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Under Cabinet Lighting Review: LED, Fluorescent, Halogen or Xenon

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

Kitchen lighting, under cabinet illumination, energy efficient, low maintenance

LED, Halogen, Xenon, Fluorescent

Need to upgrade your kitchen lighting?   Are you tired of your old flickering fluorescent tubes?  Are your under counter incandescent lights doing a better job heating up your plates than providing illumination to your kitchen work space?   Lighting technology has evolved significantly over the last ten years.   You can now find a large selection of LED lighting at affordable prices and the quality of the illumination they provide has also greatly improved.  

Essential qualities of under cabinet lighting solutions:

  • Strong directional illumination for your work area
  • Natural colour rendering
  • Minimal heat dissipation
  • Energy efficiency (under counter lights can be left on as mood lighting in the evening)
  • Low maintenance (lifetime)

There are basically three categories of lights:   incandescent, fluorescent and LED.   Let’s see how they succeed in meeting the above essential quality requirements:

Essential Qualities







Colour rendering



Medium to Good

Good to Excellent

Heat dissipation





Energy Efficiency





Lifetime (hrs)



10 000

50 000

One major drawback of incandescent lights is poor energy efficiency, which also translates into important heat dissipation.  For under cabinet lighting this is often a show stopper as you do not want to generate too much heat under your cabinetry.  You also have to consider that the heat generated by Halogen or Xenon lights will make your work space less inviting during the summer months.   This explains why fluorescent lighting has historically been the favourite choice of many for this type of application.   As demonstrated in the above table, fluorescent lights are energy efficient and have good life expectancy; however the quality of illumination is generally inferior to incandescent models and the new LED lights.

Recent LED models can reproduce the light level and color rendition of the benchmark Halogen lights; in addition, they can do all this with minimal heat generation and extremely low power consumption. In terms of life expectancy, based on a usage of 4 hours per day, you can expect 34 years without maintenance.  Some LED kits can also be used with a dimmer and interestingly, contrary to Xenon or Halogen lights, the LEDs maintain a constant colour temperature throughout the dimming range.  LED lights also come in different formats; puck or strip lighting being the most common options.  Selection of the best format will depend on the area you need to illuminate and the space available.

With proper selection of LED models for colour rendering, the LED lights are very hard to beat for under cabinet lighting applications.  As long as you shop around for competitive pricing, you will not go wrong selecting the LED solution for your new kitchen or to upgrade the look of your existing one.   



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