Replace Halogen with LED

Here is how it happened. I have a neat custom-built home office. One cool feature of my work area is the recessed lighting built into the top part of it. Three nice LED downlights. Sadly, a couple months ago, one of them started flickering. I ignored it for as long as possible, then decided to take a look. From below, it looked impossible to reach the innards of the light. But I’m not so easily stumped. I can always approach a problem from different angles. So I lugged myself up a ladder and tried the top end of the light, above the top part of the built-up study table. To my surprise, it looked neatly paneled with no access to the lights. How am I supposed to change the bulb or whatever? Lousy workmanship, I said to myself, and proceeded to continue ignoring the flickering light. After all, it was above the kids’ PC, not my iMacs. I’m not saying I was stumped, but you have to pick your battles, you know.

A few days later, it dawned on me — you are not supposed to access recessed lights from above. After all, they are usually in ceilings with no “above.” They are held up there using a clever spring-loaded mechanism, and you can just pull them down. I tried it with the flickering light, and it came down fairly easily. No need to hack up top of the study desk. The workmanship wasn’t that lousy after all. Excellent work, in fact. After pulling the light down, I figured out it was the tiny electronic transformer that was malfunctioning, and ordered one on eBay. (By the way, when I explained this to my son he was thrilled because he thought I had ordered a car that could turn into a giant robot!)

When you buy something from eBay, it is impossible not to browse a little. I saw this deal on 50 LED downlight kits, with everything you’d need for a cool project, at about $12 apiece. The dormant DIY devil in me was stirring. Long story short — I bought the sucka. It showed up at my doorsteps in just two days. (Shipped from China, although I bought it from Australia — globalization of the e-kind, I guess.) And I started replacing all halogen recessed lights in the house with LED ones. It is so easy to do it — just pull the old one down, pull out the old ballast transformer, disconnect it, wire up the new LED light and push it back in. The whole thing takes about five minutes, if there are no complications.

Life, however, is full of complications, and the measure of a man is in how he deals with them. On the first day, it took me about four hours to do about thirty lights. By then, I had blistered fingers. Worse, I got one finger caught in one of those darned spring-loaded thingies (which also work like mouse traps, I forgot to mention) and got it squashed pretty good. And the plaster material from the ceiling acted as some kind of catalyst for infection. Long story short again, I’m just finishing the five-day course of Avelox, a broad-spectrum antibiotic that my GP prescribed after a cursory look at my finger. That’s another thing — why are these doctors getting younger and younger every year?

Anyway, despite all these setbacks, I managed to finish the project in about ten days, after ordering another batch of ten LED kits, and ten LED bulbs to replace some track lighting. I think I established my measure as a man, although I did approach my wife with my battle-worn fingers for sympathy and compassion. She dished them out aplenty, and lovingly called me “nasook” — a Hindi expression I’m not quite familiar with. I have to look it up one of these days — something in her tone makes me wonder, did I lose a bit of my measure?

By the way, the flickering light is still flickering. The three-dollar transformer hasn’t arrived yet.