Low voltage closet lighting

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  #1  
Old 12-15-12, 03:23 PM
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Low voltage closet lighting

I'm making built-in organizers for one of my closets and I'm not sure how to light them.

First, some details to visualize what I'm doing:

It's a typical reach-in closet with bifold doors, and my organizers are cabinet carcasses about the height of the jamb and most of the width of the jamb. The space on either side between the carcasses and the jamb will be trimmed out with painted lumber, about 6" on each side. This leaves a hidden empty cavity between the carcasses and the framed/drywall closet.

At the top of the drywall closet is a light fixture. When my cabinets are complete this will be inaccessible so no matter what I do for lighting I will remove the fixture, add a cover and flip the box over so it's accessible from the attic to meet code.

I'm not sure what to do for the new lighting. I have some Ikea undermount units that are actually pretty nice and fit what I'm doing well, but the transformer isn't hardwired so I would have to put an electrical box on either the cabinet carcass or the surrounding wood trim and plug the lights in there. Is that legit, and would I need to armor the romex cable as it passes through the empty cavity?

Another option would be to get some hardwired lighting. My understanding of the code is that I would not need an additional junction box, I could instead run the cable through a hole in the melamine where the light attaches. Is this correct?

I guess my final option would be to blend both ideas and find some sort of a hardwired transformer that's equivalent to the Ikea one (12VDC 500mA) and plug the lights into that. As far as I can tell, though, no such product seems to exist.

Any advice? Anything I'm overlooking?

Thanks!
 
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  #2  
Old 12-15-12, 06:40 PM
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The requirement for closet lighting is that it be cool enough, and mounted far enough from flammable material (like clothes) to essentially eliminate the risk of fire. What are the specs for the lights you're looking at? Are they specifically stated to be rated for use in closets? How far will the lights be from clothing?

No, you don't have to protect Romex through a cavity.

FWIW, I like to control closet lights with door switches, so that the light goes off every time the door is closed.
 
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Old 12-15-12, 07:42 PM
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The Ikea lights I have are meant for closets and wardrobes. They have motion sensors built in to automatically turn on when the door opens.

The only hardwired LED closet lights I found at Lowes and HD tonight are all quite bulky, too big to fit in the thin space available. It's looking like I'll have to put an outlet somewhere in the trim or carcass, I'm just not sure if that's kosher with the NEC.
 
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Old 12-15-12, 10:01 PM
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The Ikea lights I have are meant for closets and wardrobes.
IIRC, that means they are considered to be safe so long as the nearest combustible material is no closer than 18" away. How far will the lights be from clothing?

It's looking like I'll have to put an outlet somewhere in the trim or carcass, I'm just not sure if that's kosher with the NEC.
I think I would mount the box for the receptacle on, or in, the trim board. This would keep the transformer and its wire away from whatever is on the shelves.
 

Last edited by Nashkat1; 12-16-12 at 03:15 PM. Reason: typo
  #5  
Old 12-16-12, 01:18 PM
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I would look into low voltage LED puck lights. I'm not certain about the UL listing for closets, but I would expect they would be cool-running enough that if they are in contact with clothing it won't cause an issue.

I would use something like this:
Shop Utilitech 3-Pack Plug-In Cabinet LED Puck Light Kit at Lowes.com
 
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