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I'm about to wrap up refacing my cabinets and want to install some LED under cabinet lighting to set off the new counter tops I have coming. There was a fluorescent light over the sink which was direct wired to a switch on the wall so I'd like to stick with direct wired. I've tried internet searching and there's entirely too much out there to make sense and the big box stores only have one or two direct wire options. Any advice?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Typically you need to mount a transformer somewhere
No worries on that, more inquiring on what brand/setup to use and where to buy it .
 

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Led strips are great. Get the waterproof. Can get 3 meters and a transformer for about $12 on ebay. Work great and long lasting. They have a peel and stick backing but not great and I use silicon to hold in place. Can cut them to length and also resplice with another transformer.
 

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I use these guys for my cabinet company:

Hafele.com/us/products/led-lighting.asp

I have use them in kitchens from a couple grand all the up to 1/4 million dollar kitchens we have done.

Good product and great reputation in our industry. Easy and pretty straight forward just plug and play.

John
 

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I can tell you that I won't supply or warranty ANY of the LED tape lights. The color rendering is crap, the color consistency is crap, and the dimming is often very poor. On top of that, I have seen way too many failures of the diodes. And that includes name brand LED tape lights. The other problem with the LED tape light is that if your countertop is at all reflective, you will get a million dots that look like a landing strip.

What kind of light rail/molding is on the bottom of the counter top? Is it completely flat with no lip? If so, that's the only reason to consider tape light, but if you are having them refinished anyway, then just have a light rail made.

No matter what route you go, you will need a driver or transformer for the low voltage lighting, unless you do the enclosed strip lights. Kichler and Seagull make nice setups in LED and Xenon.

However, I use and recommend Seagull Ambiance Linear LX undercab lighting, and have been using a lot of their LED festoon bulbs in place of the xenon. In my (professional) opinion, it is by far the best system on the market.

The following is all Seagull Ambiance with Seagull Festoon LED bulbs...

This is a flat bottom cabinet before the light rail was added











 

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So this is Inspire LED TAPE, obviously it is flat and nothing but tape would work. It's an okay product, very bright, dims well, but the CRI (color rendering which is basically how accurate color of an object is under light) is very poor.








And then the rest of that kitchen used Ambiance with LED Festoon bulbs
 

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Then more Ambiance LED Festoon bulbs




Here you can see the system, ignore the plug mold closer to the tile, it's not part of the system.
 

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This is Kichler LED direct wire. You don't need a seperate transformer/driver for it. It's okay. The CRI is decent and it dims well. It's just bulky and you have to play with placement on the undercab as it's kind of directional.


 

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More Seagull Ambiance LX with LED festoon


You can see the little box in the corner, that is where you switch to low voltage wire as the Seagull LV wire is not allowed to be ran in walls. The transformer is remote mounted.
 

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This is what the LED Festoon bulb looks like. It's very high quality, and if one burns out for whatever reason, you just replace the bulb. That is unlike tape light where you have to splice in or trash the entire thing.

Also you will see that the lens is frosted which minimizes glare on the countertop, thus avoiding the "landing strip" effect.

 

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These are Kichler LED puck lights. Notice the "spot" effect on the tile. It is NOT a linear system. You could do a whole bunch of these next to each other, and it will still be tough to avoid the scallop and spot effect. However, they are bright, have decent CRI, and dim well. But they are not wide enough flood IMO.
 

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This is GC supplied "home depot brand" plus sold under a million other names LED tape light. Most all of it is made by the same Chinese kid. The CRI is absolute SHIT. I think it is advertised as 80, but it is nowhere near an 80 CRI. You green apple will look yellow, your banana will look orange, etc etc. This is the cheap crap that is meant for Ikea kitchens and trailer parks. It WILL fail sooner rather than later.




 

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Final word of advice?

Go with the Seagull Ambiance Linear LX system with Festoon heads. You can either use 10w Xenon bulbs, or you can use the more expensive LED festoon bulbs from Seagull. It doesn't matter. Using the Xenon bulbs will save you quite a bit of money, but they do produce a lot of heat. You will need to buy this at a supply house or online from a reputable company.
 

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I bought some pucks at Menards, cut the plug in off of them and wired them into a slim box I put high under the cabinets. Those have run 24/7 since we built the house 4 years ago without issue.
 

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Also another trick that I use when LED tape light is supplied, is that I put it in Seagull Ambiance track. When this is done, you can't see the diodes looking straight on as it's in a track. You can also secure the ambiance track with screws to the bottom of the cabinet. You now have a perfectly good surface for the LED tape backing to stick to.

So you secure this track to the bottom of the cabinet, then place the tape light inside of it...It comes in black and white depending on cabinet color.
 
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