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LED under cabinet lighting

Posted by CathySE (My Page) on
Tue, Jan 4, 11 at 12:06

I am in the middle of designing my kitchen and have some need for further clarification, after reading the numerous messages on this subject:

1) I plan to have a granite kitchen counter top. I am unclear how LED lighting will affect its appearance, other than producing a glare. Will it also change the color?
2)Are some colors of granite more susceptible to being changed?
3) Can the glare be minimized by changing the angle of lighting (angle the strip a bit to change direction of light)
4) Are there alternative light color choices in LED lights?
5) What is the best wattage to go with? I need both ambiance (e.g. will need to be dimmable) and utility when preparing food (I am still trying to decide on what to put in the ceiling 8 ft ceilings so I am leaning towards recessed lighting).
6) My kitchen is U shaped with a window break in the middle long wall. Is it best to go with 2 separate switches to minimize the affect of a breakdown in one?
7)Am I correct in that flourescent aren't dimmable?
8) Do fluorescent cost that much more to operate if that is a suggested alternative?

Thanks and I really love this website! I am getting so many great ideas from it.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: LED under cabinet lighting

I just installed the LED strip lights under our cabinets as well as using them for up lights. I used the tape variety. They come in two versions the low intensity and high intensity. I used the warm white high intensity, which is not as warm as a regular bulb, but not as ugly as cool white and nothing beats a good old fashioned incandescent bulb. LED's also come in a packaged unit (this looks just like the fluorescent styles) that has all the parts need to run them off of line voltage 120v. The one thing I did not like about those was they had switches built into them which you could use to dim them as well. I just wanted lights all the time. You can dim LED's as long as you use the correct driver and electronic dimmer switch. They are more money for both, and it depends on how many LEDs you are going to use will dictate the driver used. The dimmer switch could also decrease the output (have an on going issue with this on a chandelier that has xenon lights that are dimable). Also the switch cost me $140.00. After getting quotes of over $1000 for the electrical contractor to install, I did it myself for about $300. Luckily I know how to run the wire myself and do the electrical hook up. I had the electrician use a switch to power up an outlet which was over my upper cabinets. We have 9' cabinets and much higher walls so this was not an issue. It can be if you need to use up cabinet space to install the driver/s and wiring.

As for glare with under cabinet lights, all lights will add some glare to a point. I found going to a cabinet display store and looked at what they had helped a bit. There are three main types of under cabinet lights. LED, Fluorescent, and halogen other wise called rope lights. Halogen runs the hottest of the three and draws more power. I also do not like the look of fluorescent bulbs. All light creates a glare on the surface of the counter when you walk up to them. For example since I have a polished counter top when you walk up to the counter and look into it you can see the strip lights in the reflection. You will get this with any lights you use. Unless you have honed counters. As for changing the look of the counter I would recommend you try and hold up different types of bulbs to your counter and see what you think. Most light should not change the color of your granite, but stranger things have happened. We have white quartzite counters so are less likely to see a change in color.

We have all of the unders on one switch, but then again we only needed about 5' of lighting. Not much upper cabinets here. With just the unders on we have more than enough light to be task and it works for ambiance as well. If we really want it bright we turn everything on, recessed, pendants and unders.

Fluorescents are now dimmable but it would cost more just like the LEDs to do this. As for cost you would have to add up the wattage of all the bulbs to see. The LED strips use 2.6 watts for each 12" strip. I have 7' of them being used, this adds up to 18.20 watts. That is about the middle of the fluorescent bulbs for one. Since we are in CA we had to use fluorescent recessed as well. we have 9 cans and each one has a 26 watt bulb in them. When they turn on we are using 234 watts for those. Best way to see how much power you might use is to add up all the light wattage and see. Power is based upon kilowatt hours, which is a 1000 watts. Hopefully this helps a bit.


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RE: LED under cabinet lighting

Power is based upon kilowatt hours, which is a 1000 watts.

Just to be clear and complete here, a kilowatt hour is defined as the product of power in watts and time in hours.

For example, 1000 watts used for one hour would equal a kilowatt hour. So would 100 watts used for 10 hours, or 10 watts used for 100 hours.

Your electric bill will tell you your per-kilowatt hour rate, or you can call the utility company.


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RE: LED under cabinet lighting

Kwiksmith -
Your post was full of information. I have been looking at UC lighting for a while and my husband insists that when we get them they need to be LED. I have looked at the light bars and the light tape, wondering if I really need to spend the extra $$ for the bars. I also have found a big price difference between light bars on 2 different websites, but one has more lumens/ft and I'm wondering just how bright I need it to be. I also keep hoping the price will come down before I bite :)

I was wondering if you could show us a pic of your lighting, and tell us the brand or where you bought your LED tape.


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RE: LED under cabinet lighting

I've found that for decent under cabinet lighting you'll want around 95+ lumens per foot. 95 (at around a 110 degree beam spread) gives a very nice glow to help with shadowing. But I wouldn't necessarily use it as the main task light.

With correct recessed light placement, this has been perfect for our customers. But for those who want more, we use lights with around 175+ lumens per foot.

Hope this helps.


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RE: LED under cabinet lighting

I do not have any pictures yet that the DW will release. We are waiting for the back splash to be installed. I purchased the tape light locally here in San Diego at a place called Light Bulbs Unlimited. I could find the product online for a couple dollars less, but sometimes you just have to buy locally for returns and problem reasons. The price I found the tape light was $22-26 per foot. And the plug in driver cost about $60. The dimmable driver would have cost $85. I think there might only be one or two mfts of the tape. I did also look at the bars and they were close to the same output, but for me to install and for placement the tape was the way to go.

One of many things I did not mention was there are multiple ways to wire the LEDs. I used the direct wire which just plugs onto the end of the tape and has two wires off of it. You just wire this to low voltage wire (in industry speak 18/2, some people might say lamp cord or something else). I used a product called Nice Duct to get the wire from the wall to the edge of the cabinets. I was close to the color of the cabinets and you can barely see it now that it is done. One downside to tape light is that it is so thin. When it is installed next to a light valance the valance can cast a line of shadow where you do not want it. I.E. We have an open shelf that has a routed channel in it to run the leds. The tape light when it was installed in the channel sat about 3/8" deep. This cast a shadow on the wall and counter. To combat this I had to shim out the tape till it was almost flush with the bottom, and look DW no shadow anymore..... Another thing the tape light is able to be at certain points every three inches. This does mean you will loose the part you cut off!! you can not hook that part back up. So 3" for 20 bucks is expensive.

As for output I have no clue what lumens we have. A buddy of mine who showed me the tape light ended up having to use two strips of tape light under his cabinets to get the light he wanted. For us one strip was enough. If I didnt mention it our kitchen is 12'x 15' with really high sloped ceiling. 9' to 17'. Even with the volume of the room the minimal tape works well. One thing I did to test was to buy two strips, the connector and driver. You do have to be careful because looking into the leds is different than mounting them. I used some blue tape to tape them to a board and held it up at cabinet height for us to see what we thought of the output and brightness. The place I bought it from let me return the items and get the things I needed.

Also remember there are two outputs of the tape. Regular and the new high intensity. I would recommend the warm white because the regular white is too blue. When I google the tape lights it is hard to find them again, for what I used. There are so many variants available. Most well stocked electrical wholesalers and lighting stores should have what you need to see. Even wholesalers will show you what they have as long as you can wait while their clients get stuff. Good luck!!


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RE: LED under cabinet lighting

Wow some really good info here!
In order to compare apples with apples, I'm looking at 24" bars (or strips - not tape) on both of these websites:

http://www.environmentallights.com/categories/1306_2402_3417/under-cabinet-light-bars

http://www.superbrightleds.com/cgi-bin/store/index.cgi?action=DispPage&category=BARS&Page2Disp=/compRigid.htm%23group5

One has them for $40 and one for $55 - quite a difference when you want to buy several.

The environmental lights have roughly 10% more lumens (looking at neutral white) than the superbrightled. I don't think spending almost 37% more for 10% brighter lights is a good thing.

Now am I over-thinking this whole thing? Should I just go ahead and buy the cheaper without even worrying about lumens?

As far as my other task lighting I have recessed lighting directly over the counters and a pendent in the center over the island. It seemed that when I had white laminate counters, there was no problem with lighting. I now have a dark green granite and all of a sudden I'm like - "I can't see anything!" its weird, I guess the white laminate reflected the light and the dark granite is sucking it up! Either that or I'm just going blind in my old age.

I didn't mean to hijack this thread, but I just appreciated the info.


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RE: LED under cabinet lighting

Just to add a bit of info re led strips (tape):
most have 3M backing for application.
there are diff types of LEDs: bulb, and circuit board(SMD or surface mounted diode).
there are varying brightnesses: the two most common are
3528(meaning 3.5mm x 2.8mm-each light), and 5050 (.5cm x .5cm). 5050 are much brighter, come in warm white and cool white.
they come in standard and waterproof. I have applied strips under my lower vinyl deck rails.
as Kwiksmith mentioned, they are cuttable, AND they can be extended with additional wires soldered between.
some of the newer 5050 are RGB, meaning they are remote controlled and can produce almost any color desired.
they can be purchased in up to 5 Meter reels, about 16 ft.
Purchased locally will be expensive. They can be found on ebay much cheaper, direct from China. They are ALL made in China. search for LED 5050 strips

fred


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RE: LED under cabinet lighting

1) I plan to have a granite kitchen counter top. I am unclear how LED lighting will affect its appearance, other than producing a glare. Will it also change the color?

With LED lights, you can choose the type of color you want. Depending on the color you choose, some show the true color of what is being lit. Sometimes traditional lighting disguises the true color from the yellowish light.

2)Are some colors of granite more susceptible to being changed?

idk.

3) Can the glare be minimized by changing the angle of lighting (angle the strip a bit to change direction of light)

idk.

4) Are there alternative light color choices in LED lights?

Yes.

5) What is the best wattage to go with? I need both ambiance (e.g. will need to be dimmable) and utility when preparing food (I am still trying to decide on what to put in the ceiling 8 ft ceilings so I am leaning towards recessed lighting). ???
6) My kitchen is U shaped with a window break in the middle long wall. Is it best to go with 2 separate switches to minimize the affect of a breakdown in one? idk.
7)Am I correct in that flourescent aren't dimmable? Some are dimmable.
8) Do fluorescent cost that much more to operate if that is a suggested alternative?

It will cost more overtime.


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RE: LED under cabinet lighting

Kwiksmith and Fred -- thank you for all this information!

Cathy and Mountaineergirl, what did you wind up doing please? I am in the stage. It seems the commercial landscape out there for UC LEDs is *very*-fast changing.

Thanks for any new insight... I hear Lowes now carries UC LED lights. Don't know how they compare.


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