Most of my clients install a recessed outlet directly behind the artwork to hide the cord and my lights have special plugs to fit into these outlets so the artwork will fit flush with the wall.
The Leviton 688 is available at HomeDepot and various hardware stores. They cost around than $10.00 (I have them for sale for ($9.95) and can be installed with little effort. A good reasonable electrician should be able to install them in less than an hour and can be installed without having to patch or repaint. It is a good idea to have the outlet switched or dimmed from a wall switch. If you do not have a recessed outlet behind your art and you have an outlet below your artwork, you can feed the new outlet from the existing outlet below. You can also convert the outlet below into a switch, dimmer or a Lutron RadioRA remote control.
I have a client in St. Louis who has all of his paintings on the RadioRA system and he can control them from a cordless master control in his front foyer. He can turn his paintings all on at once, all off, or control the dimming level of each one individually. Each painting has a recessed outlet mounted behind and the receiver is located either behind the painting or located in the outlet below where the wire was pulled from. The cost to install the outlets was reasonable and the RadioRa receivers/dimmers were around $150-300 each.
Why battery powered lights don't really work!
I get lots of inquires about building a quality cordless battery powered picture light, however I must admit I get more requests to replace them.
Battery Picture lights come in two varieties, Incandescent (flashlight style) or fluorescent (camp light style) My clients replace them all the time due to the fact that they don't light the painting very even and only light the top 4 or 6 inches and they don't light the painting very bright.
Most battery powered lights (flashlight style) are not bright enough to light art bigger than a small 8x10. If you own one or purchase one, try this test.
Invite a few friends for dinner, turn on your flashlight when the doorbell rings, uncork a good bottle of wine and put the dinner on the table, before desert check to see if your flashlight is still running. There is a good chance it won't make it till you guests leave.
Rechargable batteries are even less powerful. I have tried this theory many times and yes, mine could be battery powered also but it draws 12 watts per 8" of length. In order to run only for one evening It would require lots of D size batteries or a small Sear's Diehard buried behind the painting.
The battery powered flourescent units are a little brighter but the color is usually not very good and the UV from the fluorescent is be very damaging. I have seen one advertise UV free but I fail to see any testing data to prove this. The other reason is they only light the top of your painting and fail to light down to the bottom.
Take a little advice. Use a recessed outlet behind the painting, and enjoy desert.
Call me if you have any questions. David Munson,
FINEARTLIGHT LLC 1236 Wood Station Place, Manchester, Missouri 63021 Copyright 2004