Comparison of commonly used door switches used for cabinet lighting

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1. Magnet and Reed Sensor (*best choice)
2. Mechanical door switch or microswitch
3. PIR Passive Infrared
4. Reflective IR
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1. Magnet and Reed Sensor

Fully concealed door switch system developed and supplied by Lightdream
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Lightdream: Two door cabinet with concealed door switch parts
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Pros

  • Being fully concealed there are no bulky elements or exposed wiring.
  • Switching is silent – no click noises.
  • The light goes on as soon as the door is opened and goes off as soon as the door is closed.
  • Can be installed in the factory by the cabinetmaker saving onsite time by the electrician.
  • Works on any door type – hinged, sliding, bifold.
  • Works across large door to cabinet gaps up to 30mm.
  • Can operate over 10 million times – extremely reliable
  • Can turn off the light automatically if a door is left open.
  • Can be installed without any electrical knowledge as system is low voltage and simply plugs together.
  • Inexpensive

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2. Mechanical door switch or microswitch

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unsightly door switches
Lightdream considers these switches unsuitable for contemporary joinery.
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Cons

  • Unsightly
  • A microswitch in operation makes an audible click sound which is amplified by boxy cabinets
  • Requires an electrician to install
  • Does not time out if a door is left open
  • Not suitable for sliding doors
  • Being mechanical it can have a short lifespan
  • One of the complaints of cabinetmakers is attending jobs where a poorly fitted microswitch is keeping the door ajar.

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3. PIR (Passive Infrared) Human Motion Sensing

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Clipsal PIR
Lightdream considers these unsuitable for contemporary joinery.
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Cons

  • Unsightly – quite wide and deep (70 x 140mm)for cabinet interiors
  • Does not detect door opening. Detects infrared, therefore two actions are required before the light comes on. First action, open door, second action, move your body or arms to cause the sensor to trigger.
  • Requires an electrician to install
  • Minimum load is 40W which is much greater than most LED demands
  • Has built-in time delay which keeps the light on after the doors are closed for a period of time
  • Expensive

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4. Reflective infrared

Fixed just inside the cabinet at the top
IR reflective door switch

Cons

  • Aesthetically displeasing due to exposed wires and plugs
  • Short cables with bulky plugs makes a difficult installation
  • Works by detecting a door and reflecting IR light back into the sensor which switches off the light. The problem is that sunlight and other types of light will also enter the sensor when the door is opened which has the effect of turning off the light.
  • Preferable for use in dark spaces only where there is no ambient or stray light.

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Types of lighting

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Ambient lighting is the general lighting in a room or space. It should provide a comfortable level of brightness without glare.

Task lighting is bright to enable the task at hand. Kitchen benchtops and other work areas require task lighting. Wardrobes and closets may also require this level of lighting.

Accent lighting is for use on kickboards, open shelving and recessed sections. The effect is to highlight a space and add drama.

Indirect lighting is used to minimise glare. Light sources are best placed in a cove or behind a pelmet.

Courtesy lighting is for the interiors of wardrobes, cabinets and drawers. Apart from functionallity it also adds ambiance and a feel of luxury.

Diffused lighting is a soft light without glare. Normally produced by placing a diffuser in front of the light source. The diffuser scatters the light allowing it to wrap around objects and avoiding shadows.

Spot lighting is used to highlight a particular object on a shelf or a work of art. It is a concentrated form of light and is best placed pointing away from the observer.