As usual, click any photo to bring up a larger version.
NOTE: If you haven't done so already, I recommend reading the article about my previous LED lighting experiments before you proceed with this one.
Also, please note that I AM NOT AN ELECTRICIAN. I AM NOT AN ENGINEER. I'm just a reasonably smart DIY guy who reads instructions and labels and learns from others. I'm just sharing my experiences.
So, as the title says... I think I've finally successfully hacked these LED strip lights to use them as "regular" lighting.
I had two main problems with my LED strip lights after my previous experiments. The Second had to do with power supplies, and I'll address that later on in this article.
The First problem was that they got so hot that the adhesive backing failed. I think these lights really should have a metal backing to help dissipate the heat. I found that a metal stud from the big box hardware store was the cheapest solution. It cost me about $5.50 for a 10-foot long metal stud from the local big box home store.
I cut the stud down to about 8'6", which is the length I need. Remember that these strips come in a 5 meter length. I am cutting them in half for this project, so the end result is two strips that are a bit under 8'6" long
I don't know if it is absolutely necessary, but I then sanded the stud with some 120 grit paper in the random orbit sander. I wanted to roughen up the polished surface, and this also takes off any oils that might be on there from the manufacturing. The goal is to make sure that the adhesive from the lights sticks well!
I then stuck the LED strips down tight to the edge. I will then put another set along the other edge. I need to have a gap in the center so that I can fit a screw in there for fastening it to the ceiling.
One procedure I did not photograph is that I fitted a piece of wood into the stud and bent the sides around it. You can just see the end of it in this photo. I used skinny wood as I wanted to keep this as flush to the ceiling as possible. I also wanted the wood inside the stud to give it some rigidity.
As I mentioned, the strips were cut in half at one of the marked "cut here" spots. In my first experiment I just looped the strip back to the front. This time I want a more flush and finished look. As well, I will be soldering a plug end of some kind on the strip, so I might as well solder four strips as two.
Here is the end result, four lines of LED lighting attached to a metal stud. This is two full five-meter strips of LED lights. I wrapped some black tape around the end of the strips to provide reinforcement and strain relief. Towards the right side of the photo (and mostly out of focus) you can see a screw used to hold up the finished LED light assembly.
I did not want a permanent connection to a power supply, so I cut a PC power supply harness out of an old PC and soldered them onto the end of the light assembly. (and that's a bit of a spoiler for the next section!)
The second problem I was having was with power supplies. Remember I was trying to do this inexpensively, and 12v power supplies that I was finding were over $20. I tried using a cheap DC-DC power converter with a free surplus laptop 19v power supply, but it burned out quickly. This might be a good spot to remind you of that disclaimer at the top about me not being an electrical engineer...
Several people had suggested that I try using a PC power supply. I was initially reluctant because of the fans in PC power supplies. But I changed my mind because (a) I can get surpluse power supplies for free, so if they die of dust after a year, it's no loss. (b) I've seen lots of people who have PCs in their workshops with no problems.
When it came to trying to hang the power supply from the ceiling, I hit on a neat idea. I have several of these very powerfull magnets that I have scavenged from dead hard drives. I attached two to the ceiling and the power supply snaps into place easily. It is strong enough that it will not move, but I can still easily twist it loose if I need to take it down or move it.
Here I am fastening up one of my new LED light assemblies over my work bench. I just used a couple screws into the ceiling joist. It is light and has a low profile.
I'm pretty happy with this solution now! I had run one assembly with the power supply for about 2-3 weeks before I filmed this video. During the video I built a second light strip. The stud nicely dissipates the heat, the power supply nicely powers the lights, AND probably has enough juice left to power a third set of lights if I should want to add more.
Thanks for reading!