Exposed LED Tape vs. Professionally Designed Under-Cabinet Lighting Systems

What is the difference?

There is a big difference between an exposed LED strip taped to the bottom of your kitchen cabinets and a professionally designed under-cabinet lighting system where the LED tape is housed inside an aluminum profile.

Exposed LED strip taped to the bottom of a kitchen cabinet:
Professionally designed & installed under-cabinet lighting:

Here are three key differences that you may consider before you embark on a trip to your local hardware store to buy a roll of LED tape.

The life of LED’s is dictated by how well the heat generated during operation is dissipated. When LED tape is not housed in an aluminum profile, the heat generated by the LED is not properly dissipated and so its life will be significantly shorter. The life of each LED is rated by manufacturers anywhere between 30,000 and 40,000 hours, however, that number will be reduced to a fraction if the LED constantly heats up and operates at higher than normal temperatures, which is what happens when LED tape is directly applied to the bottom of your kitchen cabinet. Aside from a shorter life, higher operating temperatures also bring higher energy consumption.

When LED tape is not housed in an aluminum profile the tiny connectors on the LED tape are exposed to moisture which will cause them to oxidize very quickly. The connectors are also more prone to becoming loose which will cause dropped voltages or voltage interruptions. This will eventually lead to the premature failure of the system. To avoid all this we recommend that in addition to opting for a professional under-cabinet lighting system where the LED tape is housed in an aluminum profile with a diffuser you also choose a system that is built using solid-state connections. Solid-state connections will never oxidize or become loose, thus further extending the life of the LEDs.  Here is what a professionally designed under-cabinet lighting system using aluminum profiles with a diffuser looks like:

And then there is the visual aspect. When LED tape is not housed in an aluminum profile, the LED “dots” will always be visible, reflect from shiny surfaces like a countertop and the light emitted will not be uniform. Here is an example:

In contrast, when the LED tape is housed in an aluminum profile, the light emitted will pass through a diffuser that will provide a comfortable and uniform light distribution, without “dots”. Here is what uniform light distribution with no visible dots looks like:

Did You Know…

… not all LED tapes are created equal? There is a huge variety of LED tapes on the market, each with different characteristics, and not all of them equally suitable for under-cabinet lighting. There are companies specializing in under-cabinet lighting that have tested dozens of LED tapes and carefully selected only those most suitable for under-cabinet lighting based on the most appropriate level of light emitted per length. Some of these companies will also choose to work only with products that are certified for the North American market and will make sure that the right materials are used to ensure the highest safety standards and extend the life of the products.

Give us a call for any questions you have about lighting

We are custom lighting manufacturing specialists and lighting is our passion. We offer a wide range of high quality LED lighting products designed to fit a variety of applications. Give us a call at (647) 202-9126 for a free consultation.

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