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Kitchen lighting - plug in pelmet lights

Additional lights mounted under kitchen wall units can provide an extra dimension to your kitchen as well as a useful source of additional task lighting when preparing food.

Pelmet lighting kits

The simplest way of achieving this is by buying and fitting a strip light kit which simply plugs into a nearby available socket outlet. The advantage of using one of these kitchen lighting kits is that the work is not notifiable under Part P of the Building Regulations because you will not be carrying out any work on the mains wiring in your home.

The kits have a number of tube lamps and fittings. Once the light fittings are fixed in position, they are linked by connecting cable and the first fitting is connected to the power supply via a lead plugged into a nearby socket outlet.

Choosing the lights

You will need to choose a kit or kits to suit your layout, but as a guide you will probably want one fitting under each full sized wall unit. Before buying, make sure you plan where each light will be fitted, the path for the connecting cables between each light, and the availability of a power socket near enough for the length of the included plug-in cable. You will also want to consider the size of each fitting if you want it to be hidden behind the pelmet under the wall units. Pelmets vary in size so measure the distance between the underside of the cabinet and the bottom of the pelmet and choose fittings which are shallower than this.

Kit components

When you have bought the lighting kits, examine the contents to ensure all the components have been included and to familiarise yourself with the system. The kit will usually contain tube lamps, the light fittings, mounting clips, mains connector lead, intermediate connecting cables, cable clips and screws.

Setting out the light fittings

Set out your kit on the worktop positioning the light fittings beneath the wall units to which they are to be fixed. Lay the connecting cables between them ensuring that each is long enough to reach the next. Check that the mains connector lead will be long enough to reach from the end of the first light to the power outlet where it will be plugged in. Bear in mind that you will be running the cable back from the fitting to the wall along the underside of the cupboard and then along and down to the outlet.

Fixing the pelmet lights

Hold the first fitting up against the underside of the wall unit and mark the positions of the fixing brackets. Make sure you read the instructions reagrding the proximity of pelmets and walls etc as the lights may overheat if there is not sufficient clearance. The minimum is likely to be around 2 inches. Fix the brackets to the cupboard with the screws provided. You will need to check these are short enough not to penetrate through to the inside of the wall unit. Mount the light fitting on its bracket and check that it is positioned correctly.

Repeat the process with the remaining fittings and then connect them together with the supplied cables. The cable should then be fastened in position using the cable clips provided. Fit the tube lamps in each of the fittings. Connect the power cord to the first light fitting and clip the cable in position before plugging into the power outlet.

Switch on the power at the socket outlet and test the operation of the lights using the integral switch on each unit.