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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Washington, DC area

    Home Lighting Questions

    I'm looking for a couple things, and thought I'd try the brain trust here.

    I want some under-cabinet lighting for my kitchen counters. I need two runs, of 4 and 5 feet or so, meeting at a right angle. They'd be controlled by a single switch and I'd like to be able to dim them. I'm looking for a good low-profile LED solution, with either a standard bulb that's easy to replace (for years to come) or with enough tiny bulbs that if a few go out it won't be noticeable without ducking down and looking.

    Also, we have a couple really old fixtures in the basement den/game room with a pair of 4' fluorescent tubes each. I'd love to move to something LED there, too. Preferably a little brighter than just 2 tubes each, but also dimmable and (again) with standard bulbs of some sort. The current sockets are mounted between joists, in boxes the prior owners hand built that are similar in size to a regular 2x4 drop ceiling fixture; they each use an actual 2x4 drop ceiling lens to diffuse. The space above each lens is unfinished, so the lenses need to remain or we've got a ton of handyman work to do! It's a low ceiling, too, so I don't want anything that dangles below where the lenses are now.

    Any recommendations?

    thanks,

    -jk

  2. #2
    FWIW we have a very similar basement "ceiling" area, and about a year ago I replaced two twin 4' fluorescent fixtures with two twin 4" LEDs. It was exceedingly bright by comparison. Of course, part of that was that the fluorescent fixtures (if not the tubes themselves also) were dying. I got the LEDs at L---s and they came with a good warranty (3 years I think).

    Fast forward less than a year, one of the four tubes started to flicker. I dutifully called the toll-free number of the brand and was instructed to take them back to L---s (I think it was a private label/house brand). Both fixtures - it was a two pack of twin tubed LEDs. Upon arriving at L---s, I got static about the return, as it was outside their return policy. I had to make my case firmly, and eventually a manager approved a full refund (but not an exchange). Curious, I went to the aisle and saw they didn't have those specific fixtures anymore (and a fair bit was picked over).

    So I headed over to HD and looked at what they were selling. I ended up buying two single-tubed LEDs that were only 3' long. I think it was their house brand as well. Going to 1 tube/fixture and 3' instead of 4' was the right amount of light we needed.

    In the old days we would just leave our fluorescents on all the time in the basement because they (eventually) were too slow to get started as we passed through. With LED, it's usually (but not always!?!) instant-on. So we turn them off at night now.

    No wiring required for these, just an outlet, but I've installed wired ones too. Thanks, 7th grade shop class!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Santa Cruz CA
    I have replaced my 4' fluorescents in my sheds with 4 foot LED lights Costco sells.
    They have worked out great. Most recent one I got includes a motion detector so I can just leave it on and it comes on when I go in the shed.

    I originally had some really nice xenon bulb undercabinet lights. A less used part of the kitchen still has those, but they wore out in the main prep area.
    For that area, I did not really need them to be dimmable so I replaced them with a couple led strip lights from HD. Do not worry about bulb replacement. You will end up replacing the whole fixture. Dimmable LED lights can be harder to find and you need to have a newer dimmer switch to make sure they will actually work.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Washington, DC area
    Thanks, both of you!

    For the fluorescent bulb replacement, did they use the same sockets, ballast and all? Or a new 4' fixture that takes a 4' LED tube?

    I don't have a switch for the cabinet lights and would be getting a new one for the current fluorescent ones, so sourcing LED appropriate switches would be part of the process. I use an insteon home automation setup, and I think they have some.

    Do the LED under cabinet kits use any sort of standardized plugs to make replacing a strip easy?

    -jk

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    North of Durham
    We did a massive gut of our apartment when we moved in in 2015-2016. I am really ignorant about such things so leaned heavily on my wife and our contractors/designers, so pardon my somewhat simplistic response.

    We have under-cabinet dimmable lighting (in addition to the overhead light fixtures). We don't use it much but are happy with it. I checked some old e-mails and it looks like we used one of these LED tape lights (I'm not sure which one).

    https://www.build.com/wac-lighting-i...bp-tape-lights

    I believe we have a Lutron ELV dimmer. I'm not sure how the dimmer and the lighting connect - this was all done when the kitchen was torn down to the studs. I don't know what we do if there is a problem with the lights - so far, so good (knock on wood).

    Good luck!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Santa Cruz CA
    Quote Originally Posted by -jk View Post
    Thanks, both of you!

    For the fluorescent bulb replacement, did they use the same sockets, ballast and all? Or a new 4' fixture that takes a 4' LED tube?

    -jk
    You can get just the bulbs and use your existing fixtures. HD has the bulbs for $8.50 now. Won't be dimmable, just like the FL. Might be a bit brighter, but not dramatically.
    https://www.homedepot.com/p/Philips-...5624/308367839

    When they first started carrying them, Costco had the LED bulbs
    periodically on sale that would go in existing shop light FL fixtures.
    My plan was to use this as replacements when I ran out of FL bulbs. By
    the time I needed to replace them, the new fixture was the same price as
    the replacement bulbs, so I just swapped them out completely, which has
    the side benefit of getting rid of the ballast fixture, which probably
    uses more power than the LED dedicated arrangement anyway.

    I have three of the ones that are basically the LED version of the old
    fashioned 4' FL shop lights and they work perfectly as garage/shed lights, but they are not dimmable.

    Most recently when I went down there to get one for my tool shed, they
    had switched to this fancier model. That has a motion sensor and remote, which allows you to dim them.
    You can have up to 6 of them linked together, presumably controlled by one remote.
    I don't know what they would do if you tried to dim them with a wall dimmer switch, but the remote dimming does work.
    ledremote.jpg
    https://www.costco.com/koda-46%22-le...100658326.html

    These are much smaller than the old shop light type of fixtures. You may be able to fit two of these in the same enclosure you currently have and be able to double your light output. If you just use the remote for dimming you wouldn't need to change out the wall switch either.


    Quote Originally Posted by -jk View Post
    I don't have a switch for the cabinet lights and would be getting a new one for the current fluorescent ones, so sourcing LED appropriate switches would be part of the process. I use an insteon home automation setup, and I think they have some.

    -jk
    When putting in new switches, I have been using the wifi smart dimmers Costco sells in a two pack. They're usually cheaper than plain dimmers at HD. They can be controlled by Alexa or Google or your phone. They work well with LED and any other lights. I would guess the Insteon ones will work as well, but it looks like they're pricey and having supply chain issues.

    Quote Originally Posted by -jk View Post
    Thanks, both of you!

    Do the LED under cabinet kits use any sort of standardized plugs to make replacing a strip easy?

    -jk

    My old xenon undercabinet lights were the kind where you ran romex wiring into
    one metal housed section and then were linked together.
    xenon.jpg

    The led undercabinets seem to be all lightweight plastic and need to plug into a socket, so I had to mount a squat electrical box where my romex came out of the bottom of the cabinet. They do have connectors for linking together after the first section.
    led.jpg

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by -jk View Post
    Thanks, both of you!

    For the fluorescent bulb replacement, did they use the same sockets, ballast and all? Or a new 4' fixture that takes a 4' LED tube?

    I don't have a switch for the cabinet lights and would be getting a new one for the current fluorescent ones, so sourcing LED appropriate switches would be part of the process. I use an insteon home automation setup, and I think they have some.

    Do the LED under cabinet kits use any sort of standardized plugs to make replacing a strip easy?

    -jk
    I replaced the entire fixture, not just the "bulb". My old fixtures were either original with the house or put in before we got there, making them 27 - 34 yrs old. They had a lot of hours on them, and recently I had begun to notice that even new bulbs weren't doing that well in them. Not as well as they should be. Some testing pointed strongly to the fixtures being as much of the problem as the tubes themselves. Given that these things are all but obsolete, I moved on. Mounting the new 3' ones where the 4' ones went was slightly tricky but doable.

    As I think another poster above stated, some of the units are designed to daisy chain together if desired. And some are plug in to standard outlet* , some are to be wired, some can go either way. But replacement is usually full unit, which is unfortunate, but I don't get the feeling the stuff inside is standardized on size anyway. Since entire unit gets replaced, what you're dealing with is mounting hardware. It's like replacing a towel bar in your bathroom. It's usu. not going to line up perfectly & you'll have a bunch of holes in close proximity! :/

    Sorry I didn't know anything about dimming. Though I think I was probably once considered a dim bulb. Maybe twice.

    *we've got a renegade metal-housed outlet, not wall-mounted, hidden on top of our kitchen cabinets - I made use of it for the over-the-sink lighting

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Washington, DC area
    Thanks again. I was hoping things were standardized in the LED world. Oh, well.

    I have some idea what I'm looking for, anyway.

    -jk

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