As usual, click any photo to bring up a larger version.  

Making DIY LED Fixtures

 

I've experimented with LED strip lights a few times before. Links to those articles can be found at the bottom of this page.

One of the things I did previously was mount the LED strips onto a steel stud. This acted as both a mount, and also as a heat sink. Then some time later I saw John Heisz on the ibuildit.ca youtube channel also build LED lights using studs. (Link is to his website article) However he attached the lights to the inside of the channel, and also added a diffuser. I thought that was a brilliant idea, and decided to emulate it.

John worked with the company American Greenlighting for his build. I went the full cheap DIY route and sourced all my parts from banggood.com. Of course I started with some LED strips. But I also got a bunch of connectors, to make connecting and disconnecting quick and easy. This is strictly for conveniance. They could all be wired directly.

I also picked up AC adaptors. Previously I had made use of a surplus PC power supply. This works quite well, but the wires are a bit messy, and of course the fan makes a small hum. These AC adaptors are small, sealed, and of course totally silent.

These are 60 watt power supplies, and should be able to power two LED strips, as the LED strips each consume 30 watts.

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I picked up some eight foot long steel studs from the local home center store. These are three-and-a-half inches wide, and they have a small lip on the top of of each side of the channel. (See photo). This lip is crucial, as when I mount the stud upside down on the ceiling, I can then fit a piece of plastic diffuser into the stud and it will rest on the lip.

The diffuser is the most expensive part of the project, as it cost $25 for a 2x4 sheet. This is a standard diffuser panel, used in drop ceilings. I found it in the home center where they sell drop ceiling parts. Each sheet can be cut into six strips, so the cost per light is not that bad.

$6.54 LED strip
$14.67 Power supply
$1.17 Male/Female cable connectors
$1.82 Cable splitters
$6.20 8ft Steel stud
$26.00 2x4 foot Translucent drop ceiling panel

HERE ARE THE PRICES, as of May 2018. (Canadian Dollars)

  1. The power supply supplies electricity two lights.
  2. The panel was cut in six pieces.
  3. Each stud is cut in half.
  4. There are two cable connectors per light
  5. The cable splitters connects to two lights
This all works out to a price of about CAD$ 24.55 per four foot light "fixture". By omitting the cable connectors and just using wire connections the price would be a few dollars less.

The studs have holes in them, which is a problem as we want a fully solid back for adhering the LED strips. I had another bit of metal stud, which I cut down and pounded flat with a hammer. If I had a rivet gun I would have used it to attach that to the stud. Instead, I mounted the stud to a strip of scrap waferboard and screwed the stud to the metal patch, and in turn to the strip of plywood, which plugged the hole well enough. It also helped stiffen up the stud. I extended the wood back past the end of the stud, to give me some mounting "flanges" for attaching the light to the ceiling.

I cut some small pieces of plywood to plug the end of the stud. I then drilled a hole in that and fitted in one of the plug connectors. I fastened it in place with some epoxy. This would make the lights into quick-connect lights. It adds a bit of complexity, but makes it much easier to rearrange and reconfigure the lights in the future.

Here is a look at the inside end of one of the lights. The LED strip has a self-adhesive backing which is used to fasten it to the stud. The stud was first cleaned with mineral spirits to remove the oily coating that comes from the factory. The LED strip has wires at both ends, and these are connected to the plug connector. Small jumper wires were then soldered to connect those strips to the other strips in the fixture.

Note that for some reason, 2/3 of the LED strips did NOT have any +/- markings on them, which made it much more difficult to work with after it was cut into sections. Once I realized this, I was careful to mark the strips before I cut them.

Fitting one of the diffuser strips into the stud light.

And here is a look at two finished fixtures. One with and one without a diffuser.

I think these LED fixtures look much better than the previous ones that I built. However, they're not brighter, which is not that surprising as the diffuser does block some of the light.

Just another fun project in the workshop!

Some of the Tools/Supplies Used In This Project: (Affiliate Links)

Thanks to banggood.com which provided the LED strips, power supplies and parts used in this project.

LUSTREON 60W AC100-240V to DC12V LED Driver
5M SMD5050 300 LED White LED Strip
5.5 x 2.1mm Female To Male Plug DC Splitter Connector
LUSTREON DC12V Male/Female Power Supply Jack (Choose male or female ends)
LUSTREON 10M Tinned Copper 22AWG Wire

I also used some Lighting Ever strips I had left over from a previous project:
Lighting Ever 5050SMD LED lighting Strip
Lighting Ever 72 Watt AC Power Adaptor
The first LED strip I bought two years ago was a Lighting Ever strip. It's a bit more money than the others, but it was shipped quicker, and has connectors for their own AC adaptor.

 

Thanks for reading!

See Also:


LED Lighting Experiment


LED strip lighting revisited


LED lighting update