Best Under Cabinet Lighting (LED / Xenon / Halogen / Fluorescent)

Steve Sheinkopf  |  October 27, 2015  |  6 Min. Read

LED Light Bulbs  |  Under Cabinet Lighting  |  Xenon Bulbs

Start finding answers in our Resource Center full of videos, buying guides, and checklists

Learn More

Are you looking for the best under cabinet lighting but not sure what to buy? This article will help you decide what is best for your application.

Under cabinet lights are now being used in many kitchen applications. They are installed under the upper cabinets to provide you with good task lighting.

Before & After pictures of Kitchen Remodel

Under cabinet lights are available with different bulb options ranging from incandescent (halogen) to high energy efficiency (LED).

The picture above shows undercabinet lighting on the toe kick for a great effect in your kitchen or even bathroom. There are tons of under cabinet lighting systems available today. We will look at the four best, but first let’s look at LED lighting.

Below is a comparison of the four different bulb options for under cabinet lighting. We will start with the most energy efficient (LED).

Short on time? Get our free Under Cabinet Lighting Buying GuideLearn More

LED (Light Emitting Diodes)

LED is a solid-state lamp that uses light-emitting diodes as the source of light. LED lamps offer long service life and high energy efficiency, but initial costs are higher than those of fluorescent and incandescent bulbs. A good quality LED bulb can last for up to 50,000 hours. At 4 hours per day you can expect up to 30 years of maintenance free operation.

Our Jenn-Air kitchen display with no under cabinet lighting

Jenn-Air kitchen illuminated with under cabinet LED strips

You have to be very careful when buying a LED light source of any type. Typically, LED renders a bluish light. Even the newer LEDs promising a better light still deliver a poor quality light. In our experience, the only LED consistently delivering a natural light has a Cree chip or filter.

(Our free guide details all the benefits of LED Lighting and more)

  • 70% of initial illumination at the end of 50,000 hours.
  • Cool to the touch with virtually no heat on the bottom of the cabinets (Your peanut butter and chocolate will not melt inside your cabinets).
  • 85% more efficient than an incandescent/halogen light and 50% more efficient than fluorescent.
  • Some models are dimmable with an appropriate LED dimmer.
  • Keep it on as a night light and not have to worry about heat on your cabinets.
  • For a good quality LED light you want to stay under 3,000 Kelvin Temp (warmer light output).


Fluorescent is a cool-operating energy efficient light fixture. It offers shadow free task lighting in both residential and commercial spaces. Fluorescent is great in closets as it accentuates the darker colors. However it is a harsh white light, which washes out lighter colors. Fluorescent also cannot be dimmed.

  • Up to 10,000 hour rated life from a good quality fluorescent bulb.
  • Provides minimum heat output (Good for closet spaces in case you leave it on accidentally).
  • Bright, uniform, shadow free illumination.
  • Good lighting for basements, closets, garages, laundry rooms, and commercial spaces where lights can stay on a lot.
  • Non-Dimmable ballasts


Xenon is a gas on an incandescent filament, which produces a warm light. Light quality and dimming capability are the characteristics of the Xenon bulb. However, Xenon is an incandescent bulb, so it is energy inefficient and does not last as long as a LED.

Our La Cornue kitchen display with no under cabinet lighting

La Cornue kitchen with xenon under cabinet lighting

  • Up to 10,000 hours rated lamp life from a low voltage Xenon bulb.
  • Slightly warmer color rendering compared to LED and Fluorescents.
  • Dimmable with the appropriate dimmer control.
  • Provides some heat to the bottom of your cabinets but not as much as the halogen would.
  • 25-35% more efficient than a standard halogen or incandescent fixture


Halogen is a bright task light but it also produces a great amount of heat to the bottom of your cabinets. A halogen fixture will cost much less than any of the above but in the long run it will cost you more by having to replace bulbs every 6 months to a year at $7 to $10 per bulb. If you have three 24” strips and each strip has 3 bulbs, you will be spending about $90 every six months to a year.

  • 2,000 hours rated life span
  • Non-energy efficient
  • Produces great amount of heat to your cabinets (there goes your chocolates and peanut butter)
  • Cheaper to buy but requires a lot of maintenance over time (changing bulbs)
  • In the long run, you will end up spending more on electricity and buying light bulbs every 6 months to a year
  • I would not recommend leaving this on as a night light
  • Mostly used in rental properties or if you are on a tight budget


In my opinion, I definitely think that LED is the way to go. You may be spending more money up front but it’s definitely worth the initial outlay. A 7-watt LED is roughly equivalent to a 50-60 watt bulb, so you will be saving a fortune in energy costs. LED will cost approximately $2 to run yearly versus $14.8 in energy costs per bulb for halogen if used just 4 hours a day. That does not include 2-3 bulb replacements per year at $5 per bulb.

Additional Resources

For the latest how-tos, buying guides and videos, check out the Yale Resource Center. Over 100,000 people have read a Yale Guide and over 490,000 people have watched a Yale Video.

Under Cabinet Lighting Buying Guide


A few review sites have placed this at the bottom of their articles. So here is our take: Our mission is to find reliable products for you to buy. Other review sites may say this as well.

However, we don’t love every product. Quite frankly, it costs us way too much money in repair costs to support less reliable brands.

In fact, we sell fewer brands than most appliance stores. Here is why:

We feel it is our responsibility to repair your appliances after you buy them.

We now have 30 service technicians, each averaging 8-10 calls a day Monday through Friday, plus another 110 on Saturday. That's over 30,000 service calls logged in one year.

The labor rates of fixing an appliance do not come close to the true cost in any product’s warranty period.

That is why no major retailer has a service department. It costs too much labor, money and time.

Our Blog is a bit different than most others you will read. We cannot write glowing reviews of unreliable products.

Hopefully, the bloggers and organizations who write such glowing product reviews for every brand consider servicing these products first. Only then they will understand the consequences of their marketing.

Steve Sheinkopf

My goal has always been simple: I want Yale to be the best retail experience anywhere. I have tried to create a compelling environment for customers and employees alike.

A Note About Pricing

Pricing on this blog is for reference only and may include time sensitive rebates. We make every attempt to provide accurate pricing at time of publishing. Please call the stores for most accurate price.

Suggested Articles