Modding my kitchen?
April 1, 2005 10:17 AM   Subscribe

I'm thinking of using cold cathode lights (the type normally sold at computer stores to case modders) as under-cabinet lighting in my kitchen.

I know I'll need to rig up a transformer, but that shouldn't be difficult. Are these lights bright enough to be useful, or do they just look bright when in an enclosed space? Will I be able to dim them, as you can with 'regular' cold cathode lights? Any other thoughts?
posted by bh to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
I'll defer to the lighting experts but my understanding is that you want either a) the purest white light in the kitchen so that you can see the proper color in the food you are preparing or b) get the same lighting as your dining room so that food made in the kitchen will look identical to the way it looks when served.

In either scenario, I don't believe cold cathode lights are the best choice.
posted by junesix at 10:23 AM on April 1, 2005

I should have mentioned, the lights I am looking at are white cold cathodes, although I don't know the exact color.

The kitchen and dining room are the same large room. The room is currently yellow, awaiting a red coat on top for a Tuscan look. So color at night in this room is already way off. I usually prefer natural spectrum in the kitchen, but it wouldn't work with this setup.
posted by bh at 10:27 AM on April 1, 2005

You can dim those lights, by reducing the input voltage to the driver. They generally take 12V dc.

Those lights generally have single-sided electrodes, which means if you reduce input voltage enough, only a fraction of the tube will light up. If you don't mind this effect, you can dim them quite a bit.
posted by rajbot at 11:16 AM on April 1, 2005

I've use a CCFL as the light for a cabinet on the fence outside with weather gear in it. The problem I ran into right away is that the inverter needs to be really close to the lamp tube (a few inches away), else you need to lengthen the the cables, and if you lengthen the cables, you tend to lose a lot of brightness due to the increased capacitance between the now-longer wires.

The inverters are typically quite small (1x3"), so it's not a problem to mount them alongside the tube, just as long you know you'll have to do that - they won't be bright enough otherwise (if they even operate at all). To reduce the capacitance (dimming) problem, you can also simply route the inverter-to-lamp wires so they don't sit next to each other (eg a few inches apart, rather than both inside the same sleeve). This allows the cables to be lengthened a bit, but there is still a very definite limit before you get dimming and eventual non-functioning.

As for brightness, if the space between cabinet and worksurface is 2.5 feet or less, and you put something reflective behind the tubes, and you use a tube per yard of worksurface, then I think they'd be bright enough, especially if there is additional room lighting, but you're best bet would be to buy one or two cheap from ebay to try out. (I think they go for about $12 including shipping)
posted by -harlequin- at 12:03 PM on April 1, 2005

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