New LED Under Cabinet Lights from DEKOR

Looking to add task lighting to your kitchen? Considering new under cabinet lights?  Then have a look at the new LED  under cabinet lights from DEKOR.  I have long been interested in DEKOR as a producer of  ”high quality, high value” LED lighting products, most notably their outdoor LED recessed lights.

DEKOR makes these small LED recessed down lights and stair lights that add warmth and atmosphere to any deck but can be used pretty much anywhere you want to add accent lighting indoors or out. Best of all they come with this crazy 10 year warranty and are ( ladylike fist pump ) made in the USA.

But I digress.

DEKOR seems to be expanding it’s line of indoor LED lighting products with these new LED under cabinet lights.  They are supposed to address a number of issues encountered with LED under cabinet lighting.  According to Duane McCall, DEKOR’s owner/designer and former NASA engineer (!):

“Good under cabinet lights are hard to come by … I didn’t realize this until I went to redo my
own kitchen … if they were any good they cost a lot of money, but still had design drawbacks,
and were difficult to install. Why?”
(From PRWeb)

So he decided to design his own … after all, ah, it’s not like it’s rocket science right?

The video below gives a tour of the product by Mr. McCall, it demonstrates the ease of installation, the energy savings, and sheer versatility of the product. “The pinnacle of LED quality.”

But how good are they really?

Let’s see how they stack up versus what the experts recommend:

How to select residential LED Undercabinet Lighting by the Lighting Research Center

Consumer Reports on Cabinet Lighting / Task Lighting

Light Quantity & Quality

According to Illuminating Engineering Society you need a minimum of 600 lux for chopping and dicing – wouldn’t want to lose a finger. These lights exceed that level so are SAFER than most of what is found on the market.

Back in the dark ages ( 2008 ) Consumer Reports reported that:

Light-emitting diodes, the newest choice, were the most energy efficient undercabinet lighting by far. Their low-profile housings tend to be relatively discreet. But most of the LEDs we tested still produce narrow beams of light, like a spotlight, rather than the even, wide beams best for task lighting. Plus the new technology can be pricey. Except for the $180 American Lighting 021-0001, the LEDs produced a bluish light that can change the colors of some items underneath it. (Learn more about LED lights.)

NONE of that applies to this new DEKOR product.

The light distribution is even and covers your entire countertop, including your backsplash due to a wide angle for light distribution. They’ve got rid of hospots issues on reflective countertops as each LED light bar has 54 SMD LEDs placed close together.

The lights are a nice color with a CCT (3200 K) in the recommended range, a warm white light similar to incandescent lighting. Ah incandescent lighting … enjoy it while you still can.

The lights are reliable and long lasting with a 5 year warranty. It’s not the famous DEKOR 10 year warranty but still pretty good. And the price is right with one LED light bar coming in at under $35.00 and a 4 light bar kit complete with mounting brackets and LED power supply lists for just under $180.00.

Modular Design & Easy Installation

What I love about these lights is their modularity. They have simple “plug and play” connectors. A variety of accessory connectors and mounting hardware is available so you can create the custom kitchen lighting design you want and that fits your kitchen. As much as I love home improvement, I’m not all that mechanically gifted so easy hookup makes it doable for me. It’s low voltage so it’s safe to play with the lights and connectors when the power is live. The DIY video shows a bunch of splicing being done but my understanding is the LED under cabinet light kit comes with a plug and play transformer / power supply too now … so ignore that last bit in the video below.

Parting Thoughts

If you want a finished installation, you should consider getting an add on switch or dimmer to better control your lights, especially if your transformer / power supply is in an inaccessible location otherwise they’ll be on continually on. A dimmer is a must if you also want to be use the lights for mood lighting / safety lighting for your kitchen.

The other thing is the connecting cords may be a little long between lights, you will have to tape them up, I would suggest installing closer along the lip under your cabinet for better hiding. Duct tape and hanging wires under kitchen counters look tacky and will be no doubt visible when the lights are on due to the ( cough ) wide viewing angle.

All in all a nice lighting package, a really cool product, decently priced in the context of its quality.

For more information, check out DEKOR’s new LED Under Cabinet Light.

Worth reading: Ebuild’s 2009 Most Valuable Products

Check out Ebuild’s 2009 jury selected MVP or Most Valuable Products.  It’s all about innovation and energy efficiency this year.

I really like the Karbon kitchen faucet, great for those who like intriguing design and exactness and efficiency in your dishwashing or food preparation methodology.

Designed with multiple, moveable joints, the faucet allows you to position and lock water flow exactly where you need it. You can extend the faucet fully to fill large pots, lower it into the sink for food preparation and cleanup, fold it compactly out of the way when not in use, or position it anywhere in between.

Products range from energy-saving roofing and solar water heaters to “haute couture for your shower”. Check it out.

Green Appliances: Energy efficiency makes a difference

Green appliances? There are no true green appliances. The idea that an appliances can be green or environmentally friendly is something of an oxymoron in my opinion. Appliances use electricity by definition. Using electricity is linked to the consumption of non-renewable resources and fossil fuels which is linked to the production of carbon dioxide or “greenhouse gas emissions”. So there are no true green appliances.

But what’s the alternative? Some (like the couple in A Year without Toilet Paper) have very admirably tried living a no ecological impact lifestyle. It’s a huge lifestyle change and even they haven’t been able to go without light bulbs and a stove. Most of us aren’t quite ready for that extreme just yet. So we turn to technology to produce appliances that allow us to maintain our lifestyles but with less of an impact on the planet. Long live green appliances (and toilet paper).

So what’s makes a green appliance, well, green?

  • energy efficiency
  • water efficiency
  • recyclable components

The subject of green appliances is huge so I’ll only be covering energy efficiency in this article.

Energy Star – the universal symbol for energy efficient appliances

The Energy Star Logo - universal symbol for energy efficient appliances

When buying a new appliance, look for the Energy Star label. The Energy Star program was introduced in 1992 by the US Environmental Protection Agency, as a way to promote energy efficient, environmentally friendly products and practices. Appliances that earn the Energy Star label have to meet and exceed stringent standards for energy efficiency.

Over time, the program has paid off in huge savings – both to consumers and to the environment.

In 2006, Americans saved $14 billion in utility bills while preventing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 25 million cars by participating in Energy Star program. Put another way, if just one in 10 homes used an Energy Star appliance the environmental impact would be the same as planting 1.7 million new acres of trees (source: US Energy Star stats). Buying energy efficient appliances can and does make a huge difference to the environment.

Here is some info on the energy savings associated with the different types of Energy Star appliances.

Washing Machines

An Energy Star qualified washing machine uses 50% less energy than a standard washing machine. They also typically use less water and extract more water during the spin cycle to cut drying time and save wear and tear on your clothes.

Dehumidifiers

Buying an Energy Star rated dehumidifier will save 10-20% in energy costs over non-rated model.

Dishwashers

An Energy Star qualified dishwasher uses at least 41% less energy than the minimum standard. Like washing machines, they typically also use less water and less hot water in particular.

Refrigerators & Freezers

Energy Star rated refrigerators use 15% less energy than current standards and 40% less energy than similar models made in 2001. Freezers use 10-20% less energy, depending on design. The energy savings come from improved compressor technology, better insulation, and better thermostat control.

Room Air Conditioners

Energy Star rated air conditioners use at least 10% less energy than conventional models.

What about clothes dryers?

Some appliances don’t qualify for Energy Star like clothes dryers (they’re energy hogs) but you should still choose a more energy efficient model where you can.

Green appliances: the bottom line

Technological advances cost money so chances are green appliances will cost you more … but will save you money in operating costs (energy bills) over the life of the appliance, more than enough to make up for the initial cost.

Even better, you can sometimes get a rebate on your Energy Star purchase. Check out this page for rebates and incentives for Energy Star products available across Canada. Or you can search for special offers and rebates in the USA here.

All while helping to protect the environment. For more info, check out below.

Energy Star in the USA: http://www.energystar.gov/

Energy Star in Canada: http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/energystar/english/consumers/index.cfm

Does this energy efficient lightbulb make me look fat? Women shun CFLs in droves.

Women don’t like compact florescent (CFL) bulbs. We talk a lot of green – and why shouldn’t we? Studies show women are generally “more receptive to environmental concerns“. But when it comes to buying and using the new energy efficient compact florescent (CFL) bulbs, actions speak louder than words.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released last week showed that while women are more likely than men to say they are “very willing” to change behavior to help the environment, they are less likely to have CFL bulbs at home. Wal-Mart company research shows a similar “disconnect” between the pro-environmental attitudes of women shoppers and their in-store purchases of CFL bulbs.

The explanation for this green gender gap? Memories of compact florescent light bulbs past.

They were bulky. They were expensive, as much as $25 each. They had an annoying flicker and hum. They cast an icky, cold-white light that made people look pale, wrinkly and old.

Well that’ll do it right there. According to the article, women are “nesters”, concerned about how things look. Men put the CFLs in and women take them out. Maybe it’s about ambiance. But maybe women don’t want to look at pale, wrinkly, old husbands either.

I must confess I use CFLs through the home, including the master bedroom (really low wattage) but not in my office. I’ve tried to use them but found the working experience highly unpleasant. Sounds like it’s time to try again. Compact florescent bulbs are better now. Some are supposed to even approximate the cozy warm glow of incandescent lighting. But attitudes take longer to change than technology.

I tried to find the original poll on both the Washington Times and ABC News websites but all I found is that someone at ABC can predict the future; my query for “compact florescent” returned results from the years 2201, 5005 and up. But no poll from April of this year. Shucks to rely on ABC.

Guess we’ll have to take their word for it. Read the source article, Some wives resent energy-saving bulbs from the Washington Times, reprinted on the Nashua Telegraph.

Product Recall: Sauder Woodworking TV Stands Can Collapse

Sauder 400205 Universal TV Stand Recalled

Sauder is recalling about 414,000 Model 400205 Universal TV Stands as they have been reported to collapse after assembly.

Here is the latest information from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission news release:

Hazard: The TV stand can collapse if the fasteners used to connect the metal legs to the lower shelf are not completely tightened during assembly, posing a risk that the TV set can fall onto children or adults.

Incidents/Injuries: Sauder has received 43 reports of TV stands collapsing. Most of the reported incidents involved stands that had recently been assembled. Three injuries required medical treatment including a broken arm, a torn rotator cuff with a concussion, and an injured finger. These injuries occurred when consumers attempted to prevent a TV from falling off the stand. In addition, a 6-year-old child received a bruised shoulder when the stand collapsed and a TV fell on her.

Description: The recalled TV Stand measures 23 ¾ inches (h) x 38 ½ inches (w) x 19 ½ inches (d) with a brushed maple finish. The stand has criss-cross, black, wrought-iron legs, a pull-out drawer, and a lower shelf. Model number 400205 and UPC number 42666 01958 are located on the product’s carton and instructions.

Consumers are advised to stop using the TV Stand described above immediately – if it’s wobbly – and contact Sauder for instructions on how to check and tighten the fasteners.

You can phone Sauder at 1 (866) 218-8312 between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. ET Monday to Friday, and between 9 a.m and 5 p.m. ET on Saturday.

Additional info is available from the Product Safety Notice on the Sauder website.

Video: Good and Bad Home Remodeling Investments

Which remodeling projects translate into higher resale values and give you a good return on your investment? 2 new news videos answer the question.

KSTP Video: Good Home Remodeling Investments

The most profitable home renovations are:

  • Kitchen remodel – 73%
  • Bathroom remodel – 73%
  • A 2 story home addition – 73%
  • Siding replacement – 81%

KSTP Video: Bad Home Remodeling Investments

The losers:

  • Master Bedroom suite remodel – 62%
  • Sunroom – 60%
  • Home Office – 55%

Payback stats quoted in the videos are from the National Association of Realtors.

Concrete vs. asphalt driveways – which is better?

Concrete vs. asphalt? For a no maintenance driveway with long life, the answer seems to be concrete.

An asphalt driveway is probably more attractive when brand new than concrete, but over its entire life, concrete wins out.

Also, there basically is no regular maintenance required for a concrete driveway. When a concrete driveway deteriorates from cracking or crumbling, it is generally caused by improper installation.

For the full explanation read For driveways, concrete is king from Ms. Builder.

Product Recall: Black & Decker GH1000 Grasshog XP String Trimmer / Edgers

Black & Decker GH1000 weed wacker recalled

About 202,000 Black and Decker hedge trimmers are being recalled due to being a projectile and laceration hazard as well as a burn hazard. There have been 707 reported incidents as well as 58 injuries. Sounds like this “made in China” but branded in the USA product is a real winner.

Here is the latest information from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission news release:

Hazard: The trimmer/edger’s spool, spool cap and pieces of trimmer string can come loose during use and become airborne projectiles, posing a laceration hazard to the user as well as bystanders. The trimmer/edgers can also overheat posing a burn hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: Black & Decker has received 707 reports of incidents, including 58 reports of injuries. Serious injuries included cuts to two consumers’ legs that required medical attention. Minor injuries included bruises, lacerations, and facial injuries such as a welt and broken skin over a consumer’s eye. There were also reports of property damage, including two broken windows.

Description: The Black & Decker GH1000 Grasshog XP String Trimmers/Edgers are electric-powered. Trimmer/edgers with date codes 200546 through 200645 (representing manufacture dates of November 14, 2005 through November 6, 2006) are included in this recall. The date code is located on the underside of the trimmer/edger’s handle. Only trimmers with black spools caps are included in the recall. Those with orange spool caps are not included in the recall.

Consumers are advised to stop using the string trimmers / edgers described above immediately and contact Black & Decker for a free repair toolkit.

You can phone Black & Decker at 1 (888) 742-9158 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.

More information is available at the Black & Decker Customer Center online or you can download the Safety Recall Notice PDF directly.

Recalled Black & Decker Grasshog GH1000 Trimmers / Edgers

Do you need extra insurance during your renovation?

Maybe so, according to a new article from the Wall Street journal.

As a general rule, you should check your contractor has general liability, workers compensation and auto insurance. These will cover contractor injuries and damage to your property caused by the contractor. But there are still a risks to be covered.

Your homeowner policy, meanwhile, may not cover damage that occurs during construction work, such as fire, theft or mishaps, which are major sources of claims. Theft of materials, including copper pipes, from work sites is also epidemic. The fact that smoke and burglar alarms are often turned off while workers go in and out of the house doesn’t help.

The article goes on to recommend buying a builder’s risk policy or course of construction (COC) policy which usually covers damage from wind / rain, vandalism, and theft depending on the scope of your renovation or remodel.

Read more – When renovating, get covered via MyrtleBeachOnline.

ZZZerious emerging home trend: the snoring room

Remember “til death do us part”? Traditionally, it meant putting up with a lot, including the snoring spouse or partner. Well no more.

One of the emerging trends in new home construction is the addition of a snoring room adjacent to the master bedroom suite, along with the usual bathroom and walk-in closet. Typically it’s an 12′ by 12′ soundproofed room with a double bed. And since it’s part of the master bedroom with full-sized bed, it beats the couch every time. Better for sleeping and the relationship.

“It’s an emerging trend,” Nash said. “I think it will definitely go mainstream in the next three years.”

Among “active adults,” the demographic term for people 55 and older, it already has.

Now some don’t like the the word “snoring room”, as snoring is often associated with more mature adults or overweight adults, and why compromise the value of a good idea? So the “double master suite;) ;) is also being promoted as a solution to “lifestyle issues” like being on different schedules, or spouses that move or talk in their sleep.

In existing home remodels, space for the snoring room is being carved from master suite sitting areas or largely unused hallway closet space.

Props: The Chicago Tribune.

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    1. New LED Under Cabinet Lights from DEKOR
    2. Worth reading: Ebuild’s 2009 Most Valuable Products
    3. Green Appliances: Energy efficiency makes a difference
    4. Does this energy efficient lightbulb make me look fat? Women shun CFLs in droves.
    5. Product Recall: Sauder Woodworking TV Stands Can Collapse
    6. Video: Good and Bad Home Remodeling Investments
    7. Concrete vs. asphalt driveways – which is better?
    8. Product Recall: Black & Decker GH1000 Grasshog XP String Trimmer / Edgers
    9. Do you need extra insurance during your renovation?
    10. ZZZerious emerging home trend: the snoring room
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