To begin with, let me 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, after getting new kitchen cabinets and getting a good shiny granite counter installed it was time to get some truly impressive under-cabinet lights that will complement the style I found myself aiming for while being wonderfully functional also.
This instructable is going to explain to you how I created my DIY under cabinet lighting for under $120 nevertheless achieved professional results a lot better than every commercially available system I was able to see directly.
This is a true DIY system, not a guide on how to install a commercially available system. So before you start, understand that as i think this ought to be considered an “easy” project basic skills are required including being comfortable working around electricity (which may be dangerous!) and you must know the way to solder. Other than that though there aren’t any special skills or tools required.
Fair warning, this is the longest step! This is basically my thought process on designing the setup. Skip this step to view the type of material list and build instructions…
Under cabinet lights can make or break a kitchen. They can add instant and real appeal to a place, but they must meet certain criteria. They must show good results task lights. They must add the best “ambiance”. They need to match along with your current lighting scheme, lastly they should work well and last for many years (due to the fact that installing lights under your cabinets often requires some modifications – it’s a pain to need to re-undertake it or constantly fix things!).
In designing my setup I could cross off the typical halogen puck lights very quickly. They may be bright and beautiful, but they have numerous weaknesses. They may be too large, too hot, and for that reason they don’t last extended (plastic cracks, glass falls out, and bulbs burn out quickly). Likely the worst part on them is the horrible quantity 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 linked to installing a commercial product. I checked with local lighting stores and home improvement stores and discovered solutions that have been either woefully inadequate or ridiculously expensive. I came across some modular systems that came close to things i was envisioning, but I quickly arrived at the conclusion that we could build it to check and perform better, for cheaper.
I have got some basic LED knowledge from building a light for my reef aquarium. Oddly enough I think that the reefing hobby has given a monumental push to high-power LED lighting lately. I’ve also messed around with many normal 5mm LEDs etc while trying out my arduino along with other gadgets. I am still in no way an expert…
With LEDs you need to keep a couple of things at heart. Namely, LED type & placement, power, thermal management, and color.
LED Type & Placement:
LED under cabinet lighting might be split into 2 groups, strip lights and individual lights. The strip lights typically provide more even light during the entire surface (like a fluorescent bulb), while individual, or “puck” lights offer a more dramatic lighting source with varying intensities that start off really high when you’re right under the light fading out as you may move further outside the light.
I underwent several designs both for and discovered that typically strip lights use smaller SMD LEDs placed on an extended, thin PCB or flex tape. These are generally nice, low-profile options, however, I stumbled upon which they aren’t as intense as single lights. If I were to perform a strip light application using LEDs I might use 2 rows to acquire enough light. Using 2 rows increased the charge significantly though.
I ended up being settling on high power 3W LEDs, just like what exactly are frequently used in reef lighting, specifically the CREE XT-E LED. They may be very versatile, installed out plenty of light and there are several drivers that are perfect for powering this kind of waterproof led lights, especially if you wish to get fancy with dimming (many support -10v dimming as well as PWM dimming). The important part is to get the spacing right to avoid shadows and to offer the right thermal setup. I experimented quite a bit and decided that the best light was if the LEDs were spaced evenly apart under the cabinets about 12″ on center. More LEDs than 25dexupky and that i would probably be wasting efficiency (because I might wind up dimming it quite often). Less LEDs than that I might be sacrificing some of the practical task lighting.
For power I went with a dimmable constant current driver. The LEDs I used possess a 3v forward voltage @ 700mA, to wire them in series you basically just add up the complete forward voltage (I used 11 LEDs so 3×11=33v) and be sure the motorist you purchase supports that voltage at whatever current you want. 700mA is a good volume of current because it features a good efficiency however the LEDs won’t get as hot. The LEDs are rated to higher than that, even though they are doing get brighter the better current you feed them, they get a lot hotter and also the efficiency drops also. I made the decision try using a reliable inventronics 40W driver.
A nice thing about this driver (and a few others too) is the fact that it’s scalable. Based on the datasheet @ 700mA it outputs at the least 18v and a maximum of 54v. Which means that for those who have 3v LEDs you are able to safely use no less than 6 LEDs plus a maximum of 17 LEDs approximately (you want a little wiggle room towards the top range). Utilizing the spacing I described above you might light from 6 to 17 linear feet of counter top! Should you still require more LEDs than that, don’t worry. Just search for a constant current driver that supports the voltage range you want. Take your LED voltage at the current you would like and multiply it with the # of LEDs you wish to get the voltage requirement. Meanwell, Inventronics, and Phillips Xitanium are just a few. A LED driver takes your homes 120v power and converts it into DC power for that LEDs.
Thermal management is going to be essential in a high power LED array, and even though I figured about just using aluminum channel or flat bar at home depot I ended up with a more elegant (plus more effective) solution that didn’t cost any further. I spent considerable time looking for heatsinks even though I stumbled upon a bunch, they mostly originated from China or these were too tall for my application (I just have 3/4″ under my cabinets). I wound up deciding try using a really nifty looking circular heatsink which had been designed to use with LEDs. A standard CPU style heatsink wouldn’t operate in this application because the heatsink needs to be up against wood, which means that this design is perfect to get enough airflow. On top of that, you will get this heatsink in a number of different heights, without any drilling is required to mount the super bright led lighting or the heatsink on 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 handle those crappy halogen pucks before I picked a fluorescent light just for this exact reason. The colour temperature will almost certainly dictate the mood in the lighting in addition to how good or bad things look underneath them. Imagine you’re preparing some food in the counter and also the broccoli looks brown… You’re not gonna desire to eat that. Now imaging taking a look at broccoli that looks neat and bright green, just like you just harvested it. That’s the effectiveness of choosing the proper color light.
Warm white is the color usually chosen, along with 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 to our lives under this color lighting. I made the decision to keep about the slightly cooler end of the spectrum though, since I don’t have many windows. I picked 3250k LEDs that i found correlate very well to the “soft white” compact fluorescent bulbs that we use in the ceiling lights. On that note you must try to match the hue of your under cabinet lights to the other lights within your kitchen or it will look funny. So that you would either are looking for the best color LEDs or you’ll need to change out your other lights inside your kitchen.
So those are basically the principles I employed to design the system. Based on your space you may want to tweak a lot of things, nevertheless i things i put together has worked out really Properly in my view and for my purposes.