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LED lighting and Low Voltage Distribution


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#1 Colby

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 11:54 AM

I am looking to install LED accent/task lighting in my kitchen and laundry/utility room. I think I have settled on the flexible strips with SMD 12V LEDs that you stick on. These are low profile, sort of directional, and should be hidden from direct view by the cabinet lips and edges and they come in a large roll that can be cut every ~2". They also seem the most economical compared with bar lights or other typical lighting for this application. Has anyone successfully used these for accent task lighting in a kitchen? Are there any other better options in the same price range?

Another of my concerns in general for LV lighting of any type or other LV uses is how to get the 12V to each location. I have 7 separate cabinet groups without any easy or visually appealing way to get power wiring from one group to another. I (really my wife) doesn't want wires going from outlets above the counter going up into the cabinets. I do have some limited access to walls through attic and crawl space so running wiring to a particular location or two is doable. I was hoping there might an elegant solution out there that would allow me to centrally distribute a low voltage from the same location as my other automation equipment. It needs to be able to be automated, have adjustable voltage output to account for drop, have several channels, and be dimmable. I see Altronix and ELK have some stuff. There are also some generic DIY type modules available, but nothing I have seen that really puts it all together. Any suggestions or examples of systems that people have up and running would be awesome. Thanks.

#2 DELInstallations

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 06:02 PM

http://altronix.com/...m=AL1012ULACMCB or http://altronix.com/...um=AL400ULACMCB

This would most likely as big or bigger than you'll need. Trimpot will allow you to up the output voltage, but I doubt with a large enough feed, you'd have an issue.

You'll have to homebrew your own solution to make them dim. On/off can be done using a dry contact relay and the supply I listed.

#3 pete_c

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 07:29 PM

I used a short electrical box as a test under the garage (testing) kitchen style counters for 120VAC LED lighting. You don't notice it unless you look for it. For another test using 12DC LED lighting in the basement; I used a small little plastic box with a switch on it. I think it came with the 12VDC Led lighting.

#4 Desert_AIP

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 10:32 PM

I'm using the 24VDC bar lights. I really like clean installs with no exposed wiring.
The lights themselves are only 1/2 thick, the cabinet lips hide them and the housing protects the lights and electronics from splashes and damage.

The dimmable transformer is controlled using a SA UPB dimmer. It's mounted in the top corner of the base cabinet under the cooktop. It can't be seen when opening the cabinet unless you squat and look to the very back.
From there I have three low voltage lines running along the top backs of the cabinets, mostly behind the drawers, and then up the inside of walls and out to the three banks of lights.
The lights daisy chain so I only need power at the beginning of each string.
I used the flat plastic conduit under the cabinets to hide the wiring, you can't see it unless you stoop down and look under the cabinets.

Edited by Desert_AIP, 17 October 2011 - 10:34 PM.


#5 fwd03

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 12:05 AM

I replaced all my malibu light bulbs with LEDs and resistors. My nieghboor complained saying too bright. But they use much less current. I am planning to get rid the malibu power supply, using a 5V switch power supply.

#6 Colby

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 10:51 AM

DEL I have seen the Altronix stuff and they do have pretty solid looking solutions for generation and distribution of low voltage. Like you mentioned about homebrewing dimming and using trimpots for adjustment, I didn't see any all in one solution for my application.

pete_c and fwd03 could you elaborate a little more on you setup as I am having trouble understanding how your system works. pete_c are you saying you just added a switch inline to control the LEDs. fwd03 are you saying you have a voltage source then the appropriate resistor for current and then LEDs (just the diode not associated electronics for driving, voltage conversion, etc.)?

Desert_AIP, it sounds like you have the setup I am looking for. Do you have any pictures handy so I can get a visualization? Do you happen to have part numbers or manufacturers for the lights and transformer you are using?

If I followed Desert_AIP's solution for my application, I would need a four of the transformers/dimmers/ hidden throughout my house just for lighting. I also will need some 12V solution centrally located for other low voltage items like maybe cameras or some other sensors (I am still specing stuff out so this may adjust). My original goal was to combine them into one central low voltage power system that was flexible and expandable. I could then reliably/easily battery back it up and even perhaps integrate small solar without the need for inverters. Automation would likely be easier with an integrated system. I will think on this more and post back my conclusions over the next few months regarding different options and their cost, layout, installation, expandability, flexibility, etc.

Thanks to those that provided input.

#7 Desert_AIP

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 11:53 AM

Here's the light bars I'm using. I'm using the warm version. The company is helpful and their transformers are bullet proof. They have a better seelction of interconnection products than the vendor below.
http://www.environme...-Bars_C456.aspx

Docs
http://www.environme...ed_undercab.pdf

I found the light bars cheaper after I bought them. When I put them in the laundry room I will probably use this vendor. Their selection of interconnetion cables is not as robust as the vendor above and they don't have a good dimmable transformer solution.
http://www.superbrig...ar_fixtures.htm

This is the transformer I'm using. I have 3 low voltage taps coming off of it. It weighs 20 lbs or so, very high quality.
http://www.environme...mming_C457.aspx

Docs
http://www.environme...lies_manual.pdf

I found this transformer, it's less expensive and may be an option. I am considering trying it for my laundry install.
http://www.ledwaves....DC-p-19707.html

I can take some pics when I get home in a few days.

Edited by Desert_AIP, 18 October 2011 - 12:09 PM.


#8 Work2Play

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 12:17 AM

I used the flexible strips you describe... the ones I went with were the bright white, 600 SMD3528 LED's per 16-foot roll (double density). You can cut them every 1.5" or so.

My cabinets don't go all the way to the ceiling - so what I did was tap into the power outlet behind the built-in microwave and run power to the top of the cabinets, where I have my transformer. The transformer is plugged into a UPB appliance module.

On that wall of cabinets, there's a stove/vent in the middle, so I had to run the strips on either side of the vent. I used 16-gauge wire and ran it down the inside of the cabinets on either side of the stove fan for power to each side. The wire is hidden behind the lip at the front of the cabinets where you really can't see it. This is drilled through to the bottom of the cabinets where I cut the strips to length for each cabinet (these are cheap cabinets so every 19" or so is a barrier where two cabinets are connected together. I just drilled through each one and strung the wire up along the bottom.

So far everyone I've shown them to has loved them - they're super bright and very effective. We leave them on almost constantly.

If that's the style you're after, I can also sell you some for a hell of a price... as I started playing with them I got hooked up importing them direct from China - top-grade (they come in A, B or C quality; C being what you see on eBay; A having the 2-year warranty and better components). I have a few extra 16.4-foot unopened rolls and at least one extra transformer laying around (you may want to find a dimming transformer though). I'd have to double-check exact price, but I know it's under $100 for 16.4 feet of double-density LED's with transformer - the cheapest option you'll find anywhere. The ones I have are basically these with the white background - and I believe I have 3 rolls extra.

#9 Desert_AIP

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 01:09 PM

Here are some quick pics showing the transformer, a couple of the lights and the conduit under the cabinets.
Also a couple of pics showing how everything is hidden unless you stoop down to see it.
The low voltage cables exit the wall through a 1/2" diameter hole. Note the 3 low voltage lines (black) coming out of the transformer and travelling to the three banks of lights.
The larger armored cable is for the cooktop, the 3/8" armored cable is the 120VAC input from the SA dimmer.

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#10 pete_c

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 02:03 PM

Colby,

For the 120VAC LED's the electrical 1/2 size box under the "kitchen" style cabinets in the garage is connected to a conventional wall switch. No dimming; but only testing these LEDS.

The 12VDC is a smaller inline switch which has a connection to the power supply. No dimming. These are "test" LED lighting mounted under some wood shelves in the basement.

Both sets of LED's have been left on 24/7 now for over a year. Still just fine.

Outside I used the 1 watt (single LED) and 3 watt (3 LEDs) with conventional MR11/16's. They are as bright or brighter than the original halogen. These are the cooler colored ones verses the very white ones. These all put into either Malibu or kirch (sp?) lighting.

On the other side of the house I have this small little glass into the ground "coach" looking landscaping lighting up the front path. I am still looking for best means to replace the small 10 watt halogen bulbs. Not sure what to use here. I've seen the front facing multiled lights but they are not omnidirectional. The ones that are omnidirection with multiple LEDs on the top and sides might be too bright.

Any suggestions?

#11 Colby

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 05:15 PM

Desert_AIP thanks for taking the time to post pictures of your setup. It is pretty much exactly the finished look I am going for. Unfortunately for me if I get the same type of parts you did, I will bust my budget. With that said hopefully with help from this forum and I can trade my time for $ and design a cheaper system that achieves the same functionality and look you have. Thanks for the links too, so I know what quality products look like and cost (it is hard to tell sometimes with plethora of vendors out there).

Work2Play, your setup also seems what I am going for. Can you comment on these which I am guessing have to be quality C. http://www.amazon.co...I1&sn=HitLights

pete_c thanks for explaining better and good to hear that the LEDs work longish term as expected. I haven't gotten to outside lighting, but when I do if I figure something out regarding your situation I will post back.

It seems I can get a transformer (generic or made for LEDs) that will put out ~30A for about $60+shipping (which will run most if not all my LED needs). Anyone have thoughts on using a PC power supply which I can get for ~$20 and will output the same 30A @12V. Both are at least 80% efficient. Obviously the PC power supply will likely have a fan but I could put it in my centralized location or in a cabinet if it quiet enough. Also I will need a way to send the power on signal to the PC version (but I see this as a plus as I can put it in standby if none of the outputs are in use). They both have the appropriate protections on the output. The only thing that concerns me is using a low voltage dimmer on the PC supply since there seems to be some issues with compatibility even with stuff designed for LEDs.

#12 BLH

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 06:38 PM

Most of the PC Power Supplies, I have seen, have a minimum load requrnement for the 5 volt and maybe the 3.3 volt outputs.

#13 Work2Play

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 10:24 PM

Work2Play, your setup also seems what I am going for. Can you comment on these which I am guessing have to be quality C. http://www.amazon.co...I1&sn=HitLights

Wow - prices have come way down - I can't compete with $10/roll no matter how much better grade A may be! I will say I went with cool white - in fact I got a strip of warm to compare... cool/bright white is much more like the colors you typically see in kitchens. The warm white was a bit pinkish

#14 pete_c

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 07:13 AM

So I was going to give it a try.

I see I can get a package for $39. (transformer, dimmer and light ribbon). Most likely will cut the ribbons; wondering if its easier to solder or just buy the terminators (?) at $6 each?

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#15 Work2Play

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 11:33 PM

Pete - it's easier to use the connectors - in theory... but they're complete crap... in fact I'm going to end up redoing my cabinet lights with soldered connections.

I have that same dimmer but haven't installed it yet... Just make sure you know the rating of the lights you're using and size your transformer appropriately - some of these strips take a surprisingly high number of amps.




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