It may be I’ve just had bad luck but I refuse to buy any more of the stuff. Almost all the IKEA lighting pieces have turned out to be crap in one way or another.
The last to be ditched were a set of IKEA “NON” undercabinet lights. They looked innocent enough - little round halogen undercabinet lamps with a transformer and some low voltage wiring.
Unfortunately each transformer only powered 2 lights which mean installing a power strip in the cupboard where the transformers were going to hide out. (I wanted a total of 5 lights which meant 3 transformers/power bricks).
Good point #1: They installed easily enough.
Good point #2: They were bright when they worked.
The bulbs KEPT blowing. They blew so frequently there was always one not working in the kitchen. (And yes, they had been installed per instructions and should have been fine in this location). Being halogens, they run pretty hot – meaning that they warmed the underneath of the cabinets – and in turn meaning that the top surface of the bottom cabinet shelf also got warm. Not dangerously so but enough that you wouldn’t want to keep chocolate just above the light.
The next problem was that the plastic surrounds started to become more and more brittle (presumably from the heat). This then let to the little plastic clips breaking and in fact one simply disintegrated in my hands while I was attempting to change the bulb (remember this is a frequent requirement).
These are the IKEA lights after being removed (these were in free air and the vents were not blocked).
Notice the burn marks on the plastic wire shroud on the left hand lamp and the melted and broken plastic on the brittle lamp on the right.
The solution - a decent set of Xenons
I finally gave up and bought a set of WAC lighting HR-88 Xenons from YLighting. I had read that Xenons run significantly cooler than halogens – leading to a longer lifespan for the bulbs. Since I was desperate to get away from the continuous bulb replacement cycle the Xenons were attractive and I figured worth paying the price of a couple of years of replacement bulbs for.
The WAC HR-88 lights are all metal, glass and ceramic – so no more plastic to disintegrate into plastic crumbs. In addition the wires are shrouded in heat resistant sleeving – another good sign. They don’t have a plug-in solution like the IKEA lights but it really isn’t rocket science to pop them into a connector block and feed them in to the transformer.
The lamps themselves are easy to install… they can be flush or surface mounted. Since our cabinets have a lip at the bottom (and the bottom shelf isn’t thick enough) I surface mounted them. The lamps are the perfect height to be hidden behind the lip.
With the Xenon lamps I also ordered a 100W 12V transformer which could run all of the 5 Xenons from one power outlet.
We love the WAC Xenons. They are all still in perfect condition and I haven’t had to replace a single bulb yet. I am now disappointed I’d ordered a box of replacement bulbs.
The Xenon project ran around $120 for the transformer and 5 Xenon lamp units – so they’re more expensive than the IKEA lamps (priced to sell sell sell). The difference is night and day though – these are obviously built to last!