Monday, April 6, 2015

"A deal I couldn't refuse... Jersey style."

Lighting the layout room was proving to be a real challenge because of it's 6' - 3" clearance and tight ceiling grid that crisscrossed with the ceiling joists. Drop-in lights for the 24" square grid system would not clear the joists above, while recessed cans would not provide much of a 'cone' before reaching the layout surface about 24" away. And any kind of surface mounted fluorescent fixture would only exacerbate the potential for head knocks. Plus two years ago, LEDs were still a bit of a mystery to me, so I was flummoxed.

Enter fellow Jerseyan Ted DiIorio. "Pssst, have I got a deal for you," he whispered one dark dreary night. Looking to limit the damage from purchasing something he wasn't going to use, Ted offered a 48' long string of Party Lights that I could have at his original cost. But he would throw in 24 CFLs for free. Done deal. Now I just had to design a mounting and valence system.

I utilized the grid ceiling system's clips that typically are used for holding flush-mounted lighting fixtures. I routed out 1" x 3" strips that would hold both the Party Lights and hardboard valence to accept the clip. I then carefully followed the bench work edge around the room and peninsula. A close-up of  Ted's contribution is below.
The Party Lights which are typically used for outdoor events have their own mounting ears, but I opted to use cable clips for easier installation. The sockets are spaced at 2' intervals. I bought a second 48' length online to complete the required run around the room and peninsula. They are not made to connect together like Christmas lights. Each is plugged into a ceiling mounted outlet that is hard wired to a light switch.
Here's an overall  work-in-progress view looking back at the entry. The lighting is installed onto the 1" x 3" support awaiting the attachment of the 8" deep 1/8" fully tempered hardboard valence. I'll prime and paint the interior side off-white while the exterior side is getting a deep charcoal gray
Viewed from the entry, we see the valence and its shiny bolts (something for rivet counters to count). They were eventually replaced with smaller ones and painted to match the valence. But wait, somehow the peninsula backdrop was fabricated between this photo and the one above! We'll  take a look at that more closely in the next few days.
Uh oh... Looking down each side of the peninsula reveals the mounted lighting and its wiring. I'm not thrilled with the aesthetic. From what I've seen at other layouts, this is a typical condition that isn't easy to avoid, but I did want to minimize the visual impact.

I repositioned the lighting mounts  from the inside edge of the 1" x 3" support to its flat face and then mounted a 4" deep interior valence to hide the black wire while still getting maximum lighting. It's an improvement and probably all that's warranted.

I'm very pleased with the quality and color of this system. The 40 CFL's that I used are almost all 14 watt (60 watt equivalent) except for a few corner locations where I used 19 watt (75 watt equivalent). All are 5000K and nicely gray down the backdrop which is much lighter in person than it appears in these photos.

But this bullnose peninsula backdrop is not working for me. Wonder if there will be changes in the future? (Hint, hint). But for tomorrow, an exciting Shakespeare tutorial! I know I can't wait.
True or false? A more efficient, less expensive and nicer looking lighting system will be available shortly after the author has completed the installation of this one.

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