This is an article describing the process I used to build a couple of wooden LED bunk lights for my friend's houseboat. I designed these myself. I also built and installed them without assistance, so it's an easy project. You will also see photos and video of a black-stained, RGB LED Bunk Light I built for my son's bunk bed at home. This is truly a versatile project.
The "Small LED Bunk Light" is designed to run off of a 12V battery, but you may use any 12V DC source that can handle the power requirement. The battery I use is a standard marine deep cycle 12V battery that I have set aside strictly for the purpose of running this light. It is recharged daily by a small solar charger.
Depending on the type of LED strips you use, this unit will consume only 2 to <7 Watts of power. This light also produces significantly more lumens per Watt than the previous bulbs and fixtures that were installed. Additionally, the "run-time" from the battery is longer and the lighting is visually more pleasing. This has been my experience, yours will vary based on your build & parts list.

—►WHY ARE THESE LIGHTS SO AWESOME? I spent only $5 building each one!

  • These lights are very tough, maintenance-free, inexpensive,and can be made from scrap material - mostly.
  • The build requires a minimum of tools and parts to complete.
  • You get to choose which color LED's you want to use.
  • You can also vary the design of the fixture.
  • You get to make it any size you want and paint it any color you like.
  • Best of all, you can make this with a family member or friend.

—► If you like what I've made and it inspires you then please vote for me and share your project photos!

♦SEE MORE! If you would like to see the larger version of this project which is used as a houseboat cabin light, click HERE.


You should be able to build one of these with scrap or inexpensive wood and tools you may already have on-hand. Of course, if you choose to use premium hardwoods then you can expect that the results will be absolutely fantastic. If you don't have a table saw then just use a regular handsaw. As long as the blade makes a cut wide enough to hold your plastic lens you will be fine. My primary investments on this project were the switch and the LED strip lights (just over $4.49).


Anywhere you have a 12V DC battery or 12V DC Power. This will work great in car trunks, bid-rig truck bunks, boats, R.V.'s, storage areas, work areas, laundry rooms or as general purpose bunk bed lighting. They are great since they are tough and need no maintenance. This lighting unit design gives you the opportunity to redesign it to fit your tastes, needs and budget.
With an A/C adapter as power, I have some of these working well on my son’s bunk bed at home. Two long versions of these lights (with no installed power switch) are also being used as landscape lighting along the fence in my yard where I park my car at night. Their power source is a simple ATX Power Supply located indoors. You can also scavenge sufficiently decent power supplies from set-top entertainment equipment, corporate networking equipment, mini-pc's..etc.

As I mention in a comment below, 120v to 12v adapters will work nicely but they need to be rated high enough to cover the power requirements of your light. Be sure to review the datasheet provided by the LED manufacturer for power requirements per meter.


I designed these for a friend of mine to help him update his house boat with a higher quality bunk bed reading light. It features a high-quality switch as well as 85,000-hour warm white SMD5050 LED strips to nearly eliminate maintenance. Many of the 5W and 10W bayonet light bulbs used in marine lighting (deck lights, bunk bed lights, bathrooms and kitchens..etc.) are cheap --which is good-- but they will drain a battery in just a couple of hours and they also have to be replaced regularly.

...Let’s begin!

Step 1: THE PARTS LIST (What You Will Most Likely Need)

My light fixture on the outside dimensions measured ~ 6" x 16". You can build this to any size, but if you do, keep in mind that your measurements will differ from what is listed below.

  • A board for the back of the fixture (about 16" long, 6" wide, 1/2" or 1" thick) - flooring will do
  • 4 smaller pieces of 1" x 2" for sidewalls (two pieces: 16"L x 1"W x 2"H; two pieces: 6"L x 1"W x 2"H)  - diagram coming soon to simplify explanation
  • 1 Push-Button ON/OFF Switch from RadioShackTM (SPST Push On-Push Off Switch; Model:275-011 | Catalog #: 275-011)
  • Hook-up Wire
  • ~2’ length of Warm White LED Strip Lights (300 LED count, 5050 SMD chips, 12-Volt, NON-Waterproof) --- a 16' roll is $16 on ebay 
  • Plexiglass, acrylic sheeting or a fluorescent lighting lens (scavenged or from home improvement store)
  • Drill& wood cutting bits & screw driving bit
  • 10 screws (8 screws for fixture assembly; 2 for mounting)
  • Stain or paint
  • Wood glue liquid nails, or silicone (optional)
  • Krylon Clear Coat or polyurethane finish (optional, but really nice)
  • Metal ruler or straight-edge
  • Permanent marker
  • Soldering Iron & Solder (very little needed)
Very well done. Gave me several ideas on my next project. <br> Thanks for posting it! <br> Ken
Thank you Ken! I'm glad this article has been helpful. We had so much fun with this one. I hope your project goes well.
Very nice I like the idea and will be using it in my basement since I have a 120 -&gt; 12vdc that I can mount inside the light fixture.
Thanks for taking the time to comment!&nbsp;&nbsp;<br> <br> I've also used the 120v to 12V power supplies from computers, corporate routers&nbsp;and other electronic devices with great success. Just a hint: If you build this and place it on the ceiling,&nbsp;you may want to&nbsp;use&nbsp;a PWM LED dimmer that comes with a remote control - those make it so much easier. The dimmer&nbsp;can also be used manually w/o the remote.<br> <br> One such example is available on Amazon &amp; ebay&nbsp;for under $12: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/LEDWholesalers-LED-Lighting-Wireless-3317-DM/dp/B004T9T1XA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373331446&sr=8-1&keywords=remote+control+pwm+led+dimmer" rel="nofollow">I've used this one before</a>
Could you please also attach the wiring diagram (if any) to the solar panel unit?

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Bio: I'm a Nerd and a garage inventor. My dad used to say, "There he goes...off to 'The Lair' to invent something. Try not ... More »
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