Thoughts about kitchen lighting - to myself

bugbiteMay 21, 2009

This post is for me as therapy to help me sort out a decision about my kitchen lights.

I had fluorescents, 4 - 4ft 40w bulbs. They produced about 12000 lumens, 4 times 3000 each. That was an OK amount of light (measured by lumens). It sure gave the kitchen a nice light amount, but the lights were not completely covering all areas of the kitchen since it was one light source. Next I replaced the 1 fixture with two HO t5 fluorescent fixtures which I basically built from internet bought fixtures modified with a heat shield and added my own leaded glass covers. The bulbs were the latest, greatest half inch versus t12 which are 1.5 inches. The length was 39 inches. I did all this because I felt I would learn to like long fluorescent tubes.

But I didnt; it still was long tube fluorescents and I wanted a contemporary look. The positive result was better lighting from 2 fixtures and a perfect color 3000k, sorry 2700k looks very dingy in a white kitchen (your kitchen turns dirty yellow) and 3500k makes my kitchen blue.

Next I started considering recessed. Well I have been considering them all along but kept running into some conceptual problems, like bulbs sucked. Most common CLF reflectors (which can be used in recessed cans) are 65 watts and they are 2700k. I brought home the bulb, got a test can from HD, wired it up and drug it around the kitchen with an extension cordÂit was horrible. Way too little light from the bulb and the color was 2700k (sickly in a white kitchen). The lumens were 650 which means I would need 14 fixtures to get the same light (12000 currently, divided by 880).

The only bulb that came close that I could find on the internet was the GE Genura 23watt (equal to 100watts incandescent) and 3000k. Expensive as h*ll at $32 bucks and the lumens are 880 Âhmm is that really equal to 100 watts?

I think I found the only solution. The 4pin fluorescent. It is kinda like a spiral clf but the bulbs are not spiral. The biggest difference is the ballast is NOT on the bulb like common clfs that you get in every store. The ballast on common clfs is ON the bulb and is like a tiny computer that needs a certain temperature range to work (look at the specs on your bulb). In a can the temperature gets way too hot for the built-in ballast. The bulbs burn out fast. (I talked to 2 manufactures about this). So CLFs are out if they have the ballast built in, which ALL common CLFs do. That sucks because I can easily buy 3000k, 23watt CLFs, which I love. Just canÂt use then in cans. Seems that the reflector styles reflect the heat away from this little ballast so they are OK but they limit the watts to keep the temperature down, and the color is very, very limited.

Now about the answer. The 4 pin compact fluorescent. No ballast on the bulb to cause havoc . The ballast is on the fixture. This make to bulbs very inexpensive and I can get the bulb in higher watts, much higher lumens and many shades of kÂthe perfect bulb.

The problem is the actual can. Instead of buying a $13 can at HD or Lowes now I have to get a can that cost at least $33. Go to a site call thefind and search "remodel ic compact fluorescent housing". Why are these fixtures more? Because the ballast is on the can fixture, far away from the hot bulb. It does have a lot of issues. Want a dimmable version and the price jumps to $60+. The ballast could last years but it could burn out in 5 years . I will have to pull out the can and change the ballast. Note to self: In 5 years maybe technology will change and I will change the whole recessed fixture.

To avoid the dimmable requirement maybe I will divide up the lights and put half on one switch and half on another since I have two switches.

A vendor said that the 4 pin base CFL is becoming the BIG thing. I even found a 4 inch fixture by NORA that uses a 13w or 18w or 26W (that like 50, 75 and 105 watts, I guess). But you have to state which one you want when you order the fixture. Westside wholesale said itÂs around $50 per can (dimming ballast is extra).

After writing this I guess I will get 26w cans and split the lights into two groups and plan to switch cans in 5 years when the ballast goes out. At least the bulbs are cheap and the color and lumens are prefect. And no overheating of the built in ballast which so many people are complaining about on the internet. They are actually complaining about the bulbs and donÂt realize the problem is the built-in ballast.

The only thing now is to pick the 4 pin bulb. Somewhere I read that the 3 loops versus 2 loops is better on the eyes (whatever that means). They seem to be more expensive.

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I have some fixtures that maybe use the bulbs you so much like.
PL twin tube 4, 5, 7, 9, 13 watt. Those I use - None last very long. Not long at all burn times, overnite or constant on, or on demand, doesnt seem to matter they dont have much life.

Remember 50% of fluorescents last longer than the average design hours and I think twin tubes here have all failed in the catagory where 50% of all fluorescents must last less than the published average life hours. Way less!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2009 at 2:56PM
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Thanks Mikie,
I appreciate your post. I will do more research before I buy those expensive cans. Is yours 2 pin? Don't know if that makes a difference.
An example of what I am looking at is:
Philips 26W PL-T Triple Twin Tube Plug-in CFL with 4-Pin (GX24q-3) Base, ALTO Low Mercury Technology, and 3000K Warm White Color. (length 5")12000 hour life.
And a GE26W TPL 4Pin FluoBulb.
Also, thought I would check lesser known brands like SLI and Satco which are cheaper.
The shorter life issue really intrigues me.
I will call lighting companies and ask their opinion.
Thanks again,

    Bookmark   May 21, 2009 at 4:06PM
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You cetainly have spent your time wisely on investigating the available light sources, but no where in your posting do you mentioned the type of trim you would use.
The light source certainly is important, but more important is the trim used.
Most people seem to want to use white trims unfortunately.
The trims used for linear light sources is more critical then the trims used for floodlights.

The trim directs the light into your spaces, and also prevents (or creates ) glare.

The use of clear Alzak or Haze trims enhances the performance of any lamp ,and also enhances the overall appearance of your room.

Pick the right trim with a 26 watt 3500k lamp.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 10:39AM
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Thanks for reply. I only lightly touched trim. Bought several $48 trims at Lowes on the discount table for $3 each (a special order that was returned). I was pretty proud of myself. It was a highly refective trim. I tested one and it blow me out of the house. The trim reflected so intently that you could not look at it, nor did I want to get near it for fear of a sunburn.
I took them back. Now that I look back, the reflector might have worked well with a much lower watt bulb.

Somewhere recently I read "DO NOT get a bright reflective or white reflector because of the glare; get black reflectors." I will test the reflectors once I select the fixture and wattage.
Why do you like the reflectors you picked? I see that they are pricey. They must justify the price, but how?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 12:15PM
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Hi Bob
The alzak trim that I recommend is pricey, but it has been used of the trim of choice for years commercially.
"Alzak" is a finish that was developed by ALCOA to provide the best reflectance( critical for light delivery) and low glare( for eye comfort)
It is expensive compared to the plastic crap available on the market, but in relation to the price of everything else in your kitchen,(ie appliances, counters, etc.)it isn't.
Never use black trims with fluorescent PL lamps , as the trim will reduce the amount of light leaving the recessed housing, and will not disperse the light into your space.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2009 at 11:16AM
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Thanks Norm,
I will definitely check it out if I go with Pl lamps. I appreciate the information.
Thanks again,

    Bookmark   May 23, 2009 at 6:02PM
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