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Thread: A small home LED lighting project

  1. #1

    Default A small home LED lighting project

    I recently moved into a house with a "cut" in the wall between the master bedroom and master bathroom. It's a ledge about 8 feet high running about 2/3 of the wall between the two rooms.

    The master bedroom has a ceiling fan with a 4-bulb fixture and the bathroom has two vanities with 6 bulbs each. I fitted all of them with CF bulbs and the output - especially in the bathroom - is impressive to say the least. So impressive that it trashes my night vision should I need to relieve myself at night or if I'm otherwise awake.

    I found some Cree XR-E LED's mounted to MCPCB's left over from another project and decided I could use them to illuminate both rooms with indirect light by mounting them on the ledge pointed towards the ceiling. I had some ~1" x 12" aluminum strips scavenged from the scrap bin from another job years ago that could mount them and help with heatsinking.

    After tinkering with the idea for a few days, I settled on a basic circuit design:



    I had initially thought about doing something fancier, but two brightness levels separated by a factor of 10 has ultimately worked out for the best.

    The details of the installation took up more time and effort than I thought it would, but it turned out quite well.


    My oh-so-clever switch and power supply setup


    One of two arrays


    My awesome assembly technique up close - thankfully this is all out of sight from the ground


    Low


    High


    Action shot

    It works really well and chews up less power than a single CFL bulb. Low is more than enough to navigate both rooms and high is almost bright enough to read by in the far corner of the bedroom.
    Last edited by idleprocess; 11-22-2008 at 06:41 PM. Reason: proofreading
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  2. #2

    Default Re: A small home LED lighting project

    Dude, I just installed a homebrew light bar using three LuxIII's mounted to the exact same type of aluminum bar in an almost idtentical config as yours less than a week ago!

    It's a brilliant way to mount high powered LEDs! Solves the thermal and mounting problem with one simple unit.

    Hmmm.....maybe than have them on manual switch, maybe a motion detector? This way you can head for the head without worrying about finding the switch at all. Just an idea.

  3. #3

    Default Re: A small home LED lighting project

    Quote Originally Posted by blasterman View Post
    Dude, I just installed a homebrew light bar using three LuxIII's mounted to the exact same type of aluminum bar in an almost idtentical config as yours less than a week ago!

    It's a brilliant way to mount high powered LEDs! Solves the thermal and mounting problem with one simple unit.

    Hmmm.....maybe than have them on manual switch, maybe a motion detector? This way you can head for the head without worrying about finding the switch at all. Just an idea.
    Most motion detectors have to have an extra line to carry signal if they're going to work with CFLs- the motion detector acts as a 'dumb' switch and expects to pass a small amount of current through the incandescent bulb.

    For LEDs I expect a similar requirement. So you'll need a motion detector that is designed to work with CFL lights (or relayed).

    I'm guessing. I've also been up for the last 3 days with the birth of my first child- and trying to unwind

  4. #4

    Default Re: A small home LED lighting project

    I will be experimenting with some more projects in the future, including a motion detector or maybe some sort of IR beam in a hallway. I'm calling this project done for now, with the possible exception of changing the power switch to switch AC power to the DC power supply instead of switching the +12V.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  5. #5

    Default Re: A small home LED lighting project

    How about a photocell
    http://www.evilmadscientist.com/article.php/nightlight

    Maybe a way to drive off AC using diodes and caps.

    Good job.

  6. #6

    Default Re: A small home LED lighting project

    OK, I'm a little more awake now.

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news but, if I understand your setup, there is no way that would pass code. Worse, if it caught fire inside the wall you'd be in a heap of trouble with your insurance company.

    I'm also pretty sure any box that has an outlet in it has to be fully enclosed- ie, you can't just have a surface mount box like that- that's for low voltage or telephone systems.

    -I'm not an electrician, I just play one in my home.

  7. #7

    Default Re: A small home LED lighting project

    Quote Originally Posted by purduephotog View Post
    OK, I'm a little more awake now.

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news but, if I understand your setup, there is no way that would pass code. Worse, if it caught fire inside the wall you'd be in a heap of trouble with your insurance company.

    I'm also pretty sure any box that has an outlet in it has to be fully enclosed- ie, you can't just have a surface mount box like that- that's for low voltage or telephone systems.

    -I'm not an electrician, I just play one in my home.
    I'm quite aware that it's probably not up to code.

    Right now, the switch is not handling 110V AC - it switches 12V DC, which is well within Class III. Leaving that exposed on the back side is not a problem.

    Switching 120V AC through it on one side and 12V DC on the other side of the same physical device would definitely be an issue.

    I do not have an outlet dropped down the wall; I cut the plug on the power cable, pulled the cable into the outlet box on the other side, and stripped/jumpered the leads to the wires powering the electrical outlet. Of course, this address neither the modular AC power connection on the DC power supply nor the fact that this power supply isn't meant for permanent enclosed installation - even though it's Class II.

    I wonder if there is such a thing as a 12V DC power supply meant to be permanently installed like I've done. Perhaps I'll just buy a Xitanium driver or somesuch - they're not terribly expensive after all.
    Last edited by idleprocess; 11-26-2008 at 03:51 PM.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  8. #8

    Default Re: A small home LED lighting project

    Quote Originally Posted by idleprocess View Post
    I'm quite aware that it's probably not up to code.

    Right now, the switch is not handling 110V AC - it switches 12V DC, which is well within Class III. Leaving that exposed on the back side is not a problem.

    Switching 120V AC through it on one side and 12V DC on the other side of the same physical device would definitely be an issue.

    I do not have an outlet dropped down the wall; I cut the plug on the power cable, pulled the cable into the outlet box on the other side, and stripped/jumpered the leads to the wires powering the electrical outlet. Of course, this address neither the modular AC power connection on the DC power supply nor the fact that this power supply isn't meant for permanent enclosed installation - even though it's Class II.

    I wonder if there is such a thing as a 12V DC power supply meant to be permanently installed like I've done. Perhaps I'll just buy a Xitanium driver or somesuch - they're not terribly expensive after all.

    Ahhh, good. I looked at what you had wired up and was hoping I just didn't understand it. Looks like I didn't follow it- saw those resistors hooked up to what I thought was a live AC outlet and winced.

    Xitanium is UL approved for installation- so you'd just have to hook it up to a fixture- of course, any fixture you make wouldn't be UL approved...

    For all the effort you're going through why not just drop a new line and be done with it? Little mud and you're set

  9. #9

    Default Re: A small home LED lighting project

    Here's a better representation of the circuit:



    The only worries about code are whether the power supply in the wall is kosher and the modular cord connection on said PSU that is now hard-wired to power.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  10. #10
    *Flashaholic* StarHalo's Avatar
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    Default Re: A small home LED lighting project

    Totally digging the do-it-yourself-ness, but you saw these http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50119407 right?

  11. #11

    Default Re: A small home LED lighting project

    Quote Originally Posted by idleprocess View Post
    Here's a better representation of the circuit:



    The only worries about code are whether the power supply in the wall is kosher and the modular cord connection on said PSU that is now hard-wired to power.
    Yeah since you're already down low might as well pick up a micro puck.

    I'm pretty certain that you aren't allowed to embed anything in the wall- you'd have to put the transformer in a junction box or have it sitting in an enclosure (no bare or exposed wires).

    There's an electrical forum I've seen where you could ask that sort of question- they're not too rough

  12. #12

    Thumbs up Re: A small home LED lighting project

    Quote Originally Posted by StarHalo View Post
    Totally digging the do-it-yourself-ness, but you saw these http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50119407 right?
    I saw it about a year ago! It's a great set up!! for $50 you can really "set the mood" in a room! You can also combine 2 sets $100 for even more!

  13. #13

    Default Re: A small home LED lighting project

    Quote Originally Posted by StarHalo View Post
    Totally digging the do-it-yourself-ness, but you saw these http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50119407 right?
    Yup. In person at the Frisco Ikea several times. I was struck by the horrific price, bad performance, and terrible color (relative to even my non-premium X-RE color bins). The undercounter LED lights that Lowes is selling are brighter and a better value, but not as bright as what I built.

    My cost on this not counting the aluminum strips was around $75 and it does exactly what I want it to do.

    Went ahead and finalized the array positioning and wires.



    Light pattern improved slightly and now it's out of sight unless you're against the far wall of the bedroom and at least 6' tall.
    Last edited by idleprocess; 11-26-2008 at 10:26 PM.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  14. #14

    Default Re: A small home LED lighting project

    My cost on this not counting the aluminum strips was around $75 and it does exactly what I want it to do.
    Yeah...I hear that. My experience with most retail lightstrips and pucks has been horrid to say the least. Crappy intensity levels, crappy reliability, crappy color values, etc. The LuxIIIs I'm using in my strip have reputable brightness (more than I really need which is why I didn't bother with Cree), and just like other high end LEDs have excellent color values. They are visibly pure white, which is more than I can say for most retail LEDs.

    The only difference was that on mine I epoxied plastic lenses to have some more throw, but that's it. I also use a spare computer PSU to run them, so my cost was absurdly low.

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