Friday, December 21, 2007

Let there be light!

The Mrs. finally, finally, finally allowed me to begin the kitchen cabinet re-lighting adventure. As with all adventures, I headed off for Lowe's with MaxieC in tow. MaxieC doesn't like to shop very much, but we bribed him with a Tootsie Pop that he could eat only while sitting quietly in the cart.

But let me back up - the kitchen cabinet re-lighting adventure involves replacing six under-cabinet light fixtures of which only two have worked correctly since we bought the house. The ones in there are cheap, contractor-grade mini-fluorescents that are in pretty rough shape. The previous owners left us a box full of starters for these, which was our first clue to the problematic nature of the lights. In fact, we didn't even know most of the lights existed until quite some time after we bought the house, given that most didn't come on when you turned on the switch. When I discovered the lights, I managed to get one and a half more of them working (total of 3.5 of the six), but then the half gave up last week (the one over the cooktop).

Some of the fixtures were missing diffusers, one had the starter somehow melted and fused in there. This was not worth salvaging. I decided to replace everything.

Fast forward to Lowe's - everything is crap. Some of it is as cheap crap as what is in there already, and some is nicer, but the nicer stuff is not designed for hardwiring. It is designed for plug-in wiring and requires an external junction box, where you snip off the plug and wire that to the box, in order to hardwire. F- that. I did manage to decide I wanted Xenon, as opposed to halogen or LED, based on their selection. Fluorescent was already off the table.

So MaxieC and I headed to The Home Depot. The Home Depot managed to make the stuff at Lowe's look good, though they did have a number of fixtures designed for hardwiring that were marginally better than what I had. Only fluorescent, though.

I said to MaxieC, "Well, son, it looks like a trip to a lighting store is called for."

He said, "No. I want to go home."

I drove to the lighting store (which was on the way home), but he still insisted he wanted to go home. Now, a lighting store is not a particularly good place to take an angry, betrayed 3-year old boy. I guess maybe an antique store or the proverbial china shop might be worse, but a lighting store has got to be up there in terms of the kinds of places small children can do thousands of dollars in damage very rapidly.

So we went home.

Later, I headed out to the lighting store by myself. The Mrs. said, "You're going out in this weather?" She is intimidated by virtually all weather. It was clear and dry, but we had a bit of wind. I'm not actually afraid of wind. Not wind of the 20mph with gusts to 40 kind, at least. Hurricanes and tornadoes I try not to go shopping during.

At the lighting store, I was met near the entrance by a very friendly woman. Here in Colorado, a lot of people are actually friendly, so you never know just how much of the friendliness is faked for the purposes of a sale. Being that I am a remarkably attractive man, I'm going to say only 10% was faked.

It's not like I was in a car dealership.

I said, "I need to get some under-cabinet lighting."

She said, "Wonderful! Do you have the measurements?"


"Oooh - you made my day!"

OK, now that was probably fake. Though I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people actually went to buy this kind of stuff without realizing that they needed to choose sizes. But that's because I'm no longer surprised with how stupid people are in general.

Global warming. Snicker.

So I told her I was retrofitting, so I didn't want anything that needed me to run lots of new wires or install transformers (like those fancy halogen spot systems). She asked me what I had now, and I said, "mini-fluorescent."

She stopped dead in her tracks with a horrified look and said, "But you want to go to Xenon, right?"

"Yes." Thank you Lowe's.

So she showed me the Xenon lights they carried, which were Kichler (a high quality but overpriced brand), and happened to be exactly what I was looking for. So I got them. After she rang it all up, she said, "Oh. Let me give you a discount," and then she gave me 20% off.

That's the kind of thing you get used to when you're as strikingly handsome as I.

I also picked up a little solid-state dimmer switch that's lightswitch-shaped so it fits in a regular switchplate. Then we talked about pet fish and our children. An odd segue.

I managed to get two of the six fixtures up before The Mrs. shooed me out of the kitchen so she could cook. In this photo, it is the two on the right. You can see the nice, cozy yellow glow of the Xenon bulb compared to the institutional coldness of the fluorescent to the left of the cooktop. The cooktop's light is non-functional, so it is bathed in darkness.

Probably about 2 more hours of work tomorrow, and I'll be done.


Rhonda said...

There is a big difference in the color of the light.
It does matter.

I'm sure you've made the wife of cherkyb happy.

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