Introduction: Undercabinet Light

About: I specialize in electronics, but I can operate a band saw, ride a skateboard, and brew a tasty cuppa. I blog incessantly.

Lighting can decide if a room is inviting or drab. Since kitchens are often the heart of a home it's the most logical place to invest in interesting lighting. The ready-made lighting solutions I've found, while extensive, are not cheap and definitely not custom. This project aims to make a custom lighting solution that looks good and functions well.

The skill level of this project is low and the only necessary tools needed are a knife to cut plastic tubing and a tape measure. A meter stick or yard will work in a pinch too.


The second image above is animated to show what is possible with the different colors and because colors stand out better on a white wall. It is easy to choose white light but difficult to demonstrate.

Step 1: Measure Twice and Cut Tubing

Measure the span under the cabinet where this will be installed. Now measure that distance on a piece of clear tubing and cut it to length. If you have a segment of the tubing you could simply hold it up to the cabinet and cut it where appropriate.

In my case the distance was 34.5" (875mm) and I cut it with a band saw. Rolling the tubing under a sharp knife would have probably been safer.

Cutting the tubing a bit short is all right and cutting crooked is fine because this will be out of sight. Don't sweat this step.

Step 2: Add the Lights and Curtain Rod to the Tube

Push the bare end of the LED strip through the tubing until only the connector dongle is sticking out. No need to remove the adhesive backing.

Extend the curtain rod to its maximum length by twisting the smaller rod.

Take the rubber end off the small end of curtain rod.

Push the curtain rod through the tubing alongside the LED strip. Be careful not to force it because this may damage the LED strip.

The rubber cap should be put back on the curtain rod when it has been pushed through.

Note: This will be similar to rope light except the LEDs will face one direction and send all their light toward your kitchen surface whereas rope lights send light in all directions. In addition the internal curtain rod provides rigidity and a means of support so even if someone peaks at this light it isn't unattractive.

Step 3: Electrical Stuff and Finishing

The power supply and controller should fit together easily, they both use a very common 2.1mm connector. The controller will have an indicator on one of the pins and the LED strip will have a similar indicator so when you plug them together nothing will be reversed.

My light was installed next to my range hood so I decided to take power from the light socket there. It was easy enough to buy a light socket adapter which provided an electrical receptacle. If you use a kitchen receptacle there is no need to buy the light socket adapter.

Make any final adjustments to the curtain rod length and wedge it between the cabinet underside. Push it out of the way so it isn't visible.

If necessary, twist the tubing gently so all the LEDs point down.

Bundle up the 12V cord with a rubber band or something non-metallic.

You're set! Use the buttons on the controller to find a color you like.

Step 4: About Me

Thank you for reading. The second image is animated to show the final device changing color

If you build or improve this device please tell us in the comments.

I run a blog where I talk incessantly about the things I build, including stuff which doesn't make it to Instructables. There are kitchen projects like holiday nachos and engineer nachos or far-out projects like a device which converts temperature to sound.

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