DIY LED Lighting: Cheap and Easy Under-Shelf LED Light Project
If you’re like me then you can never turn down a project that offers maximum utility, budget and aesthetic enhancement. In my office I have a small and cheap ($30 including shipping cheap) entertainment center that I use as a surface for my espresso machine and record system. It’s perfect for my purposes, but I often find switching records to be an unpleasant task due to lack of lighting, as the area which houses the record player is somewhat of a pit for darkness. Additionally, I find the look of it to be quite boring without any illumination going on.
I decided I wanted to add a small LED strip that is bright, slim, contained in a housing and has an on/off rocker switch. In the end, I went with the following parts list totaling around $30:
- 12″ Micro Housing w/ Clear Lens
- 12″ Warm White 5630 LED strip (Warm White for the yellow-ish light output)
- 2 Amp Power Supply
- Rocker On/Off Switch
- Female Pigtail Connection
Assembly of the kit is quite simple, requiring only a Phillips screwdriver in addition to a soldering iron for the connection. We also carry the exact same fixture pre-assembled for those without a soldering iron.
This is what the parts look like out of the box:
Caption: From top to bottom: the rocker switch, 2 amp power supply, Warm White 5630 LED strip, clear lens, Micro housing, DC pigtail connector and end caps, hardware and mounting clips on top of their business card for contrast.
To begin building the fixtures, insert the female pigtail connection through the opening of one of the end caps:
Next, you’ll want to tin both terminals on the LED strip, as well as re-tin the end of the pigtail (just so that the same solder is used throughout the connections). Once this is done, solder the pigtail onto the LED strip.
NOTE: The side of the wire with the stripes is the (+) Positive side!
Before continuing on, verify you have a good connection by plugging the power supply into the wall, and then your LED strip into that. If it doesn’t light up immediately, try spinning the connections between the power supply and light strip around slightly to seat them. If it still isn’t lighting up, check your soldered connections. Either the polarities are flipped around (i.e. the positive wire is soldered to the negative terminal), they are touching each other (causing a short-circuit, which triggers a failsafe in the power supply, cutting off power output) or the soldered joints are simply not good enough to make a connection.
Once you have verified the LED strip is lighting up, it’s time to install it into the housing. Test-fit the strip first, making sure that it is centered in the fixture. Then, starting from the side with the pigtail connections, peel the film off the adhesive backing and begin seating it into the fixture. It will be a tight fit, I find it easiest to slip one side in first, then the other.
Almost done! Now all that’s left is to screw in the end cap on the pigtail connection side, then slide the lens into place and screw in the other end cap. You’ll notice the lens has a protective film on it, that can come off now (or wait until the fixtures have made it to their final home).
Complete! This is the fruits of your labor.
You’re done with the main assembly! Now it’s just a matter of mounting the fixture into place. Although the kits all include mounting clips which require only screwing them into place, I cheated and used double-sided tape for the installation. Either way, mounting them is fairly straight forward, and takes a matter of minutes for most projects. The following is a photo of how your power supply, rocker switch and fixture will connect together.
Warning: These are BRIGHT! A dimmer may be advisable for those who need something more mellow. For my purposes it was perfect.
That’s it! The whole job takes about a half hour, and the end result will be a light output that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
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Project by: Jacob Wisdom