Kitchen lighting plan and Fluorescent vs LED recessed

katkatfApril 11, 2011

I was all ready to trot off to get my permit this week, but I'm now not sure about my lighting plan. I had planned on fluorescent recessed lighting for the general lighting, fluorescent under cabinet strips, and incandescent pendants - 2 over the eating bar at the island and 1 over the sink. An electrician I was interviewing said "don't do fluorescent recessed, do LED recessed. Every customer I know who's done fluorescent has been unhappy with it." I'm in CA, so need to follow Title 24, meaning I need to have 1/2 of my wattage in the kitchen be high efficacy (LED or fluorescent). If I change to LED, I won't be able to do a pendant over the sink because LED fixtures are much lower wattage than fluorescent. Any feedback on my lighting plan in general? Or on the question of fluorescent vs. LED? Especially anybody who actually has recent fluorescent recessed lighting? If I switch to LED then I won't have enough watts to do a pendant over the sink; do I have enough light for the sink area if I just remove the pendant?

I saw several references to Cree LR6 here, but I seem to be missing some important understanding. It seems I need to buy something besides the LR6? Some kind of housing and/or a special base because I'm in CA? I would really appreciate someone taking pity on this newbie and helping me understand what do I need to buy to install LR6 in a remodel in California. We have attic insulation and do not plan to replace the ceiling. And what would be the Title 24 wattage I could count for each fixture?

I can't get my permit till I figure this out. :(

Thanks in advance for any and all help and advice

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If you are putting new cans, the cans need to be fitted out with something other than the edison base connector eg - a GU24 connector.

Typically this means cans with built in CF or a GU24 connector.

The can could be a retrofit can that does not have a edison base connector, air tight and rated for direct contact with insulation.

The LR6 or CR6 LED module must have the GU24 connector.

The CR6 sold by Home Depot cannot be used as they come with the edison base.

I don't think title 24 specifies the max wattage per fixture.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 12:36PM
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I couldn't really read the plan in order to count fixtures/estimate wattage. However I'm have the Cree CR6 going in my kitchen with a GU24 can. You can buy any Gu24 can you want or use the Cree version as well. The Cree runs a little bit more expensive than say the Halo version. The CR6 & LR6 are both rated at 10.5 Watts each. (The CR6 is cheaper, the LR6 is slightly brighter and potentially more color consistency.)

The Home Depot Cree lights can be installed in edison cans, but they will not pass CA inspections. The can needs to be GU24 to count. These are great to replace existing 6" incandescent light cans.)

Do you have easy access to the cans from the attic? To me, that is the best question if you don't really mind the CFL light. The CFLs have ballasts in the can that my need to be replaced. Not the easiest thing to do unless you have access from the attic. The LEDs do not have a ballast -- and if the light ever dies, is easy to replace.

There are some nice CFL and LED pendents around too ...

I am going entirely LED in my kitchen and have reduced the lighting to under 100watts fully lit -- that equals one of my old can lights.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 12:23AM
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It sounds like the issue here is that incandescent can be only a percentage of the total wattage.

I would look into LED pendants.

As always here I will counsel against relying on recessed cans for your main lighting. Cans are not a good choice for general illumination, because they have no indirect light component (reflection off ceiling and walls. They pool light rather than distributing it. You need a lot of them, which increases the installation cost and puts lots of holes in the ceiling.

Surface mount fixtures, pendants with translucent shades, or even chandeliers are better for general illumination - anything that has an indirect lighting component.

Surface mount linear fluorescents provide by far the most effective and economical general illumination, but they are out of fashion.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 1:32AM
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Thanks, everybody. I really appreciate the input and information. I am all for energy efficiency, but - now that I'm deep in the weeds of it - I think Title 24 is over the top and makes things very challenging and expensive for homeowners. I'm thinking the Cree LR6 with GU24 is the way I'll likely go.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 8:53PM
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I was just telling a colleague at work today how Title 24 really restricts you as we're in a time when many manufacturers just aren't making a full range in GU-24/Title 24 acceptable forms. That will change in time.

I came real close to going with several recessed cans for which I was going to use the Cree LR6 with GU-24 base (no way I was going with CF cans with their separate ballasts), but decided on a central flush/semi-flush main light, then pendants on both sides (over sink on one side, high bar counter on the other.

I'll miss the ambiance recessed lighting can give, but should have a better lit kitchen with more ceiling space for speakers!

Here is a link that might be useful: my original lighting plan and thread

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 2:13AM
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What city do you live in? You may want to go to the city and talk to them. I've convinced my city to give me a credit of 24 watts for each LED can light I used because that is the credit I would get if I used fluorescent. And we should not be penalized for using MORE efficient lighting. My city completely agreed with my proposal.

If you want to use LED pendants, Forecast has some really beautiful lights.

Cree DR1000 is the newest and brighest LED.
I only used these as general/ambient light because they are not as bright as incandescent cans with a par 30/75 watt lamp.

I use 6" incandescent can with par 30/ 75 watt lamp over sink and island task area. (5" cans will only accept 50 watt.

I use under cabinet lighting as task; either fluoresent or LED. Fluorescent is 1/3 of the cost, but I only use fixtures using T5 lamps at 3500 kelvin (they are not blue.)Juno has the best fixture. (except: the 12" fixtures have a completely different color lamp, so I try to only order 18" length.) If you have to order 12" length, you should order only 12" lengths, so they will all match.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 3:23AM
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The ballast on built in ballast compact fluorescent recessed fixtures is replaceable. It's not fun but it is possible.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 8:30PM
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LEDs rock. But, as you say, Title 24 is "over the top" in so many ways. Typical ill-thought out "feel good" legislation.

We put Juno fluorescent cans in our kitchen three years ago, and if I were doing it today I would go LED and not look back. Am about to retrofit many of our highly used 6" incandescent cans with CR-6 (or equivalent).

Get the cheapest Title 24 pendant you can find. Then, after the inspector leaves, install the one you really want.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 12:43AM
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It seems as if quite a few people regard T24 as something to be gamed or evaded if possible. I could be wrong, but I think in about 8-10 years the folks who took it seriously are going to be glad they did, when they see what happens to energy costs.

My parents did just fine in their 1950s kitchen lit by a single central light fixture with a 75 watt incandescent bulb. Their one 15 watt undercabinet fluorescent was a luxury they added later, and used only occasionally.

Today's kitchens are often equipped with a dozen or more recessed lights. They even dedicate 2 or 3 fixtures just to a short expanse of counter space (the island or breakfast bar area).

Even with high efficacy fixtures, such kitchens are often using considerably more power than my parents' inefficient incandescent fixture. And with incandescents, they're often using enough power to heat a small room with a space heater.

I know, today's kitchens are larger. Still, this just doesn't seem right to me. We're already using electricity like there's no tomorrow in this country (not that others aren't too).

As recently as the mid-1980s, I was paying $15 electric bills; now they're typically $70-100. I'm sure others have seen a similar increase. Part of it is higher usage, part of it is higher rates. Here we have a chance to spend less on electric bills, thanks to improved lighting efficiency, and some folks are trying to avoid that? What's wrong with this picture?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 6:16PM
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"What's wrong with this picture" is that we have idiots and a one sided government (Extreme Liberal) writing these dumb laws.

Look at katkatf's problem here.
If He wants to use an incandescent pendent, then He has to buy less efficient lighting (CFL as opposed to Led).Not only that but from all I have researched (and a bunch),
CFL's are going to be a lot less reliable than a Good LED(Especially in can fixtures)----It doesn't take much googling to find problem after problem with the CFL can lites, (Usually Ballast), and as noted in some of the post above, these ballast are not easily changed.

One of the main reasons your electic bill is higher now is that in Calif, "We have the best politicians money can buy"
Do you recall the folks that went to jail duing the, not to distant Electric Energy Ripoff, in Calif? Were the prices ever rolled back after the folks went to jail?
Of course not, A politcal donation here and there, and
"All's Forgotten"!

The US Govt has legislation that is scheduled to go into effect in 2014, as I recall, and this legislation was written by BOTH Parties, not just some "Idiot Eggheads" in Calif , acting like kids to see how many laws they can write!!!!----just to "Get the jump on the Feds"

Well they "Got The Jump", alright Nice Job, "Kids" encourage people to buy lights that are less efficient and more than likely fail in a year or so!


    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 11:17PM
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Great that you got that off your chest, Gary, but I'm afraid I don't see much practical advice there.

Here's the deal. The cost of electricity is almost certain to rise rapidly over the next two decades. This is because oil costs are going to rise rapidly as demand takes off in Asia. The Chinese want cars - and you can bet they will get them. They will be followed by other nations now developing a middle class. The sky's the limit on oil consumption over there.

Coal prices follow oil prices - that's the free market for you - and coal is a major source of electrical energy in the US.

Here in the US, unlike such European nations as Germany and Denmark, we haven't invested much public money in alternatives to coal. That's the way the US voted - we voted for politicans who don't believe in that kind of investment. Their public record is there for anyone to read. However, voters apparently thought it was more important to listen to their emotional-appeal ads. They bought into the deliberately misleading nonsense that passes for "news", especially on certain television networks.

We could have chosen politicians who would have done as the Europeans are doing, and developed energy sources that would have stabilized our electricity costs in the decades ahead, in return for higher taxes now. We get low taxes now, but we will be paying for it in higher energy costs pretty much forever.

This is the choice we have made as a society. As I see it, the best way for us to cope with those forever-rising energy prices - other than investing in our own alternative energy sources on our own personal rooftops - is to improve our energy efficiency now.

The good thing about CA T24 and other energy laws is that they move efficient appliances and lighting from the fringe into the mainstream, where they become affordable. As a totally WAG, I'd guess that the development of LED lighting has been accelerated by 5 years by the existence of these laws. That's good news for anybody who wants to keep more of his hard earned dollars in his pocket.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 3:02AM
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David, the law should have been written to encourage the purchase of the most efficient lighting, (IE they get the credit for now many watts the lights save, instead of the bassakwards law they wrote where you add up the watts of the non-incandescent lights you bought and gets a "Credit for that"----so that encourages people to buy those non-incandescants (at the highest wattage), so they can use an incandescent (as computed by our idiots)!

If you live in Calif, there is NO WAY, you can miss all the windmills out here, and there are credits (US & Calif), I believe for purchasing Solar Power.

Let me give you another example of why I call these "So Called Thinkers", idiots.

My wife works for a huge company, with TONS of computers.
Just about all the computers are still using Cathode Ray Tube Monitors (There not nearly as efficient as LCD Monitors). There is NO incentive for companies to update monitors (Government wise--Especially CAlif Govt).
In fact , you are penalized if you update the monitor, first the sales tax, but worse than that is a law our "Idjusts" passed---The so called "Monitor Recycling Fee".
If you are a business, in Calif, You have to "Guesstimate" the number of monitors you will buy in the calendar year. Then you pay a Fee based upon your number (of course they Keep an Eye on ya).

This law was passed when (due to the Terminator), no new taxes would be passed in Calif---or at least it would be difficult "Political wise" So the Legislature came up with all kinds of "Fees", this being one of them.
They kept coming up with new fees until the "Hammer Fell".

Monitor's that are recycled, make money for the recycler so it had nothing to do with the disposal costs of old monitors!

One of the many reasons the State is Broke, is because we duplicate so much of what the Fed Govt is already doing, and I for one, don't Appreciate Our Idiots "Granstanding" and passing laws that have the opposite effect of maximizing Energy Savings!!!


    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 2:11PM
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That's called unintended consequences, and it happens when lawmakers don't think through what's likely to happen (as they usually don't). It is very difficult to change one element of a complex structure without affecting others.

Unlike some others I do think they mean well and I also think that the laws, imperfect as they are, will have some positive effect. Even T24.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 11:58PM
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