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

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.

How to quit procrastinating on that kitchen remodel

Do you want a more attractive kitchen? Do you go to the trouble of window shopping for a new kitchen, collecting numerous samples & brochures, but never seem to quite “get there”? Here is some insight into your potential “procrastination”:

“I don’t think you are describing procrastination so much as a form of paralysis caused by fear of making the wrong decisions,” says David Gray, owner of Kitchen Cabinet Expo in Rancho Cordova.

“A kitchen remodel is a major undertaking. When you consider all the choices, time, effort and money involved, it is not hard to understand why many people feel overwhelmed. I think the solution is to find the right professionals you can trust to listen to your needs and help you make the right choices, provide a good experience and do a good job,” he says.

Find more insights and answers to your remodeling jitters at the Sacramento Bee.

The ugliest front door in America

Therma-Tru Ugly Door Contest Winner

Who wants to admit their front door is an eyesore and the “ugliest door in America”? Quite a few people actually, which shouldn’t be surprising as the warts ‘n’ all reality makeover is now a staple of the home improvement industry. Therma-Tru Doors has just announced the winners of their Third Annual Ugliest Door in America Contest.

The grand prize winner is shown left, selected from over 200 entrants. To enter homeowners had to submit 2 photos and an essay explaining why their front door deserves to be named as the Ugliest Door in America; “worst in show” wins.

Judging was done by a team of 6 home improvement industry professionals including consultants from HGTV, Qualified Remodeler, the “On The House” radio show, and Home magazine.

The 2 winners will each receive a $3000 – $5000 front door makeover.

To see the winners and later the makeover results, visit www.myuglydoor.com.

Movable electrical power outlets: Eubiq is unique

Eubiq in the Kitchen

Eubiq (“electricity ubiquitous”) brings you something unique for your home: the movable electrical power outlet. Meet the Eubiq Power Track System, a sleek, elegantly designed electrical power outlet alternative that lets you “add, remove and reposition power outlets anytime anywhere – by just a simple twist”.

The Eubiq Power System gives you more convenience, flexibility, and choice. It eliminates the need for snaking electrical extension cords and having to move furniture to get to electrical power outlets. The system is available as 110V or 230V and in 2 prong, 3 prong or high capacity electrical outlets versions.

Eubiq Power Track System Power Point Steps

The electrical outlets (“power points”) are mounted on a track as shown above and right. Power points can be positioned anywhere on the track. You simply twist and pull to remove and push / twist to insert elsewhere. Power points are independent of each other. You can also add extra power points to an existing track. Special adapters are needed to actually plug in; adapters are available for Britain, Germany, India, Australia and Japan. The product will be available in North America once it gets UL (Underwriters Laboratories) approval later this year.

The Eubiq Power System is child safe. The track is designed to prevent the electrical parts from being touched. Stick your finger in, nothing happens. The power points have a “patented Grounded Sentry Shutter system that prevents users from touching the live wire parts”. The system has received ASTA BEAB Safety and Quality Product Certification in the UK as well as KTL Safety and Quality Product Certification; more safety certifications are sure to follow.

The Eubiq Power Track System will be available in various lengths and should retail for about $30 / ft. Each track system comes with 3 power points or electrical outlets.

Props: Sci Fi Tech Blog via Cool Gadgets.

Check out the Eubiq demo & website for more information. All photos are from Eubiq’s website.

Top remodelers & renovators honored at Chrysalis Awards

Looking for a showcase of real remodeling jobs with real budgets & real results (as opposed to those unlimited budget jobs we see on home and garden TV)? Reflecting current trends? With beautiful workmanship? In your area? Look no further than the Chrysalis Awards, a website dedicating to celebrating “the finest remodeling projects in the United States”. The awards for 2006 were just presented at the Southern Building Show.

The judges are editors and publishers from the Home & Garden industry: Better Homes & Gardens, Woman’s Day’s Home Remodeling & Makeovers, Southern Living Magazine and Sunset Magazine.

The judging criteria?

The projects are judged on design, use of materials, use of space and integration into the existing space. What makes these projects so relevant to you is that these judges apply their training to select project they want the public to see…just as they would do in their publications.

This makes it a little different from other industry awards which are typically awarded by trade associations. It’s very consumer oriented and attuned to what homeowners want to see.

Browse the Chrysalis Awards award winners index to find top renovators & remodelers (and design ideas) in your area.

Or check out our hire a home improvement contractor blog to see photos from award winners in the northeastern states.

Source: Qualified Remodeler via Kitchen & Bath Business.

Humidity Sensing Fan Protects Your Bathroom from Mildew and Mold

The Broan Humidity Sensing Fan is a home improvement innovation (and Hanley Wood Most Valuable Product and AHR Expo 2007 award winner) that can help protect your bathroom from mildew and mold. The fan can be configured to turn on automatically at preset humidity levels, reducing the opportunity for mold and mildew to grow. The fan’s auto shut off feature also helps save power and money. Hands free operation.

Details: Broan Humidity Sensing Fan Model QTXE110S product information.

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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
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    6. Video: Good and Bad Home Remodeling Investments
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