When I heard we were going to do a “Pixi Light” article I instantly called “dibs,” as I flashed back to the candy straw “Pixy Stix” we used to inhale when I was a kid. We were essentially mainlining a big straw full of sugar and colorful flavor chemicals. Can you say “SUGAR BUZZ?!” I figured some enlightened genius chemist had engineered a LIGHT version, with maybe only half the sugar and chemicals, but hopefully ALL the buzz. As so often happens, though, I was wrong; there’s a new Pixi in town, and this Pixi comes with NO buzz (or flicker, hot spots or glare). It’s also nowhere NEAR as tasty, but it DOES give off a lot more light!
In April, PIXI Lighting announced the availability of LED FlatLight™ Luminaires for residential and commercial applications. The FlatLights are their new line of ultra-thin, long lasting, edge-lit LED light fixtures. The completely flat fixtures, at 0.55 inches thick, have an internal power supply, allowing them to be flush mounted against any flat surface including ceilings, walls or under the counter. The versatile luminaires can also fit into T-grid (suspended) ceilings, can be recessed, and can be suspended from the ceiling with decorative chains. Here’s a quick 98-second video overview.
According to Pixi, The fixtures come in a warm 2700K color temperature for residential applications and a neutral 4000K for commercial applications. Residential panels are currently available in three sizes: 1’ x 1’, 1’ x 2’, and 2’ x 2’. They feature beveled edges, and are sold with a mounting plate for surface installation. Commercial-grade panels, which are currently available in two sizes, 2’ x 2’ and 1’ x 4’, last 60% longer than standard troffer lighting with ballasts and are RoHS compliant.
No Dim Bulbs Here … Unless You Want One
In these eco-aware times, it makes sense, both ecologically AND economically, to cut down on energy use wherever possible. Some alternatives are more palatable than others; I personally hate the CFL bulbs being foisted on us to replace the good old (inefficient) incandescent bulbs. I don’t like the quality of the light, the extended time it takes to get up to full brightness, and the cost. More options are becoming available, including dimmable CFLs (with a special, more expensive dimmer), but they’re still fairly expensive. Add in the fact that if you break one, you just about have to call in the hazmat squad to clean up the mercury, and the benefits pale. They do save energy, but I feel like my quality of life hasn’t been enhanced.
The Pixi FlatLight fixtures use up to 80% less energy than incandescent lighting; the 1’ X 1’ unit consumes 15 watts, and has an output of 1,040 lumens, roughly equivalent to that of a 70 watt incandescent bulb. Pixi FlatLight Luminaires are rated to last 50,000 hours or more. That’s about 17 years when used for an average of eight hours a day, seven days a week. They switch on instantly, generate very little heat (a traditional incandescent light panel dissipates about 92% of its energy as heat; a Pixi FlatLight, about 10%), and contain no mercury or lead. The units are dimmable, which is a nice advantage over fluorescent fixtures; according to a Pixi representative, most Lutron dimmers are approved to work with the lights. They are currently testing dimmers from multiple vendors, and have an updated list available on their website. Pixi is currently seeking Energy Star certification for the FlatLight product line. The lights come with all necessary items for installation (they even include toggle bolts and drywall screws!), and their website has a helpful installation video.
The FlatLight is advertised as being great for under-counter applications. With its slim profile, this would be a great use for it, but be aware that mounting it under many types of kitchen cabinets may pose a problem: The diameter of the light is 12”, which is also the depth of a standard upper cabinet. On many such cabinets, though, the bottom shelf is raised up about an inch, forming a recessed area beneath, leaving only 11” or so in between. This makes it impossible to install the light’s mounting bracket, unless you first install some lumber in the recess to make it flush with the front and rear panels. Not an insurmountable obstacle, by any means, but a bit of extra work you need to be aware of for some installations.
Ready For Your LED Buzz?
So are you ready for some efficient LED lighting in YOUR home or business? With incandescent lighting being steadily phased out, LEDs are the future of lighting; they’re cool, efficient and long-lasting. The drawback has been price, but as the technology becomes more prevalent, the cost is slowly coming down. When you take efficiency and durability into consideration, you’ll likely find that overall cost of ownership is far lower using LED lighting. We have five fluorescent lighting fixtures under our kitchen cabinets, ranging from 15” to 24” in length. The fixtures cost between $30 and $50 each, and the bulbs, which last roughly 12-18 months, average around $9 each, and they’re not dimmable. If I put a 1’ X 2’ fixture under the cabinet, and it lasts anything CLOSE to 17 years, I’m way ahead of the game money-wise, and I sure won’t miss all the trips out to buy bulbs and the fiddling around putting them in. In a commercial setting, the reduced maintenance and energy costs would be a great benefit.
As for using the FlatLight panels around the house, it’s a matter of personal taste. We live in a house that’s well over a century old, and this type of lighting might clash with the “character” of the place in many rooms. In a contemporary home, though, they would fit right in. Even in our home, they’d be great in closets, bathrooms, the laundry area, the work shop, and under the kitchen cabinets (after the aforementioned modifications).
The Pixi FlatLight is available at some Home Depot locations, and online, with free shipping, from Homedepot.com. The company is working with Home Depot to launch availability in new locations, and is also in discussions with other lighting-focused retailers and distributors. Prices range from $80—189, and all products come with a 90-day return policy and a limited five-year warranty.