A Glaring Problem

...with undercabinet lighting

July 30, 2018
This article is a compliment to "Undercabinet Lighting Dos & Don’ts"

No matter which type of undercabinet lighting you use, glare can be a major issue if your client insists on polished countertops (below). The best solution is to use lensed fixtures, and the wider the better because you’ll get better light dispersion. Stay away from pucks or LED tape, because their point sources create more glare. 

The future of undercabinet lighting may be a product I’ve seen at KBIS: an edge-lit fixture called LiteShelf (bottom). When I measured the output of a LiteShelf mounted as the bottom shelf of an upper cabinet, I got 45 fc directly under the front edge of the cabinet, and 14 fc near the edge of the countertop. This is in the range of most other fixtures I measured, but the light had a pleasantly soft, indirect feel to it. 

If the light levels can be boosted, I’d love to see cabinet manufacturers offer something like this as a standard option, maybe with the ability to adjust the color temperature between 2700K and 4000K.

Glare caused by light reflected off polished countertops is a common problem with undercabinets lighting. To minimize glare, use wide, lensed fixtures that diffuse the light, and put the circuit on a dimmer.

Edge-lit fixtures show promise as integral undercabinet lighting. A product called LiteShelf, shown here in a closet, provides soft indirect light and doubles as a shelf.  If light levels improve, it could make for an ideal cabinet accessory option.

About the Author


About the Author


Doug Walter, of Doug Walter Architects, in Denver, has specialized in residential remodeling for 25 years. He has a long history with Universal Design and aging in place. He helped write the NAHB’s Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist curriculum and holds an ICC Certificate as an Accessibility Inspector.

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