To begin with, i want 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 getting a fantastic shiny granite counter installed it was time to get some truly impressive under-cabinet lights that could complement the look I was shooting for while being wonderfully functional as well.
This instructable will reveal to you how I created my DIY under cabinet lighting for under $120 nevertheless achieved professional results better than every commercially available system I could see personally.
This really is a true DIY system, not much of a guide concerning how to use a commercially available system. So before you start, know that as i think this needs to be considered an “easy” project some fundamental skills are needed including being comfortable working around electricity (that may be dangerous!) and you need to find out the way to solder. Apart from that though there aren’t any special skills or tools required.
Fair warning, this is basically the longest step! This is basically my thought process on designing the setup. Skip this method to view the materials list and build instructions…
Under cabinet lights could make or break a kitchen. They are able to add instant and real appeal to a location, but they have to meet certain criteria. They must be effective task lights. They should add the right “ambiance”. They have to match with the current lighting scheme, and ultimately they must work efficiently and last longer (due to the fact 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 managed to cross from the typical halogen puck lights almost immediately. They are bright and delightful, but they have many weaknesses. They can be too large, too hot, and for that reason they don’t last very long (plastic cracks, glass falls out, and bulbs burn out quickly). Most likely the worst part about the subject is the horrible level of wire found it necessary to hook them up!
Scouring the world wide web for project ideas turned up hardly any truly “DIY” LED options. Most DIY projects were linked to installing a commercial product. I checked with local lighting stores and diy stores and discovered solutions that had been either woefully inadequate or ridiculously expensive. I came across some modular systems that came close to things i was envisioning, however i quickly came to the conclusion which i could assemble it to check and perform better, for cheaper.
I have some fundamental LED knowledge from constructing a light for my reef aquarium. Oddly enough I feel 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 and the like while tinkering with my arduino and also other electronic gadgets. I am still by no means a specialist…
With LEDs you need to keep a few things under consideration. Namely, LED type & placement, power, thermal management, and color.
LED Type & Placement:
LED under cabinet lighting may be split 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 offer a more dramatic lighting source with varying intensities that start out really high when you’re right under the light fading out as you move further out of the light.
I underwent several designs for and found that typically strip lights use smaller SMD LEDs installed on an extensive, thin PCB or flex tape. These are nice, low-profile options, however, I came across which they aren’t nearly as intense as single lights. If I would execute a strip light application using LEDs I would personally 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, exactly like what are widely used in reef lighting, specifically the CREE XT-E LED. They can be very versatile, they put out a great deal of light and there are numerous drivers that are fantastic for powering this type of led strip light kit, especially if you would like get fancy with dimming (many support -10v dimming and also PWM dimming). The key part gets the spacing ability to avoid shadows and to offer the right thermal setup. I experimented a great deal and decided the best light was as soon as the LEDs were spaced evenly apart beneath the cabinets about 12″ on center. More LEDs than 25dexupky and i also would probably be wasting efficiency (because I would turn out dimming it most of the time). Less LEDs than which i might be sacrificing some 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 add up the entire forward voltage (I used 11 LEDs so 3×11=33v) and ensure the driver you get supports that voltage at whatever current you desire. 700mA is a great quantity of current because it has a good efficiency although the LEDs won’t get as hot. The LEDs are rated to greater than that, and although they generally do get brighter the greater number of current you feed them, they have a lot hotter and also the efficiency drops at the same time. I decided to use a reliable inventronics 40W driver.
A fantastic point about this driver (plus some others too) is that it’s scalable. According to the datasheet @ 700mA it outputs a minimum of 18v and a maximum of 54v. Because of this in case you have 3v LEDs you are able to safely use no less than 6 LEDs and a maximum of 17 LEDs approximately (you desire a little wiggle room at the very top range). By utilizing the spacing I described above you can light from 6 to 17 linear feet of counter top! Should you still require more LEDs than that, don’t worry. Just look for a constant current driver that supports the voltage range you require. Take your LED voltage with the current you desire and multiply it from the # of LEDs you need to get 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 is going to be essential in an increased power LED array, and while I was thinking about just using aluminum channel or flat bar from your home depot I wound up with a far more elegant (and a lot more effective) solution that didn’t cost anymore. I spent time and effort searching for heatsinks and although I discovered a bunch, they mostly originated China or these were too tall for my application (I simply have 3/4″ under my cabinets). I finished up deciding try using a really nifty looking circular heatsink which had been designed to use with LEDs. A typical CPU style heatsink wouldn’t work in this application for the reason that heatsink must be facing wood, which means this design is ideal to acquire enough airflow. Best of all, you can find this heatsink in a number of different heights, and no drilling is required to mount the quad row led strip light or maybe 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 probably the most important… I would deal with those crappy halogen pucks before I selected a fluorescent light with this exact reason. The color temperature is going to dictate the mood from the lighting as well as how good or bad things look underneath them. Imagine you’re preparing some food on the counter and the broccoli looks brown… You’re not planning to want to eat that. Now imaging taking a look at broccoli seems neat and bright green, just like you just harvested it. That’s the effectiveness of choosing the proper color light.
Warm white will be the color usually 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 reality under this color lighting. I made the decision to keep around the slightly cooler end in the spectrum though, since I don’t have many windows. I picked 3250k LEDs which I found correlate quite well for the “soft white” compact fluorescent bulbs i use in the ceiling lights. On that note you must try and match colour of your respective under cabinet lights to the other lights with your kitchen or it is going to look funny. Therefore you would either need to find the correct color LEDs or you’ll should change out the other lights with your kitchen.
So those are essentially the principles I accustomed to design the device. According to your home you may want to tweak some things, however i a few things i come up with worked out really Very well for me and then for my purposes.