To start with, permit 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 having a good shiny granite counter top installed it was time to have some truly impressive under-cabinet lights that could complement the design I found myself concentrating on while being wonderfully functional at the same time.
This instructable is going to explain to you the way i created my DIY under cabinet lighting cheaper than $120 and yet achieved professional results better than every commercially available system I surely could see in person.
This is a true DIY system, not really a guide regarding how to install a commercially available system. So before you start, realize that while I think this needs to be considered an “easy” project some elementary skills are required such as being comfortable working around electricity (which can be dangerous!) and you need to find out the best way to solder. In addition to 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 task to discover the materials list and build instructions…
Under cabinet lights could make or break a kitchen. They can add instant and real entice an area, but they have to meet certain criteria. They should be efficient task lights. They should add the right “ambiance”. They must match up together with your current lighting scheme, and ultimately they have to work efficiently and last a long time (simply because that installing lights beneath your cabinets often requires some modifications – it’s a pain to have to re-practice it or constantly fix things!).
In designing my setup I could cross away from the typical halogen puck lights quickly. They are bright and exquisite, but they have numerous weaknesses. They can be too large, too hot, and consequently they don’t last extended (plastic cracks, glass falls out, and bulbs burn out quickly). Most likely the worst part about the subject will be the horrible volume of wire found it necessary to hook them up!
Scouring the net for project ideas turned up only a few truly “DIY” LED options. Most DIY projects were relevant to installing an industrial product. I checked with local lighting stores and home improvement stores and found solutions which were either woefully inadequate or ridiculously expensive. I discovered some modular systems that came close to a few things i was envisioning, however i quickly got to the actual final outcome that we could construct it to appear and perform better, for cheaper.
I actually have some elementary LED knowledge from constructing a light for my reef aquarium. Oddly enough I think how the reefing hobby has given a monumental push to high-power LED lighting in recent times. I’ve also messed around with a bit of normal 5mm LEDs etc while testing my arduino and also other electronic gadgets. I am still by no means an expert…
With LEDs you need to keep a few things at heart. Namely, LED type & placement, power, thermal management, and color.
LED Type & Placement:
LED under cabinet lighting might be split up into 2 groups, strip lights and individual lights. The strip lights typically provide more even light through the entire surface (like a fluorescent bulb), while individual, or “puck” lights provide a more dramatic lighting source with varying intensities that start off really high when you’re right under the light fading out when you move further away from the light.
I experienced several designs for and located that typically strip lights use smaller SMD LEDs mounted on an extended, thin PCB or flex tape. These are generally nice, low-profile options, however, I stumbled upon they aren’t as intense as single lights. Generally If I were to conduct a strip light application using LEDs I would personally use 2 rows to acquire enough light. Using 2 rows increased the fee significantly though.
I ended up being settling on high power 3W LEDs, just like what are popular in reef lighting, specifically the CREE XT-E LED. They are very versatile, they put out a great deal of light and there are several drivers that are perfect for powering this type of led strip light kit, especially if you want to get fancy with dimming (many support -10v dimming in addition to PWM dimming). The most important part is becoming the spacing right to avoid shadows and to achieve the right thermal setup. I experimented quite a bit and decided 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 possibly be wasting efficiency (because I would wind up dimming it most of the time). Less LEDs than that I could be sacrificing several of the practical task lighting.
For power I went using 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 entire forward voltage (I used 11 LEDs so 3×11=33v) and ensure the motorist you purchase supports that voltage at whatever current you would like. 700mA is an excellent amount of current because it comes with a good efficiency nevertheless the LEDs won’t get as hot. The LEDs are rated to much higher than that, and although they do get brighter the greater number of current you feed them, they obtain a lot hotter and the efficiency drops also. I made the decision to employ a reliable inventronics 40W driver.
A nice point about this driver (and several others too) is the fact it’s scalable. According to the datasheet @ 700mA it outputs a minimum of 18v as well as a maximum of 54v. Which means that when you have 3v LEDs you are able to safely use at the least 6 LEDs along with a maximum of 17 LEDs roughly (you want a little wiggle room on the top range). Utilizing the spacing I described above you can light between 6 to 17 linear feet of counter! Should you still need more LEDs than that, don’t worry. Just look for a constant current driver that supports the voltage range you want. Just take your LED voltage in the current you would like and multiply it from the # of LEDs you need 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 crucial in an increased power LED array, and although I assumed about just using aluminum channel or flat bar from your home depot I ended up with a much more elegant (and a lot more effective) solution that didn’t cost any more. I spent considerable time looking 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 finished up deciding to utilize a really nifty looking circular heatsink which had been designed to be used with LEDs. A typical CPU style heatsink wouldn’t are employed in this application since the heatsink should be up against wood, which means that this design is ideal to get enough airflow. Best of all, you may get this heatsink in many different heights, and no drilling is needed to mount the quad row led strip light or maybe the heatsink towards the underside in the cabinet! It’s the Ohmite model SA-LED-113E.
Let’s not forget about color! This is probably the most important… I would personally deal with those crappy halogen pucks before I picked a fluorescent light just for this exact reason. The colour temperature will probably dictate the mood from the lighting as well as how good or bad things look underneath them. Imagine you’re preparing some food about the counter and also the broccoli looks brown… You’re not gonna want to eat that. Now imaging considering broccoli that appears clean and bright green, like you just harvested it. That’s the potency of choosing the proper color light.
Warm white will be the color in most cases 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 chose to stay in the slightly cooler end of your spectrum though, since i have don’t have several windows. I decided 3250k LEDs which I found correlate very well on the “soft white” compact fluorescent bulbs that I use in the ceiling lights. On that note you should try to match the colour of your respective under cabinet lights to the rest of the lights in your kitchen or it would look funny. So you would either are looking for the best color LEDs or you’ll must change out your other lights in your kitchen.
So those are fundamentally the principles I used to design the system. According to your space you may want to tweak some things, however i a few things i put together worked out really REALLY well for me and then for my purposes.