How to Choose Under Cabinet Lights

Sep 28, 12 How to Choose Under Cabinet Lights

Halogen, Xenon, Fluorescent, or LED: What is the best type of under cabinet lighting? If you’ve ever asked yourself that question, you were asking the wrong question. There is no “good, better, best” with under cabinet lights. Choosing the right light is a matter of personal preference, and it depends on how much you value dimming, heat reduction, color accuracy, and energy savings.

Xenon Light Bulb

Xenon Light Bulb

Xenon under cabinet lights are an update of older Halogen lights. Halogen under cabinet lights, especially the light “pucks” you see in hardware stores, are cheap and provide perfect color accuracy (color rendering index), but they use tons of energy and waste most of it as heat. Xenon keeps the benefits of Halogen, but burns brighter and cooler. Their color rendering makes granite countertops or trinkets in display cabinets look their absolute best, and because they are brighter than Halogens, Xenon bulbs save energy by using fewer watts than a Halogen bulb.

Fluorescent under cabinet lights are a great choice for bright, energy-efficient lighting that burns cool. They’re a popular choice in kitchen cabinets and pantries because they don’t add extra heat to their surroundings, which can increase the likelihood of food spoilage. Unfortunately, there are a number of trade-offs. Fluorescent lights have relatively poor color rendering — 80 CRI to Xenon’s 100 CRI — so they distort colors and make granite and marble countertops and backsplashes appear washed out. Furthermore, while they use much less energy than Halogen or even Xenon, they are not dimmable and some models are slow to reach full brightness.

LED Under Cabinet Light Bar

LED Under Cabinet Light

LED is the newest, most energy saving option for under cabinet lighting. To many, LED under cabinet lights are the perfect option. Unlike fluorescent, they are instant on and many models are dimmable. Unlike Halogen and Xenon, they also create very little heat. However, they do have two drawbacks: Color rendering and cost. Like fluorescent lights, their CRI is in the 80-90 range, so they aren’t the best choice when color accuracy is highly valued. They also have the highest up-front cost of any under cabinet choice. On the other hand, they will save the most in the long-term. LEDs use only a fraction of the energy consumed by other types of under cabinet lights. Even better, they last 20,000 to 60,000 hours,  so you’ll never have to replace them and will save on bulb replacement costs.

Again, your choice of under cabinet lights will depend on your specific needs. In general, however, if you prize color accuracy and don’t mind the heat, choose Xenon, but if you prefer energy savings and cool operation, go with fluorescent or LED. Of course, that’s only what we think. Let us know which under cabinet lighting option you prefer in the comments, or drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus.

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Halloween Lighting Ideas

Sep 21, 12 Halloween Lighting Ideas

Halloween is just around the corner, and if you’re looking to have the spookiest haunted house on the block, we’re here to help! You can take a look at our Halloween lights page and even our brand-new lighted Halloween decorations for some quick ideas, but to go all-out, you’ll need to check out our Christmas lights.

If you find yourself asking why anyone in their right mind would use Christmas lights anytime outside of well…Christmas, put the incredulous tone aside for a minute and consider this: Though typically associated with the winter holidays, Christmas lights have all kinds of other uses, from weddings to birthday parties, so why not Halloween?

Looking for inspiration? Try these creepy Halloween ideas for colored light strings and bulbs: Use purple lights to create an eerie glow reminiscent of the full moon in a cemetery, or use orange lights to emulate the smoky flicker of a candle. Don’t stop there! Green lights emit the sickly pallor of toxic sludge while red lights ooze the unmistakable curdle…I mean, color…of blood. Another idea for light strings is to fit medium base patio light stringers with antique light bulbs for an efficient and portable “Addams Family” vibe.

Keep in mind, however, the idea is to scare the neighbors, not yourself. To avoid those spine-chilling energy bills this fall, you can go green with LED wide-angle lights or LED M5 lights for your Halloween display. You can also save on energy bills with battery-operated lights. A string of battery-operated LED Christmas lights, for example, is an energy-saving (and much safer) alternative to candles in your Jack O’Lanterns.

You might also consider a black Christmas tree or wreath covered in spider webs or a scarecrow mounted on a rotating Christmas tree stand. You could even follow the lead of other 1000Bulbs.com customers by using our plastic street lamp globes in an astronaut or Deadmau5 costume (see the video below). Whatever you do, we would love you to share your ideas. Drop us a line in comments or on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus. And if you’re really proud of your creation, be sure to share it on our Pinterest Halloween pinboard!

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Check Out Our New DIY Page!

Sep 19, 12 Check Out Our New DIY Page!

Today we’re announcing an exciting new addition to our website.

In your comments on this blog and especially in our Wednesday Lighting Q&A on our Facebook page, we’re often asked how to install or troubleshoot a product. Our customers love our products and our low prices, but they want to know how to use them. Responding to that, we’ve just launched our brand new DIY page on 1000Bulbs.com.

Our DIY page currently features four step-by-step guides: How to Install a Recessed Light Fixture, How to Install a Pendant Light, How to Install a Step Light, and the fan-favorite, How to Make an Antique Pendant or Swag Light. Every guide features photos to show each step of the process, and videos are coming soon via the 1000Bulbs.com YouTube channel.

Check back often for new updates. Our goal is to be the go-to source for any lighting-related DIY or How-To. Have suggestions? Our blog comments area is always open, as are our Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter pages. Bring out your inner Bob Vila and have fun!

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How to Repair a Table Lamp (Video)

Apr 20, 12 How to Repair a Table Lamp (Video)

Repairing a table lamp, like creating your own antique pendant lamp, is one of the easiest DIY lighting projects you can perform. In addition to making use of an old lamp, repairing a lamp also gives you the opportunity to update it to match the latest styles.

The typical table lamp—shown in the photo—consists of 6 parts: The base, the spindle, the socket, the cord, the plug, and finally, the shade.

1. Remove the Bulb and Lamp Shade

To begin your repair, you’ll need to disassemble the lamp. Unscrew the bulb from the socket; then remove the lamp shade. 

2. Remove the Socket

Most sockets consist of two parts: The shell and the cap. The shell is the part that holds the socket and the switch, while the cap only snaps onto the shell and screws to the lamp spindle. Pry or unscrew the socket shell from the socket cap. Leave the wires connected to the socket shell, and don’t remove the socket cap just yet.

3. Remove the Old Cord and Plug

Because we’re going to completely replace the cord and plug, use a pair of wire cutters to cut the plug from the cord. Now, pull the socket shell and cord from the top of the lamp. Then check to see if there is a setscrew where the socket cap attaches to the spindle. If there is, loosen it before unscrewing the socket cap from the spindle. Finally, unscrew the spindle from the lamp base.

4. Prepare the New Cord

Now it’s time to rebuild the lamp. Start by using wire strippers to strip both ends of the replacement cord by about a half inch. If you’re using a cloth-covered antique cord like us, use scissors to trim back the cloth another quarter to half-inch and wrap the ends of the cloth covering with electrical tape to prevent fraying.

5. Thread the New Cord Through the Lamp

Pass one end of the cord through the bottom of the lamp base and out through the top. Thread the wire through the spindle and reattach the spindle to the lamp base. Next, thread the cord through the bottom of the new socket cap, screw the cap to the spindle, and tighten the cap’s setscrew if it has one.

6. Attach the New Socket

Pull through about 4 inches of the new cord, separate the two wires, then tie them into an Underwriters Knot. The Underwriters Knot will prevent the cord from being unintentionally pulled loose from the bottom of the lamp base. Attach the black (positive) wire to the brass screw terminal. Attach the white (neutral) wire to the other screw terminal in the same way. Snap the socket shell to the socket cap.

7. Attach the New Plug

Disassemble the plug and attach it to the other end of the cord in the same way: Black wire to the brass terminal and white wire to the silver terminal. Reassemble the plug after you’ve attached the wires.

8. Replace the Bulb and Lamp Shade

Now replace the bulb and the lamp shade, and you’re done. For a detailed visual step-by-step, check out the video below. Be sure to share your idea in the comments selection below or on our Facebook or Google+ page. You can also follow us on Twitter or show us your project on Pinterest.

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How to Build an Antique Fixture for Under $25

Mar 30, 12 How to Build an Antique Fixture for Under $25

As we’ve discussed in an earlier articleAntique light bulbs and antique light fixtures have become increasingly popular in recent years. Whether it’s nostalgia or just an honest affinity for ornate blown glass and intricately looped glowing filaments, restaurants, upscale retail shops, and even homeowners can’t get enough of antique lighting.

Unfortunately, high demand leads to inflated prices. Any simple fixture that claims to be “antique” or “vintage” costs a premium. Some are worth the price, but we’ve seen simple antique pendants out there going for over $100, when the raw materials to build the fixture cost under $25. These are certainly nice products, but are they worth the markup?

The following guide will show you how to build your own antique swag light fixture in less than 10 minutes with materials you can buy for about $25, including the bulb.

Needed Materials:

(1) antique twisted wire cord - $6.00
(1) dimming brass socket - $10.00
(1) EZ grip antique plug - $1.50
(1) antique light bulb - $5.00

Needed Tools:

A flat head screwdriver
A set of wire strippers
A pair of scissors

Step 1: Prepare the Wire

Prepared Wires

Prepared Wires

Using wire strippers, strip the PVC jacket of both wires on both ends of the cord, exposing about 1/2 inch of the inner copper strands. Trim back the cloth covering another 1/2 inch, using scissors to cut away any frayed threads.

Step 2: Attach the Socket

Attaching Socket Terminals

Attaching Socket Terminals

Pop the socket cap off the socket shell. Feed one end of the cord through the top of the socket cap. At this point, tie the wires into an Underwriter’s Knot to relieve excess strain. Using the screwdriver, attach the wires to the terminals in the socket shell. Since the plug we’re using is non-polarized, it doesn’t matter which wire you attach to which terminal. Slide the socket cap down the cord and snap it back to the socket shell.

Step 3: Attach the EZ Grip Plug

Attaching Plug Terminals

Attaching Plug Terminals

Remove the plug cap from the shell by removing the screws on either side of the plug blades. Slide the plug shell out of the plug cap. Feed the free end of the cord through the top of the plug cap, then attach the wires to plug terminals on the shell, just as you did with the socket. Slide the cap back over the shell and replace the screws.

Step 4: Screw in the Bulb

Screwing in the Bulb

Screwing in the Bulb

Screw the bulb into the socket. You can now hang your swag fixture from a ceiling hook and plug it into any wall outlet. Use the built-in dimmer on the socket to adjust the brightness to a suitable level.

Optional Modifications

If you’d like to make a pendant fixture instead of a swag, the modification is simple: Just leave off the EZ grip plug and direct wire the fixture into an existing J-Box.

This is a very simple and versatile fixture, so there are many ways to modify it. You can use a different socket, add a cage or lamp shade over the bulb, twist together multiple pendants to create a chandelier, or even attach the socket to an old table lamp. Do you have other ideas? Post them in the comments, on our Facebook, or let us know on Twitter. Even better, send us a photo of your project and we’ll post it on our Pinterest.

Important Safety Note

This homemade fixture is not UL listed. Use reasonable safety precautions when assembling and installing your fixture. Never leave the fixture unattended or plugged in when not in use.

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