Cove Lights – LED, Fluorescent and Incandescent Fixture Types

As demand for cove lighting has increased over the years so have the available fixture options. There are four primary types of cove lighting fixtures and each one has its distinct advantages and disadvantages.

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1. Rope Lighting

Of the 4 types of available cove lighting fixtures, rope lighting is the most commonly used type largely because of its affordable cost and ease of installation. Rope lighting can be purchased in pre-cut lengths that simply plug in, all you need is an electrical receptacle controlled with a dimmer switch.

There are 2 types of rope lighting. They are LED rope lighting and incandescent rope lighting and although they a similar in many ways each has its advantages and disadvantages.

LED Rope Lights:

Individuals wanting all of the benefits of LED lighting incorporated into their cove lighting often turn to LED rope lighting because of its flexibility, ease of installation and cost effectiveness.

LED Rope Light Advantages of LED Rope Lighting:

  • Minimal cost compared to other lighting fixtures
  • Minimal power consumption
  • Greater amount of light delivered
  • Minimal heat generation
  • No spacing required
  • Overlapping approved
  • Lifespan up to 100,000 hours
  • Available in many different colors
  • Available in different sizes
  • Flexible, conforms to all shapes
  • Special features like chasing, flashing and dimming available
Disadvantages of LED Rope Lighting:

  • LED lighting cost more to purchase than incandescent types

Incandescent Rope Lights:

This is the most cost effective and basic type of all indirect lighting fixtures.

Incandescent Rope Light Advantages of Incandescent Rope Lighting:

  • Least costly of the 4 fixture types
  • Available in different colors
  • Available in different sizes
  • Flexible, conforms to different shapes
  • Can be dimmed
Disadvantages of Incandescent Rope Lighting:

  • Limited light output
  • Cannot be overlapped
  • Spacing required for heat
  • Not energy efficient
  • Features like chasing, flashing are not available

While incandescent rope light delivers a noticeable glow, achieving an acceptable amount of light may require a second row. Be careful to follow the manufacturer’s spacing recommendations and never cross or cover the ropes due to fire hazards.

Rope Lighting Conclusion:

Both types of rope lighting are economical solutions for effective indirect lighting. Each requires a switched power outlet for control. Individuals wanting advanced LED lighting features like flashing and chasing require additional components increasing cost accordingly. Overall rope lighting remains a top choice amongst the 4 types of lighting fixtures for cost effectiveness, ease of installation and flexibility in any cove lighting design. Works well in coves of all sizes and configurations.

2. LED Cove Lighting

LED is an abbreviation for light emitting diode. LED’s do not use conventional light bulbs but rather semiconductor chips that generate light through a process call electroluminescence. When compared to the 4 types of lighting fixtures, LED cove lighting is the most energy efficient type of lighting that offers the greatest number of features.

Note: Because LED lighting fixtures use semiconductor chips, similar to those in your computer, we always recommend adding a whole house surge protector to safeguard your investment against damaging power surges and electrical power spikes.

There are 3 types of LED cove lights available. They are LED strip lights, LED bar lights and LED rope lights which were discussed above. Each one has its respective strong points and weak points.

LED Lighting Strips

LED strip lights are sometimes referred to as tape lights or ribbon lights. They are small, thin and flexible fixtures covered with a clear silicone coating making them ideal for cove lighting projects. Some are rated for indoor use only so exterior projects will require outdoor rated fixtures. Strip lights are another form of low voltage lighting so a transformer, also called a driver, will be required too.

LED Strip Lights Advantages:

  • Energy Efficient
  • A large selection of colors and different sizes are available
  • Minimal heat generation
  • Spacing not required
  • No spacing required
  • Approved for overlapping
  • Generous light output
  • Available in many different colors
  • Up to 100,000 hour life expectancy
  • Enhanced features like flashing, chasing and dimming are offered

  • More expensive still
  • No individual bulb replacement, must replace entire section of strip
  • Color shifting over lifetime
  • Transformer makes concealing more challenging in tight areas

Strip lights can be purchased by the foot or in spools. They are flexible and can be cut to custom lengths making them highly adaptable to any cove lighting design.

LED Lighting Bars

LED lighting bars are ridged low profile lighting modules that are available in pre-assembled lengths. They are linkable which means that one can be easily connected to the next. Light is directional making it very focused, a good choice for individuals wanting very bold and pronounced lighting with crisp edges.

LED Light Bar Advantages:

  • Energy Efficient
  • Minimal heat generation
  • Ample light output
  • Dimming, chasing and flashing features are available
  • Up to 100,000 hour life expectancy
  • Large array of colors offered
  • Different sizes offered

  • The most expensive
  • Color shifting over lifetime
  • Ridged making installation more challenging
  • Pre-determined lengths limit customization
  • No individual bulb replacement, entire bar must be replaced

Light output can vary greatly from one manufacture to the next so take your time when selecting the best light bars for your lighting project.

LED Cove Lighting Summary

While LED lighting remains a rapidly advancing technology the current benefits of energy efficiency and product life expectancy already far supersede those of both incandescent and fluorescent lighting. Add to this a vibrant selection of colors coupled with the convenience of dimming and LED lighting is the clear-cut winning solution to consider for your cove lighting installation.

3. Fluorescent Cove Lights

Not the general lighting fixtures you may be thinking of, but specially designed fluorescent fixtures for cove lighting. Proper placement is an important factor to achieve desired illumination making layout and installation more cumbersome. Fixture cost is somewhat reasonable and lamps have a long lifespan.

Fluorescent Lighting for Coves Advantages:

  • Reasonable cost
  • Ample light output
  • Overlapping keeps light even
  • Long life bulbs
  • Some colors available
  • Energy efficient

  • Lighting is harder
  • Dimming only with dimmable ballasts
  • Placement limitations
  • Installation requires more labor

Dimming is available only with dimmable ballasts increasing cost and light quality is not as soft or a bit commercial in nature.

4. Low Voltage Incandescent Lights

More expensive than fluorescent lighting but for most applications low voltage incandescent lighting delivers a better quality of light. Dimming is available (with appropriate dimmer switch), so light output can be adjusted. Bulbs have a long lifespan and are replaceable.

Low Voltage Incandescent Cove Lights Advantages:

  • Energy efficient
  • Ample light output
  • Dimmable
  • Long life bulbs
  • Colors available

  • More expensive
  • Requires transformer
  • Heat generation

Available in operating voltages of 12 volt and 24 volt, a transformer is required which can be difficult to conceal depending on the application.

What’s My Next Step?

While the perfect solution for you remains a personal choice, our local Mesa AZ electricians hope that having a greater understanding of each type of cove lighting has assisted you in making the choice that best fulfills your needs and budget.

If you have questions regarding the best type of light fixture to use for your project, give our in-office electricians a call. Voted best electricians Mesa AZ, they will answer all of your questions and provide you with a free estimate for your cove lighting installation. All electrical installations come with our lifetime parts and labor guarantee. Give our experts a call today during normal office hours; you will be happy you did!

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