Energy Saving Kitchen Cabinet Lights
This project originally featured compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), but time moves on and now that LED bulbs are the 'in thing' this article has been updated. It all started when I went on an 'eco trip', going around the house replacing all the filament bulbs with low energy types. This wasn't a problem until I came to a couple of 30 watt tungsten tubes mounted underneath my kitchen cabinets. These things are a pain anyway because they blow frequently and the tubes are relatively expensive to replace, so I got to wondering how great it would be if I could somehow use standard low energy bulbs instead. But how to mount an LED bulb horizontally under a cabinet was the question. I settled on the idea of using a standard pendant bulb holder but needed a bracket of some kind to attach it to, something of the correct shape, preferably plastic and low cost! Not much to ask for is it? And it wasn't. My local B&Q had the answer
Whenever I'm in the electrical department where all the trunking and accessories are, I always see these weird shaped pieces of plastic and never give them a second thought. But there was one that looked like a cube with two sides missing or as I saw it, an angle bracket for a kitchen light fitting! So anyway, I bought a couple of them and two bulb holders and headed home, secure in the knowlege that I had found the perfect solution. After a short session with my hole cutting saw they were nearly finished, with just two more smaller holes to be drilled so that the assembly could be screwed to the underside of the cabinet. It was then simply a matter of connecting a 2 core cable to the bulb holders and attaching them to the brackets (as if the bracket was a lampshade). The result is a quick and easy to make, under cabinet light that is brighter, cooler in operation and cheaper to run than the filament lighting it replaced, with the bulbs lasting much longer too
5 Watt 2700K LED candle bulbs work perfectly!
Another factor I thought about was heat. The temperature produced by an LED bulb is very low compared to that of an old filament type, but just to put my mind at rest and make things as safe as possible, I got an aluminium foil baking tray, cut it in half, and attached it to the underside of the cabinet with double sided sticky pads to reflect any heat that there is downward. This results in a very minimal amount of heat being produced in the cabinets above and I am confident that they can be left on as long as needed without worrying about safety. Each light fitting cost the grand total of £1.86 (at the time of writing) and with multipack LED bulbs being very reasonably priced, these lamp fittings are a bargain! In the UK, bayonet type bulb holders are the norm, though E27 Edison screw types are creeping in (thanks IKEA!). I would guess that similar mountable lamp sockets are available in other parts of the world. Finally, as always with anything electrical, safety is paramount and needless to say, this project should only be attempted by those who are experienced and confident with electrics
The lights in action