We have not adopted the '08 NEC here in Michigan but I think it's close. I wonder what the LED lighting in clothes closets change has brought to the trade? I see it as maybe safe but somehow not very adequate.
I have yet to actually see one of these fixtures - and I'm the guy who proposed the change allowing them!
So why did I make the proposal? Well, I had two motives.
The first was that I saw a need for the code to allow for changing technology. That is, a new product existed, was safe, and yet was not allowed by the NEC. I could also see a similar issue arise, were someone to use fiber optics, the way they are in some pool lighting.
The second was a bit more abstract. Simply put, I believe that rules ought to tell you the end result, and not get involved in telling you how to achieve that result, or what materials to use. In some ways, I believe the NEC gets too involved in tiny details - which then leads to all manner of word games.
For example, prior code specified clearances for incandescent and fluorescent fixtures .... implying, by omission, that no other means of providing light was allowed. I'm sure that was not the intent; for a very long time, those were your only means. Even limiting ourselves to those means, a debate arises if you put a fluorescent lamp ("CFL") in a fixture that was intended to hold an incandescent bulb.
I wanted the code to emphasize the legitimate issue of a hot lamp igniting loose fabric. Heck, I can ignite a code compliant closet simply by placing a 'heat lamp' in a fixture. It seemed absurd for the code toallow me to create a hazard, but not allow me to eliminate one.
As to whether the illuminated clothes rods provide 'adequate' light, that's not for me to decide. I've seen far too many closets that are large enough to qualify as habitable rooms, with all manner of decorative or accent lighting. Some I've seen even have art displayed on the walls! I had already seen evidence of the illuminated hanger rods being actually used, so someone found them attractive. Besides, the NEC does not require ANY light in closets, let alone 'adequate' lighting.
I think a good start would be for some enterprising "LED bulb" manufacturer to sell people on replacing that incandescent in the keyless they have been using in the closet for 30 years with a LED. You could sell a bunch of them on TV with a scary ad that had a clip of a closet fire and a family running around in a panic. People would be dialing 1-800-SAVEMYAZ with their credit card in their hand. If I did house calls I would certainly have a box on my truck. That is a feel good thing that could make a buck or two for no real work. If the code wanted to address this they could come up with an Edison base adapter (like a Type S or maybe just a type S) that only takes a LED bulb.
I recently purchased some CFL's that came with some plastic discs on the base. These discs, which readily come off the bases, are intended to act like "Type S" adapters,and prevent the future use of ordinary bulbs in the socket.
Whether these inserts will satisfy AHJ's, or allow other brands of CFL's towork, remains to be seen.
One thought, abstract as it may be. Why have actual LED bulbs?, why not a strip, permanently wired in? As we all know, the LED fittings last for a huge number of hours. With LED technology progressing as it has in the last few years, things like closet lighting could have a single strip above the inside of the door or for bigger closet, a few of them.
I bought an LED light for my daughter's room a few months ago... and I'm a complete convert now! Sure, it's $6, but it only draws just 1W of power for the light output of a 25W incandescant, which is just terrific. Pays for itself in about 5 months. I'm going to get one for my son's room, too, and maybe buy a few as night-lights for the hallway.
I don't want LED lights in my closet today for 2 reasons: 1) The color of the LED is unlike daylight, flourescant, or incandescent, and definitely has a blue tint to it. Thus, my wife would complain insessantly about it being ugly, and not being able to match colors, and I won't want to listen to all that whining. 2) It's only turned on for maybe 30 seconds a day... I don't need a 10-year LED bulb. I could put in a 100 Watt bulb for 50 cents and it probably won't cost 25 cents to run for a decade. Technology should be able to bring the price down eventually.