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Puck Lights-Under Cabinet Lighting

Install Halogen puck lights under the kitchen upper cabinets successfully by starting with a well thought-out fabrication plan. The two options of under-cabinetry lighting installation are external mount and recessed. Wiring channels will have to be created regardless of which method you choose. There is a voltage transformer that will have to be accounted for when designing the kitchen or wall-unit.

In my 27 years of doing cabinet design, most customers chose to have the recessed (or “flush mount”) method of installation used on their upper wall cabinetry bottoms.

  • Tip: When drilling the holes for a flush mount application be sure to take all necessary precautions to ensure that you do not damage the finished side of the wall cupboard bottoms.

When installed correctly, the  proper design for these hi-in lights will completely hide all of the wire. There is no excuse for exposed wires.

Halogen Puck Light Size and Installation Methods

Light specifications may vary but an approximate size is ¾” high by 2-3/4” in diameter.

Of the two installation methods,  the size of the fixtures really don’t matter when attaching the Halogen hockey puck light assembly externally.

External Mounting
This is where the small round lights get screwed onto the outside of the upper cabinet bottoms. The edge of the fixture is exposed so the entire thickness of about ¾” is exposed. When attaching the fixtures a small hole for the supply wire will  need to be drilled just above where the puck will be installed.

Recessed Installation
This method requires that a hole be drilled into the bottom of the cabinet. The puck light fits nicely into a 5/8” thick upper cabinet bottom. When the install is complete, there is only about ¼” of the light cover exposed underneath the upper cabinet.

Do not drill the large  holes in the wall cabinet bottoms, with a hole saw, until you have the lighting kit. This will eliminate any possibility of making a mistake.

Halogen Lights Wiring Channel- Hide the Wires

You’re going to have to create wiring channels so that the Halogen’s wires will not be visible. You must design your cabinetry so that you can hide the wires.

When drilling the suggested holes ( see the two methods below) in the sides of the cabinets, you will need to be precise so that when you install the cupboards next to each other the holes line up.

Method 1 Concealing Wires
When you’re fabricating the upper cabinets drill ¾” holes through the sides of the cabinets (as close to the sub-bottom as possible) where the wires will have to interconnect to complete the circuit. Now a secondary bottom will be fabricated to hide the wires. I usually make it with on full sized piece of 5/8” thick board and then add build-up of ¾” thickness. This creates a ¾” thick void for the wires and any connectors to be hidden under.

Method 2 Hiding Wires
This particular technique yields a nice finished appearance on the inside of the cabinets. Rather than building up the 5/8” thick secondary bottom with ¾” thick pieces in the front and the back, you will make a grove in the structural bottom with a router for the wires to go into. The holes that will need to be drilled for the wires in the cabinetry sides will obviously be smaller and lower than the previous method discussed.

If you’re a cabinet maker, giving an estimate, be sure to allow plenty for labor charges. There’s going to be extra work involved in getting the Halogen light sizes so you can drill the holes accurately when you’re in the fabrication stages of the kitchen cabinetry. You will have to discuss your lighting installation plan with the electrician. The electrical company may have specific methods that they use for installing the under-mount hockey puck lights. It will also be necessary to determine where the low voltage transformer will be installed.

Categories: Upper Wall Cabinetry
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