For starters, 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 having a fantastic shiny granite counter installed it was time to get some truly impressive under-cabinet lights that might complement the look I was focusing on while being wonderfully functional too.
This instructable will demonstrate the way i created my DIY under cabinet lighting for under $120 but achieved professional results much better than every commercially available system I surely could see personally.
It is a true DIY system, not much of a guide regarding how to use a commercially available system. So prior to starting, recognize that while I think this should be considered an “easy” project some elementary skills will be required for example being comfortable working around electricity (which may be dangerous!) and you have to know how you can solder. Besides that though there aren’t any special skills or tools required.
Fair warning, this is basically the longest step! This really is basically my thought process on designing the setup. Skip this method to discover materials list and make instructions…
Under cabinet lights can make or break a kitchen. They may add instant and real entice a location, but they need to meet certain criteria. They have to show good results task lights. They have to add the correct “ambiance”. They should match up with your current lighting scheme, lastly they need to work efficiently and last longer (simply because that installing lights below your cabinets often requires some modifications – it’s a pain to need to re-get it done or constantly fix things!).
In designing my setup I was able to cross off of the typical halogen puck lights very quickly. They may be bright and beautiful, however they have several weaknesses. They can be too big, too hot, and as a result they don’t last long (plastic cracks, glass falls out, and bulbs burn out quickly). Possibly the worst part about the subject will be the horrible amount of wire required to hook them up!
Scouring the world wide web for project ideas turned up only a 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 stumbled upon some modular systems that came in close proximity to what I was envisioning, nevertheless i quickly arrived at the actual final outcome that we could construct it to check and perform better, for cheaper.
I have some fundamental LED knowledge from building a light for my reef aquarium. Oddly enough I believe how the reefing hobby has given a monumental push to high-power LED lighting lately. I’ve also messed around with a few normal 5mm LEDs and such while trying out my arduino and also other electronic gadgets. I am just still by no means a specialist…
With LEDs you need to keep a few things in mind. Namely, LED type & placement, power, thermal management, and color.
LED Type & Placement:
LED under cabinet lighting could be split into 2 groups, strip lights and individual lights. The strip lights typically provide more even light through the surface (similar to a fluorescent bulb), while individual, or “puck” lights give a more dramatic lighting source with varying intensities that begin really high when you’re right beneath the light fading out as you move further from the light.
I experienced several designs both for and found that typically strip lights use smaller SMD LEDs attached to an extended, thin PCB or flex tape. They are nice, low-profile options, however, I stumbled upon which they aren’t as intense as single lights. Basically If I were to execute a strip light application using LEDs I might use 2 rows to get enough light. Using 2 rows increased the fee significantly though.
I wound up settling on high power 3W LEDs, exactly like just what are popular in reef lighting, specifically the CREE XT-E LED. They can be very versatile, they put out a lot of light and there are many drivers that are ideal for powering this sort of led strip light kit, especially if you want to get fancy with dimming (many support -10v dimming in addition to PWM dimming). The important part gets the spacing directly to avoid shadows and to get the right thermal setup. I experimented considerably and decided the best light was once the LEDs were spaced evenly apart underneath the cabinets about 12″ on center. More LEDs than 25dexupky and so i would most likely be wasting efficiency (because I would wind up dimming it more often than not). Less LEDs than that I could be sacrificing a few of the practical task lighting.
For power I went by using a dimmable constant current driver. The LEDs I used use a 3v forward voltage @ 700mA, to wire them in series you basically just add up the total 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 amount of current because it possesses a good efficiency nevertheless the LEDs won’t get as hot. The LEDs are rated to greater than that, even though they generally do get brighter the greater number of current you feed them, they obtain a lot hotter as well as the efficiency drops as well. I decided to employ a reliable inventronics 40W driver.
A great point about this driver (plus some others too) is the fact that it’s scalable. In line with the datasheet @ 700mA it outputs at the least 18v plus a maximum of 54v. Consequently for those who have 3v LEDs you can safely use at least 6 LEDs and a maximum of 17 LEDs or so (you desire a little wiggle room at the very top range). By using the spacing I described above you might light from 6 to 17 linear feet of counter top! When you still need more LEDs than that, don’t worry. Just locate a constant current driver that supports the voltage range you need. You need to take your LED voltage with the current you desire and multiply it from the # of LEDs you want 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 to the LEDs.
Thermal management is going to be important in a higher power LED array, and even though I thought about just using aluminum channel or flat bar from home depot I wound up with a more elegant (and much more effective) solution that didn’t cost anymore. I spent lots of time looking for heatsinks and while I found a bunch, they mostly has come from China or these folks were too tall for my application (I just have 3/4″ under my cabinets). I finished up deciding to employ a really nifty looking circular heatsink that had been designed to use with LEDs. A typical CPU style heatsink wouldn’t are employed in this application as the heatsink needs to be facing wood, and this design is ideal to get enough airflow. Additionally, you can find this heatsink in a number of different heights, with out drilling is needed to mount the quad row led strip light or even the heatsink to the underside in the cabinet! It’s the Ohmite model SA-LED-113E.
Let’s not forget about color! This has become the most important… I might handle those crappy halogen pucks before I decided a fluorescent light with this exact reason. The hue temperature will dictate the mood in the lighting as well as how good or bad things look underneath them. Imagine you’re preparing some food on the counter as well as the broccoli looks brown… You’re not going to would like to eat that. Now imaging checking out broccoli that looks clean and bright green, as if you just harvested it. That’s the strength of selecting the right color light.
Warm white is the color generally chosen, and also the color I desired for my kitchen. The kelvin range for “warm white” is between 2700k and 3500k. Warm white offers the highest CRI (color rendering index) and IMO things look most true to our lives under this color lighting. I made the decision to remain around the slightly cooler end in the spectrum though, since i have don’t have several windows. I decided 3250k LEDs that i found correlate quite well for the “soft white” compact fluorescent bulbs that I use in the ceiling lights. On that note you need to try to match the hue of the under cabinet lights to the remainder of the lights in your kitchen or it can look funny. So you would either are looking for the best color LEDs or you’ll have to change out of the other lights with your kitchen.
So those are basically the principles I accustomed to design the program. Dependant upon your home you might need to tweak several things, but I things i created has worked out really Very well in my opinion and also for my purposes.