Outlet and UCL questions

brightmJuly 9, 2014

I'm trying to decide what electrical and lighting options I want to include in my kitchen. I've read the threads on plugmold and it appears almost everything I've seen on GW has been regular plugmold. It appears there's regular plugmold now that also includes some USB 'outlets' which sounds pretty cool.

There's also now the Adorne system that can combine outlets, usb, and lighting AND is already angled. Those sound like some nice pros. The cons I see are that there's a part to them that seems kinda bulky. And overall I think they're bulkier than the rectangular plugmold, but I haven't seen either IRL yet.

The contractor has suggested LED tape.

I'm also thinking of moving to the Adorne outlets and switches.

General opinions and experiences?

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I am anxiously awaiting the installation of my Adorne UCL system. They do look a bit bulkier than some I've seen, but I think I'll like them. Hopefully they will be installed by the weekend. I can take a picture and show you if the electrician gets them in.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 1:13PM
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I wouldn't do built-in USB ports. We're now on USB 3 - what happens when devices move to USB 4? (unless somebody can confirm that the plug end doesn't change).

We added under-cabinet tape lights and they're great. (Of course, we had NO counter lighting until then, so probably anything would have looked good in comparison :-) )

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 1:20PM
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@chedanemi - Thanks! Hopes it goes well.

@sjhockefan - I don't think the USB plug end has changed thus far, but that's not to say it won't in the future. However as long as it doesn't, things are generally backwards compatible (though you might lose something, like stuff might not charge as fast as it could with the latest...just guessing). That would be a plus for the Adorne version because the modules are exchangeable and if it was within a reasonable time, I'm sure they'd offer updated modules.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 1:53PM
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Asked GC about Plugmold and Adorne. He's done Plugmold but it sounds like it was years ago and he wasn't familiar with Adorne. He raised GFCI concerns. I hadn't thought about that.

Adorne: I don't see that any of the inserts are GFCI. I see there's one big thing that fits over that's GFCI, but that's it.

Plugmold: I see it in 3ft and 5ft lengths that's GFCI. What I can't find is can those be cut down? I could use 3ft on my 4 ft wall and maybe above W/D, but then I have 2 21" uppers.

I'm thinking it's probably not going to be worth it to have that there with the 21's. One plug on each side (or maybe just on the side nestled next to the pantry). Which makes it probably not worth doing at all.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 12:22AM
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Plugmold CAN be cut down.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 12:34AM
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Thanks lcskaisgir.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 12:40AM
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We did a modest redo and looked at lots of UCL and chose to leave the outlets as they were in the backsplash area. We did move one light switch to the other side of the wall off of the tile area. Outlets are not that noticeable and appliances on the counter such as the coffeemaker cover the outlet.

It was hard to find anyone who knew anything about UCL and mounting fixtures under the cabinets just seemed like too much bulk. I found that tape lighting serves the purpose and is unobtrusive. The quality varies a lot and some I ordered and returned was very fragile and not made well tape lighting from a few online retailers. We almost decided it was not worth the hassle and expense to have UCL.

Finally I came across Quoizel plug in tape lighting when shopping in lighting store for the chandelier and it is made very well and LED lights a warm color, not too bright so do not need to be dimmed. Lights are encased in a sturdy plastic as used in rope lighting unlike other tape lighting where the tiny lights are exposed. The addhesive that is on the Quoizel tape lights is very strong and we placed it under the cabinet fronts facing the bs.

We put a GFI outlet above the sink and out of sight behind the valance and drilled small holes up through the inside of the cabinets to run the thin wires for the plug and toggle switch that comes with it over to the outlet. On the stove side of the kitchen we plugged them into the existing outlet in an upper cabinet where the above the range microwave is plugged in.

This may not be a solution for a new state of the art kitchen but more than serves the purpose in smaller projects and redos. I am really thrilled with it and the installation was easy and price of three sets very economical!

Here is a link that might be useful: Quoizel Q-1252

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 8:09AM
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Picture of one side of the kitchen if you didn't notice the lighting in other posts.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 8:11AM
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Marc Johnson

I'm putting in several "multi" outlets like these in the new kitchen - so many USB gadgets to charge, and I hate seeing "wall warts" so this solves the problem nicely.

USB 1, 2, and 3 are all the same plug - the speed of data has changed, power hasn't. As long as you have 2-3A of current available (these do, between both ports) you can charge any high power phone or tablet.

Here is a link that might be useful: USB outlets

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 7:27PM
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Marc Johnson

One more gizmo I've added for power ... a pop-up power & usb strip for the island. This will be on one side of the island, and the other side will have a "hover" grommet with the computer & video cables coming out of it - very clean & sleek.

This power pop-up is VERY inexpensive - it's got a universal power plug, so could be useful when my EU friends come over with laptops - just have to remind them that is 120!

For my needs, it's perfect, allowing someone to be at the island and plug in (think guest with a laptop)... and the 2 USB ports are hi-power and charge both iPad and iPhone.

I searched high and low for something that had 2-3 power outlets and 2 USB outlets that had 2.1A or more power. This was the ONLY device I could find anywhere that had all of those features. There are others out there (Mockett has one that has 2 USB + 1 power, $113) but again they aren't completely what I wanted. This particular one has a sleek design.

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to Ebay for this item

This post was edited by marcojohnson on Sun, Jul 13, 14 at 19:54

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 7:40PM
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Marc Johnson

One last thing - UCL.

My cabinet guy is a genius - he's set up my uppers so that the doors are about 3/4" longer than the cabinets, giving me a lip to use when I open them (yea, modern clean without pulls!) _and_ also gives me enough space under the cabinets, with the addition of another piece of color matched wood, to put in a channel of LEDs and have it totally appear "built in" to the cabs.

Not sure how many of you are "DIY" in the lighting department, but LED lighting is VERY inexpensive if you are willing to buy the components and put them together yourself - you also get a completely custom solution doing it that way.

For my installation, I'll have a 10' wall with a strip of bright warm white (3000k, SMD5050 LEDs, bought in 5M/16' reels from Amazon for $14 per reel). They will go inside of a diffuser channel (http://www.environmentallights.com/led-channel/led-light-bars.html. $43 per 8' section) which really eliminates the hot spots / dots (a particular bug-a-boo of mine). I'm doing the same in the 3cm of space I have between the uppers and ceiling - driving it all with a 150w transformer also from amazon (about $24). So for about $180 I will get a great glow above and below 10' of cabinets,

$129 of that is the diffuser channels - again, my OCD bug-a-boo about hot spots - it's entirely possible you could go without those and be happy for under $60!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 7:52PM
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tinker - Thanks. (And I love your countertops).

If I have my GC (via HD) do it I have to use HD products. What they have available in LED tape are:
Consumer Electric

The other option is that I can just have him get it to the point that my other contractor does that part, then I can get whatever I want.

marcojohnson - (wild about your floors)
Thanks! Love that first plug that has USB wedged in. I wonder if they're avail w/GFCI?
Also, very cool idea about the longer doors. I kept having to explain that I wanted as little molding as possible. We'll see how it all comes together. The good news is that I'm loving all the wood I see, so if I end up with more, as long as it doesn't have curvy details, I'll probably be fine with it.

I think I'm deciding I'll do regular plugs (bonus if I can get USB ports in them) and tape lights. I think.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 10:33PM
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So now I have a question that I hope is relevant. I have a Motorola Droid (old) and a 2012 Nexus 7 tablet. Both have a wall plug with mini-USB plug for charging.

In short, can I charge both devices with just a straight USB cable without the wall plug or must I use the provided cables with wall plug and USB, which would defeat the purpose of a USB wall outlet? Am I missing something here?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 10:46PM
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cal quail,

A GFCI circuit only needs one GFCI outlet, the first one. The rest can be anything you want and they are protected by that first GFCI outlet.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 10:50PM
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rmtdoug, Thank you! I've been googling etc. to try to figure it out. Contractor was here for 3 hours checking in cabinets and I was trying not to throw in other random questions (too much) but that was a big question I had. Thanks!

So considering the house is 1947 and I have no idea how it's wired, I wouldn't know which is 'the first' outlet in the circuit. When the electrician is here, he'll figure that out and tell me and I can make decisions from there?

ETA: In a perfect world, the outlet on the front wall that's in the brick could be GFCI and then I could use whatever I wanted everywhere else. That'd be awesome!

This post was edited by cal_quail on Sun, Jul 13, 14 at 23:06

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 11:04PM
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Yes, an electrician will have to figure it out because the code is very specific, and varies by the state in which the work is being done. If you are curious, a call to your local electrical inspection department will usually get these kinds of questions answered.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 2:00AM
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This post was edited by rmtdoug on Mon, Jul 14, 14 at 2:02

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 2:01AM
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Marc Johnson

rmtdoug is right - only the 1st outlet in a circuit needs to be GFCI - the rest tie into the 1st one. Unfortunately, they don't make GFCI + USB - it's one or the other.

And for rmtdoug's ? ... 1st gen Droid needs 850mA and a Nexus7 wants 2000ma (2A) but will take less - it just takes longer to charge. If you get a USB outlet with 2A you should be OK to charge 1 or the other, and if you get 3A (or one that has 2A + 1A on 2 outlets) you're golden.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 2:23AM
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Thanks cal_quail.

For what it's worth, the Armacost tape lighting from HD online was a close runner up. Cost is more as you have to use their transformers, connectors and clips as well and hard to figure out which pieces you need but can email the company for assistance. I just thought it was a lot of parts to deal with and my goal was for a simple solution which was reached with the Quoizel set. You do see the reflection of both of these those as marcojohnson mentioned but reduced by facing them to the backsplash area and we really don't use them all that much but nice ambiance when we turn them on. (your plan sounds great btw)

We did order the Armacost and almost went with them but sent them back after finding the Quoizel set. Also had an electrician give us a price to install tape lighting by Sea Gull Lightins and tracks, covers, connectors and dimmers would have been $900. Ouch.

Good luck with whatever your choose. (also, the outlet we added was not GFI as we have one for the stove so were covered).

Here is a link that might be useful: Armascost

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 5:50AM
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I got the hafele undercounter led tape lights. All wired but not finished yet. Expecting electrician to finish up soon. I also am using the adorne. I like them very much so far. If you purchase the 3 module outlet cover you can use a GFI and a USB together. My local stores didn't have the 3 module outlet cover so needed to order them from the homedepot site. I put in a outlet plug with a nightlight love this. The dimmers work great too. I really like the looks of the adorne. Easy to install also.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 6:25AM
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Thank you, marcosjohnson, for helping me with my question. That's what I was thinking but with so many changes in home technology right now it's hard to keep up.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 9:52AM
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If you're talking about Adorne switches and outlets, I looked into them and the faceplates are appeared huge.

For outlets, I have no problem with there being outlets in the backsplash. Our cabinets are completely flat on the bottom anyway so a plugmold wouldn't have worked. People do seem to like them though... I'm ok with seeing outlets and not having to feel around for something tucked underneath the cabinet overhang anyway but it's a matter of preference.

For undercabinet lighting, the diffuser the LED strips mount in is recessed into a channel. The wires run in between the space under the bottom shelf of the cabinet, and a veneered panel that makes up the bottom of the cabinet. The LEDs and strips come from Environmental Lights - I highly recommend buying from there. The people who answer the phone are incredibly talented and helpful. It looks like this:

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 10:23AM
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Marc Johnson

schicksal- that's the channel I have :) environmental lights are local for me (around the corner from my office in San Diego, so saved on shipping) and they are awesome folks. Their website is really helpful too!

I love their led bar channels - but still like getting the guts (transformers, tapes, remotes) from Amazon.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 10:39AM
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Wish they were local for me... I'll need a bunch of channels for the pantry shelf lighting and have a feeling shipping will be more than the actual stuff inside the tube costs.

I like their transformers because they work with Lutron Maestro dimmers but OMG are they heavy! They're more solidly built than anything else I've seen.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 10:46AM
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Good to know that Armacost (makes me think 'costs an arm and a leg') was an acceptable solution. Sounds like, if an electrician quoted on Seagull/Ambiance, it's pretty good too. So if I go with my HD contractor, those should be okay (if the price is okay).

I can get to SD really easily. Hmmm. I really like the looks of that channel. Tape seems so...flimsy? I've never touched it, I'm just going by what I see online and in a package in a store. Wait...is that thing I see in schicksal's pic a diffuser over tape? Or a different type of LED fixture? So uneducated in this stuff.

I have my not-kitchen-reno not-HD contractor here today. I'm going to ask him about it. I've heard such good things about environmental lights it'd be nice to go with them.

I think someone at Legrand should get a demotion. Whoever thought to name the outlets/receptacles/dimmers the same thing as the under counter strips did a horrible thing. Too hard to communicate. Even harder to search google, etc.

I've been looking at both. It seems like, for the strip, in order to get GFCI there's this big thing that has to sit over it. It still seems to me like that would defeat the purpose of not having stuff visible.

I like the modern look of the Adorne switches/outlets, but they are bigger. I thought I might put them into another room and see how I feel about them before investing for the kitchen. DH and I are not in agreement which of the three different types of dimmers we have in the house are the ones we want to go with and the Adorne line has about 4 more different kinds. Decisions, decisions.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 11:09AM
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Marc Johnson

Cal- they are in Rancho Bernardo - just off of 15. We have to pay CA tax, but you can save on shipping :)

They have channels with many different features - clear diffuser, long diffuser... http://www.environmentallights.com/led-channel/led-channel-systems.html

what I'm using is their "led bar" which has almost a 1/2" thick diffuser so you get a "neon bar" type of effect. These are plastic (no probs with heat - I've used them with 5050 and 3528, white and RGB) and are super-easy to cut.


    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 11:30AM
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>>Wait...is that thing I see in schicksal's pic a diffuser over tape? Or a different type of LED fixture? So uneducated in this stuff.

Neither. It's LED tape inside a diffuser. The tape feeds into a slot in the middle of the diffuser. Mine are called a LED strip light bar. There are little clips that I used to attach the bar underneath the toe kick area. They were unnecessary for undercabinet lighting because the channel is built in to the cabinet. I wouldn't bother with the end caps, they fall right off. Heat is a total non-issue.

The Adorne faceplate I saw (double gang) reminded me of an old school 5 1/4" disk on the wall. It was about that size.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 11:54AM
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schicksal- For those of us who do not have a channel built into the cabinet bottom for recessing but do have framed cabinets with a 1 inch overhang at the bottom, can the LED strip light bars be used there without being seen? Love the clean look!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 1:56PM
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Marc Johnson

I can chime in on these channels - the LED bars from environmentallights are just a hair over .5" deep, so if you are using clips, they would protrude around .6".

This channel is designed to be cut to size and run in one long strip - so if you are mounting under multiple cabinets, you probably need to notch out the area where two cabinets meet.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 3:26PM
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I have a Lutron Maestro dimmer in my bathroom. I love it. I don't know which item guests currently have more problems with: that dimmer or the Delta Touch2o faucet.

For the recessed lights we had installed in our hallway, the guy got some other Lutron dimmer, I hate it. It's got this big bulky vertical thing and the actual light switch is horizontal at the bottom. Not intuitive at all.

I asked DH about dimmers last night. After saying how much trouble (particularly poker guys) have with the bathroom light switch, he did end up saying 'Whatever you want dear.' I'll probably go with the Maestros. Still thinking about Adorne for that.

Speaking of which, we happened upon a lighting store (Lightbulbs Etc. in Costa Mesa) today that had a display of Adorne:
--under cabinet lighting/track. Confirmed, no, not for me.
--receptacles and switches. Still a maybe.
--video/automation system. Not now, but nice to know I can go see it.

They had some nice UCL too, but I'm liking the idea of going with Environmental Lighting. I was going to call them today, but we headed to a nice lunch and some shopping instead. Definitely tomorrow.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 8:32PM
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thanks marcojohnson! So if there is no recess, the clips are needed? Can the channel be cut to fit under each cabinet with just a small hole for wires joining 2 strips? I have to turn a corner for a total of a three cabinet run for one run, and two other separate upper cabinets about 36 inches away from the corner run (separated by window on one side and vent hood on the other).

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 11:48PM
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Marc Johnson

scrappy - you can adhere the plastic bar with an adhesive, but I'd recommend the clips - no worries about things falling later.

You can cut the bars pretty easily (I use a rotozip with cut off wheel, but any saw should work, just make sure it's a blade rated for plastics).

The LED strips themselves have fixed locations where they can be cut - there will be a dotted line (usually between 1-3"). You'll need to attach connectors and run the 2 wires between individual bars.

Going from one bar to a non-contiguous spot will probably require another power transformer unless you want to fish wires into the wall.

Go to Environmentallights (see link above) for the bars, here are the parts to make the strips:

LED lights:


Connector from power to LED (no soldering required, only needed for each non-contiguous run of lights):

Connectors (you may need to search a little more for other lengths, or if you're comfortable splicing, use these and splice)

This is a bit of a geeky DIY project ... I "graduated" to doing my LED lighting this way after a year or so of plaing with the Ikea LEDARE kits. If you are comfy with splicing wires, you can do this :)

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 1:55AM
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I'm really appreciating this. I know there's a lighting forum, but they're inclined to point you to old links. It's often hard to relate YOUR project to what you read about someone else's old project. I'll put this here, people can choose to join the conversation or not. :)

This is the super rough sketch of my kitchen for lighting purposes. I definitely want lighting under the 21" cabinets flanking the range and under the 48" cabinet by the fridge. I hadn't thought about the fact that there's that 12" there (not in existing kitchen) and so I've got an L there. I was thinking, reading yesterday, that I'd have to cut into the cabinet bottoms to cross from cabinet to cabinet, but it appears mine are flush. (I don't know if this is the top or bottom because they're identical.)

The area with the question marks will be 2 27" cabinets above the washer and dryer (low, Asko units mounted under countertops). I'd initially thought about not putting UCL there, but I think now I probably should. Currently, that area is a clutter catching area and I thought I'd never want to highlight it. But I have high hopes for that not happening in the new kitchen. Thoughts?

marcojohnson is talking about piecing a system together and just using the first linked led strip light bar as a 'housing'. That would be an alternative to getting the components for a system from them (like in my link). I'm guessing price is the reason? Or are there other reasons to put it together? (besides that it's geeky and 'fun')

All the power sources/transformers I see (the one EL suggests with the system I linked and the one marcojohnson linked) plug into an outlet. If I'm not wanting my GC/Electrician to install the light set up but just get me to a point that I'm ready to do the install myself, I just want an outlet or outlets for them? In a cabinet? I would want it/them to be switched outlets so I can turn them on from a switch.

GC was talking about putting the switch for the UCL in a different location than the recessed and island lights. I think I'd want them together. I marked the location of the switches on my diagram. That's currently just a switch for overhead lights. The doorway next to the 21" wall cabinet is to the DR/LR. That location makes sense when entering the kitchen from the rest of the house. UNDER that 21" wall cabinet, the control for the DR light is currently IN the kitchen. Makes no sense. We've asked him to move it to the other side of the wall. That's planned. But I think he talked about putting the UCL switch in it's place. Would you want it separate like that? Pros/cons?

Also, there's a switch for overhead lighting by the other door at the other end of the room. It currently works a separate set of overhead lights. I'm sure the kitchen was originally split for cooking/eating. Now we have to walk across the room to turn on that light to cook. And when we enter, we turn on that light, cross the room, turn on the other light, then go back and turn off light number 1. We'll do a 3-way switch (I think that's what it's called). But should we just do that for the main lights? Or...

I'll leave my over the kitchen sink light question out for now. ;)

Here is a link that might be useful: EL system

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:41AM
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Wow, marcojohnson, thanks! I don't really understand it yet but your posts are very helpful. WE havea local Ikea so I may head over to look at the L:edare system to see if I can learn something. thanks again.

cal_quail, thanks for this post. I am learning a lot also.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 1:30PM
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GC and electrician were here today and drew all over my walls. GC will be back in a bit to trench to get power to the island. Electrician went for supplies and will start work tomorrow. I hope to be able to discuss these concerns with the GC when he returns.

I emailed Environmental Lighting and got an acknowledgement, but no real info yet. I may call them in a bit.

-They will get a switch in the bank of switches on the wall.
-There will be an outlet in the appropriate cabinets into which I can plug in a power supply/transformer of my choice.

UCL Questions
Where in the cabinet should the outlet be? I suggested they should be up high in the not-as-usable part of the cabinet (for someone 5'2"). GC has them planned for the lower corners. When I questioned it, he said to get the plug from the power supply, you'd have to notch shelves, etc. Also, since I don't have a system chosen yet, no telling how long the cord from the plug to the power supply will be.

If I want lighting in all the dark boxed areas of my drawing, where do I need outlets? He's got one planned for the 48" cabinet. I agree. However, he's got one planned for each of the two 21" cabinets. I'm thinking that I can run those two on one power supply. I was even thinking that I could run the ones over the washer and dryer on the same one, but wasn't as sure about that. I think his plan was for when I wasn't planning UCL over the W/D.

Environmental Lighting's strips come with connectors that attach strip to strip, but there's also a wire connector that's 40". I thought that'd be enough to get from one 21" to the other past the 36" range hood, but that would be as the crow flies, so no. But they sell a 78" wire connector that should work. And then 40" would work from the second 21" cab to the W/D area. I just don't know how many strips can run on one power supply. I'd think plenty, but...

On the same walls in question, I'm not sure about the outlet placement. I decided the pics are probably helpful.

Under the 48" cabinet, the way I see it he's planning on repurposing the single outlet box to be the light for above the sink. Ok. And then he's planning on using the other box just for outlets. And I'm sure that's the least expensive solution. But I think I'd rather it be moved off to one side or the other. Then again, maybe if I'm just having one, the center is better? Maybe I should add one?

On the other wall, he's got one outlet centered under each of the 21" wall cabinets. Doesn't that pretty much put them in the spotlight? Wouldn't it be better to move them off to one side or the other? I'm thinking maybe I don't even want one to the left of the range.


    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 4:54PM
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Marc Johnson

Cal- I can't comment on their pre-made strips- I've done all of my stuff my assembling the parts... something you can do if you're comfortable calculating the draw & loads - and don't shutter at the thought of stripping & splicing wires. If you are not comfy with that - definitely look at kits there or even the ones at Lowes (Kichler branded, which are really bright and aren't LV - they run on full 120v line voltage).

The LED strips I'm using are 12v and they will tell you how many watts they pull per foot (or meter) -- add those up, and buy a transformer that has 1.25-2x that total (just to be safe). I'm driving about 24' of warm white 5050s (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00F1673SA/ref=oh_details_o08_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1#productDetails). These are drawing about 4.4 watts per foot, so that means I need a total of 105 watts... I'm using a 150 watt transfrmer (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ALNBPF0/ref=oh_details_o08_s00_i01?ie=UTF8&psc=1)

If you are splitting the load and driving it from multiple transformers, that changes the calculation (and cost - 30-50w transformers are much cheaper).

I can't recommend the lights in the link above any more highly - they are CRAZY bright even when diffused in the channel.

Good luck with it !

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 5:06PM
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Thanks marcojohnson. I do get skittish about electrical things, but my MIL may be up for the challenge. :) Since I have decided that I'm not going to have the HD GC do anything other than get the outlets and switch FOR the UCL installed, I'm not tied to HD and I have time to figure stuff out. Lowe's/Kichler is a good tip. I'll also pursue Environmental Lighting since I've heard such good things.

Still hoping for thoughts on UCL outlet placement and regular, backsplash outlet placement. And with that...the GC just pulled up!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 5:27PM
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cal_quail, I hope you don't mind me jumping on this thread with a few questions.

marcojohnson and/schiskal, Can these LED tape lights be hardwired or do they need an outlet/plug set up?

EL recommends their hardwired UCL LED light bars which are 0.65" thick with the mounting clips. I think your set up must be much smaller. I am trying to decide between the two different types and would like to understand the differences.

DH likes tinkering with LEDs and can probably build the same set up like marcojohnson but I worry it might not work with the hardwired set up. I guess I could always ask the electrician to come back to put in outlets behind the upper cabinets.

This has been a very timely and informative thread. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 7:53PM
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Marc Johnson

The tape lights that I'm using and referenced above are connected to a transformer - you need to step down from 120vAC to 12vDC - that transformer is usually plugged in but could be hard-wired.

The EL LED Light Bar enclosures are .5" deep

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 8:09PM
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Come on along vinudev_liny!

I don't see the Kichler available on lowes.com :(

I haven't heard from EL yet and I put together what I think I need, based on my understanding. However, I ran into a snag. I was thinking of having them on a dimmer, and the main power supply that they recommend is not a dimmable one. And if you move up to a dimmable one, then it looks to be ginomous. I really wouldn't want that in my cabinet. Maybe I don't need them dimmable?

Do others have theirs on a dimmer?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 8:31PM
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Marc Johnson

LEDs are not as dimmer-friendly as older bulbs .... they tend to dim about 25% at best - then they flicker out to nothing very quickly.

The lights I used before my new set-up from lowes were Utilitech (Kichler's brand that they sell at Lowes). Look for LED undercabinet strips that are 120v.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 9:56PM
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Ah, I saw Utilitech.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 10:15PM
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cal_quail, Did you send EL a request with your floor plan? That's what I did and received a very quick response from their sales rep. But then, I have a ridiculously easy set up. Your floor plan looks more involved. I still have to work through the quote and make some modifications. I can tell you going from dimmable to non-dimmable brought down my quote by 50%. People here have mixed responses for whether dimmable lights are useful. Of those who have it, some love it and some don't use it at all.
I am looking at the other alternatives mentioned in a few threads- Hafele, InspiredLED, Armacost and now Utilitech.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 10:56PM
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Sorry, I didn't see your response earlier, marcojohnson. So the tape lighting will need a transformer and driver or they both the same thing? Sorry for being so dense-the more I read, the less I seem to understand..atleast in this matter.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 11:07PM
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I got an email back ridiculously fast, but just an acknowledgement one. That was yesterday morning. I'll hit them again tomorrow morning.

My old kitchen is SUPER dark, so I'm afraid now of over-lighting.

I just had recessed lights put into my hallway and if I didn't have a dimmer, it'd be blinding. It's perfect being able to usually have it low, but when necessary, crank it up.

I'm sure that I want the overhead/recessed lights on a dimmer. I'm pretty sure I want the island lights on a dimmer. Maybe just not the UCL. I've never had UCL, so it's sort of scary to commit.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 11:25PM
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Marc Johnson

vinudev - sorry for the LONG delay in responding - been buried in our project this week.

Driver / transformer / powersupply are all the same thing - they take 120 volts coming out of your wall and make it into low voltage (12 volt). The trick is to measure how much current you need (amps) or how much power (watts) ... and get the right size transformer.

Example - if the strip of lights you want to create is using the popular SMD5050 (like the Aspen ones I linked above) those are rated 72 watts for 5 meters .... that's about 4.3 watts per foot. So for 10 feet you need a transformer that's greater than your total (in this example, you need 43 watts, so get a 60 watt / 5 amp transformer (watts / volts = amps). Rule of thumb I was told by an LED guy was to not exceeding 80% of the transformer's capacity.

I know it's geeky, so if you're not comfy doing the calculations, then there are tons of fully integrated/complete kits out there - Ikea, Lowes, etc. I like the DIY component way - it's a lot of flexibility and I have had some fun with this ... we have LED lighting in coves, cabinets, and all over the place - and I can change colors depending on mood :)

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 8:55PM
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I happened to order my lights from Environmental Lighting on Friday. It'll be here on Tuesday (I thought about picking them up, but too much going on). The cabinets on one wall are all in, so I can put up half the system.

Outlets, I just went with standard. I did get one of the ones with USB, but I'll just switch it out later. There are two places where I might want it. I'll probably get another and put them in both spots.

One thing I haven't asked about entirely is where I'm going to have a charging station (electrical) in a cabinet, what kind of outlet/thing I'll have in there. I was just thinking a standard outlet. Then I thought something like a power strip would be better. I definitely want to charge my Braava and hand vac. Also likely flashlights and drill batteries from time to time, they'll live in there too. Maybe just a 2-gang/4 outlet box?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 9:58PM
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cal_quail , can you post what you ended up ordering and how you solved your dimming ? I saw your lights in your other post and they look great.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 8:12PM
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I ordered the Premium Modular UCL from environmentallights.com (link below). I found out today that my dimming solution didn't work. :: I do have an idea of what I could have done differently, but I haven't confirmed. And I think we'll not need them dimmed, so I'm okay with it.

I wanted to buy the simplest solution. I wanted it plug and play. The power supplies that they recommend for that system are not dimmable. They have others that were, but I think they're for direct wire and we had outlets put in the cabinets.

I got the touch dimmer for modular under cabinet lights. I was told it would work as I planned, but I don't fault them for it not. I probably didn't give all the variables. They dim with the touch switch great, but when you turn off the light switch that operates the outlets, it 'forgets' everything and they are turned off, so when you turn the light switch on nothing happens until you go hit the dimmers. I took them off for now.

I actually don't think we'll need the dimmer. I'm just paranoid about over-lighting things. We had so little light in the kitchen before, I have no idea how this will all work for us. The recessed lights and pendants will be dimmable, I think that's enough.

There's a switched outlet in the top right of this 42"h wall cabinet. The power supply has a 5 ft cord, then the transformer, then another 5 ft cord that plugs into the end of a 40" strip, then a 12" cord, then a 12" strip. The cabinets are a 48" blind corner and a 12".

This is the wall I posted before. There's an outlet in the top left corner of the left cabinet that's on the same switch as the one mentioned above. Same type of power supply, 12" strip, 78" cord (that's too short...see below), 12" strip, 78" cord, 40" strip. The two left wall cabinets are 21's, as is the pantry. The two at the left are 27's.

I called them today for a couple things. I confirmed the dimmers are working as they're supposed to (which is not as I intended. I didn't inquire about returning them. I may. I asked for a solution to my need for a longer cord to span the range area. The guy said I need a splitter (cords are all male-male, the splitter works as a female-female connector). The strips all ship with 40" (I think) cables that I didn't use so I have plenty of them. That should do it. I also had one wonky clip, so he's sending one no charge. Biggest cost for today's order was shipping. I said I was in no hurry (I'm probably 60 miles from them, things get here fast) and he offered to ship USPS for less.

I'm very happy so far. Honestly I feel that with just these on at night, it's nearly as light as our old kitchen overall. Yes, I exaggerate, but not a lot.

Here is a link that might be useful: Premium Modular UCL

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 1:03AM
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Marc Johnson

Cal- the Lutron Maestro should work with their LED transformer (driver) - http://www.amazon.com/Lutron-MAW600H-WH-Electronics-Maestro-Dimmer/dp/B000BPCWQE

Are you using that one? These can be a little tricky - some dimmers and transformers don't play well together. I've had good luck with Lutron before I transitioned to Insteon (whole house automation) - and EL recommends Lutron it sounds like.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 2:38AM
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Marc Johnson

Really nice job on those. You'll love all the light!

I just out my 2 runs in... Used the items I posted earlier. Only trip up was the transformer was DOA but I had some backups and could improvise.

I'm lucky / easy because it is mostly 2 straight lines on one wall from one power feed that's already switched.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 7:03AM
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Heh. I missed this in their pdf about the system:
These dimmers do not have power off memory function. When using the mod-dim and mod-t-td, you should control the device using only the Modular dimmer, and no outside switch or dimmer.

The sales person should have caught it too since he put the items into my cart for me, having discussed that I was using switched outlets. No biggie.

They have a list of 12 or so drivers that are non-dimming. I got the ones that are recommended for the system. (remember, I wanted simple as can be). They list some dimming power supplies and then do recommend Lutron with them, but the smallest dimming power supply is over $100 and the other one is just over $30. Also the regular one is about the size of two decks of cards stacked one on top of each other where the dimming one looks to be the size of my forearm. And the dimming one is meant to be hardwired and I wanted plug and play.

This is just the first project like this for me, so it's possible I'll want to do another somewhere and I can then look into being more adventuresome and possibly switch some things out and use these basics on another project, but this was just right for me for now. I needed something I could DIY in this kitchen. (Even though both DH and MIL were fearful of me going at the new cabinets with a drill.)

Oh, and I went soft-white as they recommended. I think THAT's why I wouldn't need a dimmer. My overhead LEDs are 3500k and are really white. I like that these are warmer. Maybe it would have been better to have those two reversed, but so far so good.

Here is a link that might be useful: pdf of the modular UCL system parts

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 7:51AM
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really helpful, thank you! I am reading that pdf.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 8:27PM
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