Adding a cabinet door activated light switch can be a great addition to your kitchen cabinetry and help eliminate those dark areas.
There are really only three items you will need to get started.
First things first though. You are going to need an outlet on the back wall of the cabinet. Sometimes you can find one near a garbage disposal, vent hood or hidden in a vanity or wardrobe.
The wall outlet is needed to plug in a small power supply.
So, here’s what you’ll need…a plug-in power supply, a cabinet door sensor, and of course, the lighting fixture(s). Don’t worry, we’ll provide the exact list of items to take a look at below.
Where to use cabinet door activated light switches
You most likely already have a designated area for lighting, but this can often be the fun part. There are lots of areas that can benefit from a little light.
Using tape light (a roll of LED tape) adhered along the inside wall of the cabinet is the best way to do this.
It’s not always easy to get power to every spot in the kitchen though, but here’s a few ideas.
- Kitchen wall cabinets
- Blind corner cabinets
- Tall pantry cabinets
- Base cabinet drawers
- Under sink areas
New to LED Lighting?
There are tons of benefits from LED lighting including, low maintenance, energy savings, instant on, size advantage and more. Adding something like a cabinet door activated light switch is a great starting point and an easy DIY project.
You may also want to examine LED color temperatures to get a feel for what would work with your projects. The various color temperature preferences can vary from person to person, but there are some standards to be aware of.
How the Sensor Works
When your cabinet door is open, the light will come on and when the cabinet door is closed, the light will turn off. Before securing all wires and connections, it is important to make sure the placement of the door switch is properly surface mounted to be activated by the cabinet door.
We recommend doing a couple mock ups before mounting. Without accurately mounting the sensor, the light can flicker as it may not be aligned with the door properly.
If your light switch sensor is sensing your hand when reaching into the cabinet, simply move the sensor to the top shelf of the cabinet and as far to the side of the shelf as possible.
The 12V Power Supply
These are what we use for laptop computer power supplies. These “plug-n-play” products basically take the current from your house and convert it to 12V.
Many 12V DC power supplies are dimmable on the trailing edge…or the 12V side. A lead cord gives you some extra space in-between your wall outlet and light fixtures.
The cabinet door sensor will have an input and an output side. The power supply will connect to the input plug of the sensor. The other sensor wire will then go to your LED light fixture wire.
The 12V LED Sensor
This switch activates your LED light(s) when the cabinet door is open. It’s great for standard cabinet LED lights, closet led lights, or drawer lights.
When there is no object in front of the sensor, with a distance over 2″, (this will mean the door is open), the sensor will turn on.
The sensor should be surface mounted in the cabinet about 3/4″ back from the cabinet door. I would suggest a trial run on this to make sure the location is ideal.
The 12V LED Tape Light
The last piece of the puzzle is the LED fixture. Something like a tape light with adhesive backing could be a simple option. The trick with tape light is to find the compatible power supply and sensor.
LED tape light is usually cuttable and linkable. This makes it ideal to make a long or a short run that fits inside your cabinet at the best length.
Typically, wood cabinetry looks good with warmer lighting tones (2700K) and white cabinetry looks great with cooler tones (4000K). The below recommendation comes in a bright white and also a warm white color temperature.
Push Button Door Switches – Normally On Switches
If you need a hardwire version that fits in a framed door jamb, there are a number of good products out there.
Unlike the plug-and-play version above, these require some wiring and installation efforts. They operate in the same fashion though…when the door is open, the light is on and when the door is closed, the light is off.
Gardner Bender 10 Amp Electrical Door Switch
This switch is designed to be mounted in the door jamb, but can easily mount up towards the door stops to hit the top door rails. Doing that will leave the back exposed in the closet or pantry.
The door will need to come in contact with the push button to turn the light off.
- Great for doors, closets pantry and more
- Auto lights when door is open
- For installation on a doorjamb with 1-1/4″ wide x 2-3/4″ high x 2″ deep mounting hole
For under $50, this is a great little project with lasting results. There’s lots of LED products online these days, so if you are using multiple brands of lights make sure they are compatible as well as the correct voltage. For anyone looking to light up a single dark cabinet, using something like this basic kit is a great jumping off point. Thanks for reading and good luck!