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Old 05-13-2013, 07:20 PM   #1
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Changing out CLF recessed lights


My parents live in a 5 year of newer home with builder installed CLF recessed lights in the kitchen.

Unfortunately, the lights are pure crap. more than half the bulbs have died, most not even close the the rated hours. But that's not the real issue. The bulbs are impossible to replace without breaking the bulbs and taking apart. We've had the builder maintenance man come change a batch a year ago and he took over 30 minutes before just breaking them all and pulling them out tools.

So I'm thinking of replacing them with easier to remove CFL housing or going to LED.

My mom had a friend of a friend take a look and he said there is a fire hazard if we buy the cheap cans are home depot and switch them out. To do it properly and to fire code, we should pay someone about 80-100 a can to properly replace the cans. Can someone tell me if this is true?

How easy/hard would this job be for me? My only experience with this type of stuff is installing ceiling fans.

I've uploaded a few pictures as well. Thank you
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Old 05-13-2013, 08:53 PM   #2
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Changing out CLF recessed lights


First it would help if we knew your location. California has Title 24 that requires energy efficient lighting in places like kitchens so your options nay be limited.

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Old 05-13-2013, 11:26 PM   #3
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Changing out CLF recessed lights


The other common issue is you may have bad ballast as well and there are few case I know if mismatched from the start that will be the issue.

Second thing if you have motion sensor for the CFL in my option just ditch them they are hard on them especally with cheap motion sensor which they only used 2 conductor instead of true 3 conductor ( which it will required neutral for motion sensor to work perfectally )

Do that place have attic which you can get into the cans above the ceiling? if so that will be the easiest way to deal with it.

There are some states have strict engery code we have to follow and I don't know how much option you can go from there depending on which state you are in.

Merci,
Marc
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Old 05-14-2013, 12:54 AM   #4
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Changing out CLF recessed lights


I saw replacement LED trim kits that plug into older recessed lights. You may have to buy one and see if they fit your application. The plug for the adapter may need to be replaced.

Just so you know you get more lumens off a larger CFL than the LED kits they sell at Home Depot. But that's only if you go with a standard bulb socket recessed light. I got trim kits for them at Lowes a while back. I don't know if they still carry them. If you hire an electrician he has to go with code as explained above, but if you do it yourself you can do what you want although you will not meet current code.
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Old 05-14-2013, 02:01 AM   #5
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Changing out CLF recessed lights


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Originally Posted by db3058 View Post
I saw replacement LED trim kits that plug into older recessed lights. You may have to buy one and see if they fit your application. The plug for the adapter may need to be replaced.

Just so you know you get more lumens off a larger CFL than the LED kits they sell at Home Depot. But that's only if you go with a standard bulb socket recessed light. I got trim kits for them at Lowes a while back. I don't know if they still carry them. If you hire an electrician he has to go with code as explained above, but if you do it yourself you can do what you want although you will not meet current code.
This is bad advice.

We come here to ask for advice on safe, and code compliant installations. The Code must be followed no matter who does the work. For you to come on here, and advise that OP can violate Code is unacceptable.

Please keep your advice to yourself until you understand the purpose of this forum.

As to LED to CFL adapters, I'm unfamiliar, which is not to say they don't exist, but wait for a pro to answer.
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Old 05-14-2013, 02:29 AM   #6
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Changing out CLF recessed lights


I also agree that NEC code needs to be adhered to. I was a union commercial electrician for many years. But when it comes to someone saying that you need to use one type of light over another in a fixture I think that goes way beyond safe wiring practices. It may not be code in some cities in California under Title 24, but it is perfectly safe to install recessed lights for normal incandescent bulbs and replace them with CFL's. There are trim kits made specifically for that purpose. It makes more sense that buying CFL only fixtures that take proprietary plug in CFL's that are known to be garbage and limit yourself. That is California controlling what type of fixture you can buy, not safety. I installed them in my home just that way and love them. My point was that anyone doing work where that control is adhered to will have to put in specific fixtures whether they like it or not. I think you misunderstood me. What's next...California making everyone buy proprietary bulb fixtures to control the type of lights they want us to use whether we like it or not? Do you put CFL bulbs in your normal table lamps? Perfectly safe!
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Old 05-14-2013, 05:09 AM   #7
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Changing out CLF recessed lights


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Originally Posted by db3058 View Post
(snip) But that's only if you go with a standard bulb socket recessed light. I got trim kits for them at Lowes a while back. I don't know if they still carry them. If you hire an electrician he has to go with code as explained above, but if you do it yourself you can do what you want although you will not meet current code.
Except that this sentence as worded is too confusing to most of us on this forum.

Insurance companies may deny a claim if even the slightest departure from code or from the law is found. The California title 24 is admittedly more restrictive in prohibiting certain fixtures just because they accept a lamp that the lawmakers don't want used.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 05-14-2013 at 05:11 AM.
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Old 05-14-2013, 10:37 AM   #8
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Changing out CLF recessed lights


Thanks for the replies everyone.

Yes, I am in california. Title 24 must have been what the person who advised my mom was talking about. He basically said it won't meet code if i replaced the current cans with the cheap ones from home depot.

The lights are in the kitchen, above the master bath, so i won't be able to access the lights easily.

So I'm still unclear on a couple items. How do I ensure that the new lights meet code? How do I know what I replacing with meets code? How hard would this job be for a novice like myself? Thank you
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Old 05-14-2013, 11:16 AM   #9
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Changing out CLF recessed lights


From what I understand of CA code (which may be wrong), they don't want fixtures with screw-in sockets. They want fixtures that only accept CFL lamps so nobody can install an incandescent bulb in them.
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Old 05-14-2013, 08:30 PM   #10
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Changing out CLF recessed lights


What title 24 actually is in regard to is energy efficiency. This could be either cfl's or led luminaries. Cfl's are never going to meet their rated life expectancy in a situation where they are switched on and off for short periods of time, as when you stroll into the kitchen for a drink or to wash your hand and then exit and switch the lights back off. They are like any fluorescent, realistically designed to be on for longer periods. Like it or not, LED's are the emerging technology and are coming down in price. In the not to distant future we will not see screw in fixtures on the market.
The retrofit led offerings are a suitable and effective way to update can lights. But your cans appear to not be a 6 inch can, maybe 4 inch so do not know what is available. Also in a kitchen only a portion of the lighting needs to meet title 24 efficiency standards.
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Old 05-15-2013, 05:17 PM   #11
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Changing out CLF recessed lights


Those look like the wrong kind of lamps to me, don't recessed cans need reflector floods, PAR20 or PAR30? I have 6" cans in my kitchen and dinning area with screw in sockets. I realize these don't meet title 24, I don't care. If I was to sell I could replace a couple with dedicated CFL cans. I am using screw in PAR30 3500K CFLs which are intended for recessed lighting and they are awsome. After 4 years I have just replaced my first set of CFLs. These things are on 8-10 hrs a day and have saved me some serious money. Around 5-6KWh a day at $0.25 (yes SCE is this high) per KWH and thats around $1.50 a day or $45 a month. They are not perfect in that they have a warm up period, but I have not found a CFL intended for recessed lighting that didn't. Screw base cans would give you the oppertunity to try out LEDs as well. Unless you are planning on selling soon, I would not worry about this part of title 24 and install cans with screw bases. It is not safety related, and you are complying with the spirit of title 24 by using CFL or LED anyway just more options. Besides, in SCE land we will take all the savings we can get.

The above referance to lots of on and off is why I will not put CFLs in my bathrooms, but my kitchen and dinning room are on a windowless part of the house and thus on all the time.

BTW, PAR20 will work in 4" cans

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Old 05-15-2013, 10:32 PM   #12
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Changing out CLF recessed lights


At the end of the day we have safe, and code compliant. And then we have "to what the government wants" compliant.

I would just put regular cans up, and put in the bulb YOU want. It's your house, your electric bill, your kitchen, your vision, and your wallet. So what if they don't like that its not energy saving. It's a free world (to a certain point). Just make sure they are installed to code, wired safely, and are IC rated if they are near insulation.

Personally I don't even feel safe using this China crap they make and send over here, especially CFL's. Most of my lights are still incandescent and SOME are a good quality CFL. Even then, CFL's just don't live up to their life. So why pay more and turn out the same in budget at the end...but to be bothered with having to maintain them more...
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Old 05-16-2013, 12:13 AM   #13
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Changing out CLF recessed lights


Thanks again for the discussion. I've learned alot the last couple days.

I had someone come over for an estimate to replace the lights with regular cans as a few of you have suggested.

He quoted me 75/can to replace them with regular cheap cans that can take any bulb. That'll run me $750 total for 10. He said they would have to remove the old ballasts(I think thats what he called them) and just install the new lights. Roughly 5 hours for the 10 cans. Does this sound about right?

Now, I know I'm on a DIY forum, but would like some feedback from some people on the cost/benefit for this particular project.

I also visited Home Depot and saw LED specific cans. What are the benefits of installing an LED specific can? I must be missing something because wouldn't it be cheaper and give you more options if you just install regular cans and use LED bulbs?
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Old 05-16-2013, 06:57 AM   #14
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Changing out CLF recessed lights


The LED specific fixtures are one method of satisfying California's title 24 law, in preventing the use of incandescent lamps in the fixtures.

Where general purpose can lights (accepting incandescent lamps) are permitted, you still have to be careful choosing them. Certain kinds (non IC rated models) may not be installed with insulation snugged up around them for fear of excessive heat buildup.

Unless you have a specific conversion kit (e.g. for LED lamps) for the old fixture, the entire old fixture, ballast and all, must be removed and then a complete new fixture installed.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 05-16-2013 at 07:01 AM.
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Old 05-16-2013, 07:50 AM   #15
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Changing out CLF recessed lights


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From what I understand of CA code (which may be wrong), they don't want fixtures with screw-in sockets.
That really sucks. The old 25mm knuckle thread base is the one style I can be pretty sure to still be available in ten or twenty years. I have seen some of these new LED fixtures with custom sizings, that I figure that by the time the bulb actually does fail, you won't be able to get a replacement.

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