Energy Saving Kitchen Cabinet Lights

The background to this project is that I'm on an 'eco trip' at the moment, going around the house replacing all the filament bulbs with a CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp). Mostly not a problem but there are some exceptions one of which being the 30 watt tungsten strip lights underneath the kitchen cabinets. These things are a pain anyway because they blow frequently and the tubes are relatively expensive to replace. At first I thought about simply changing them for 10 watt fluorescent striplights, but at around 15 each at my local DIY store, got to wondering how great it would be if I could somehow use standard low energy bulbs instead. So with the idea firmly implanted, how could I mount a CFL horizontally under a cabinet? I had already settled on the idea of using a standard pendant bulb holder, but needed a bracket of some kind, something of the correct shape, preferably preformed so I don't have to do any bending, oh, and plastic so it's easier to drill, oh, and cheap. Not much to ask for is it? And it wasn't. A trip to B&Q resulted in the perfect solution. See photos below


In the electrical department where all the trunking and accessories are, I see all these weird shaped pieces of plastic in little polythene bags and never give them a second thought. 'That's wot all those professionals use... nothing to do with me'. This one was no more than a cube with two sides missing or as I saw it, a rigid angle bracket! So anyway, I bought a couple at 58p each and some bulb holders (1.18) and headed home, secure in the knowlege that I'd found the answer. A short session with my hole cutting saw and they were finished. In addition to the large hole for the bulb holder, 2 smaller holes were drilled to screw the assembly to the underside of the cabinet. Then it's simply a matter of connecting a 2 core cable to the bulb holders and attaching them to the brackets (as if the bracket was a lampshade). The result is a quick and easy to make, under cabinet light that is brighter, cooler in operation and cheaper to run than the filament lighting it replaced, with the bulbs lasting much longer too. See photo below

Another factor was heat. The temperature produced within the cabinet above is very minimal, but I wanted to make them as safe as possible. So I got an aluminium foil baking tray, cut it in half, and attached it to the underside of the cabinet with double sided sticky pads to reflect any heat downward. This works very well, and with the savings made on running costs, these lights can be left on for long periods without worry. Each light fitting cost the grand total of 1.86 including the bulb (CFL bulbs are heavily subsidised at the moment to encourage people to switch over to them). The bulbs I chose were 8 watt Philips CFLs... a bargain at 10p each! These give out a warm light at just the right level of brightness. In the UK, bayonet type lamp fittings are the norm, though screw types are creeping in (thanks IKEA!). I would guess that in other parts of the world there are similarly mountable lamp sockets available. Finally, as with anything electrical, safety is paramount and needless to say, this project should only be attempted by those who are experienced/confident with electrics

The lights in action

Update: Since posting this project, compact fluorescent lamps are no longer available to buy having been replaced by LED technology. All the bulbs in my house are now LED including these under cabinet lights which still look and work great (I use a 5 watt candle type)