Help from davidtay or any UCL expert

mountaineergirlSeptember 29, 2010

Hello! I have recently installed new counter tops, and before we tile the back splash I want to install under cabinet lighting. I've read some threads on here and am still overwhelmed/confused. I want LED lights, but don't want to pay a fortune. Could someone tell me if these kits are junk or a good buy? Also would one kit be enough to do it? here's what I have:

36" cab, then OTR microwave with cabs above (so access to next cab run), 30"cab, diagonal 15" cab, 30"cab, window (with wood valance above), 30"cab, diagonal 15", then 18"cab

Does that make sense? here's the link to the light kit:

Thanks in advance for any help you can give!!

Here is a link that might be useful: super delux light kit

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Not an expert but, I've just installed LED UCs from They'll custom make them any length in 1 inch increments. They run about $20 per linear foot.

Check out the link below

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 9:52PM
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If you want a professional look, you need to have a system very much like that sold by photonier, emeralight, ...

Read the initial post by jem199 LED UCL DIY very carefully.

I would recommend very strongly to any one installing a low voltage LED system to install a wiring backbone that can be used with any type of LED strips.

E-mail me if you have more questions.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 12:05AM
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Thank you for your replies. I wonder how important the dimming feature is, because it looks like it will cost significantly more $$ for dimmable lights, and then the dimmable power supply. I don't really think I would even use it that much, just leave them on high most of the time.

well this is going to take time. Time to compare costs and time to figure how many/much of the supplies we'll need.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 7:05PM
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To me, the dimming feature is useful for 2 reasons
1. Extending the life of the leds.
2. Changing the mood.

When shopping for LED lights, never get dazzled by the intensity of the points of light.

You should put the necessary wiring and connection points in place first.

Some pointers
1. Figure out if you want separately controlled zones or all zones to be centrally controlled.
If separately controlled
2. Each zone will need a separate switch (dimming switch) & power supply

If centrally controlled
2. Always make sure that you connect the zones in parallel.
The rest of the system can be plugged in later.

3. Estimate the total wattage (including line loss). That will help determine the size of the power supply or if you need multiple power supplies.

This will be a significant consideration if you want to have an extensive UCL system (> 15 ft)

dimmer switches MUST be matched to the appropriate power supply. For instance, it is unsafe to use an inductive (magnetic) dimmer with an electronic power supply.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 8:21PM
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Thanks David!

I want them controlled with one switch. I will have about 11 feet of lights total, so will the 60W (12-24VDC) power supply work?

Also, I plan on putting it in the cabinet above the OTR microwave, and running lines from both directions to this cabinet. So, will I just use a splitter and plug both runs into it? Then I will have it wired to a switch above the counter.

Most of my upper cabs are 33" so I'll have to go with a 24" light. Will this be enough light? I really don't want to spend the extra $23 for a 6" light to connect. If I center the 24" in a 33" cabinet, will that look ok?


    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 10:58PM
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Yes, definitely with a 60 Watt power supply . You might be able to get by with a 48W power supply. All this assumes 3.3 watts per ft.

Plan on wiring the runs directly to the power supply instead of a splitter.

You will have sufficient light.
One thing I learnt from my local lighting store was to plan on having continuous runs of lighting. I only understood when I saw the lighting demo - spaced lights have shadow zones that you may find bothersome on a dark night.

However, if your cabinets are not flat bottomed, there may be little to no easy recourse other than to accept the gaps.

Corners can be tricky -
The bars need to be perpendicular to each other to eliminate shadow zones.
If the corner is deep, you may need additional light bars to eliminate shadow effects.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 11:58PM
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hmmmm OK I have to have spaces because of the "fences" on the edge of each cabinet. So are you saying it won't look good to have these gaps?

Also, in case you were wondering, I just guessed at my cabinet sizes for the first post, then I went and actually measured them. So that's the reason my last post was different than the first.

So are you saying I should add a 6" to each 24" for every 33" cabinet?? to eliminate as much space as possible? this is going to get expensive.

And I shouldn't angle the light bars at a diagonal with the cabinet? I don't know how to do that. Except use 2 - 6" ones and put them perpendicular under the cab?

One last thing - the 48 watt power supply is $125 but the 60-watt is only $69.99??? what's up with that?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 9:06PM
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Yes, I think it would look strange for strip lighting.

But then again, fluorescent strip lighting have gaps between and people live with it.

If you have corner cabinets, you might want to consider putting 2 strips perpendicular. I put mine on a diagonal and consequently I have a small shadow zone.

Which site are you looking at for the power supplies?

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 1:22AM
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I was looking at environmental lights website. well now I'm back to the drawing board. I hadn't considered what the gaps would look like.

Rather than strip lighting, could I still use LED and get the kind that have 3 larger lights? these lights from Lowes only come in 18" tho AND they don't appear to be dimming

Here is a link that might be useful: Lowes light

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 8:46AM
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I won't use the Lowes lights as I don't think they provide sufficient lighting.

Other possible approaches
1. Use puck style lights - gaps are expected.
2. Ignore the gaps/ treat them as a different style
3. Use panel lighting - the output could be high enough to minimize the shadow zones.

The 60W variable voltage power supply is indeed cheaper than the 48W dimming power supply. My guess is that the 60 W variable voltage power supply uses a rheostat.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 11:31AM
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Davidtay said: "But then again, fluorescent strip lighting have gaps between and people live with it."

Fluorescent lights are a diffuse source. LEDs are not. They are by nature highly directional.

This directionality makes LEDs great for auto brakelights and home accent spotlights, but using them for diffuse general illumination is fighting their nature. That's why you need so many of them. (That and the fact that most small individual LEDs don't have much luminous flux.)

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 2:06AM
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Thanks so much for your replies. My DH is anxious to get started on the back splash, so for now he's just wiring the switch and I'll decide on the lighting at a later date. He really wants LED but not keen on spending the $$ at this point. (He didn't realize that getting new granite counters meant new sink/faucet/hardware/lighting etc! - foolish man) So for now he's wiring a switch that will come from the upper cab that is above the microwave, which is where we'll hide the power source. When we go to wire the lights, the wires will pass thru the "fences" under the cabinets and the back splash won't be an issue. At least this is the plan - and we're sticking to it LOL!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 9:30AM
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another question -
Since the power supply won't be at the end of the run (there will be another 33" cab on the other side) I just have to get this Y-splitter correct?

Here is a link that might be useful: Y-splitter

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 9:28AM
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No, not if you have wiring run inside the walls to each lighting segment from the power supply.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 11:01AM
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OK my DH and I sat down last night to decide how to do this lighting (which by the way he thinks is a totally unnecessary thing to do anyhow) and we decided to go ahead with the tiling and not wire in the walls. The power supply will be hidden in the cab above the microwave (the only cab that has a power outlet in it) and we will do the in-line switch and mount it under a cabinet. My only concern is that with the 60-watt power supply it says 14 - 12" bars is the limit. That's very close to what I'll have it I don't want gaps.

We are waiting until after the holidays to do the lighting. And maybe I'll get lucky and the price of LEDs will come down a little by then. one can always hope.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 8:02AM
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There should always be some buffer, so probably the 100W is more suitable.

I would strongly recommend putting in the low voltage wiring first. Otherwise, you could consider using flatwire.

The lighting showroom I visited when I was contemplating UCL had a display setup with fluorescent, halogen and LED. A section of the fluorescent strips were spaced out and the sales lady pointed out why the lights should be contiguous.

When contemplating the kitchen remodel, we considered UCL as optional, perhaps even unnecessary. Now, the UCL is used more often than the general lighting.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 1:55PM
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Hello, I am in the process of redoing the kitchen and this forum has been extremely helpful, and both David offered very helpful advice on the lighting forum, Thank You.

I was considering using LED but one Big concern I have with LED is that it's a relatively a new tech. Manufacture claim LED last 50000 hrs, but what happen if one of the LED bar fails prematurely and the bar is no longer produced. Since there is no uniform standard for LED bar connection and one can not change the LED or the circuit individually, would you have to change ALL the LED bars if the original LED bar is no longer in production? This would be a deal breaker for me but I guess for some people that's the price to be in the bleeding edge. Is my concern misplace?

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 9:44PM
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LED lighting has been around for some time. The likelihood of individual bars failing is very low.

Reasons to change out all the led bars are
1. The styles do not match. - the replacement bar is smaller.
2. The voltage is different (eg 12V DCcannot be used with 24V DCor 120V AC).

There is no guarantee for any led bars to remain in production 10 ~ 20 years on.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 10:50PM
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