To start with, allow 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 nice shiny granite counter top installed it was time to get some truly impressive under-cabinet lights that will complement the look I had been concentrating on while being wonderfully functional also.
This instructable will show you the way i created my DIY under cabinet lighting cheaper than $120 and yet achieved professional results a lot better than every commercially available system I managed to see in person.
This is a true DIY system, not really a guide on the way to install a commercially available system. So before starting, realize that as i think this should actually be considered an “easy” project some basic skills are essential like being comfortable working around electricity (which can be dangerous!) therefore you need to know how to solder. Besides that though there aren’t any special skills or tools required.
Fair warning, this is actually the longest step! This really is basically my thought process on designing the setup. Skip this step to see the type of material list and make instructions…
Under cabinet lights could make or break a kitchen. They could add instant and real appeal to a place, but they need to meet certain criteria. They need to be effective task lights. They must add the correct “ambiance”. They need to match together with your current lighting scheme, and lastly they should work nicely and last a long time (mainly because that installing lights below your cabinets often requires some modifications – it’s a pain to need to re-do it or constantly fix things!).
In designing my setup I could cross off of the typical halogen puck lights quickly. They can be bright and exquisite, nevertheless they have numerous weaknesses. These are too large, too hot, and for that reason they don’t last long (plastic cracks, glass falls out, and bulbs burn out quickly). Most likely the worst part on them will be the horrible quantity of wire found it necessary 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 diy stores and discovered solutions that had been either woefully inadequate or ridiculously expensive. I discovered some modular systems that came near to a few things i was envisioning, however i quickly arrived at the conclusion that I could construct it to search and perform better, for cheaper.
We have basic LED knowledge from developing a light for my reef aquarium. Oddly enough I feel that this 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 the like while tinkering with my arduino and also other electronic gadgets. I am still in no way a specialist…
With LEDs you must keep some things in mind. Namely, LED type & placement, power, thermal management, and color.
LED Type & Placement:
LED under cabinet lighting could be divided into 2 groups, strip lights and individual lights. The strip lights typically provide more even light throughout 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 underneath the light fading out while you move further out of the light.
I experienced several designs for and located that typically strip lights use smaller SMD LEDs mounted on a lengthy, thin PCB or flex tape. These are nice, low-profile options, however, I found they aren’t as intense as single lights. Generally If I were to perform a strip light application using LEDs I would use 2 rows to acquire enough light. Using 2 rows increased the cost significantly though.
I ended up being settling on high power 3W LEDs, exactly like exactly what are commonly used in reef lighting, specifically the CREE XT-E LED. They can be very versatile, they put out lots of light and there are several drivers that are ideal for powering this sort of 12 volt led lights, especially if you want to get fancy with dimming (many support -10v dimming in addition to PWM dimming). The main part is becoming the spacing straight to avoid shadows and to achieve the right thermal setup. I experimented quite a bit and decided the best light was when the LEDs were spaced evenly apart underneath the cabinets about 12″ on center. More LEDs than 25dexupky and so i would possibly be wasting efficiency (because I would personally end up dimming it most of the time). Less LEDs than that I could be sacrificing a few of the practical task lighting.
For power I went using a dimmable constant current driver. The LEDs I used use 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 purchase supports that voltage at whatever current you desire. 700mA is an excellent volume of current because it possesses a good efficiency although the LEDs won’t get as hot. The LEDs are rated to higher than that, even though they do get brighter the more current you feed them, they get a lot hotter along with the efficiency drops also. I decided to use a reliable inventronics 40W driver.
A fantastic thing about this driver (and some others too) is that it’s scalable. In line with the datasheet @ 700mA it outputs a minimum of 18v along with a maximum of 54v. This means that in case you have 3v LEDs you may safely use at the least 6 LEDs and a maximum of 17 LEDs approximately (you need a little wiggle room towards the top range). Utilizing the spacing I described above you can light anywhere from 6 to 17 linear feet of counter top! If you still require more LEDs than that, don’t worry. Just choose a constant current driver that supports the voltage range you need. Just take your LED voltage on the current you would like and multiply it by the # of LEDs you would like to obtain the voltage requirement. Meanwell, Inventronics, and Phillips Xitanium are only 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 very high power LED array, and even though I assumed about simply using aluminum channel or flat bar from your own home depot I ended up with a more elegant (and a lot more effective) solution that didn’t cost any longer. I spent lots of time searching for heatsinks even though I discovered a bunch, they mostly originated China or these folks were too tall for my application (I have only 3/4″ under my cabinets). I ended up deciding to use a really nifty looking circular heatsink that had been designed for use with LEDs. A normal CPU style heatsink wouldn’t work in this application because the heatsink needs to be facing wood, and this design is ideal to acquire enough airflow. On top of that, you can find this heatsink in numerous different heights, and no drilling is needed to mount the under cabinet led lighting or even the heatsink on the underside of the cabinet! It’s the Ohmite model SA-LED-113E.
Let’s keep in mind about color! This is among the most important… I might deal with those crappy halogen pucks before I chose a fluorescent light just for this exact reason. The hue temperature will dictate the atmosphere of your lighting and also how good or bad things look underneath them. Imagine you’re preparing some food in the counter and the broccoli looks brown… You’re not gonna wish to eat that. Now imaging checking out broccoli seems clean and bright green, just like you just harvested it. That’s the effectiveness of selecting the right color light.
Warm white will be the color most often chosen, as well as 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 be on the slightly cooler end from the spectrum though, since I don’t have several windows. I picked 3250k LEDs that i found correlate very well for the “soft white” compact fluorescent bulbs i utilization in the ceiling lights. On that note you need to try to match colour of your under cabinet lights to the other lights inside your kitchen or it would look funny. So that you would either need to find the proper color LEDs or you’ll must change out the other lights within your kitchen.
So those are fundamentally the principles I accustomed to design the device. Depending on your space you may need to tweak a few things, however i a few things i created works out really REALLY well for me as well as for my purposes.