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Written by Chris Johnson on September 23, 2015

New Home Project: Pantry and Closet Lighting

During the construction of my new home I had the electricians install electrical outlets that were controlled by a light switch in our two kitchen pantries. One of these pantries was in the kitchen, and the other was actually a coat closet beneath our stairs close to our kitchen that we had the builder convert into a pantry (we call this our "big pantry"). I had these electrical outlets included so that once we moved into the house I could easily install Microfluorescent T4 fixtures around and above the interior door frames of each pantry. The Microfluorescent T4 fixtures come with a cord and plug and you can also purchase flexible linking cables to link two or more fixtures together, which is what I did. Why did I choose these fixtures? I think this customer comment says it all...

The T4 is sleek, compact, easy to install and provides a generous amount of light in a very small footprint.

Shortly before moving into our house I reviewed and measured the interior door frames of each pantry. Our standard kitchen pantry had room for me to install fixtures completely around the door frame. Our converted pantry under the stairs only had room above the door frame. Based upon my measurements, and my desire to use the same size fixture in both pantries (thus, I would only need to worry about a single wattage as future replacement lamps), I decided to use 24-watt warm white Microfluorescent T4 fixtures. The 24-watt fixtures are 34.5 inches long without the power cord. This length allowed me to use two fixtures on each side of the door and stack two fixtures above the door frame. I selected warm white because the cool white was just a little too cool (blue) in my opinion for a residential setting. However, color temperature is definitely a personal choice.

When the fixtures arrived it took less than 30 minutes to complete the installation in each pantry. The "big pantry" actually took about 15 minutes since I only needed to install them above the door frame.

Each fixture included the following:

Accessories that came with microfluorescent fixture
  • Fixture with lamp
  • Cord and plug
  • Two mounting clips with screws

The tools needed for my installation were:

  • Pencil to mark the holes for the mounting clips
  • Tape measure
  • Screwdriver (I used my power screwdriver)

When I purchased the fixtures I also bought spare lamps and accessory linking cables to link multiple fixtures together. I installed three fixtures in my "big pantry" plugging one of them into the switched electrical outlet and connecting the other two with the flexible linking cables. I stacked them on top of each other. In my smaller, kitchen pantry I used six fixtures - two on each side of the door frame (for a total of four) and two above the door. I plugged each fixture that was above my door to the wall outlet separately, and then used the accessory linking cables for the two fixtures on one side of the door frame, and two additional linking cables for the fixtures on the other side of the door frame. The hardest part of the entire installation was working on the inside of the smaller pantry because of limited space to move around.

After living in the house for a couple of weeks we decided that two upstairs closets needed more light. One was a closet in my home office and one was a closet in my son's room. These installs were a little more complex because unfortunately I did not have the electricians add switched wall outlets inside the closets during construction. However, I called an electrician I have used before and he was able to install the outlets with limited difficulty. After some small drywall patches the switch and outlets were installed and ready for the fixtures. I used the same 24-watt fixtures upstairs as I did in my pantries and what a difference light makes in these closets.

Below are pictures of my new pantry and closet lighting.

Three T4 fixtures above my pantry door.

Installed above the pantry door

Shows the fixtures plugged in to outlet inside closet and linked together.

Lights plugged in to outlet

Two T4 fixtures linked together with flexible linking connector.

T4 fixtures along door frame

Switch inside the pantry controlling electrical outlet for T4 fixtures.

Switch inside pantry