LED Can Lighting; Making the Switch

Ken: Years ago kitchen lighting was very different from what we see now. After I started Universal Roof & Contracting in 1972, we built a number of custom houses; even in those days we were installing florescent lighting and drop-ceiling panels. It was very different from the options that are available to home owners nowadays. I want to talk about this with you, Rob, seeing as you’ll have some specialized insight with your electrical experience – and because I think it will help our listeners consider one of the best ways to update their home and save on energy at the same time.

Rob: Right Ken, in years past older kitchens would have surface mount lighting of either florescent or incandescent round lights. Later, the trend was to have a drop ceiling with an egg crate light panel covering. Now everyone wants those taken out, get that ceiling space back and replace the flush mount lighting with something more up-to-date.

Jared: And that’s where recessed can lighting comes into the picture. The house my wife and I purchased in 2012 was built in the 1970s with typical 70’s lighting. Many of the rooms had no ceiling mounted lighting at all, relying on floor lamps plugged into switch controlled outlets instead. During our remodel, we added recessed cans throughout the entire house and connected all of them to dimmer controls. It really makes a big difference to the look and feel of the house, right Rob?

Rob: It does! And since you brought up switch controlled outlets, I want to mention how those are becoming less common in newer homes. Instead they will either have a dedicated light switch in the middle for a pre-installed fan light or recessed lighting in those nice custom built homes. Some people don’t like the fan/light combo, but still want lighting from above. In this situation we can offer to do four recessed can lights around the fan instead.

If you happen to have an older home that came with old recessed lighting we can change those out for LED trim lights, which have become very popular and fairly inexpensive. Doing this will save you on your energy bill in two ways. First, incandescent bulbs draw 65 to 70 watts where LEDs only draw anywhere from 10 to 14 watts, saving you quite a bit on the difference. Secondly, you’ll be replacing old bulbs that put off a lot of heat, and discolor the trim over time, with cool LEDs so your air conditioning won’t have to work as hard. Not only that, but LEDs are very efficient, inexpensive and last indefinitely so you may never have to change a bulb again. Installing LED lighting may also qualify you for rebates through the power company or government on electrical consumption.

Jared: They really do consume much less electricity. When LEDs first came out the light emission wasn’t that great and they were crazy expensive, but in recent years they have come down a lot in cost and the lighting they put off now is phenomenal. They’re also easily hooked up to dimmer switches so you have complete control over how strong or soft the light is, and you don’t buy a special bulb type as they pretty much all come dimmable now. This change from incandescent fixtures to LED is something you do often on the job, isn’t it Rob?

Rob: Yes, exactly. When LEDs first came out, many of them were not dimmable and the ones that were you had to practically sell your first-born to afford. Now all we need to do is install the dimmer in place of the standard light switch since current LEDs are all dimmable. Something to also keep in mind is that you can’t use LEDs or florescent with old fashioned dimmer switches that are meant for incandescent and halogen bulbs. They’re just not compatible. But the new dimmer controls have also become much more affordable.

The switch to LED helps the homeowner by reducing risky home maintenance. No more changing overhead lights on step ladders. Or what happens when the bulbs burn out in your two-story great room? Most people don’t even have the equipment to get to the bulb to change it out. So not only do LEDs use less electricity and don’t put off heat like old incandescent bulbs, saving you money on your energy bill, but you’re also not having to pay a handyman to change out blown bulbs or risk your own safety trying to do it yourself. All of those benefits together with how great they make your home interior look really makes it worth looking into upgrading the light fixtures in your home.

Ken: Right, we now have a full service Electrical Division, so if you want to make the switch, just give us a call and one of our electricians will come out and help you find the right solution for you and your family.

Listen Saturday mornings to "In the House with Ken & Jared". Get more Home Tips and show info at the In the House website. For a free estimate on your next Home Improvement Project, visit Universal Roof & Contracting or call now. Orlando: 407-295-7403 Jacksonville: 904-647-3907

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