First off, 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 great shiny granite counter top installed the time had come to acquire some truly impressive under-cabinet lights that will complement the look I used to be aiming for while being wonderfully functional too.
This instructable will probably demonstrate the way i created my DIY under cabinet lighting for under $120 but achieved professional results much better than every commercially available system I was able to see in person.
This is a true DIY system, not a guide on how to use a commercially available system. So before beginning, understand that as i think this needs to be considered an “easy” project some basic skills are required such as being comfortable working around electricity (that may be dangerous!) and you must know the best way to solder. Besides 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 step to view the materials list and build instructions…
Under cabinet lights could make or break a kitchen. They may add instant and real interest an area, but they need to meet certain criteria. They have to succeed task lights. They must add the best “ambiance”. They should match together with your current lighting scheme, lastly they need to work efficiently and last for many years (due to the fact that installing lights within 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 surely could cross off the typical halogen puck lights almost immediately. They may be bright and delightful, nonetheless they have lots of weaknesses. They are too big, too hot, and thus they don’t last lengthy (plastic cracks, glass falls out, and bulbs burn out quickly). Probably the worst part about the subject is the horrible level of wire needed to hook them up!
Scouring the internet for project ideas turned up only a few truly “DIY” LED options. Most DIY projects were relevant to installing a professional product. I checked with local lighting stores and diy stores and located solutions that had been either woefully inadequate or ridiculously expensive. I found some modular systems that came close to things i was envisioning, nevertheless i quickly came to the actual final outcome which i could construct it to check and perform better, for cheaper.
I actually have some fundamental LED knowledge from developing 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 times. I’ve also messed around with many normal 5mm LEDs and the like while testing my arduino and other gadgets. I am still by no means a specialist…
With LEDs you have to keep a couple of things in mind. Namely, LED type & placement, power, thermal management, and color.
LED Type & Placement:
LED under cabinet lighting could be split up into 2 groups, strip lights and individual lights. The strip lights typically provide more even light through the surface (like a fluorescent bulb), while individual, or “puck” lights give you a more dramatic lighting source with varying intensities that get started really high when you’re right under the light fading out while you move further outside the light.
I went through several designs for both and found that typically strip lights use smaller SMD LEDs attached to an extended, thin PCB or flex tape. These are typically nice, low-profile options, however, I found which they aren’t as intense as single lights. Should I were to do a strip light application using LEDs I might use 2 rows to get enough light. Using 2 rows increased the price significantly though.
I finished up settling on high power 3W LEDs, much like what exactly are widely used in reef lighting, specifically the CREE XT-E LED. They can be very versatile, installed out plenty of light and there are several drivers that are fantastic for powering this kind of 12 volt led lights, especially if you want to get fancy with dimming (many support -10v dimming as well as PWM dimming). The key part is becoming the spacing straight to avoid shadows and to have the right thermal setup. I experimented considerably and decided that this best light was once the LEDs were spaced evenly apart under the cabinets about 12″ on center. More LEDs than 25dexupky and i also would possibly be wasting efficiency (because I would end up dimming it quite often). Less LEDs than i could be sacrificing some of the practical task lighting.
For power I went having a dimmable constant current driver. The LEDs I used use a 3v forward voltage @ 700mA, to wire them in series you basically just accumulate the total forward voltage (I used 11 LEDs so 3×11=33v) and make certain the operator you get supports that voltage at whatever current you need. 700mA is an excellent 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 actually do get brighter the greater number of current you feed them, they obtain a lot hotter along with the efficiency drops at the same time. I decided to employ a reliable inventronics 40W driver.
A nice thing about this driver (and some others too) is the fact that it’s scalable. In accordance with the datasheet @ 700mA it outputs a minimum of 18v and a maximum of 54v. This means that when you have 3v LEDs you can safely use at least 6 LEDs along with a maximum of 17 LEDs roughly (you desire a little wiggle room at the very top range). Using the spacing I described above you can light anywhere from 6 to 17 linear feet of counter top! Should you still require more LEDs than that, don’t worry. Just choose a constant current driver that supports the voltage range you require. Just take your LED voltage on the current you need and multiply it through the # of LEDs you need to have 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 for your LEDs.
Thermal management will probably be crucial in a higher power LED array, and while I was thinking about simply using aluminum channel or flat bar from your home depot I wound up with an infinitely more elegant (and a lot more effective) solution that didn’t cost any more. I spent time and effort searching for heatsinks and although I found a bunch, they mostly has come from China or they were too tall for my application (I only have 3/4″ under my cabinets). I ended up being deciding to employ a really nifty looking circular heatsink that was designed to use with LEDs. A normal CPU style heatsink wouldn’t operate in this application as the heatsink needs to be against wood, which means this design is ideal to have enough airflow. Additionally, you will get this heatsink in numerous different heights, with out drilling is necessary to mount the quad row led strip light or maybe the heatsink for the underside of the cabinet! It’s the Ohmite model SA-LED-113E.
Let’s remember about color! This has become 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 from the lighting and also 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 going to want to eat that. Now imaging checking out broccoli that looks neat and bright green, as if you just harvested it. That’s the power of selecting the right color light.
Warm white is the color generally chosen, and also 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 life under this color lighting. I chose to remain on the slightly cooler end of the spectrum though, since i have don’t have several windows. I selected 3250k LEDs which I found correlate quite well for the “soft white” compact fluorescent bulbs that I utilization in the ceiling lights. On that note you have to attempt to match the color of your under cabinet lights to the remainder of the lights in 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 of the other lights inside your kitchen.
So those are essentially the principles I accustomed to design the device. Dependant upon your home you may have to tweak several things, but I the things i assembled works out really Very well for me and also for my purposes.