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Closet Lighting Ideas

Understanding the ABCs of Closet Lighting

Closet lighting is an often overlooked area of space management and storage design. However, adding this feature to your closet can make the difference between a space that is dark and gloomy versus one that literally shines with beauty and functionality. Even if your space includes a window, it can benfit from a modern LED closet lighting system. Many people shy away from any type of remodeling that involves the electricals. Today's closet lighting is mainly low voltage, however, and does not require the services of a licensed electrician.

  1. LEDs for Closets: Use LED fixtures designed for closet use. Flexible and efficient, closet lighing components are small and don't require a light rail, simplifying your installation.
    LED closet lighting system components
  2. Go Wireless: Try to use wireless LED components whenever possible. With wireless units, there are no confusing wire schematics, as well as no in-wall hard wiring or junction boxes. Switches can be in the form of a remote control or mounted to the wall. Wireless lights can handle anywhere from 1-6 zones of lighting. Going wireless turns a complicated lighting project into a do-it-yourself project, or a job for a skilled handiman.
  3. Include Task Lighting: Many people overlook the need for task lighting in the closet. However, closets are often the place where you get dressed or put on jewelry. Vanity tables, USB charging stations, suitcase packing stations, and even coffee bars are common requests for high end closets that can benefit from a task lighting system. Integrate LEDs into under cabinet applications for these closet task lighting needs. An example of this would be the upper cabinet of a closet hutch. High output puck lights work great for this (but not for kitchen task lighting). Make sure that you select a low profile puck light with a diffuser. The diffusion will provide an overall even light rather than a series of pin points from the individual LEDS in the puck light. If you are installing over a sheen countertop surface, like quartz or a high gloss laminate, the countertop will act like a mirror, allowing the fixture mounted under the upper cabinet to be seen. Diffusers are especially important in this situation. Install the light as far forward under the cabinet as possible for best illumination. You may want to recess the puck into the underside panel of the cabinet for a clean and professional look.
    LED task lighting for closet
  4. Inner Cabinet Shelf Lighting: Many people like to light up the inside of a cabinet, especially if the cabinet has glass doors. Lit cabinets are a beautiful way to display treasured items and family mementos in addition to simply making it easier to see what is inside. Verical LED tape lighting is often preferred over puck lights because of their ability to generate even cabinet illumination. Puck lights will always generate more light on the upper shelves, even if the shelves are made of glass. This can be addressed by installing a separate puck light above every shelf, but this is expensive and requires that every shelf be made of wood or laminate, not glass. Flexible tape lighting strips, on the other hand, that are installed vertically on both sides of the inner cabinet create even brightness across all shelves, no matter what material they are made from. Install the vertical LED flex tape lighting close to the door frame faces so that it is hidden from view.
    Vertical LED tape lighting for cabinet
  5. Horizontal Shelf Lighting: Have you ever gone to work thinking that you are dressed in your black suit, only to find out after you arrive that although the jacket is black, the pants are actually navy blue. Even worse is to show up with one black shoe and one blue shoe. Avoid this type of mismatch with a closet lighting system — specifically horizontal shelf lighting. Use LED flex tape lighting installed horizontally under the closet shelves and above the clothes rods to illuminate your wardrobe selections. This type of lighting is relatively simple to install, and the benefits are dramatic. Flex tape lights are the most flexible lights on earth and can be cut to any length. They have a peel and stick installation — thus the term "tape" lights. They can be controlled by a remote control that usually includes a dimmer function, always providing the perfect amount of illumination for your needs.
    horizontal LED tape lighting for cabinet
  6. LED Color/Temperature for Closet Lighting: Lights are rated according to Kelvin temperature (K) and color rendering (how clear a color is). Color temperature is a way to describe the light appearance provided by a light bulb (lamp). It is measured in degrees of Kelvin (K) on a scale from 1,000 to 10,000. Commercial and residential lighting application Kelvin temperatures fall somewhere on a scale from 2000K to 6500K. An LED light that rates at 3000K is equal to a traditional incandescent light and is a warm light. Lights rated with 2000K – 3000K are referred to as "warm" lights. Lights with a kelvin rating below 4200K will tend to have an orange or yellowish tint to them. The higher up you go, the bluer the light gets. (Lights rated at 3500K are known to "pink out" a white closet). 4500K is a neutral, white light. LEDs with ratings of 3100K - 4500K are referred to as "cool" lights, even though they are basically neutral. Lights with ratings of 4600K - 6500K are referred to as "daylight" bulbs. This is a blue-white light that mimics actual daylight. The color of the light can have a definite effect on your perception of the items it illuminates. Daylight bulbs are perfect for displays, especially crystals and jewelry, as they really make diamonds pop. Grocery stores use the neutral "cool" bulbs, because they make produce look fresh picked. Many people prefer the "warm" bulbs, as they are most similar to the traditional incandescents that they grew up with. LED fixtures for closets are typically available with either the warm or cool lamps. The cooler lights are recommended for most kitchen/pantry applications. The color light you choose for your closet, however, is a matter of personal preference. The important thing is to choose the same color light throughout the entire closet for a cohesive look.
    warm versus cool LED temperature comparisonwarm versus cool LED temperature comparison
    Cool versus warm LED lights
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