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Low Voltage Lighting – Hiding The Transformer

Part 1

If, over the last few years, you have been reading any of the popular home decorating magazines you will have noticed that low voltage lighting has become a trend in kitchen design. Low voltage lighting is now available in almost all styles. Recessed lighting, under cabinet lighting and pendants, as shown in Figure 1, are only a few of the styles that are available to light, enhance and decorate your kitchen.

low voltage mini pendant light fixture

Figure 1 - Low voltage mini pendant light fixture

Low voltage lighting provides a high light quality, they dissipate less heat then conventional light fixtures, they have an exceptionally long life and they are less expensive to operate.

Of course nothing is perfect. Low voltage lighting requires the installation of an unattractive transformer, as shown in Figure 2, to power the lights. The transformer is an integral part of the low voltage lighting system and because it does wear out over time it cannot be buried behind walls or in ceilings, it must be accessible.

low voltage lighting - transformer

Figure 2 - Low voltage lighting - transformer

The question is; "where does one physically install the low voltage lighting transformer or in many cases the transformers, so that they are out of sight and still easily accessible?"

One of the most common places has been to install the low voltage lighting transformers in one of the kitchen cabinets. While this does hide the transformers from plain view, the transformers are visible whenever that specific kitchen cabinet is opened. Many homeowners are not pleased with having the low voltage lighting transformers mounted in the usable space of kitchen cabinets.

However, there are a couple of alternatives to mounting the low voltage transformers in the useable space of kitchen cabinets!

Note: Always check local building codes before installing any electrical devices, including low voltage lighting transformers.

Low Voltage Lighting - Transformer Installation Alternatives:

  1. If you have a valance above the wall cabinets, as shown in Figure 3, the low voltage lighting transformers can be installed inside the valance.
  2. valance above kitchen wall cabinets

    Figure 3 - Valance above kitchen wall cabinets

Cut a hole in the valance about an inch smaller than a standard size air vent grill, as shown in Figure 4.

hole cut in valance

Figure 4 - Hole cut in valance

A common size for a return air grill is 12” X 6”, as shown in Figure 5a, although you should choose a size that suits your valance. For a grill that is 12” X 6”, the hole in the valance would be approximately 11” X 5”. The low voltage lighting transformers can be installed inside the valance.

return air grill

Figure 5a - Return air grill