Undercabinet Lighting is Better Than Ever
LEDs set a high bar for kitchen-workspace illumination.
Synopsis: Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are setting a high bar for kitchen-workspace illumination. Available in different color temperatures, LEDs have conquered the stigma attached to their cold, blue light with phosphor coatings that cast a warm, pleasant light. Managing editor, Debra Judge Silber, takes us inside the various lighting technologies in “Undercabinet Lighting Is Better Than Ever.” By showing what makes the new breed of tape- and puck-style LED technologies more versatile and practical for illuminating the undercabinet workspaces than fluorescent, halogen, and xenon fixtures, lowering cost and development cost-effective replacements will be manufacturer’s greatest challenge.
There may be no place where advances in home lighting are more apparent than under kitchen cabinets. White-hot halogens and temperamental fluorescents are making way for a new crop of LEDs that are not just superefficient — they’re as aesthetically pleasing as the long-dominant incandescent. “Undercabinet lighting is one of the areas where LED is really ideal,” says Joe Rey-Barreau, an architect and spokesman for the American Lighting Association who teaches at the University of Kentucky’s College of Design. “There’s nothing else I would even vaguely recommend.” Improvements in color rendering, color temperature, and longevity are behind LEDs’ seemingly universal acceptance by lighting designers. Their energy efficiency is remarkable, and they provide more lumens per watt than incandescent bulbs (or lamps, as they’re called in the industry). Their life of 50,000 or more hours makes lamp replacement obsolete. Instead, in the case of many LED products, the presumption is that the fixture itself will be replaced after 15 to 20 years with a better and presumably less expensive version.
For all their benefits, high-quality LEDs remain expensive, in part due to the phosphor coatings used to enhance the quality of their light. Until that changes, alternatives such as xenon, halogen, and even fluorescent lamps…