If you want to enhance the ambiance of your kitchen, bathroom, or workbench, under-cabinet lights might be just the thing. "Not only can they provide task lighting, which is great for food prep, but this style of lighting also won't create harsh shadows like overheads and can create a welcoming feel," says interior designer Elizabeth Herrera.
We compiled pointers from Herrera, then researched aesthetically pleasing illumination options with plug-in, battery-powered, and hardwired designs. Our top choice is the Philips Hue Shape Light Base Kit, a flexible tape-style strip with six color modes and smart controls.
Scroll down for the best under-cabinet lighting available today.
Best Overall: Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance LED Shape Light Lightstrip Base Kit
Extendable up to 32 feet
Requires Hue Bridge hub
When it comes to ambiance-enhancing illumination, Philips Hue is tough to beat. The line brought one of the first LED smart bulbs to market, but the current options are much more extensive. Suffice it to say, our top pick for under-cabinet lighting is the collection's Shape Light Base Kit. This flexible tape-style strip is 80 inches long and can be trimmed down to the size you need, then attached with the included adhesive. You can also extend it up to 32 feet with additional strips.
The Bluetooth-enabled design can be paired with a smart home assistant, like Alexa, Apple HomeKit, or Google Assistant. You can control it with voice commands or through the Philips Hue mobile app. This dimmable light strip has six color modes and several customizable settings, like turning on when the sun rises each morning.
Just a heads up, the kit requires the brand's Hue Bridge hub, which you'll have to buy separately. And while the price is steep for under-cabinet lighting, it's backed by a two-year warranty.
Price at time of publish: $99.98
Best Budget: Brilliant Evolution Wireless Ultra Thin LED Light Bar
Screw or adhesive mounting
Batteries not included
On a budget? The Wireless LED Light Bar from Brilliant Evolution is a solid choice. This cordless light is powered by three AA batteries (not included). A rechargeable lithium battery would be more convenient, but the affordable price is tough to beat.
The lightweight design can be screwed into the base of your cabinets or attached with the included heavy-duty adhesive. And since it's relatively thin, it should hide under the lip. The long-lasting LEDs offer a warm white glow, and you can turn them on with a simple tap to the lens.
Price at time of publish: $13.99
Best Plug-In: Commercial Electric LED White Color Changing Tape Light with Remote
Strong adhesive backing
Adjustable color temperature
Can only connect two strips
If you don't want to deal with replacing the batteries, go with a plug-in option. We like the Commercial Electric Color Changing Tape Light. It comes with a 16-foot light strip, a power supply with a standard plug, and two connectors. (While the strip is extendable, you can only add up to two additional tapes.)
This LED tape light can be cut to size, then secured beneath your cabinets with the strong adhesive backing. You'll also get a remote control for switching it on and off, dimming the illumination, and adjusting the color temperature. And if you decide you want a cord-free look, you also have the option to hardwire the strip.
Price at time of publish: $59.97
Best Hardwired: Cyber Tech 18" Wide White LED Under Cabinet Light
No external driver needed
Wall switch sold separately
Interested in hardwired lighting? We recommend the Cyber Tech Under Cabinet Light. It's designed for direct wiring to a 120-volt connector—no external driver necessary—and comes with a hardwire connection, a 6-inch linking cord with a crimp connector, and a 5-foot plug-in cable.
There's an on/off switch on the light, but if you want to control it with a wall switch, you'll have to buy that (or connect an existing one) separately. The LED bulbs offer energy-efficient illumination, and you can connect up to five units. Unless you're experienced with this type of installation, you'll probably want to hire an electrician to hardwire it.
Price at time of publish: $69.99
Best Battery-Powered: Ecolight 12-in Battery Under Cabinet Light Bar
We also like the Ecolight Bar Light, which boasts a cordless design without any hardwiring. It runs on six AA batteries (included) and has an easy-access battery compartment. A rechargeable design would be nice, but thanks to the energy-efficient LEDs, you'll get 44 hours of illumination before having to switch out the batteries.
You can mount this light with screws or the included adhesive Command Strips. We also like that it has a touch sensor for simple on/off activation. What's more, this is one of the most affordable under-cabinet lighting options, and it's backed by a generous six-year warranty.
Price at time of publish: $14.98
Best Puck: Brilliant Evolution BRRC119 Wireless 6-Light LED Under Cabinet Puck Light
Set of six
Screw or adhesive mounting
Frequent battery replacement
Puck lights are among the most convenient under-cabinet lighting options. This set from Brilliant Evolution comes with six 3.5-inch lights and two remotes that control all pucks at once from up to 15 feet away. You can also turn them on by tapping the lens and set a timer to have them automatically shut off.
These lights run on AA batteries (included). Bear in mind you'll have to replace them often, and the pucks may die at different times. Still, we like that they can be mounted with screws or adhesive tape, both of which are included with the set.
Price at time of publish: $29.99 for a six-pack
Best Tape: Wobane Under Cabinet LED Lighting Kit
Six pre-cut strips
Lightweight and flexible
Weak adhesive backing
The Wobane Under Cabinet Lighting Kit includes six pre-cut LED tapes (nearly 9 feet in total) that fit perfectly under most kitchen, bathroom, and bar cabinets. It comes with a plug-in power supply and a remote that works from up to 60 feet away. You can also charge the lithium-ion battery for cord-free use.
This light tape is lightweight and conveniently flexible, and the stick-on design is easy to install. However, the adhesive backing isn't very strong, so you may want to get some heavy-duty double-sided tape for extra grip.
Price at time of publish: $20.99
Best with Motion Sensor: Lepotec LED Motion Sensor Cabinet Light
Magnet or adhesive mounting
Battery dies quickly
Motion-sensor lights are great for bathrooms and hallways, gently illuminating your path during middle-of-the-night get-ups. We like the Lepotec Cabinet Light, which can be set to turn on only when it senses movement. You can also program it to turn on when it detects darkness or just manually switch it on and off as needed.
This LED bar runs on a rechargeable lithium battery. If you only use it with motion activation, it'll last two to four weeks, but if it stays on for several hours a day, it'll die every few days. Luckily, you can charge it back up in about three hours with the included USB cable. The easy-to-install design attaches to metal with its built-in magnet, or you can use the included high-strength adhesive.
Price at time of publish: $39.99
Best App-Controlled: Monster Smart Iluminescence 16.4 ft Indoor/Outdoor Multicolor LED Light Strip
Mobile or voice commands
Can't be cut
Want something you can control from your smartphone or tablet? The Monster Smart Iluminescence LED Strip is an excellent choice. You can turn it on and off, change the colors, and adjust the brightness, all from the Monster Smart mobile app. Not only that, but you can create customizable programs that illuminate, dim, or change color at different times of the day.
It also works with voice controls if you sync it to a Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, or Apple HomeKit. The included remote is nice to have on hand too. This plug-in light strip is 16 feet long. The flexible design can be bent and warped to fit into the nooks and crannies beneath your cabinets, but unlike tape-style lights, it can't be cut.
Price at time of publish: $35.68
Our number one pick is the Philips Hue Shape Light Base Kit. This Bluetooth-enabled LED tape can be controlled through a mobile app or with voice commands, and it can be trimmed down to fit under any cabinet. For something more affordable, go with the battery-powered Brilliant Evolution Wireless Ultra Thin LED Light Bar.
What to Look for in Under-Cabinet Lighting
The most popular types of under-cabinet lighting include pucks, bars, strips, and tape. "Puck lights are popular because they are really affordable and battery-operated, so you don't need to worry about unsightly cords," says Herrera. "They provide a more direct spotlight which is great for task lighting but may not be everyone's preference aesthetically."
Light bars come in various lengths to match your cabinet configuration, but 24-inches is a standard size. Some light bars are linkable, meaning you use a single switch to power a series of lights. Light strips and tape attach with an adhesive, and they can often be cut down to size.
Under-cabinet lights must be plugged into an outlet, hardwired, or use batteries for operation. Hardwired designs offer a neat, tidy appearance with no cords or the need to take up a wall outlet. "A hardwired under-cabinet light will need to be installed by a professional and is the most expensive option," says Herrera. "The plug-in style won't be as seamless, as you will see cords, but they are typically easy and fast to install."
Battery-operated lights eliminate the hassle of hardwired installation and don't need to be plugged in. However, the batteries will require regular replacement or recharging.
Choose under-cabinet lighting with a light output that matches your needs and purpose. Consider how bright you want the light to be, which is measured in lumens. Aesthetic under-cabinet lighting could measure as little as 40 lumens, while task lighting options might have 800 or more.
Ambiance and adjustability
"Under-cabinet lighting will bring your kitchen design goals to the next level," says Herrera. It enhances the ambiance of your space just as much as (or more than) it illuminates it.
You can choose lights with a specific color temperature—perhaps a soft, warm glow for ambiance or bright daylight bulbs for better visibility when working in the kitchen. Some under-cabinet lights give you the option of multiple light color temperatures. "You can also consider adding dimmers to help control the brightness levels," Herrera adds.
How long do LED under-cabinet lights last?
Should under-cabinet lighting be warm or cool?
The answer depends on your purpose for installing under-cabinet lighting. "Cooler-temperature lighting is great for task lighting because it's brighter, making it easier to see when preparing and cooking food," says Herrera. In that case, a cool daylight bulb in the 5000K range is the best choice. However, if you want a more ambient under-cabinet lighting option, pick a warm light with a color temperature in the 3000K range.
Do under-cabinet lights go in front or back?
Most people install under-cabinet lights at the front edge of their cabinets, just behind the rail. This ensures the majority of the countertop below receives illumination while still concealing the fixture.
However, if you'd rather illuminate your backsplash as a focal point in the kitchen, then you could opt to install under-cabinet lighting towards the back of your cabinets. This results in reduced lighting at the front of the countertops, so it's not the best option if you're relying on the lights to enhance visibility on your work surface.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Theresa Holland is a freelance copywriter, editor, and product tester specializing in home improvement and lifestyle. For this story, she interviewed interior designer Elizabeth Herrera of Decorist, who offered buying tips and insight into the different styles and installation requirements for under-cabinet lighting. She chose products with multiple standout qualities, such as user-friendliness, easy mounting, versatility, and adjustability. Theresa covers light fixtures, home decor, and organizational solutions at The Spruce.