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Thread: closet light considerations

  1. #1
    Engineer DanMc's Avatar
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    Default closet light considerations

    My son has indicated that he'd like a light in his bedroom closet. His room is on the 2nd floor of a two story house. The attic is unfinished and has a pulldown trapdoor/ladder. I haven't fully scoped out how difficult it may be to gain access to the power from a wall outlet or light switch area and get wires over yet.

    Any general considerations I should worry about like how big the closet must be for certain sizes of lights, ceiling versus wall lights, etc?

    Am I allowed to tap power off of one of the outlets in the room? There is some chance that by cutting into the drywall in the closet I could access the backside of an outlet in the bedroom.

    I'm not really interested in those stick up battery operated ones. That sounds like a "solution" which will involve lots of dead batteries and maybe leaking ones.

    Thanks
    -Dan

  2. #2
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    The building codes are quite restrictive about lights in closets. Has to do with hot bulbs, and potential damage from items stored up on shelves. Check this out with your local authorities. Easy answer is to get some battery operated LED puck lights

  3. #3
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Codes require a minimum distance between the light fixture and anything in the closet. One neat solution might be something like a SolaTube (www.solatube.com). During the day, you can get the equivalent of up to a 300W lightbulb! and at night, you can option it with a light fixture. This would put the light far enough away to satisfy most, if not all building codes.

    I've put in three of these things, one in a dark, windowless hallway, and two in bathrooms. It took years to get over the impulse of reaching for the light switch when leaving the room! There's enough light even during a partial moon to see in the bathroom without turning the light on most of the time if you get up in the middle of the night. I've been very satisfied with mine (and, no, I don't own stock or benefit from saying this!). It's a neat product, and the original, and I think still the best.
    Last edited by jadnashua; 08-03-2012 at 05:40 PM.
    Jim DeBruycker
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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  4. #4
    DIY Senior Member Chad Schloss's Avatar
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    I installed all LED units in the closets in the house I just renovated. Got them at home depot. they fit into a 4x4 square box. I had to run electrical for them, but the walls were all open anyways. Very nice light for a closet. If it is a large closet, install two. I didn't want them in the ceiling, so i mounted them on the inside wall, above the door.

    http://www.homedepot.com/Lighting-Fa...1#.UBxzjaPAHvY
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    Last edited by Chad Schloss; 08-03-2012 at 06:10 PM.

  5. #5
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote;I didn't want them in the ceiling, so i mounted them on the inside wall, above the door.

    since stuff can be piled up on shelves all the way to the ceiling, most codes would require them to be on the wall above the door, unless it was a large closet without shelves under the light fixture.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  6. #6
    Electrician ActionDave's Avatar
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    What size is the closet? Standard two feet deep- put a florescent or xenon under-cabinet fixture on the wall above the door.

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    DIY Senior Member Chad Schloss's Avatar
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    i wouldn't put xenon in a closet. runs too hot, even with a good cover on it.

  8. #8
    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chad Schloss View Post
    i wouldn't put xenon in a closet. runs too hot, even with a good cover on it.
    Good point on the heat. LEDs and fluorescent are better choices.

    DanMc, buy some how-to books.

    Yes, you can tap power from almost anywhere you can find it. With many limitations. There are limits on how any wires you put in a box. Read the books.

    And don't play with live power.

    You likely have power in the attic.

    And you should be able to see the top plate of all the walls in the attic, and thus have no problem boring a hole into to space above the door to the closet.

  9. #9
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Another point on the tubular skylight, at least with the SolaTube, the light is pretty close to daylight (some don't use as good of a reflector, and tend to color the light). So, while the sun's up, you wouldn't need to turn the light on and it would be MUCH brighter than any light fixture you might consider for either size or heat; and the color temp would keep you from confusing a dark blue with black or other similar issues. I live in a condo, and it was a major hassle to get one approved, but if I could, I'd put in one for each closet on my second floor. They've now got a motorized shutter, so you could reasonably put one in a bedroom and 'shut' it off if you planned to sleep in.
    Jim DeBruycker
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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  10. #10
    Electrician ActionDave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chad Schloss View Post
    i wouldn't put xenon in a closet. runs too hot, even with a good cover on it.
    I don't care how hot they run it won't be hot enough to make anything catch fire.

    I have one in my entry closet.

  11. #11
    DIY Senior Member Chad Schloss's Avatar
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    think about kids. they leave lights on everywhere. you may want them in your closet, but it's not a good idea in my opinion. i love them for under cabinet lights in the kitchen though.
    Last edited by Chad Schloss; 08-06-2012 at 04:30 AM.

  12. #12
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ActionDave View Post
    I don't care how hot they run it won't be hot enough to make anything catch fire.

    I have one in my entry closet.
    I'm not sure what planet you're from, but if some clothing were to come into contact with one of those lights, it can start a fire. That's why there are regulations on what and where you can install lights in a closet as they are often out of sight, out of mind. A stack of clothing falling over and coming into contact is a recipe for disaster if the light is left on. A 10W soldering iron still melts solder (for small electrical circuits) and that's often in the 500-degree or higher range, easily above the ignition point of many fabrics and even wood.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  13. #13
    Electrician ActionDave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chad Schloss View Post
    think about kids. they leave lights on everywhere. you may want them in your closet, but it's not a good idea in my opinion. i love them for under cabinet lights in the kitchen though.
    Not worried. I have kids. I don't worry about them. I am the most absent minded one in the house. If anyone were likely to leave the light on the guilty party would be me.

    Matter o fact I have already been guilty of leaving the light on more than once.

    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    I'm not sure what planet you're from, but if some clothing were to come into contact with one of those lights, it can start a fire. That's why there are regulations on what and where you can install lights in a closet as they are often out of sight, out of mind. A stack of clothing falling over and coming into contact is a recipe for disaster if the light is left on. A 10W soldering iron still melts solder (for small electrical circuits) and that's often in the 500-degree or higher range, easily above the ignition point of many fabrics and even wood.
    Not worried still.

  14. #14
    In the trades Dana's Avatar
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    Putting it on a timer-switch or occupancy-sensor switch removes the irresponsible-kid-leaving-light-on issue. What other's said about sticking with only high-efficiency (==low temperature) units. Even a 9-10W LED or CFL puts a lot of light in a closet.

    I've used the low-profile T5 & T8 under-cabinet fixtures mounted flush with the wall, directly above the closet door as a no-glare, shadow-free closet lighting solution. Even a T8 fixture would be only ~1.5" out from the wall at the diffuser. T5 fixtures are about 1.1" thick. A typical ~21-23" fixture takes a 13W tube and is PLENTY bright in that application. (A ~12" fixture with an 8W T5 would be enough for many.)

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