Under cabinet LED lighting?


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Old 06-16-14, 08:17 PM
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Under cabinet LED lighting?

I need some recommendations for direct wire under and over cabinet LED lighting that's relatively easy to install. I would prefer some sort of tape or light bars as opposed to pucks.

I don't know if this is possible with direct wire, but it would be great to be able to daisy chain multiple without stringing romex to each one. I'm looking to tie all the under and over cabinet lights to one dimmer switch.

As another alternative, I've seen some 12v systems that appear to be fairly modular, so can I just run romex from the switch to a 120v to 12v transformer?
 
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Old 06-17-14, 05:09 AM
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LED's will require a transformer of some sort so direct wire in the traditional sense is not possible for the most part. One big reason is that LED's are so small that the box required for direct wiring is bigger than the light. I would add a electrical box and convert your hard wire into an outlet that is probably switch controlled. Most often these are installed in the back of the cabinet where it is out of sight. Then you drill a hole through the bottom of the cabinet for the light's power cord to pass through.

I bout a reel of LED tape that can be cut ever 3" to the desired length. This way the tape can be sized for your cabinets and you're not stuck using the standard lengths available in fixtures. ALso, the tape is extremely low profile so the tape and emitters are not visible.
 
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Old 06-17-14, 06:39 AM
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Thanks. I'm also leaning towards the low voltage LED tape. Home Depot sells a brand called Armacost that looks like it would work. Looks like I can use regular 18agw wire to string multiple runs of lights in an array configuration directly back to the transformer. Not sure how far I can reach before voltage drop becomes a concern.

The only downside is that I'm not sure whether the transformer can be wired directly to a dimmer switch (I think the answer is probably no). Armacost sells a dimmer add-on, but it requires a few additional wiring steps. First, you need a power outlet for the lights (I'll need to install above the cabinets to hide it). Second, you plug in the light transformer and run 12v wire back into the wall to the dimmer switch. Third, you run more 12v wiring from the dimmer back out the wall to light arrays. So, it's a lot of running wires in and out of wall the wall to create the illusion of a regular direct wired dimmer switch.
 
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Old 06-17-14, 06:15 PM
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I have purchased LED strip lights (tape) like Dane mentioned. You can get hard wired transformers, however I find it easier to just install a receptacle some place hidden (but accessible) such as a basement or inside a lower cabinet. Then run 18/2 stat wire to each area where you will have a strip. Just to be sure to not overload the transformer/driver. There are also kits online with inline dimmers, remotes, and color changing LEDs. I bought mine at Amazon, but there are lots out there for much less than the big box stores.
 
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Old 06-18-14, 07:34 AM
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Yes, I agree. Simply installing an outlet (probably up top behind the crown molding to provide the most central location for all my runs to reach the plug-in transformer) is simpler and cheaper than buying a direct wire transformer.

My only concern now is whether I can still make the lights easily dimmable with the plug-in arrangement. Ideally, I'd like to put the outlet on a lutron dimmer switch that I can install in the wall just like any other light switch, but I'm not sure - can I put an outlet on a dimmer? Not sure if that (1) meets code, or (2) would even work with the little plug-in transformers that come with most of the 12v led tape kits.
 
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Old 06-18-14, 09:08 AM
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I purchased mine through SuperbrightLEDs (dot com). They have various types of transformers and dimming options. Here is one page with dimmers.
 
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Old 06-18-14, 07:35 PM
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I have also bought from Super Bright. Little more expensive than amazon but they have more selection. Good service too!
 
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Old 06-18-14, 07:51 PM
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The dimmer options on that website, while in-wall mounted, require a 12v source. That means buying a free-standing transformer and running extra wire just to create the illusion of standard dimmer switch.

I could do that as a last resort, but I'd much prefer to just put a lutron dimmer on a 120v dedicated outlet. Opinions seem divided on whether that would technically be a code violation (it is going to be located atop the upper cabinets and will be inaccessible for all purposes except the lighting), but what's got me stumped is whether this configuration would even work with plug-in LEDs.
 
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Old 06-20-14, 11:30 AM
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Ok, I think I've figured out what I'm going to do. Amazon has some remarkably inexpensive SMD 3528 light tapes. Only 300 lights per 16.4 foot roll, but that should be bright enough and keeps the total wattage down to 2w4 per roll, which will allow to me to get the 30 feet I need on one dimmable 60w transformer.

So, I plan to replace the current lightswitch on the backsplash with a double-gang box, stick a Lutron dimmer switch in the other side of the box, run romex up above the upper cabinets to the most centralized starting place for all my runs, and hardwire into the transformer. From there, I'll connect 4 runs in parallel (two for above, two for below, extending both directions).

The 60w dimmable transformer is pretty expensive ($100), but everything else is quite reasonable. The only downside to the product I'm buying is that I was planning to use 18agw speaker wire to create custom length extensions between strips, but I can't connect those wires directly to the tapes without soldering. Instead, I have to use the supplied extendors and splice the speaker wire into the middle of the extenders to make them longer. Kind of a pain. It's too bad they don't have clips you can just put on the ends of the speaker wire.
 
 

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