Making the Switch to LED Lighting

Posted: 02/18/2013 2:42PM

 

The growing popularity of LED lighting is excellent news for cabinet designers and installers. Consumers consider the LED trend to be more than just a bright idea for their kitchen, office or bath. Today, it’s a proven way to assure maximum control of aesthetic variables while saving money over years of dependable, energy-efficient use. Cabinet shops are discovering that LED systems are quick and easy to install – without the need for an electrician.

click image to zoomHäfele America Co. Of course, all the old and familiar lighting approaches are still available. But if you’re ready to add LED to your portfolio of customer choices, here are a few options to weigh when choosing the driver, fixtures and switches that make up an LED system:

Warm or Cool

The first decision addresses is light color. LED lighting is available in warm or cool color output – a function of the amount of phosphorus applied to each Light Emitting Diode during manufacturing.

For a kitchen installation with wood-grain surfaces and a more traditional look, choose warm LED. For contemporary designs and task lighting, the brighter output of a cool LED is typically preferred.

Linear or Puck

With halogen and xenon under-counter lights, the only options may be puck or box lights. With LED systems, the trend is overwhelmingly toward strip, or linear lights. This slender format provides a very even distribution of light, as opposed to the spotlight effect of pucks. The look is uniform and balanced, whether aimed onto a countertop or illuminating a cabinet interior. A good rule of thumb is to go linear with LEDs and use pucks strategically as accents.

Dimming Options

Low-voltage LED lighting is easily dimmable with either a standard wall dimmer or a switch mounted on the cabinet. Wall-mounted and cabinet-mounted dimmers require different drivers, so the key is to pick a system that performs the way you want it to function. Several manufacturers offer multiple dimming options, but it’s still a choice you’ll need to consider before installation.

Color Rendering index

CRI, or color rendering index, is a measure of color accuracy. Natural sunlight has a CRI of 100, which means it shows the true colors of any object or surface being illuminated. While early LEDs barely rated CRI 50, a CRI of 70 or higher is today’s baseline. Ratings of CRI 80 or above are considered premium LED lighting. Keep in mind that CRI is not an absolute indicator of product quality, and a high CRI rating doesn’t guarantee that colors will always be correct. Use CRI as one of several factors for choosing an LED system.

Binning

Each diode in an LED should have a color temperature that matches the ones around it. Binning is the manufacturing step of testing diodes for their color temperature and sorting them accordingly. If the LEDs In a strip of lights are not matched, the difference could be noticeable: a section of a wall or countertop might appear to be a different color than the area next to it. Avoid problems by selecting a manufacturer with an established and documented binning process, and look for a binning requirement of plus or minus 250° Kelvin.

Loox: LED Lighting Made Simple

For all its advanced technology, Häfele’s Loox line of LED lighting is focused on simplicity and easy of installation. With 12- and 24-volt systems, plus a 350 mA system for extra intensity, cabinet crafters can creatively address a wide range of applications, functions and visual effects.

click image to zoomHäfele America Co. Loox systems are unique in that they’re completely “plug-and-play.” All components, connectors and voltage systems are color coded for goof-proof installation. If you’re installing a 12-volt system but need to run a 24-volt circuit next to it, there’s no risk of getting your wires crossed. Different voltage systems can’t be interconnected, so there’s no chance of making an error.

Plug and play also means that no electrician is needed. This is wiring you can do yourself; there's no need for cutting, soldering or 110-volt tie-ins. Just drill holes for wire routing, mount the fixtures, and plug the driver into the nearest wall outlet.

Recent additions to the Loox line include distribution blocks and switch blocks, which lets you assign multiple cabinet switches to a single driver. Switch options include door switches, motion-activation, dimmers and simple push button controls.

Applications and Affordability

Loox components are designed for cabinetry and furniture in the kitchen, bath and home office, with additional applications in bathroom vanities, closets and other “dry” locations. Hospitality and retail opportunities include lighted headboards, dressing room mirrors and display cabinets.

Once installed, Loox systems remain virtually maintenance-free. Customers appreciate the 50,000-hour LED life as well as the 90% energy savings. Plus, LED systems are “instant on” at full brightness. There’s no warm up or delay.

Another advantage of Loox is its competitive pricing, thanks in part to Hafele’s high manufacturing volume. Factory direct ordering delivers additional savings, and inventory depth assures quick, dependable delivery.

Making the Switch

From affordability and ease to flexibility and functionality, LED lighting is a smart option for residential and commercial projects of all kinds. Its consumer popularity is proven, and for good reason: the dramatic effect of a well-designed LED system makes a beautiful cabinet installation even more impressive.

Source: Häfele America Co. • Visit Hafele.com/US or call (800) 423-3531.


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