This Old House host Kevin O'Connor works with an electrician to help a couple add task lighting to their dark kitchen in Brooklyn, New York.
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Shopping List for How to Add Task Lighting to a Kitchen:
- Old-work recessed lights, used to replace existing ceiling fixtures
- Fluorescent task lights, for installation above and below the cabinets
- Junction boxes, used to house wire connections
- Armor-sheathed cable and cable connectors, used to power the new light fixtures
- Twist-on wire connectors, for joining the wires
- Interconnect cable
Tools List for How to Add Task Lighting to a Kitchen:
- Flat pry bar, used to remove old ceiling light fixtures
- Cordless drill and 3/4-inch-diameter hole saw, for drilling cable holes
- Drywall saw
- Reciprocating saw with metal-cutting blade, used to saw through hanger bar
- Wire strippers
- Oscillating multi-tool, used, if necessary, to trim the cabinet
Steps for How to Add Task Lighting to a Kitchen:
1. Turn off the power to the kitchen lights at the main electrical panel.
2. Disconnect the existing ceiling light fixtures and pry the electrical boxes from the ceiling.
3. Use a reciprocating saw with a metal-cutting blade to saw through the old hanger bar, then bend the bar out of the way.
4. Take the template from the new recessed-light kit and hold it over the hole in the ceiling.
5. Trace around the template and then enlarge the hole with a drywall saw. Repeat for the other recessed light.
6. Run a length of armor-sheathed cable from one recessed fixture to the other. Be sure to use an approved cable connector to secure the cable to the box.
7. Make the wire connections inside the fixtures' junction boxes using twist-on wire connectors.
8. Push the recessed fixtures up into the ceiling, then engage the pressure clips to lock the fixtures onto the ceiling.
9. To install over-cabinet lights, start by removing the switch plate and switch from the switch box on the wall.
10. Cut a small access hole in the wall above the upper cabinets to expose the metal wall stud.
11. Drill a 3/4-inch-diameter hole through the stud and through the wall directly above the upper cabinet.
12. Run a length of armor-sheathed cable from the top of the cabinet, through the hole in the stud, and down to the switch box on the wall.
13. Screw a junction box to the top of the cabinet and feed the end of the cable into the box. Use an approved cable connector to secure the cable.
14. Run a second cable from the junction box on top of the cabinet, down the wall, and to the underside of the cabinet.
15. Install a second junction box to the underside of the cabinet. Connect the lower end of the second cable to the under-cabinet box.
16. Screw metal mounting clips to the underside of the cabinet, directly behind the face frame, then snap on the fluorescent light fixtures.
17. Install one light fixture under each cabinet. Join the fixtures together with interconnect cables.
18. If necessary, use an oscillating multi-tool to cut away part of the cabinet to allow the cable to lie flat.
19. Repeat Steps 16 and 17 to install fluorescent light fixtures on top of the cabinets.
20. Reinstall the light switches and turn the power back on.
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Homeowners have a virtual truckload of questions for us on smaller projects, and we're ready to answer. Ask This Old House solves the steady stream of home improvement problems faced by our viewers—and we make house calls! Ask This Old House features some familiar faces from This Old House, including Kevin O'Connor, general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, and landscape contractor Roger Cook.
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