Step 9: Finalize fixture and wall plate

finalizing the fixture
Photo: Kolin Smith
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Start by reinstalling the socket strip in the fixture, but don't put the bulbs in place just yet.

Inside each fixture are a white, a black, and a green wire. Connect them to the wires of the same color coming from the cable, using wire connectors: black to black, white to white, and bare copper to green.

Once the wiring is complete, add the bulbs to the socket strip and install the cover on the fixture.

Then screw on the two-gang wall plate.

Turn the power back on and test your work.

Tip: Never touch a halogen bulb with your bare hands; your natural skin oils can damage the bulb. It can also get extremely hot!
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    Tools List

    • flat prybar
      Flat pry bar,
      to remove the old electrical box
    • Phillips screwdriver
      Phillips and slotted screwdrivers
    • drywall saw
      Drywall saw,
      to cut the hold for a new electrical box
    • spade bit
      1/2-inch spade bit,
      to bore a hole in the wall for a new cable
    • wire strippers
      Wire strippers,
      to remove insulation from wires
    • lineman's pliers
      Lineman's pliers,
      to cut and twist together wires
    • drill
      Drill/driver,
      to drive screws and bore holes

    Shopping List

    1. Light fixture Undercabinet lights are available in fluorescent, halogen, and xenon models. We chose low-voltage halogen for its bright white light (see "10: Choosing the Light"). Measure upper wall cabinets to determine what length fixtures to buy—23 inches and 47 inches are typical sizes. You can gang them together for long runs.

    2. Dimmer switch needs to be compatible with the light fixture you choose.

    3. GFCI receptacle Once installed, this outlet’s ground-fault circuit interrupter will shut off instantaneously if you receive a jolt.

    4. Two-gang, old-work electrical box This larger box replaces the existing single-gang receptacle box in the backsplash wall. An "old work" box is for remodeling—its "fins" unfold behind the drywall to lock it in place.

    5. Two-gang wall plate

    6. 12/2 NM (nonmetallic) electrical cable plastic-sheathed cable often referred to as Romex, a trade name. The 12/2 designation refers to its two 12-gauge copper wires—a neutral and a hot. It also holds a bare ground wire. You’ll need 6 feet of cable, including loose wires you’ll cut from this for Step #6.

    7. Ground pigtail connector; cable connector; wire connectors

    8. Wood or plastic cable protector may be required by some municipalities to protect exposed cable. Make from wood or buy as "nonmetallic raceway" in 5-foot lengths.