First off, permit me to 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 receiving a good shiny granite counter installed it was time to have some truly impressive under-cabinet lights that could complement the look I was shooting for while being wonderfully functional at the same time.
This instructable will demonstrate how I created my DIY under cabinet lighting for under $120 nevertheless achieved professional results better than every commercially available system I could see directly.
This really is a true DIY system, not really a guide concerning how to get a commercially available system. So before you start, understand that as i think this should actually be considered an “easy” project some elementary skills will be required including being comfortable working around electricity (which can be dangerous!) and you also need to find out 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 is basically my thought process on designing the setup. Skip this method to find out the types of materials list and make instructions…
Under cabinet lights can make or break a kitchen. They are able to add instant and real appeal to a location, but they have to meet certain criteria. They should succeed task lights. They should add the correct “ambiance”. They must match up together with your current lighting scheme, lastly they should work well and last for many years (mainly because that installing lights below your cabinets often requires some modifications – it’s a pain to have to re-get it done or constantly fix things!).
In designing my setup I surely could cross off of the typical halogen puck lights very quickly. They may be bright and exquisite, nevertheless they have several weaknesses. They may be too big, too hot, and thus they don’t last very long (plastic cracks, glass falls out, and bulbs burn out quickly). Possibly the worst part on them is definitely the horrible amount of wire necessary 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 commercial product. I checked with local lighting stores and diy stores and discovered solutions that have been either woefully inadequate or ridiculously expensive. I came across some modular systems that came near to the things i was envisioning, nevertheless i quickly came to the final outcome which i could construct it to look and perform better, for cheaper.
I actually have some elementary LED knowledge from constructing a light for my reef aquarium. Oddly enough I believe that the reefing hobby has given a monumental push to high-power LED lighting in recent years. I’ve also messed around with many normal 5mm LEDs and such while experimenting with my arduino and also other gadgets. I am just still by no means an authority…
With LEDs you have to keep some things in mind. 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 during the entire surface (just like a fluorescent bulb), while individual, or “puck” lights offer a more dramatic lighting source with varying intensities that begin really high when you’re right beneath the light fading out as you may move further from the light.
I experienced several designs for both and discovered that typically strip lights use smaller SMD LEDs attached to a lengthy, thin PCB or flex tape. They are nice, low-profile options, however, I found that they aren’t as intense as single lights. Should I were to do a strip light application using LEDs I might use 2 rows to obtain enough light. Using 2 rows increased the charge significantly though.
I wound up settling on high power 3W LEDs, just like what are widely used in reef lighting, specifically the CREE XT-E LED. These are very versatile, installed out lots of light and there are many drivers that are fantastic for powering this type of 12 volt led lights, especially in order to get fancy with dimming (many support -10v dimming and also PWM dimming). The key part is becoming the spacing straight to avoid shadows and to achieve the right thermal setup. I experimented a great deal and decided how the best light was when the LEDs were spaced evenly apart under the cabinets about 12″ on center. More LEDs than 25dexupky and i also could possibly be wasting efficiency (because I would find yourself dimming it most of the time). Less LEDs than i can be sacrificing a few of the practical task lighting.
For power I went having a dimmable constant current driver. The LEDs I used possess a 3v forward voltage @ 700mA, to wire them in series you basically just accumulate the whole forward voltage (I used 11 LEDs so 3×11=33v) and ensure the motorist you buy supports that voltage at whatever current you want. 700mA is a great quantity of current because it features a good efficiency although the LEDs won’t get as hot. The LEDs are rated to higher than that, and while they are doing get brighter the better current you feed them, they get yourself a lot hotter as well as the efficiency drops too. I made a decision to use a reliable inventronics 40W driver.
A great point about this driver (and a few others too) is that it’s scalable. According to the datasheet @ 700mA it outputs a minimum of 18v along with a maximum of 54v. Consequently if you have 3v LEDs it is possible to safely use no less than 6 LEDs along with a maximum of 17 LEDs or more (you want a little wiggle room on the top range). Using the spacing I described above you could 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. Simply take your LED voltage at the current you desire and multiply it with the # of LEDs you would like to receive 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 that LEDs.
Thermal management will be crucial in a high power LED array, even though I assumed about just using aluminum channel or flat bar from your own home depot I wound up with an infinitely more elegant (and much more effective) solution that didn’t cost any more. I spent time and effort searching for heatsinks and while I came across a bunch, they mostly has come from China or they were too tall for my application (I just have 3/4″ under my cabinets). I wound up deciding to utilize a really nifty looking circular heatsink that had been designed to use with LEDs. A typical CPU style heatsink wouldn’t work in this application for the reason that heatsink needs to be up against wood, which means this design is perfect to acquire enough airflow. Furthermore, you will get this heatsink in a number of different heights, and no drilling is needed to mount the quad row led strip light or even the heatsink for the underside of the cabinet! It’s the Ohmite model SA-LED-113E.
Let’s not forget about color! This has become the most important… I would personally deal with those crappy halogen pucks before I picked a fluorescent light for this particular exact reason. The color temperature will dictate the mood from the lighting and also how good or bad things look underneath them. Imagine you’re preparing some food in the counter along with the broccoli looks brown… You’re not gonna wish to eat that. Now imaging considering broccoli seems clean and bright green, as if you just harvested it. That’s the potency of choosing the right color light.
Warm white will be the color generally chosen, as well as the color I desired for my kitchen. The kelvin range for “warm white” is between 2700k and 3500k. Warm white has got the highest CRI (color rendering index) and IMO things look most true to life under this color lighting. I chose to keep in the slightly cooler end of the spectrum though, since i have don’t have several windows. I chose 3250k LEDs which I found correlate very well on the “soft white” compact fluorescent bulbs that we use in the ceiling lights. On that note you need to attempt to match the colour of your under cabinet lights to the other lights in your kitchen or it would look funny. So you would either are looking for the proper color LEDs or you’ll have to change the other lights with your kitchen.
So those are essentially the principles I accustomed to design the program. According to your space you might need to tweak some things, nevertheless i a few things i assembled works out really Properly for me and also for my purposes.