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Under cabinet lighting has become popular for both practical and aesthetic purposes. These slim, focused light fixtures provide task lighting over counters, sinks, and prep areas. At the same time, the soft glow from under cabinet lighting is a great way to illuminate the space without the harsh glow of a powerful overhead light.
In the past, under cabinet lighting often used fluorescent light fixtures but advancements in LED technology have propelled these lights into popularity. LED light bulbs are slow to burn out, don’t generate excess heat, and are energy-efficient.
When shopping for under cabinet lighting, you can choose from hardwired light fixtures (also sometimes called direct wire), wireless versions, or plug-in models that require an outlet. Direct wire under-cabinet lights produce the most custom look and have no cords to worry about, but usually require an electrician’s expertise for installation. Plug-in under cabinet lights are easier to install, but will require a nearby power outlet. Wireless or battery under cabinet lights eliminate both of these concerns, but you’ll need to occasionally swap out batteries.
Whatever your setup, here are the best under cabinet lights to add to your space.
Best Overall: GE Premium LED Linkable Under Cabinet Light Fixture, Model 38848
For a versatile under cabinet lighting option, consider GE's Linkable Light Fixture. This under-cabinet light fixture features a long-lasting LED bulb that offers 803 lumens of soft white light. The light beam angle is a focused 99.8 degrees and works well for illuminating kitchen prep areas, providing over-sink lighting, or giving supplementary light to any room. Plug in the light to a nearby outlet or, for more advanced installation, convert it into a direct wire under cabinet light.
This light bar is available in various lengths—12, 18, 24, and 36 inches—so you can find the right size for any cabinet in your home. These GE lights are linkable, meaning that you can link up to 30 fixtures using linking cords and control all the light from a single switch.
Best Budget: Brilliant Evolution BRRC116 8.5-Inch Under Cabinet Light Bar
You can achieve the high-end look of under cabinet lighting on a budget if you opt for an affordable light bar like this 8.5-inch version from Brilliant Evolution. Though it’s smaller than many other under cabinet light fixtures on the market, it offers 65 lumens of task light on surfaces. You’ll need to power it with AA batteries, but the LED bulb inside will last for up to 50,000 hours of use. Whether you have a small kitchen or a small budget, this wireless under-cabinet light is a good alternative to more expensive plug-in or direct wire options.
Best Puck Light: Ecolight 3-Pack Battery Puck Light
Puck lights are another option for providing illumination under cabinets. Instead of a long light bar, using a round under cabinet light gives you more focused illumination and creates a different aesthetic. The Ecolight Puck Light 6-Pack is a great option for creating soft lighting underneath your cabinets or in other areas of the home, like a closet. They adhere easily using damage-free 3M strips.
You’ll get fewer lumens out of each individual light—they emit just 40 lumens each—but use all six to create a unique lighting solution. Each light is dimmable and a single remote control can control the lights with the push of a button.
Best Motion-Activated: Black+Decker LED 5-Bar Under Cabinet Lights Kit
For light when and where you need it, shop for a motion-activated under cabinet light—like this version from Black+Decker. Available as a single light bar or as a linkable set of three or five lights, these motion-activated LED lights with ten dimmer settings are popular for their easy installation and operation.
Each light measures 9 inches long, can be linked to other Black+Decker under cabinet lights, and plugs into a nearby power outlet. The built-in motion sensor gives you a hands-free way to turn on the lights. This is a great set-up if your outlet lacks an on-off switch, or if you frequently have messy hands in the kitchen while cooking or cleaning and want to turn the light on without touching anything. It also means you can have light only when you need it, without worrying about turning it off when you don’t.
Best Battery: Ecolight 12-in Battery Under Cabinet Light Bar
Don’t worry about wiring or available outlets when you opt for a battery-operated under cabinet light, like this affordable option from Ecolight. The 12-inch LED light is powered by six AA batteries and mounts under cabinets using damage-free 3M adhesive strips. A fresh set of batteries will give you about 44 hours of battery life, according to the manufacturer.
The fact that these under cabinet lights have a built-in timer for automatic shut-off after one, five, or 15 minutes helps to extend battery life. However, you can also opt to just manually tap the light on or off. Inside this battery-powered under cabinet light is a bright white (4000K) LED bulb with 80 lumens.
Best LED : Commercial Electric Plug-In LED Under Cabinet Light
An under cabinet with light with an LED bulb is an energy-efficient, long-lasting source of illumination for any room. You can find both hardwired and plug-in LED under cabinet lights, but this popular pick from Commercial Electric is a plug-in version. It’s available in a wide assortment of lengths to fit your cabinets, including a compact 9-inch model or a supersized 36-inch model.
The LED bulb is 700 lumens and is rated for 50,000 hours of use. Even if you operated the light for four hours every day, the bulb would shine for more than 34 years. This long lifespan is one of the key reasons for picking an LED under-cabinet light fixture. In addition, depending on the task at hand or the ambiance you’re looking for, you can select from three different color temperatures for the light: warm white (2700K), soft white (3000K), or bright white (4000K).
Best Wireless: Brilliant Evolution BRRC120IR4 LED White Wireless Under Cabinet Light
Shed some light without plugging in by choosing a wireless under cabinet light, like this option from Brilliant Evolution. The pack of four light bars is completely wireless, so no direct wire or plug is needed. Instead, each 8.5-inch light bar is powered by three AA batteries—which will last for about 100 hours. You can tap the light to turn it on or off, or use the included remote control to operate the lights from a distance of up to 15 feet.
In kitchens with limited outlets or many competing appliances, wireless under cabinet lighting is an ideal solution. Each LED bulb inside these Brilliant Evolution light fixtures emits warm white light (3000K) and 80 lumens.
Best Hardwired: GE Enbrighten LED Under Cabinet Light
A hardwired under cabinet light gives you plenty of glow with no worries about battery life or outlet availability. The GE Enbrighten is available in 12 and 24-inch lengths to suit your space and has a long-lasting LED bulb, good for up to 50,000 hours with 1105 lumens. One of the most impressive features is the switch that lets you select from three light temperatures: warm white (3000K), cool white (4000K), and daylight (5000K). Use the daylight or cool white light temperature for tasks where you need crisp, bright light, then switch to warm white for softer, ambient lighting.
This direct wire under cabinet light needs to be hardwired for operation, which is a task best left to an electrician unless you have extensive experience with electrical projects. Doing so frees up your under cabinet outlets and also eliminates dangling cords or unsightly plugs—giving your undercabinet lighting a clean, professional appearance.
Best Rechargeable : LightBiz LED Under Cabinet Light Bar
Cut the cord and skip frequent battery replacement by choosing a rechargeable under cabinet light, like this set from LightBiz. Each 24-LED under cabinet light bar can be mounted to any magnetic surface, but includes an adhesive magnetic strip to make installing these light bars extremely simple in your kitchen, closet, or anywhere else.
Light output is more limited when compared to hardwired under cabinet lighting options, but with 150 lumens and a 120-degree beam, this set is sufficient for providing spotlighting wherever you need it. This under cabinet light can be set to ‘Always On’ mode or you can use two different motion sensing modes. Battery life is obviously limited if you opt for continuous operation, but in the motion sensor mode, these under cabinet lights have a battery life of seven to 20 days. Recharge easily using a USB cable in just two to three hours. The magnetic installation system means it is super simple to remove the light, charge it up, and then quickly re-install this under cabinet lighting.
The GE Premium LED Linkable Under Cabinet Light (view on Home Depot) offers the type of bright, focused light you need and is available in various lengths to fit your cabinet configuration. In addition, this light tops the list since it can be used as a plug-in light fixture or can be hardwired into your electrical system. However, if you're looking for an under cabinet light that doesn't require either, then check out the affordable, battery-operated version from Brilliant Evolution (view on Wayfair). The 8.5 inch light bar mounts easily and uses a AA battery for illumination.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Erica Puisis has been covering the latest gadgets and products that enhance your home for The Spruce since 2017. In her own space, she is a big fan of having the right light for every task and has used light bars and puck lights to create brighter kitchen and closets in her home.