LED strip lighting has become increasingly popular for do-it-yourself home projects. With LED technology advancing and prices coming down, it's now affordable and easy to use LED strips to add unique, customizable lighting to any space. LED strips come in self-adhesive rolls that can be cut to size and bend to fit any area. They require minimal expertise to install. LEDs use a fraction of the energy of traditional bulbs and last years longer. Homeowners love using LED strips to highlight architectural features, illuminate display areas, add dramatic accents, and more. With a wide selection of LED strip types and lighting effects available, the possibilities for DIY projects are endless. This guide will walk through everything needed to successfully plan and complete creative LED strip lighting projects that will personalize your home.
Choosing LED Strips
When selecting LED strips for your DIY project, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind:
Brightness - LED strip lighting comes in a range of brightness levels, from super bright strips designed to illuminate a room, to softer accent strips for display cases and cabinets. Consider the brightness needed for your particular project.
Color - LED strips are available in single colors as well as multicolor options that can be set to any hue. Consider if you want a strip with warm white, cool white, or colored lighting. Multicolor strips offer the most flexibility.
Lighting Effects - Some LED strips have dynamic effects like flashing, fading, and "chasing", which can create a fun party atmosphere. Determine if you want strips with lighting effects or steady, constant lighting.
Length - Measure the area you want to illuminate and purchase an LED strip that is long enough for your project. It's convenient to buy LED strips that can be daisy-chained together.
Voltage - 12V and 24V LED strips require a separate power supply, while 5V strips can plug directly into a USB port for power. Consider the power needs for your installation.
Adhesive - Many LED strip lights have an adhesive backing so they can stick right to surfaces, but some may require separate mounting clips. Avoid lower quality strips with poor adhesive.
Taking these factors into account will ensure you select the ideal LED strip lights for your unique DIY project.
When working with electrical projects, safety should always be your top priority. Here are some key safety tips to keep in mind when installing LED strips:
LED strips run on low voltage, but you still need to take proper electrical precautions. Make sure to turn off the power at the circuit breaker before starting any installation or wiring work. Only work on one wiring project at a time to avoid confusion. Double check that all wiring connections are correct and that no bare wire is exposed. Consider wearing insulating rubber gloves for extra protection.
Although LEDs do not generate much heat, incorrect wiring can still lead to electrical shorts or sparks which can create a fire hazard. Do not overload extension cords or power strips. Follow the LED strip wattage recommendations and do not exceed the rated wattage. Monitor your LED strips in the first few days to ensure no overheating occurs.
Install LED strips securely using the correct mounting hardware for the surface. This helps ensure the connections remain intact. Do not install LEDs near flammable material or in areas that can collect moisture or condensation. Mount LED strips at least 1 inch away from surfaces to allow air circulation. Following the manufacturer's installation guidelines is highly recommended.
To complete LED strip lighting projects, you'll need more than just the LED strip lights. Here are some of the basic supplies you'll want to have on hand:
LED strip lights - Choose weatherproof, outdoor-rated LED strips for outdoor projects. Opt for high density LEDs for the brightest illumination.
Power supply - You'll need a 12V or 24V DC power supply to power the LED strips. Make sure it provides enough wattage for the length of strips you're using.
LED strip light connectors - These allow you to connect multiple LED strip sections together. Get connectors with weatherproof silicone seals for outdoor use.
LED strip light controllers - Controllers allow you to change the color, patterns, and brightness of addressable RGB LED strips.
Adhesives - LED strip lights come with an adhesive backing, but for more permanent installation, liquid adhesives provide a stronger bond. Outdoor-rated silicone works best.
Diffusers - Plastic lens diffusers soften and spread the light from LED strips for more even, uniform lighting.
Aluminum channels - For a clean, streamlined look, install LED strips into aluminum channels. Look for channels with reflective interiors.
Wiring and extensions - For connecting the power supply and LED controller. Get UL-listed, outdoor-rated wiring for outdoor installations.
Mounting hardware - Screws, brackets, and mounts to install the LED strips, power supply, and controller.
With these supplies in hand, you'll be ready to tackle any LED strip lighting project!
Backlighting a Bookcase
Backlighting a bookcase with LED strips creates a fun accent in any room. The colorful glow from behind the books adds ambiance and dimension. Here are the steps to add this simple lighting effect:
Select an LED strip that matches your desired lighting color. Cool white is bright and clean, while warm white has a cozy glow. You can also choose a strip with color-changing RGB lights.
Measure the interior height and width of the bookcase you want to install the lights in. Cut the LED strip to the appropriate length using scissors.
Clean the back of the bookcase with a dust cloth. Peel off the adhesive backing of the LED strip and press it onto the back of the inside of the bookcase.
If your bookcase has multiple shelves, you can place strips on the back of each or alternate shelves for a staggered effect.
Connect the LED strip to a 12V DC power supply and turn it on to test. Adjust the strip placement if needed before the adhesive fully sticks.
Hide the power supply and any excess wiring neatly behind or under the bookcase.
Add your books back and enjoy your newly illuminated bookcase! The lights will shine between and behind the books for a soft, colorful glow.
Customizing a bookcase with backlighting is an easy way to add a fun highlight to any room's decor. Let your creativity shine by choosing LED strips in your favorite colors.
Under Cabinet Lighting
LED strips are perfect for adding under cabinet lighting to your kitchen or bathroom. Their slim profile makes them easy to tuck and hide up underneath cabinets, and the soft glow illuminates workspaces beautifully. Plus, under cabinet lighting can help create an entirely new look and feel for your rooms.
To install under cabinet lighting:
- Measure the length of the underside of the cabinets you wish to light and cut your LED strip to fit. Allow extra length if you need to go around corners or span multiple sections.
- Peel off the adhesive backing and press the strip in place along the underside of cabinets. The strip can be centered or aligned to one side.
- Connect the LED strip to the included power supply and plug it in to test.
- You can stop there for a simple install or continue on to hide wires and add finishing touches. Use cable clips or tucks to neatly run power cables along edges and corners back to an outlet.
- Add optional diffuser material or lenses over the strip to soften and spread the light if desired.
Under cabinet lighting can make a huge difference in a small space like the kitchen or bathroom. It provides focused task lighting for important areas like countertops and sinks while improving the overall ambiance. Get creative with LED strip placement and enjoy a brilliant upgrade.
Accent Wall Lighting
Adding accent lighting to a wall is an easy way to create a focal point and illuminate artwork or decor. LED strips allow you to highlight specific areas or edges and add dramatic effects. Here are some creative ideas for lighting up accent walls in your home:
Backlight wall art or mirrors: Place LED strips along the top and sides of picture frames, mirrors, or wall shelves to make them pop. Use warm white or colored lights to complement the colors in the artwork. Make sure the lights don't shine directly in people's eyes.
Install under crown molding: For a refined look, install LED strips under crown moldings or decorative wall trim. Point the light up to create ambient lighting and highlight architectural details.
Highlight a textured wall: Bricks, shiplap, or other textured walls look amazing washed in LED lights. Position the strips to graze the surface and illuminate the textures and dimensions.
Backlight wall panels: For a modern accent wall, backlight onyx, metal, or other translucent wall panels with LED strips. Use multiple colors to create glowing rainbow effects.
Outline wall cutouts or shelves: Line the inside edges of circular or geometric wall cutouts for a cool floating halo effect. Or illuminate the undersides of wall-mounted shelves or cubbies.
Use LED controller apps to change up the colors or effects. And install the strips securely using adhesive backing or clips. With the right lighting, your accent wall can really shine!
Lighting Behind Furniture
Illuminating the space behind beds, desks, cabinets and other furniture is an easy way to add a fun pop of color and interest to any room. LED lighting looks great behind beds and headboards, creating a relaxing glow and accent wall effect. For desks and workspaces, lighting can reduce eye strain while studying or working on projects.
Start by deciding on the furniture you want to install the LEDs behind. Measure the length you'll need and cut the strip to size. For transparent adhesives, stick the strip to the back of the furniture. For non-transparent backing, adhere the lights to the wall about 1 inch behind the furniture. This creates a silhouette effect.
To hide wires, run them under furniture or along trim. Connect the LED strip to a low-voltage power supply and use a remote to control brightness and colors. Let your creativity shine by syncing the lights to music or setting timers for automatic on/off. Soothing solid colors or slow color changes work well for bedrooms, while lively flashing colors can energize a workspace.
With the right LED strip and a little inventiveness, it’s easy to add personalized, playful lighting effects behind ordinary furniture!
Low-Voltage Outdoor Lighting
Outdoor spaces like patios, gardens and walkways can be dramatically transformed with LED strip lighting. Waterproof LED strips are ideal for outdoor use since they can withstand the weather elements. Here are some tips for using LED strips outdoors:
Look for LED strips rated IP65 or higher. This indicates a waterproof and weatherproof strip that won't short out when exposed to rain and moisture. Outdoor strips usually have a silicone coating or sleeve to protect them.
For patios and pergolas, you can attach LED strips under railings and edges to add a pop of light overhead. This creates a nice ambiance for evening gatherings. Set the lights to slowly transition between colors for a cool effect.
Garden pathways look magical when bordered with LED strips on low voltage. Bury the wiring and attach the strips to steps, pavers or edging stones. Use warm white or color-changing strips to illuminate the path in the evening.
Facade lighting instantly makes any home look more impressive. You can outline architectural features like archways, columns and windows with LED strips. For the best results, hire an electrician to safely install the low voltage wiring.
Swimming pools glow when underwater LED lights are installed. This lighting adds safety and flair. Ask a pool professional to handle this, as improper wiring can lead to electrocution.
With waterproof, outdoor-rated LED strip lights, you can easily add charm and ambiance to your outdoor living spaces. Just take care when wiring and installing them.Conclusion
With energy-efficient and customizable LED strip lights, you can add a fun pop of color and illumination to any space. By following the simple DIY projects outlined here on backlighting furniture, under cabinets, along walls, and in outdoor areas, you can transform the look and feel of a room or outdoor space. The lighting possibilities are endless! LEDs allow you to easily change colors for different moods and occasions.
Be sure to take proper safety precautions when wiring and installing LED strips. With some creativity, the right supplies, and by following instructions, you’ll enjoy a well-lit space with your own personal flare. For more LED project inspiration, check out online DIY sources. Additional places to purchase quality LED strip lighting kits and accessories include hardware stores, home improvement centers, electronic stores, and online retailers.