Retrofitting lighting — adding LEDs

IMG_3282We have had some seriously ugly and dated lighting in our dining room.  It was so ugly, that two of the lamps tried to run away to hide.  One got as far as the laundry room, but the other only made it a few feet away from the mother fixture.  Operated by a different switch.  On another circuit.  Why?  I don’t know.

With a new paint job, and reconfiguring this room a little (more on that later) the time had IMG_3318come to replace the lighting.  Which is harder than it should be — lighting seems to fall into 2 categories, inexpensive and unattractive, or beautiful and wildly expensive.  Naturally, I have an eye for the wildly expensive.

IMG_3330We thought we’d replace the runaway light with a recessed can light, to minimize the appearance.  Either that, or make it go away all together.  Wandering the aisles of Home Depot, we came across a knowledgeable employee, who introduced us to what we eventually selected — a retrofit LED can light.  This light is an engineering marvel.  It is a shallow fixture, designed for supremely easy installation into a standard 4-inch junction box.  No cutting a bigger hole and all the rigmarole that comes with retrofitting a can light.  The light is generated by a computer chip via the four tiny yellow diodes seen on the open lamp in the photo on the right.  The computer chip is beneath, protected by the lamp housing.  The plastic light diffusing lens snaps back into place following installation.  It is amazingly bright.

Of course, in our situation it wasn’t quite that easy (because it never is).  The junction boxes in our dining room were 3-inch boxes, sigh.  This required IMG_3361swapping them out for modern 4-inch boxes, not difficult, just another step in what was supposed to be an easy task.  Ah well, that’s how it usually goes.  While Dan replaced the box, I painted the lights to match the new ceiling color.   Soon enough the runaway was replaced.  The IMG_3360other lamp, by the doors to the dining room/kitchen and the laundry room, is also in, but we still need to do a little ceiling repair to smooth out the ceiling where the old light fixture was. That fixture was not my favorite style, but OK, just a little big for the space, and several times suffered close calls with destruction when we were moving furniture, lumber, etc.  So that light moved upstairs to a bedroom which needed an update.

Finally, we replaced the main light fixture.  This was the difficult one, we looked and looked but could not find something we liked for less than $350, way over budget.  Finally, Dan had a brilliant idea.  We selected a basic boob light, and around it, we’ll stencil a subtle mariner’s compass.  The boob light will become the center of the compass and will look far less boobish.  We both love the idea.  So for now, the boob light is installed, sans stencil.  I hope we’ll get to it soon.

Overall, I’m really pleased.  The LED lights use far, far less energy than conventional incandescent bulbs.  The can lights really are not very noticeable in the ceiling, yet we have light when we need it.  The light quality is not the same, even with warm LED bulbs — it is a little too reminiscent of the dreadful compact fluorescent bulbs of a few years ago that made us all look ill, but for lights that are primarily used for a purpose rather than general lighting, they work.  I would highly recommend the LED fixture for anyone looking to replace traditional lighting with can lights, these are terrific.

3 Responses to “Retrofitting lighting — adding LEDs”

  1. S Says:

    One more thing to bookmark for our next project, thanks. I would really like to switch to LED for our undercabinet lights, but so far they have not offered me anything bright enough (at least in a plug-in, which is all we can do at the moment). I was really hoping by the time we are ready to remodel they’d have something better, and these can lights might do the trick!

    • Ali Says:

      Have you looked at the Ikea undercabinet LED lighting? They get good reviews, but I haven’t seen them in person, not having an Ikea closer to me than Boston. We will need to move an outlet, but I think once we get to it, I may give them a try under my kitchen cabinets. I know we added track lighting a few years ago, but man, those lamps get HOT! No fun right now when it is in the 90s and the dew point is in the 70s+.

      Anyway, I am impressed by the can lights. Apparently Cree is a very innovative manufacturer of LED lighting.

      • Irina Says:

        Hello Miss Cindy,I love how it’s taken you a few years to “evolve” into your style. Not wanting to sound crtiacil of HGTV shows… but so many of the programs deal with “instant” gratification. Like on Color Splash or some program like that… (in a 1/2 hour program) but in reality taking two days or however long it takes, they can go from a room that looks like the atom bomb hit at ground zero and make it look like a decorators dream. Ya know what I mean? I would be facinated to be able to go to a taping of some of the shows they promote, and see how long in “real time” it takes. I think we would all be surprised.Anyhow… I believe home decorating is a process of evolving. And what we may have fancied a couple or few years ago may not really interest us now.Just know that you’re a very talented lady. I loved the “before” and “after” pics. But it didn’t happen over night right? It’s a loving, grooming, layering, evolving process. If it happens overnight… I’m not sure how “personal” it could really be. Just my humble opinion. Have a great Monday.PS – Also, I’m making progress on my photos. Now I just need to figure out how to get them on my blog. Any help out there for the completely computer hopeless?:)

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