack in the wire. One side of the cable is going to go through the hole that was drilled and the side needs to be connected over to the new electrical box.
Take any covers off of the lights and screw the holding plate to the cabinet. These lights may vary, but all should come with screws for attaching safely. The light plate should have a knockout round that will need to be pushed out. This section will be used to attach the wire to the light. A cable connector will need to be placed inside the knockout hole; this will protect the wire. The next step is to take the plastic covering off of the last 5-6 inches of wire. Ensure the cable is tight against the wires plastic protection sheathing.
The other side of the wiring, near the electric box will need to have the plastic stripped off the wires. First, start with the cooper ground wires. Take the old cable and the new cable and join them with a connector, a green pigtail one. Next, take the white wire and make it into 2 pieces that are around 8” each. Take the plastic sheathing off this wire and using a wire connector put the white wires together. The box should have a white wire line marked; this is where one of the 8” sections should be fastened too. Next, the black wires will need to have the same thing done, cut 2- 8” sections. Also strip the sheathing off of this section of wire. They will need to be joined and fastened to the hot wire line. Last, wrap the grounding screw with the pigtail wire. Make sure there is a bit of extra wire left over and able to stick out beyond the screw area. Finally, using a pair of lineman’s pliers, peel back all sheathing and screw on wire connectors.
The lights should be wired and ready to go. Simply place the cover back on the lights and watch them illuminate the counter area.
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