To start with, 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 having a good shiny granite counter installed the time had come to have some truly impressive under-cabinet lights that would complement the design I was focusing on while being wonderfully functional as well.
This instructable will probably reveal to you how I created my DIY under cabinet lighting for under $120 and yet achieved professional results much better than every commercially available system I surely could see in person.
This really is a true DIY system, not really a guide concerning how to get a commercially available system. So prior to starting, recognize that while I think this should be considered an “easy” project some fundamental skills will be required such as being comfortable working around electricity (which can be dangerous!) and you also need to find out the best way to solder. Besides that though there aren’t any special skills or tools required.
Fair warning, this is actually the longest step! This is basically my thought process on designing the setup. Skip this step to find out the types of materials list and make instructions…
Under cabinet lights could make or break a kitchen. They can add instant and real interest a location, but they should meet certain criteria. They must show good results task lights. They must add the proper “ambiance”. They have to match up together with your current lighting scheme, and ultimately they must work well and last longer (simply because that installing lights beneath your cabinets often requires some modifications – it’s a pain to need to re-practice it or constantly fix things!).
In designing my setup I could cross off the typical halogen puck lights almost immediately. They are bright and delightful, nevertheless they have numerous weaknesses. They can be too big, too hot, and consequently they don’t last extended (plastic cracks, glass falls out, and bulbs burn out quickly). Likely the worst part about the subject will be the horrible volume of wire found it necessary to hook them up!
Scouring the web for project ideas turned up very few truly “DIY” LED options. Most DIY projects were linked to installing a commercial 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 close to a few things i was envisioning, having said that i quickly got to the actual final outcome i could build it to appear and perform better, for cheaper.
I actually have some fundamental LED knowledge from constructing a light for my reef aquarium. Oddly enough I do believe that the reefing hobby has given a monumental push to high-power LED lighting in recent years. I’ve also messed around with a few normal 5mm LEDs and such while testing my arduino as well as other electronic gadgets. I am just still in no way an authority…
With LEDs you should keep a few things in mind. Namely, LED type & placement, power, thermal management, and color.
LED Type & Placement:
LED under cabinet lighting can be divided into 2 groups, strip lights and individual lights. The strip lights typically provide more even light throughout the surface (such as a fluorescent bulb), while individual, or “puck” lights provide a more dramatic lighting source with varying intensities that get started really high when you’re right beneath the light fading out as you may move further out of the light.
I went through several designs both for and found that typically strip lights use smaller SMD LEDs installed on a long, thin PCB or flex tape. These are typically nice, low-profile options, however, I came across which they aren’t nearly as intense as single lights. Generally If I would execute a strip light application using LEDs I would use 2 rows to obtain enough light. Using 2 rows increased the cost significantly though.
I ended up settling on high power 3W LEDs, just like what are commonly used in reef lighting, specifically the CREE XT-E LED. These are very versatile, they put out a lot of light and there are numerous drivers that are ideal for powering this type of led strip light kit, especially if you wish to get fancy with dimming (many support -10v dimming and also PWM dimming). The important part gets the spacing ability to avoid shadows and to offer the right thermal setup. I experimented quite a bit and decided that this best light was when the LEDs were spaced evenly apart underneath the cabinets about 12″ on center. More LEDs than 25dexupky and that i would probably be wasting efficiency (because I would wind up dimming it more often than not). Less LEDs than that we 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 mount up the total 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 superb amount of current because it comes with a good efficiency but the LEDs won’t get as hot. The LEDs are rated to higher than that, and while they do get brighter the greater current you feed them, they get a lot hotter along with the efficiency drops too. I made the decision to utilize a reliable inventronics 40W driver.
A good point about this driver (and some others too) is the fact that it’s scalable. In line with the datasheet @ 700mA it outputs no less than 18v plus a maximum of 54v. Consequently if you have 3v LEDs you can safely use at least 6 LEDs as well as a maximum of 17 LEDs roughly (you need a little wiggle room at the top range). Using the spacing I described above you could potentially light anywhere from 6 to 17 linear feet of counter top! If you still need more LEDs than that, don’t worry. Just choose a constant current driver that supports the voltage range you need. Simply take your LED voltage on the current you need and multiply it from the # of LEDs you would like to get 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 will probably be essential in an increased power LED array, and while I was thinking about just using aluminum channel or flat bar from your own home depot I ended up with an infinitely more elegant (and more effective) solution that didn’t cost any longer. I spent a lot of time in search of heatsinks even though I found a bunch, they mostly originated from China or these were too tall for my application (I have only 3/4″ under my cabinets). I wound up deciding to employ a really nifty looking circular heatsink which was designed to use with LEDs. A standard CPU style heatsink wouldn’t are employed in this application as the heatsink must be up against wood, so this design is ideal to acquire enough airflow. Furthermore, you may get this heatsink in a number of different heights, with out drilling must mount the super bright led lighting or perhaps the heatsink to the underside from the cabinet! It’s the Ohmite model SA-LED-113E.
Let’s bear in mind about color! This is among the most important… I might handle those crappy halogen pucks before I picked a fluorescent light for this particular exact reason. The color temperature will probably dictate the atmosphere in the lighting as well as 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 planning to wish to eat that. Now imaging looking at broccoli that appears neat and bright green, just like you just harvested it. That’s the strength of selecting the most appropriate color light.
Warm white will be the color generally chosen, along with the color I desired for my kitchen. The kelvin range for “warm white” is between 2700k and 3500k. Warm white has the highest CRI (color rendering index) and IMO things look most true to our lives under this color lighting. I chose to keep in the slightly cooler end in the spectrum though, since I don’t have numerous windows. I decided 3250k LEDs that i found correlate very well on the “soft white” compact fluorescent bulbs which i use in the ceiling lights. On that note you should attempt to match the hue of your respective under cabinet lights to all of those other lights in your kitchen or it can look funny. Therefore you would either need to find the proper color LEDs or you’ll should change out of the other lights within your kitchen.
So those are basically the principles I employed to design the machine. Based on your home you may want to tweak a lot of things, however i a few things i come up with works out really Properly in my opinion as well as for my purposes.