Kichler Design Pro LED Under Cabinet Lighting Review

October 7, 2010 | by Fred (email) |

We love dramatic under cabinet lighting. It’s one of those great additions to a modern kitchen that adds both function and style to the design. Not only does it provide good work lighting for everyday tasks, it also show off the beauty of other kitchen features, like intricate tile back splashes or a stunning set of custom ceramic canisters.

Three weeks ago we gave you a preview of Kichler’s new Design Pro under cabinet lighting. As we were planning the details of our kitchen remodel, Kichler reached out to us and asked if we’d like to try the product in our kitchen and provide a review. We jumped at the opportunity, because Kichler’s product boasts everything we wanted in under cabinet lights: easy installation, low energy use, bright light, and low maintenance. It also has a few extra perks we weren’t counting on, like integrated dimmer switches.

We installed the Design Pro LED lights in just three hours one evening last week (a detailed how to on that topic to follow). While the countertop isn’t installed yet, the lighting is already a dramatic improvement to the space, and we’re already sure we’ll be happy with the final results.

Rather than wait another six weeks for the completely finished kitchen, I wanted to share our initial review with you now. You’re going to have to use a little imagination to see this kitchen with beautiful DuPont Zodiaq countertops and an elegant tiled back splash. Even without these elements present, you can see that the Kichler lights will provide great illumination.

kichler design pro led under cabinet lights

Kichler Design Pro LED Under Cabinet Lighting Review

The Highs: Warm, white light with excellent coverage; low energy use; 40,000 hour LED bulbs (that may never need to be replaced under normal use); thin, easily-concealed design; simple installation; dimmable to three levels via included dimmers; very solid feel.

The Lows: Premium price.

The Verdict: A beautiful, high quality addition to any modern kitchen design.

Detailed Features & Performance

The Design Pro LED cabinet lighting solution is made up of four simple components:

  1. the LED lighting fixtures in 6″, 12″ and 18″ lengths (6″ model shown below).
  2. interconnect wires that run between individual lights and from the lights to the transformer (various lengths).
  3. low voltage transformer.
  4. dimmer switches.

For an overview of each component, you can see our Kichler Design Pro preview from a few weeks ago.

Installation Review: Installation was straightforward, but may require an electrician in some areas. Power runs from a 110V circuit to the low voltage transformer (which is sized to accommodate the number of fixtures you need – our installation required a 100W transformer). From the transformer, a low voltage wire runs to the first light fixture in the series, and then from that fixture to each subsequent fixture in series (you notch out the underside of the cabinets for the wires).

The interconnect wires are sized at a few different lengths to accommodate shorter or longer runs between cabinets. Installation will be a snap for any electrician, and this system is definitely easy enough for DIY installation with a small amount of electrical know-how.

Transformer Location: We installed the transformer on the wall in a closet in the basement. If you prefer, the transformer can be installed under the cabinet, but it is a bit large (approx. 12 in. x 6 in. x 3 in.), so an out-of-the-way installation is preferred. Lead wires up to 25′ in length are available, so transformer placement is reasonably flexible.

Concealing the Lights: The light fixtures themselves and all wires, switches, and connectors have a 3/8″ depth, which makes them easy to conceal under cabinets (which normally have 3/4″ – 1″ of space available). This offers a better choice than almost all fluorescent fixtures available on the market, which require significantly more depth.

Kichler Design Pro LED Under Cabinet Lighting Panel

Switching and Dimmers: You have two options for switching the cabinet lights. A standard switch can be installed ahead of the transformer on the 110V power supply, or you can rely on a special Kichler-designed 4-position dimmer switch (shown below) installed in-line with the lighting. You can also use both if you prefer, and the lights will remember the dim setting even if the power on the A/C line is cycled. You cannot install a dimmer on the A/C side as this is not compatible with the transformer and LED lights.

Kichler Design Pro LED Dimmer Switch

Light level and color: Perhaps the most impressive feature of the Design Pro LED is the quality of the light after installation. We were concerned when Kichler first approached us that perhaps an LED-based solution wouldn’t be bright enough.

It turns out we were worried for nothing. The LED lights provide the perfect amount of light for preparing foods and other activities, and if you want a more romantic or subdued alternative for the evening, the dimmer provides two lower light levels that are perfect for that.

Overall Impressions

We are impressed with Kichler’s Design Pro Product and would recommend it to anyone looking for a premium cabinet lighting solution in their own kitchen.

Price and Where to Buy

Prices depend on the specific components you purchase, but a typical medium-sized kitchen would likely run between $600-$1200. Kichler provides a retailer search function on their web site to find a local lighting company that carries Kichler products.

15 Responses
  1. Nice job Fred! Thanks for the link!

    Where did you mount your transformer? Worth pointing out that these systems work best if you plan ahead with the 110V service roughed-in where the transformer will be placed.

    In our first home I put the transformer in an upper corner cabinet. Our new home I put it under the sink and ran low-voltage wire to the first light on each run.

    Installing in existing kitchens is a bit harder if no power exists at the cabinets. Under cabinet lighting is a much today in my opinion but it sure does require some planning.

    Maybe you should show a picture under the cabinets also so the folks can see what you mean about cutting a notch for the wires.

  2. Fred says:

    We mounted the transformer in the basement, just below the location of the cabinets in a closet. We didn’t have rough in service so we had to find a circuit that had 100W available. Due to some changes in our electrical layout from earlier in the year, we had half of a duplex switch box blank and were able to use it to house the switch for the circuit. This DID involve some drywall and electrical work that would have been easier if this kitchen were designed with under cabinet lighting in mind!
    I will definitely be sharing the mounting instructions and some thoughts on transformer placement and rough in wiring in an upcoming article on how to install under cabinet lighting

  3. Basements are another good location! Occasionally our electrician will do that as well. The lights are going to look amazing on that shiny new countertop!

  4. Timothy says:

    Can’t wait to see the Zodiac countertops and the lighting already looks fantastic. I like the warm glow set against the wood grain you chose.

  5. I’ve been mulling over installing under cabinet lights in my kitchen. I definitely want them, I just don’t want something crappy or with multiple switches to turn them off and on. I also don’t want cords running down the backsplash to plug them in.

    This sounds like a perfect solution (but so pricey for this cheapo DIYer!) I’ve been trying to figure out a way to create my own light system and just tap into the power behind the light switch and split it and add a 2nd switch next to the first one for the main lights in the kitchen. I don’t know all the correct terms to use when describing this, but it makes sense in my mind and I do know basic electrical stuff.

    Any chance Kichler wants to give away another set of lights? I’ll blog about them! haha

    In the off-chance that I decide to drop $1500 smackaroos on this project (not likely), you gave an excellent tutorial on the product and I’ll know exactly how to do it myself now. Great review!!

    ~Allison @ House of Hepworths

  6. Heather says:

    I’m considering this for our kitchen remodel. Did you install individual fixture beneath each cabinet (using the interconnect cables) or did you chain some of the together?

    Also – How did you light the corner? Did you come in straight from each side or did you place a fixture on an angle (matching the angle of the upper cabinet door)?


  7. Fred says:

    Heather, good questions.

    We ended up running two circuits from the transformer so that we didn’t have to traverse across the window. However, we did run interconnects between the lamps on each side of the window. This allows us to independently control the lamps from two different switches. We could have also run a long interconnect under the floor or behind the wall.

    The lamp in the corner is indeed caddy-corner with the cabinet. We placed it about 4 inches back from the front. These lights are VERY bright. You will have no worries about a dark corner if you do this.

  8. Ellen says:

    I have recently seen very similar lights at Lowes under the Utilitech brand name, but Kichler’s name is also on the box. The price point is lower, but the interconnecting wires they come iwth are short and I haven’t found any options or wiring sold seperately. Are you familiar with these and do you think the wires might be interchangeable with the Kichler pro?

  9. Fred says:

    Ellen, Hi and welcome. Unfortunately, I don’t know. However, You might see if you can find a contact number on Kichler’s web site and give their customer service a call to determine. It wouldn’t surprise me if they were compatible… but it wouldn’t surprise me if they weren’t either.

  10. lou says:

    We have the lights and loved them..but the transformer went out after three months
    Kichker will replace it..but they are backorderd for three months..absoultly ridicules and the coustmer service..says oh well we can’t do nothing about ther another manufature transformer that will work..I would not recomend buying from Kichler

  11. JustME says:

    I can see this site is going to give me so many more ideas of what I want in our home. Sorry hubby! ;^) We’ve been wanting more under the cabinet lighting for some time now, but have not found anything that fit our needs. This sounds perfect! We have a friend that’s an electrician that we hire for anything my hubby can’t do so that part won’t stop us either. Thanks so much!

  12. Paul&Aundrea says:

    I love this. I’ve tried some of the under-cabinet lights that are battery powered, but after a few times of replacing the batteries we pretty much just stopped using them. This is going on my to-do list!

  13. Icarus says:

    is this something you can do retroactively?

  14. HANDYMAN51 says:

    You’d really need to keep countertops clean with these lighting them up. I can see where they would make nice features shine.

  15. Jackson Truchbina says:

    Sorry I’m late to the party, but I gotta tell ya… I had the Kichler stuff in my kitchen and replaced it with Klauf light bars that I found on Kickstarter last year. The Klauf stuff is soooo much better!! The color is better, no multi shadows, it’s brighter. Happy wife = happy life!! For me, I’m glad it’s also USA made.

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