An Introduction to LED Lighting

Upscale kitchen in luxury home with breakfast barAfter all of the kitchen cabinets have been installed, counter-tops put in, and appliances hooked up, the final touch that brings any kitchen to life is the accent lighting. Nothing adds inviting warmth and comfort like under counter and over cabinet lighting.

LED lighting has many advantages over traditional incandescent or xenon accent lighting. Foremost is the power consumption. LED lights use 1/15 the power of xenon lighting per linear foot of lighting. In conjunction with lower power, is a lower heat output. Admittedly, the under counter lights in my own kitchen are still the original Xenon fixtures installed in the home 7 years ago. When the lights are on, I can proof bread under them with the temperature sitting at 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit. While convenient when baking bread, it’s a terrible waste of power the other 99% of the time.

LED lighting has also enabled cabinet installers and even home owners to install their own lighting, as many brands are Class 2 rated, meaning no electrician is required. The Loox LED lights from Hafele are particularly friendly, offering clips and connectors that prevent any splicing of wires or soldering.
Wrapping your mind around LED lighting can seem tricky, so I’ll give you the basic outline and industry lingo. I’ll refer to the Hafele Loox offering, as this is what I know and sell.

Drivers: This is the power supply that converts your 110v power to the 12v needed for . Plugs into a regular outlet and has six ports into which lights can be plugged

Pucks: Available in surface mounted (only 5/16” thick) or recessed (requires a cutout), pucks offer the traditional ‘spot’ look. You should plan on one puck per foot, on average.

Ribbon: Also known as strip lighting, LED ribbon comes in 16’ rolls. It can be cut and spliced every few inches, enabling you to utilize the entire roll efficiently. Daisy chain cables can be used to jump from the end of one section of ribbon to the start of another.

Switches: The drivers have a switch port that enable one of 5 different types of switches to be used (close-range sensor, door sensor, push button, dimmer, and motion detector) to control the lights. If no switch is present, the power to the outlet determines on/off.

It is a combination of these basic parts (along with a few other connectors and cables) that make up an LED lighting system. Read my blog on design tips for more on how to determine what you’ll need.

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