Saturday, December 6, 2014

Can-do, Can Lights!

Remember that gorgeous winter storm we had buttoned up so well for?  It was absolutely wonderful that Wednesday.  Warmth, cocoa, sledding... you know...  until our power went out.  Actually, just minutes after I had put up that post.

Long story short, here's the numbers on our Thanksgiving break:
  • 3 Day power outage
  • 1 Day Postpone on Thanksgiving due to no one in our family with power
  • 1st time my family came out to a store opening Thanksgiving night.... just so we could stay warm
  • 3 Flashlights I found the kids hid in the car... after the power outage was over
  • 2 Seconds it took to flee a car that almost hit me outside Home Depot Black Friday
  •       (might I stress here, PLEASE DO NOT LOOK AT YOUR PHONE AND DRIVE)  
  • 5 of us sleeping in family pile in our boys room 
  • 47°F on the thermostat in our bedroom
  • 2 Last in stock generators sold right front of me
  • 7 Different Lowes and Home Depots [almost] all in 5 hours
  • 1 Purchased Generator
  • 3 Chilling hours spent trying to get the generator to produce any electricity
  • 30 minutes after calling Home Depot to return the broken generator, we get our power back
  • 1 Vow to have a sustainable heat backup for the next power outage
Okay glum aside...  after all was back to normal, we were able to make so more house progress!

The biggest thing standing between having power in our living room and trying out the new lights... was getting this wall mudded and primed.  Sparing you the details - we pushed through and after a few days, it was time to prime.

Priming was fairly straightforward.  I was able to get a coat done while the kids watched A Charlie Brown Christmas.  Once that wasn't tacky any more (the primer, not the movie) I put those light switches in as fast as I could ...turned on the circuit... and snapped a picture.

Notice anything different about the picture below?

What's that?  Even, full lighting coverage?  Oh, and that lovely glowing light IN OUR CEILING??? 

 **** BOOM! ****

Yes, they're gorgeous.  And yes, I did tear up a little.  There was absolutely no builders remorse on this one.  It was way outside our planning, and likewise, put us out of 'budget'... but who gives a crap?  Not me!  The change in the room is dramatic.  The above picture still shows a little haze, but I can assure you, they're very bright.

And here's the other side of the room...  Lovely isn't it?

Here's the same picture, just after, but with our typical means of lighting the place.  It's so dark and confining.  To be frank, in the last few years I have come to realize I have had seasonal mood issues.  The issues range from mild to severe, depending on the year... and winter always come with the dread of losing daylight at 4PM.  The oppressive, negative, confined feelings of winter darkness started lifting off me as soon as we switched that switch.  We went into this project with no idea that it could impact me in such a big way, but I'm glad we decided to up the project just this little bit.

Back to the lights- It was kind of a wash as to where to put them.  After a lot of unhelpful googling, I decided on a 5-of-dice pattern, since we wanted lighting in each quadrant... and it seemed oddly spaced without one in the middle as well.  This pattern works particularly well in the office, where the desk and bookcase have their own lighting.  Eventually... I will make the computer table I made have trim to the ceiling and doors and shelves... all in due time.

On to the nitty gritty of our lights... Lowe's had a sale on 2-packs of Utilitech LED lights for $29 that seems like an awesome deal... and I missed it.  I hadn't realized it was just a weekly deal when I saw them go on sale, and we were still in the early planning phase.  Once we got to the can installation phase of the build, I was completely kicking myself for not picking them up before.  Now they were still the cheapest I saw... at $44 a 2-pack... and we had 7 packs to buy (5 downstairs, 2 upstairs). 

...but to my surprise, the nice looking display cases hadn't been moved from the front of the store.  In fact, they stayed there for another few weeks until... SALE!!!

So amazingly enough, I was still able to get them for $29 a box.  Add in our other discounts and I was feeling much better about our impromptu can lights splurge.
$44 * 7 = $308 Orginal Price
$29 * 7 = $203 Sale Price
               - $10.5 Lowes Card 5% off
$3 * 7 =  - $21 NH Saves Rebate on LED lights
                $171.50 Final Cost LED Lights
That's $12.25 per light, for both our downstairs and upstairs lights... which is really really good for LED lights. Traditionally you'd expect to pay $5 - $15 on the trim, plus the bulb but LED's come with the trim attached.... so going with LED's off the bat was a great idea.

As for the actual lights in the livingroom, they're Utilitech Pro 6" 60-watt (eq) LED Lights... and we really love them.  The color is great, they turn on immediately, and have worked without fail. Those little springs were hard to figure out how they plugged in with no real instruction, but eventually I figured it out.  You squeeze the springs 'shut' and then put them in the little clip in the housing ( you can see one below). Then, as you push up the LED, the spring expands, keeping it in place.  The little round ends are just to stop it from flying out if you pull the LED back down.  It's simple enough.

The ones going up in Eve's room are the Utilitech Pro 4" 50 watt (eq) LED version.  They'll be a better fit (I hope) for Eve's smaller ceiling area.

We decided to cheap out, and instead of getting the highly recommended HALO housings... we got the home depot brand.  We found there was a heating pipe under one light location, so we did end up having to buy one name brand HALO shallow depth housing.  Comparing the two, I actually prefer the commercial electric brand.  They were much easier to install, and about 50% cheaper.  If we had to do it again, we still go with CE.
$22  - NM 14-2G cable (about 150 ft)
$44  - Dimmer switches (still to be installed)
$92 - 9 CE IC Air-Tite Housings
$16 - 1 HALO Shallow IC Air-Tite Housing
$123 - Utilitech LED Lights
$297 - Total cost for the can lights in our livingroom/office

That's the simple estimate, but there was actually more expense unwiring the switched outlets... but it's hard to pin down the cost there, because much of that had to do with the other improvements we made as well.  At most it would add about $10 in materials.

So that brings me to the final list...  Here's how we're doing finishing up the electrical work in our house.
The Electrical Plan
Upgrade all switches to white ones
Upgrade all outlets to white tamper resistant outlets

Remove lightswitch from upstairs hall, and rewire other switch
Add outlet to upstairs hall

Add recessed lights for eve's room
Re-rout switch from outlet to lights
Add extra outlets to Eve's room in key places

Add extra outlets to Boys room behind dresser
Add ceiling light
Re-rout switch from outlet to light
Move switches from demo and under window

Add smoke alarms to all three bedrooms, wired to the existing hardwired smoke alarms
Add closet light to new closet w/switch
Add outlet for dustbuster in new closet

Add recessed lights in office
Add recessed lights in livingroom
Add extra outlets in livingroom where needed (computer, TV, etc)
Finish coax installation behind TV 
Replace and fix the dimmer switch in dining room.
 And just for fun... Here's the progression shots from move in, to now...

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