Low-Voltage System Might Be Costly

Question: I want to install a number of low-voltage recessed lights in my living and family rooms, eliminating all floor and table lamps. I want the lights on three or four separately controlled, dimmable circuits in each room, operated with a battery-powered remote control unit. Is there anything on the market that will fit my needs? If not, do you have any alternative suggestions?

Answer: Low-voltage lights enjoyed a brief spurt of popularity a few years ago, but have flickered out. Ted Knowles, a Burbank electrical contractor, told me that whatever energy savings you obtain from low-voltage lights would be more than offset by the cost of the system you describe, which requires expensive control boxes and plenty of rewiring.

A more economical solution might be to use 110-volt recessed lights (Halo H7T or Maco's equivalent or any other brand that is UL approved), controlled with a dimmer/on-off switch. The cost would be less than $100 per fixture, he estimated.

If you want a second opinion on low-voltage lighting, you might stop in at Ken & Bill's Electrical Supply, 2316 W. Victory Blvd., Burbank. Ken Hairell and his brother Bill are also electrical contractors. On my last visit to the store, I saw several low-voltage lighting gadgets that might simplify your task. If it's electrical, Ken & Bill's has it in stock or can get it.

Q: Is it possible to obtain a list of good hardware stores in the San Fernando Valley? I do not always find time to check the home improvement page of The Times and am afraid I will miss the printed list.

A: Unfortunately, we don't publish a list of the kind you want. We did have several columns recently that mentioned hardware stores recommended by readers.

Check your back copies for Sept. 20 and Nov. 1, 1987. You mention two firms in your letter--Roscoe Hardware in Sun Valley and Economy Hardware in Sepulveda--that have made the "recommended" lists in the past. If any readers have any other recommendations in the eastern San Fernando Valley, send them on to me.

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