How-to Install LED Under Cabinet Lights in the Kitchen

5 Materials
4 Hours

Looking to update your halogen, fluorescent, or xeon under cabinet lights to LED? Here's how to install LED light bar fixtures using your current under cabinet wiring!

Beautiful new LED lights make for a brighter working surface.


Before Installing LED Under Cabinet Lighting

First and foremost, this is NOT and I repeat NOT for a novice DIYer. This is for someone who has tackled at least a couple of the following and done it more than once:

  • Installed outlets
  • Added dimmer switches
  • Hung ceiling light fixtures or fans

You should be familiar with a few other things:

  • Circuit breakers
  • Wire stripers
  • Electrical tape
  • Wire nuts

Also, if you aren't able to work in small spaces, upside down, and with little parts - this isn't for you!

Last but not least, this became a TWO PERSON job. I highly recommend recruiting a helper to help hold the fixture while you attach.


Step 1

Remove your old under cabinet lights. This was simpler than I thought it was going to be. These lights came with the house so I really didn't know what I was going to encounter.

The diffuser dropped down to expose the screws that needed to be removed. I was accustomed to dropping the diffuser to change the bulbs. 

All that needed to be removed were 2 screws and two wing connectors (tan in the picture). 

First remove the wing connectors to drop down the panel with the wiring. Just the act of turning mine horizontally let the panel drop. 

Step 2

Remove all wire nuts to release the connections. Those are the orange caps on the wires.

My previous lights had a transformer, which I removed as well. It wasn't needed with the new LED lights and my existing wiring.

With a power drill, remove the last two screws that mount the fixture to the cabinet and remove the final piece.

All that will be left is exposed wires. See how SCORCHED the underside of the cabinet is from the xeon lights?

Since I have moulding at the base of my cabinets, I didn't need to touch up the paint or fill the holes. I left it as you see it and installed the new lights.

Step 3

Follow the manufacturer's instructions to pull parts out from inside of fixture. Basically that involved removing the diffuser and 2 screws. Easy!

Hold fixture up underneath the cabinet and decide where the wires will be pulled through and where you want to hang the fixture.

Sorry I couldn't photograph this part at the same time!

Using a pencil, mark through the key holes. The smallest area is where the screw will be placed. 

This will help you decide which hole to punch out for the wires. Punch out wire hole with a flat head screw driver.

Step 4

This part is REALLY important and don't skip it! You MUST install the strain relief so the wires are protected.

Just feed it through the hole. Remember the nut is on the backside of the fixture or the wall side. Tighten with long nose pliers.

Hold base fixture up to the underside of the cabinet and pull through wires. Your long nose pliers will come in handy to straighten wires and pull on them.

Make sure to grab the actual wire when pulling and if you damage the wire insulation repair it with electrical tape. With your power drill and Philips head attachment, screw in screws where marked on the underside of the cabinet to hold base fixture.

Leave about 2 to 3 turns, so it's not completely flush with the cabinet. If you have a little trouble getting the wood screws to grip, drill a small pilot hole with a 1/16" drill bit.

Some of mine went in easily and others didn't. 

Attach base fixture by pulling the fixture forward to lock into the smallest part of the keyhole. Then tighten down the screws to the base of the cabinet. 

Then using the two screws that come with the fixture, tighten the strain relief connector to secure the wires.

Step 5

Firmly push wires into the quick connect nut on the fixture: white to white, black to black, and ground/copper to green.

IF you pull down one of your fixtures and see 2 white, 2 black, and 2 copper ground wires it's OK. Two of my fixtures had this to create the connections between the light fixtures.

The red quick connectors have TWO spots for wires, so you just follow the same process matching each wire type.

On the 2nd fixture with the sets of 2 wires, I ended up using my wire cutter/striper because these wires were so long. Cut and strip the wires to work with the space you have.

Step 6

Flip circuit breaker and test to make sure the light turns on. If not, flip the breaker off again and check connections are secure. 

Next, get your partner! This is where you need another set of hands.

Using the provided screws and washers, using a power drill or Philips head screw driver screw LED light panel to the base that is attached to the cabinet.

An issue I ran into with the 12 inch fixture is it was very hard to get the light bar attached. 

The quick connector nuts take up a lot of space and you can see the fixture bows slightly.

There wasn't anything I could do about this! On the longer fixtures, this wasn't an issue so I'm showing you worst case scenario.

Step 7

Attach the diffuser over the light panel.

YOU'VE DONE IT! Your neck and back are sore, fingers raw, but you did it! Now onto the other 3 LED under cabinet light fixtures that need to be installed!

TIP: Every time you finish a fixture, flip on the circuit breaker to make sure each fixture you've installed is still working!

I ran into an issue where ONE white wire didn't clip into the connector properly, so the first light suddenly didn't work.

So check those connections, before attaching the LED bar to the base. 

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  • Jim Cox Jim Cox on May 28, 2019

    In the 2nd and 3rd pics of step five: You have the wires on the wrong side of the cable clamp, and you have the wires themselves in the clamp (without a cable jacket). There is a potential for shorting with this. I'd personally go a step further and install an insulating bushing on the back side of the clamp as well. I dont know if that part is code or not (don't have my 2017 book with me). These clamps are made for BX type armored cable, but they will work on NM romex jacket. Since the fixtures are part of the house, you may get dinged for this when you sell it IF the inspector is any good. Either way good luck : )

    • See 1 previous
    • Jim Cox Jim Cox on May 29, 2019

      You mis-used the clamps. If it all works I guess you can leave it. The Mfr may not be aware of electrical codes, and more and more there's a serious language barrier with off-shore goods. Glad you are enjoying your lights : )