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My UCL install

Posted by gpraceman (My Page) on
Fri, Jun 21, 13 at 20:29

There is a little bit of a lul in our kitchen install due to a granite snafu, so I thought that I would get the UCL installed. I think that it turned out pretty well and they seem plenty bright to me. Total cost was $161 using Armacost brand LED strips from Home Depot.

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Needed parts were:

+ 30W power supply (Home Depot)
+ 12ft LED tape (Home Depot)
+ Snap connectors for the LED tape (Home Depot - online only)
+ 18 gauge CL2 rated speaker wire (Monoprice)
+ Wire connectors (Home Depot)
+ Terminal strip and jumpers (Radio Shack)
+ 3/4" wide aluminum flat bars (Home Depot)

I could have done without the aluminum bars, but it made mounting easier. The 12ft of LEDs was perfect for our needs, as I had just a little left over. If we wanted to, we could have added a dimmer between the power supply and the LED strips, but we like our lights bright and likely would never dim them.

Here's basically, how I installed them:

1) Cut the LED tape so there is a maximum number of LED's to fit under the cabinet, but leaving a bit of space for snap connectors on the ends.
2) Cut the aluminum bar a bit shorter than the LED strip, so the snap connectors can fit over the tape ends.
3) Peel off the LED tape backing and press onto the bar.
4) Attach pieces of heavy duty double sided tape to the back of the bar. For the longer runs, I used 3 pieces of double sided tape and just two for the shorter runs.
5) Using a 3/4" wide wood strip as a spacer, adhere the bar under the cabinet.
6) Attach the snap on connector to the end of the tape.
7) Use mini self adhesive wire clips to tidy up the wires.

The spacer makes placement easier and puts the LED's about 1-1/4" from the front edge of the cabinet frame. That distance works out well, as there is no shadow of the front edge being cast onto the counter. To make sure that polarity of the strips would not be an issue, all strips where mounted so the writing on the strips were all in the same orientation with respect to the front edge of the cabinet.

Before the cabinets went in, I installed an outlet above one cabinet, controlled by a switch. It is hidden by the crown molding. Plugged into that is the 30W power supply. The output side is connected to a terminal strip which allows connection of the two LED runs. Speaker wire runs behind the wall and to the bottom of the upper cabinets flanking our window.

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The two upper cabinets flanking the window were notched around the speaker wires. That is the only modification of the cabinets that was required in this whole install. Bullet connectors attach the speaker wire to the first LED strip in the run.

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Snap connectors for the LED tape daisy chain the strips together. Once the light rail is installed, any wire hanging down a bit will be hidden.

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Though, after bending over backwards to mount these strips, I may need to get DW to give me a good back massage.

This post was edited by gpraceman on Sat, Jun 22, 13 at 11:38


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: My UCL install

Nice job! Lots of creativity there and I believe you on the back rub. Amazing those LV require only 30 Watts. Think how nice your electric bill will be. Thanks for posting the specifics and the pictures. Helps everyone to see genius in action. Enjoy.


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RE: My UCL install

I'm glad that you like them.

These are far nicer, easier to install and less expensive than the direct wire xenon pucks that I installed in our last kitchen. The xenon lights got very hot and only provided pools of light. The LEDs provide more even lighting and run much cooler. With the low wattage of these and the Cree CR6 LED bulbs installed into the recessed lights of the kitchen and family room, I do hope that we see the difference on our utility bills.


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RE: My UCL install

Oh, also on the 30W power supply, that can actually support up to 24 ft of LED strips. I could have done over cabinet lighting as well with the same power supply. Maybe at some later date.


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RE: My UCL install

How many LED bulbs per foot, may I ask, on that 30 Watt power supply?

I had low voltage wire run and 10 in glass cabinet xenon dimmable nickel puck lights installed (20 watts x 10) and needed a 200 watt transformer. Some day those WAC recessed in-cab puck lights will take LED bulbs for real energy savings.


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RE: My UCL install

Looks great! Thanks so much for the great post with detailed information. We are planning to install these in our kitchen, so I really appreciate the review!


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RE: My UCL install

@SparklingWater - There are 3 LEDs every 2 inches. That is also where you can cut the tape, at any 2 inch increment.


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RE: My UCL install

I left the lights on for a couple of hours and the power supply is only warm. Anyways, I put the power supply up on a couple of spacers to make sure that air can circulate around it. With LED systems, if anything is going to fail, it is the power supply, so it helps to keep it as cool as you can.


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RE: My UCL install

gpraceman - thank you for so much detail on those. It's very helpful. I've been going back and forth about what to have installed - I can't really tell how much light is "enough" for task lighting...though truth be told, I have NO UC lighting now, so *any* is better than what I've got.

I'm going to read up more on the Armacost to refresh myself on how bright they are and if any info is available on their dimmable capability since we plan on using them both as task lighting and ambient lighting - from what I've read, some LED set ups dim better than others, but I don't know what determines that.

Hope that you got a nice back rub out of it. I think that installing it actually deserves a good professional massage for you!

PS - your kitchen is looking great!


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RE: My UCL install

Nice work! These lights are one of my favorite things about my kitchen. Plus it didn't break the bank...which was perhaps the biggest factor!


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RE: My UCL install

Thanks for the detailed instructions and pictures!

I actually purchased a bunch of these and power supply from HD. I figure I can take back what we don't use (or all of it if we go a different route).

You mention you have the outlet connected to a switch in the wall and that if you wanted to, you could use a dimmer between the power supply and LED strips. Do you happen to know -- Is it possible to use a wall dimmer switch with these? I would like to be able to dim ours.

Thanks!


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RE: My UCL install

andreak100 and seosmp,

There are two basic ways to dim these lights.

1) Use a regular dimmer and purchase a dimmable power supply. The dimmer would go on the high voltage side of the power supply.

2) Use a non-dimmable power supply and get a dimmer that will work on the low voltage side (between the power supply and the lights).

Option 1 is by far the more expensive option, as dimmable power supplies are much more expensive than non-dimmable. I don't think that Armacost has a dimmable power supply, so you would have to use another brand.

For Option 2, Armacost does have a dimmer that works on the low voltage side. You can mount it in a wall box, if you wish. Those are available from Home Depot.

Here is a link that might be useful: Armacost Dimmer


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RE: My UCL install

Also, if you do use the Armacost dimmer, I would not put that in a box that contains any AC wires. The low voltage DC wiring should be kept away from the the high voltage AC wiring to prevent interference. The current running through AC wires can induce currents into the low voltage wires. That also means that you should not run the low voltage wires along side any AC wires.


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RE: My UCL install

@andreak100 - DW did give me a nice back massage last night. I must have really tweaked a muscle in my lower back as it is pretty sore this morning. I guess that I should have added the cost for a professional massage into the cost of the lights, LOL.


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RE: My UCL install

Here's a closeup of the terminal strip, if it helps anyone. Jumpers were used to connect terminals together. Radio Shack does have terminal strips that have more contacts, if you need to wire in more runs. I only had two runs, so a 4 contact terminal strip was all that I needed. Narrow spade connectors were crimped onto the ends of the wires.

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RE: My UCL install

Wow! Nicely done. Your cabinets are gorgeous.


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RE: My UCL install

@holly-kay - Thanks. They are cherry with a "spice" stain. We love the character of the grain that the cherry wood has.


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RE: My UCL install

Thank you so much for your detailed description and pictures!
I was just researching LED striping for my kitchen and your topic came up. Would you mind to post a picture with the finished product?
I am thinking of adding LED strips to the bottom of my contemporary Ikea cabinets against the backsplash to create a striking effect for the backsplash.


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RE: My UCL install

gpraceman - Love the combo of your countertops and cabinets. I will look forward to your reveal. Best, oldbat2be


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RE: My UCL install

I agree with Oldbat2be - the cabs and counters are lovely! Can't wait to see the rest.


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RE: My UCL install

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RE: My UCL install

I will be making one minor modification to our UCL setup. The corner is a bit dark for my taste, with only the strip towards the front edge. So, I will be splicing in a strip to go down the middle of that cabinet, from front to back. I have the materials. I just need to make the time to get it done.


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RE: My UCL install

I finally got around to fixing the dark spot in the corner. I added a strip of lights down the middle of the cabinet. I teed off one of the connections between light strips, with some speaker wire, to get it wired in. Now, the corner is nice and bright.

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RE: My UCL install

Thanks for the ideas and feedback. We presently have halogen under cab lighting which also get too hot for our tastes and as well eats up energy to produce that unwanted heat. Have planned on LEDs for over a year now but waiting for costs to come down and design improvements. Our present cab lighting has a wall switch which can easily be switched to a dimmer and we'd use it on low as a kitchen night light as well. We need about 8' of cab lighting but will go with pre-made snap-on modular units once we find a design we like at either HD or Lowes. I'm not sure who would by halogen, xenons, even florescent anymore? We really like LEDs, hopefully the prices will drop soon.


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RE: My UCL install

this is a fantastic post! Just what I was looking for!


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RE: My UCL install

gabytx12 - Glad this can be of use to you.

It's been about a year and a half since we installed these and we are still loving them.

We installed these same lights in my in-laws kitchen. I used the leftover tape strips for my basement work area.


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RE: My UCL install

gpraceman,

Great instructions.. I'm planning on using your steps to install my UCL or to have the electrician install them since they will be hardwired.

I have a few questions.. how are the flat bar attached to the cabinets? I know the LED are attached the flat bar because they have glue strips on the back of them, but not sure how the flat bar is attached to the cabinets.

Thank you sooo much for the detailed directions.


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RE: My UCL install

I simply used heavy duty double sided tape. You can find that at Wal-Mart or a home improvement store. Squares of the tape were placed at each end of the bar. For the longer bars, I also added a square of the tape to the middle.


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