For starters, let me explain that “High Power LEDs” should probably read led strip lights for home. By my calculations this whole setup uses about 23w of electricity.
Anyways, once you have new kitchen cabinets and obtaining a great shiny granite counter installed it was time to obtain some truly impressive under-cabinet lights that would complement the design and style I used to be aiming for while being wonderfully functional at the same time.
This instructable will probably explain to you how I created my DIY under cabinet lighting cheaper than $120 but achieved professional results much better than every commercially available system I could see face-to-face.
This really is a true DIY system, not much of a guide concerning how to get a commercially available system. So before beginning, realize that as i think this needs to be considered an “easy” project some elementary skills are needed for example being comfortable working around electricity (which may be dangerous!) and you need to know how to solder. Apart from that though there aren’t any special skills or tools required.
Fair warning, this is actually the longest step! This really is basically my thought process on designing the setup. Skip this task to see the type of material list and make instructions…
Under cabinet lights could make or break a kitchen. They are able to add instant and real appeal to a space, but they need to meet certain criteria. They must show good results task lights. They have to add the right “ambiance”. They have to match up along with your current lighting scheme, and ultimately they must work well and last longer (because of the fact that installing lights below your cabinets often requires some modifications – it’s a pain to have to re-do it or constantly fix things!).
In designing my setup I surely could cross from the typical halogen puck lights almost immediately. They can be bright and delightful, nevertheless they have numerous weaknesses. They may be too large, too hot, and as a result they don’t last extended (plastic cracks, glass falls out, and bulbs burn out quickly). Most likely the worst part about the subject may be the horrible level of wire required to hook them up!
Scouring the web for project ideas turned up very few truly “DIY” LED options. Most DIY projects were associated with installing a professional product. I checked with local lighting stores and home improvement stores and discovered solutions which were either woefully inadequate or ridiculously expensive. I discovered some modular systems that came close to a few things i was envisioning, but I quickly got to the actual final outcome that I could assemble it to search and perform better, for cheaper.
I actually have some basic LED knowledge from developing a light for my reef aquarium. Oddly enough I do believe how the reefing hobby has given a monumental push to high-power LED lighting in recent years. I’ve also messed around with a bit of normal 5mm LEDs and the like while tinkering with my arduino along with other electronic gadgets. I am still in no way an authority…
With LEDs you should keep a few 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 through the entire surface (just like a fluorescent bulb), while individual, or “puck” lights give a more dramatic lighting source with varying intensities that start off really high when you’re right beneath the light fading out while you move further out of the light.
I went through several designs for both and discovered that typically strip lights use smaller SMD LEDs mounted on an extensive, thin PCB or flex tape. These are nice, low-profile options, however, I found which they aren’t as intense as single lights. If I would conduct a strip light application using LEDs I would personally use 2 rows to get enough light. Using 2 rows increased the price significantly though.
I ended up being settling on high power 3W LEDs, much like just what are frequently used in reef lighting, specifically the CREE XT-E LED. They can be very versatile, installed out lots of light and there are various drivers that are fantastic for powering this particular waterproof led lights, especially if you wish to get fancy with dimming (many support -10v dimming along with PWM dimming). The key part is getting the spacing ability to avoid shadows and to offer the right thermal setup. I experimented a great deal and decided that the best light was if the LEDs were spaced evenly apart underneath the cabinets about 12″ on center. More LEDs than 25dexupky and I would most likely be wasting efficiency (because I would personally turn out dimming it more often than not). Less LEDs than i could be sacrificing some of the practical task lighting.
For power I went with a dimmable constant current driver. The LEDs I used have got a 3v forward voltage @ 700mA, to wire them in series you basically just accumulate the complete forward voltage (I used 11 LEDs so 3×11=33v) and ensure the driver you buy supports that voltage at whatever current you desire. 700mA is a good level of current because it features a good efficiency although the LEDs won’t get as hot. The LEDs are rated to higher than that, even though they are doing get brighter the greater number of current you feed them, they get yourself a lot hotter and also the efficiency drops also. I decided to employ a reliable inventronics 40W driver.
A nice thing about this driver (and several others too) is it’s scalable. In line with the datasheet @ 700mA it outputs at least 18v along with a maximum of 54v. Which means that for those who have 3v LEDs it is possible to safely use at least 6 LEDs along with a maximum of 17 LEDs or more (you will want little wiggle room on the top range). By using the spacing I described above you can light anywhere from 6 to 17 linear feet of counter top! If you still need more LEDs than that, don’t worry. Just look for a constant current driver that supports the voltage range you need. Just take your LED voltage with the current you desire and multiply it with the # of LEDs you would like to get the voltage requirement. Meanwell, Inventronics, and Phillips Xitanium are a few. A LED driver takes your homes 120v power and converts it into DC power for the LEDs.
Thermal management will be important in an increased power LED array, and even though I thought about simply using aluminum channel or flat bar from your own home depot I wound up with a far more elegant (and much more effective) solution that didn’t cost any more. I spent considerable time searching for heatsinks and even though I found a bunch, they mostly originated from China or these folks were too tall for my application (I have only 3/4″ under my cabinets). I ended up being deciding try using a really nifty looking circular heatsink which had been designed to use with LEDs. A normal CPU style heatsink wouldn’t are employed in this application as the heatsink has to be facing wood, so this design is perfect to obtain enough airflow. Best of all, you will get this heatsink in a number of different heights, with out drilling is necessary to mount the super bright led lighting or perhaps the heatsink for the underside of your cabinet! It’s the Ohmite model SA-LED-113E.
Let’s not forget about color! This is among the most important… I would deal with those crappy halogen pucks before I selected a fluorescent light with this exact reason. The colour temperature is going to dictate the atmosphere of the lighting in addition to how good or bad things look underneath them. Imagine you’re preparing some food around the counter and the broccoli looks brown… You’re not going to want to eat that. Now imaging considering broccoli seems neat and bright green, just like you just harvested it. That’s the effectiveness of selecting the most appropriate color light.
Warm white is 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 alive under this color lighting. I decided to keep about the slightly cooler end in the spectrum though, since I don’t have lots of windows. I chose 3250k LEDs which I found correlate very well to the “soft white” compact fluorescent bulbs that we use within the ceiling lights. On that note you need to make an effort to match the colour of the under cabinet lights to the other lights inside your kitchen or it is going to look funny. So you would either must find the best color LEDs or you’ll should change out the other lights with your kitchen.
So those are fundamentally the principles I utilized to design the program. Dependant upon your home you may want to tweak a lot of things, however i things i assembled spent some time working out really Rather well for me as well as for my purposes.