To start with, allow me to explain that “High Power LEDs” should probably read best place to buy led strip lights. By my calculations this whole setup uses about 23w of electricity.
Anyways, once you have new kitchen cabinets and getting a good shiny granite counter installed the time had come to have some truly impressive under-cabinet lights that could complement the look I had been aiming for while being wonderfully functional also.
This instructable will probably explain to you how I created my DIY under cabinet lighting for less than $120 and yet achieved professional results a lot better than every commercially available system I could see personally.
This really is a true DIY system, not just a guide on how to get a commercially available system. So before beginning, recognize that while I think this should be considered an “easy” project some elementary skills are required including being comfortable working around electricity (which may be dangerous!) and you must know the best way to solder. Other than that though there aren’t any special skills or tools required.
Fair warning, here is the longest step! This really is basically my thought process on designing the setup. Skip this method to find out the type of material list and build instructions…
Under cabinet lights can make or break a kitchen. They may add instant and real interest a space, but they should meet certain criteria. They must succeed task lights. They must add the right “ambiance”. They must match up with your current lighting scheme, lastly they should work efficiently and last longer (due to the fact that installing lights beneath your cabinets often requires some modifications – it’s a pain to have to re-undertake it or constantly fix things!).
In designing my setup I could cross from the typical halogen puck lights quickly. They may be bright and delightful, but they have lots of weaknesses. These are too large, too hot, and consequently they don’t last long (plastic cracks, glass falls out, and bulbs burn out quickly). Most likely the worst part on them is definitely the horrible volume of wire required to hook them up!
Scouring the internet for project ideas turned up only a few truly “DIY” LED options. Most DIY projects were related to installing a commercial product. I checked with local lighting stores and home improvement stores and discovered solutions that were either woefully inadequate or ridiculously expensive. I stumbled upon some modular systems that came near to what I was envisioning, having said that i quickly arrived at the final outcome that we could build it to appear and perform better, for cheaper.
We have basic LED knowledge from constructing a light for my reef aquarium. Oddly enough I feel that the reefing hobby has given a monumental push to high-power LED lighting recently. I’ve also messed around with many normal 5mm LEDs and the like while experimenting with my arduino as well as other electronic gadgets. I am still in no way an expert…
With LEDs you must keep some things at heart. Namely, LED type & placement, power, thermal management, and color.
LED Type & Placement:
LED under cabinet lighting might be separated into 2 groups, strip lights and individual lights. The strip lights typically provide more even light throughout the surface (just like a fluorescent bulb), while individual, or “puck” lights give you a more dramatic lighting source with varying intensities that start out really high when you’re right beneath the light fading out when you move further out of the light.
I went through several designs for both and discovered that typically strip lights use smaller SMD LEDs installed on a lengthy, thin PCB or flex tape. These are generally nice, low-profile options, however, I discovered that they aren’t as intense as single lights. Should I would perform a strip light application using LEDs I might use 2 rows to have enough light. Using 2 rows increased the fee significantly though.
I ended up settling on high power 3W LEDs, just like what are widely used in reef lighting, specifically the CREE XT-E LED. They can be very versatile, installed out a lot of light and there are various drivers that are perfect for powering this kind of led strip light kit, especially if you wish to get fancy with dimming (many support -10v dimming and also PWM dimming). The key part gets the spacing straight to avoid shadows and to have the right thermal setup. I experimented quite a bit and decided that this best light was if the LEDs were spaced evenly apart beneath the cabinets about 12″ on center. More LEDs than 25dexupky and I would possibly be wasting efficiency (because I might end up dimming it most of the time). Less LEDs than that I can be sacrificing a few of the practical task lighting.
For power I went by using a dimmable constant current driver. The LEDs I used possess a 3v forward voltage @ 700mA, to wire them in series you basically just tally up the total forward voltage (I used 11 LEDs so 3×11=33v) and ensure the operator you get supports that voltage at whatever current you desire. 700mA is an excellent level of current because it has a good efficiency nevertheless the LEDs won’t get as hot. The LEDs are rated to much higher than that, and even though they are doing get brighter the greater current you feed them, they obtain a lot hotter and the efficiency drops too. I chose try using a reliable inventronics 40W driver.
A fantastic thing about this driver (and several others too) is that it’s scalable. In line with the datasheet @ 700mA it outputs a minimum of 18v along with a maximum of 54v. This means that when you have 3v LEDs it is possible to safely use a minimum of 6 LEDs and a maximum of 17 LEDs approximately (you will want little wiggle room towards the top range). Using the spacing I described above you could potentially light any where from 6 to 17 linear feet of counter! In the event you still need more LEDs than that, don’t worry. Just search for a constant current driver that supports the voltage range you need. Take your LED voltage in the current you need and multiply it by the # of LEDs you would like to obtain the voltage requirement. Meanwell, Inventronics, and Phillips Xitanium are simply a few. A LED driver takes your homes 120v power and converts it into DC power for the LEDs.
Thermal management is going to be crucial in an increased power LED array, and even though I assumed about just using aluminum channel or flat bar at home depot I wound up with a far more elegant (and much more effective) solution that didn’t cost any longer. I spent a lot of time trying to find heatsinks and while I came across a bunch, they mostly came from China or they were too tall for my application (I just have 3/4″ under my cabinets). I ended up deciding to employ a really nifty looking circular heatsink which had been designed for use with LEDs. A typical CPU style heatsink wouldn’t operate in this application for the reason that heatsink should be up against wood, which means this design is perfect to acquire enough airflow. On top of that, you may get this heatsink in many different heights, with no drilling is necessary to mount the quad row led strip light or perhaps the heatsink towards the underside in the cabinet! It’s the Ohmite model SA-LED-113E.
Let’s remember about color! This is among the most important… I might handle those crappy halogen pucks before I decided a fluorescent light for this particular exact reason. The hue temperature is going to dictate the atmosphere of your lighting along with how good or bad things look underneath them. Imagine you’re preparing some food in the counter as well as the broccoli looks brown… You’re not likely to wish to eat that. Now imaging taking a look at broccoli seems clean and bright green, as if you just harvested it. That’s the potency of choosing the right color light.
Warm white is definitely the color in most cases chosen, and the color I desired for my kitchen. The kelvin range for “warm white” is between 2700k and 3500k. Warm white provides the highest CRI (color rendering index) and IMO things look most true to reality under this color lighting. I made the decision to keep around the slightly cooler end of your spectrum though, since I don’t have lots of windows. I chose 3250k LEDs that i found correlate quite well for the “soft white” compact fluorescent bulbs i use in the ceiling lights. On that note you should attempt to match the color of the under cabinet lights to the other lights within your kitchen or it would look funny. So that you would either must discover the correct color LEDs or you’ll must change out of the other lights within your kitchen.
So those are basically the principles I used to design the device. Based on your home you may need to tweak a few things, however i the things i assembled worked out really Very well in my view as well as for my purposes.