My wife and I really hate how the lights in our kitchen are central and overhead, making it so that when we cut vegetables or work on the counters, our shadow blocks the light from being able to see what we're doing. Here's a little diagram I made to illustrate the point:

Cutting Vegetables

Our kitchen kinda looks like this:

No Lights

I'm thinking of adding lights either up above in the cabinets:

Lights above

Or adding a flexible LED light strip along the crook of the counters:

Lights below

My big question is: What is a good strategy for accomplishing this sort of lighting. Are flexible LEDs bright enough and cost-effective enough to use, or should I be looking more into affixing small lights to the bottom of those cabinets? Do they even look good? Google's first result is this, which doesn't seem like an ambient block of light so much as a bunch of little lights. I'm hoping for a bright strip of light. If flexible LEDs aren't quite there yet, what is a good strategy for accomplishing this?

One thing to keep in mind is that we're renters - we want to save up for a year or two then buy our own place, so we'd prefer nothing too expensive, and nothing where we have to do major renovations (hence the idea of laying down some flexible LED strips rather than putting in some recessed lighting under the cabinets.

  • 1
    I believe those LED strips are intended to be installed in some form of container, and the container would defuse the light. This makes it look less like a bunch of individual lights, and more like a single light.
    – Tester101
    Apr 29, 2013 at 11:30

5 Answers 5


You can definitely get flexible led strips that are bright enough to do what you want. Many of them run on 12V, which you can easily get from a small power supply, and you could just plug it into an outlet on the counter.

I would put them under the cabinets; it would be easily to hide them there. Many of the strips can be had with adhesive backing, which would just stick under the counter.

To answer your question on the individual lights, the individual LEDs will blend together nicely.

If you look at Amazon, you'll find a lot of solutions, and they are fairly cheap.

  • I would also look at websites that sell LED strips for home/car/boat usage. You can get a lot of light for a few bucks. Here's a good example, from a site I use all the time: 12V Home LED Light Bar System Apr 29, 2013 at 16:22

Since this is a temporary solution, and you're not looking to spend a bunch of money. A battery powered, touch activated light might work well.

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A cord-and-plug device, might be a good temporary solution as well.

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Both these solutions should attach, and detach from the cabinets without causing any permanent damage.


Those flexible LED strips always burn out so I'd stay away from them. You'll wind up replacing it every 1.5 years and likely have to live with sections that are burned out after only 5-7 months of installation because lets face it your probably going to forget every once in a while that you left it on overnight. Much better to go with LED puck lights in my opinion. I've had a set of pucks on 24x7 for over 5 years that I installed in a DVD cabinet and in my walk in pantry and only 1 of the pucks has gone out in all that time. Very happy with the final look and operation of the puck lights.

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    i've been using a set of led strips i bought from wal-mart about 8 years ago. they're in the flexible clear sleeve and are long. they're not exactly bright, they get a little warm, and the light they do put off is kind of yellow. they're not perfect, but they've lasted a LOT longer than 1.5yrs
    – Joshua K
    Apr 29, 2013 at 11:44

I highly recommend a good set of fluorescent lamps under the cabinets instead. I know you asked about LED and you can use an LED equivalent in the same body/frame, so that would work well, and the LED's may last longer. My wife and I have a similar layout as your kitchen, including the overhead light: a big square kitchen with lots of surrounding cabinets, and we're always blocking the light from behind us as we chop vegetables. I solved it by using fluorescent bulbs under the cabinet. I found it easiest to use high quality Velcro to attach them, which makes them semi-portable. We can then reconfigure/move/re-attach them as we need.


Yeah - I'd agree that LED strips are the way forward here. If you want to get a smooth 'lightbar' effect, then you should fit your LED tape into a diffusing (frosted) tape extrusion - which blurs the individual LED 'dots' to give a more even glow.

But if you're installing under cabinets (basically out of sight) rather than in the crook of your counters, then my personal opinion is you won't even need an extrusion; you'll just see the light from the LEDs and not the LEDs themselves.

This video gives a quick overview of fitting flexible LED strips under a kitchen cabinet. Hope it helps.

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