What is wrong with undercabinet Fluorescents?

tallcaneJune 17, 2007

Why does it seem like most people go with xenon undercabinet lights? I would think todays fluorescents would make a great choice, especially since you can get a "warm" bulb. What am I missing?

I am about to select undercabinet lights and am trying to figure out what I should not go with fluorescents...

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halogen is being replaced with xenon

xenon is cooler than halogen, slightly warmer color temperature, longer life than halogen, dimmable with magnetic or electronic dimmers depending on power supply

fluorescent is cooler and won't warm up cabinet contents as much, longest life with up to 20,000 hours, energy efficient, but not possible or expensive to dim with some fixtures. With some fixtures there are different color temperatures available at high color rendering index.

fluorescent being a linear light source usually provides a more even light. Incandescents create bright spots that can often be seen in the reflections from polished surfaces. Some fixture manufacturers offer sand blasted glass lenses to help with this.

Hopefully others will add to this. There is a lot involved in making this choice.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 9:36AM
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I don't think there's anything inherently "wrong" with them. They are, as dim4fun mentioned, difficult or impossible to dim, at least in the US. That's a problem for some people. They are also so diffuse and shadowless that the tend to flatten the appearance of textured surfaces, and often don't show off fancy counter and backsplash materials very nicely. Beyond that, a lot of people carry around prejudices and negative associations with fluorescents that are hard to overcome. Fluorescent technology has improved a great deal, but many people made up their minds long ago.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 10:19AM
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due to California's Title 24 lighting requirements, there's no way I could have even considered halogen or xenon under-cabinet lights, so I have undercabinet fluorescent lighting (always have, but these are new). I like them a lot. They're Juno brand. I have no need to dim the fluorescents, they're either on becuase they're in use, or they're off.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 11:54AM
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"Why would you want to dim these...?"

I'd want to because, in my little house, kitchen lights are the first lights I turn on in the morning. Turning the lights on full blast at 5:30 A.M. is equivalent to placing a bell over my head and whacking it with a sledge hammer. I only need a few footcandles, just enough so I can work the coffeemaker. Later in the day I might not care so much.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 6:23PM
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We have put in new flourescent undercab lights and are very happy with them. We have three different sets on separate switches, so we just turn on the ones where we're doing something on the countertop that requires task lighting. Otherwise the ceiling lights (also flourescent) provide plenty of ambient lighting for general activities in the kitchen. There's one cabinet on the sink wall and the light under it stays on pretty much all the time, which gives us a good night light. We've never felt the need for dimmers.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2007 at 9:01PM
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My undercabinet light over my sink stays on 24/7. It finally needed changing after 10 years. Can you believe that? It's amazing!!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2007 at 12:01AM
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Lori B

Thanks for this posting. It was exactly what I was wondering. If I'm not concerned about dimmability, it seems like Fluorescents would be the way to go -- with a Spectra bulb.

The lighting saleslady was recommending xenons...due to the all the colors in my house. (Yellow kitchen, brown granite, cream cabs) After reading on this forum about the heat, I'm not sure that any of the xenon advantages win me over for my needs. Plus they are double the cost.

If I'm missing something, someone please let me know. I have to decide quickly. I sent out questions to my lighting specialist about the possibilty of dimming the fluorescents and that I'd like to get lights that are nice enough that they don't hum. Other than that, I hope I've considered everything.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 7:49PM
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I just went to look at lighting tonight. I was amazed at how different the new fluorescents are. I thought they looked great. It seems to me the perfect choice if dimming is not an issue. I saw LED too, but the light was too cold. Maybe its just the brand?

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 9:39PM
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The highest quality LED fixtures look pretty good. The lowest quality not so good. LED manufacturers are struggling with warm color temperature, high color rendering, high light output and low costs. You can't have it all.

One model of Alkco under cabinet fluorescent can be made with dimmable ballasts.

Look at Maxim and Color Kinetics under cabinet LED lighting. They have built in drivers dimmable with electronic low voltage dimmers. I recommend the warmer color for residential applications.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 1:03AM
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I am also looking at fluorescents for undercabinet use. Found some linkable hardwire-in with a very low profile and T5 bulbs, but the mounting brackets push them down lower than I thought they'd be from looking at the profile. Hoping to avoid needing much of trim piece to hide them. I'm also disappointed in the amount of light they produce, although it may be adequate. Dh likes the price, but I'd rather pay a little more and get something very thin and brighter. Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 7:19AM
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My undercabinet fluorescents were installed 15 years ago and still work fine but I'm not in love with them. They buzz annoyingly and I dont use them much. Are the new fluoroescent fixtures better? Is it the housing or the bulb that has improved so it doesn't hum?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2010 at 8:46AM
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Both have improved. The ballast is probably your noise source.

Here is a link that might be useful: Juno under cabinet

    Bookmark   July 4, 2010 at 10:03AM
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Oh, interesting. Thanks! We are looking to tile our backsplash early next year so perhaps that would be the time to switch to something improved and quiet! Do they still run off standard electrical wiring? I can't use anything that requires a transformer and generally, fluorescents aren't low voltage.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2010 at 11:53PM
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