How to keep my cabinets cool?
December 12, 2010 3:43 PM   Subscribe

My under cabinet lights are so hot they're heating up my cabinet shelves. Since I don't want to remove the lights, or drink from hot glasses, what liner or material can I use beneath my dishware and canned food to keep them from getting hot?
posted by ranunculus to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you change the type of bulb used? Fluorescents are much cooler than incandescents.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:20 PM on December 12, 2010

Is there any way you can mount some sort of insulating material between the lights and the cabinet base? Maybe even just setting them off by the thickness of a few washers will help.. If the lights are directly contacting the cabinet and you can somehow remedy that, you might be able to keep your gear from heating up..
posted by Glendale at 4:20 PM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Why not see if there is a lower wattage bulb you can put in the lights?
posted by Murray M at 4:21 PM on December 12, 2010

Swap in LED 'bulbs'
posted by mmdei at 4:34 PM on December 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

I've got a similar problem in cabinets which have under-cabinet halogens. Halogens run hot. Way hot.

The best thing IMO to do is to prevent the heat from getting in the cabinet in the first place, and one method of doing that is to provide a small amount of space between the fixture and the wood of the cabinet. The bigger, the better. Second, you might get a tiny additional improvement with a reflective shield on between the two, as well. One deals with radiant heat and the other with the direct transfer from intimate contact. Of the two, I think you'll get the most mileage out of a little space. A 1/4 of an inch will probably eliminate much of the problem, but any space will be better than none.

This does not involve replacing the lamps and/or eliminating them, which seems to be your stated constraint.

It does involve workmanship, and if you aren't comfortable with your handy skills, ask an electrician to put the fixture on 1/4" standoffs.
posted by FauxScot at 4:40 PM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Or better yet, some 1/4 polystyrene between the cabinet and the lights.
posted by gjc at 6:16 PM on December 12, 2010

I'm not sure an insulation material will help; they just slow down the transfer of heat - eventually, the insulation material reaches the same temperature as the heatsource... assuming that you leave the lights on for long periods of time.

Best solution is to replace the bulbs with LED or fluorescent versions.
posted by porpoise at 9:19 PM on December 12, 2010

LED, fluorescent and halogen bulbs are not interchangeable. Yes, there are many such options for large screw-in bulbs such as CFLs, but not at the miniature level we're dealing with. The OP would not be replacing just the bulbs; she'd be replacing the entire fixtures.

Most commonly available insulation materials are a bad idea, but not for the reason Porpoise posits. The lights' being on for long periods does not change the fact that insulation slows down heat transfer. The problem is that many such insulation products will melt at relatively low temperatures, and could cause a big mess. Some formulations are also highly flammable.
posted by jon1270 at 2:19 AM on December 13, 2010

Install a dimmer and turn the light down. That should reduce the heat output too.
posted by iviken at 4:04 AM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I came in to say similar things to what jon1270 says. You really don't want things in your house furniture / fixtures routinely absorbing lots of heat. Probably you should replace the lights or don't use them if they're heating up that much.
posted by thirteenkiller at 5:36 AM on December 13, 2010

You don't mention the specific base type of the bulbs in your fixtures, however I recently went through the exercise of replacing virtually every halogen and incandescent bulb in our RV to LED lamps and found corresponding options for all the various base types.

The vast majority of the overhead "puck" style lights were G4 (bi-pins - basically just two stiff wires) that had direct LED replacement options; most of the others were bayonet (BA15) type that also had equivalents; and one was a wedge base (same as some of our landscaping lights).

In the smallest 3" overhead puck fixtures, I had to rip out the no-longer-necessary reflector to make room for the LED circuit board. In the 4" pucks, a 10 LED disk fit in directly. The wedge and bayonets also fit with no modifications.

A site like Superbright LEDs has a wide variety of household and specialty application bulbs.
posted by cairnish at 9:22 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you decide to replace (Sorry, no helpful info on how to help with what you already have), we have had tremendous luck with these. They are bright, cool, and on a dimmer switch.
posted by getawaysticks at 5:44 AM on December 15, 2010

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