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Hello all you happy people. Welcome to my first instructable.

This project came about as I recently rebuilt my garage and found myself in need of complete lighting throughout.

I had two main objectives: I wanted bright/even coverage and I wanted to do it as inexpensively as possible.

For a number of reasons I wanted to use all LED lighting for my project but the commercial products were cost prohibitive. At the time of this writing, 4 foot shop lights are going for $40 and higher. I did some research and before long came across inexpensive lighting strips from China. The strips are sold in 5m lengths (16.5 ft) and can be found on ebay for $5-7 each. But how to use them?

After a lot of thought, I came up with the idea of putting them directly onto my trusses. This would give me even lighting throughout and a clean modern look.

I found that one LED strip wasn't bright enough, so I added a second for more light. This is probably enough for general lighting but I wanted MORE POWER and added a third. Why not at this price, right? To give you an idea of the coverage, my garage is 24'x40'. I'm putting lights on 5 trusses and they are 8'6" off the ground.

The other piece of the puzzle is powering the lights. The LED strips run on +12vdc and require an external power source. You can easily buy 12v power supplies but I'm trying to go cheap, right? So I used old discarded PC power supplies. Cost? Free!

You won't need to know electronics for this project but you will need some basic soldering skills.

Let's begin!

Step 1: Prep the Trusses

Although the light strips come with adhesive, I found that it wasn't strong enough to support the weight of the lights when mounted facing down. Therefore I needed a better solution. Through trial and error I ended up with Scotch outdoor tape. This stuff is super strong and holds in extreme temperatures. It is 1" wide and works perfectly for attaching three LED strips to a truss.

Grab a ladder and roll the tape along the bottom of the truss. Only roll out as much as you can reach so that the roll doesn't fall to the ground and get dirty. Place the tape directly on the center of the truss.

I used a small roller to securely press the tape onto the truss. I think I bought this roller years ago for sealing the edges of wallpaper. A rolling pin would probably work as well or even better.

Step 2: Add the Lights

A note before we begin. I purchased LED lighting from two different sources on ebay. One had power connectors on one end, while the other had power connectors on both ends. Either one will work fine. Roll your LED strips so that the power connectors all line up in the same spot. This will simplify your life when it comes time to connect the power. In other words, if you have the single ended type, don't put one down one way, then another the opposite way.

Peel off some of the protective backing on both the tape and the LEDs. I found it worked best for me to run the center LED strip first then butt the other two along side of it. Do this step anyway you choose. One strip at a time if you like. To save myself going up and down the ladder a hundred times I did it like this:

Ran tape down the entire length, using the roller as I went.

Starting at one end I pulled an arms length of tape backing, Then pulled the backing tape off an arms length of the first LED strip and pressed it onto the center of the tape. I followed that by doing the same for the remaining two tapes.

You will now need to firmly press the LED tape onto the outdoor tape to ensure a good bond. Do not use a roller for this step as it may damage the strips. I tried using the palms of my hands with fairly good success, but the best solution was using pressure from both thumbs.

I repeated this step until I had covered the entire length of the truss.

It's very unlikely that the length of LED strips you bought will fit the truss perfectly. So what do you do? One of the many cool things about these LED strips is that you can easily cut them to length without damaging them. Each strip has little copper pads every few inches where it's safe to cut (and join) strips. Take care to center your cut.

Step 3: Run the Power Line

Now that the strips are up and looking good, you're probably excited to light them up. Time to run the power lines.

For this step I used 18 ga speaker wire. It was perfect for the job but you could use whatever you like. The wire just has to be able to handle the combined current load of the lights you are sending through it. Not a big concern unless you are running a lot of lights.

This is where you test your soldering skills.

Strip a little insulation off all the leads, then twist them together red to red and black to black. Simple eh? Solder the leads together. I'd strongly suggest you invest in a few pieces of shrink tubing for this project. Makes things tidy.

You could avoid soldering by using wire nuts or crimp-on solderless connectors. I prefer solder for the solid connection.

I used low voltage staples for my runs spaced about 3 ft apart.

Note: If you are making a long run that requires multiple LED strips to cover the distance, do NOT daisy chain or power one from another. If you do, the more LEDs you add the dimmer the lights will become. Take your time and wire each strip individually. In other words, run the power in parallel, not in series. By wiring in parallel, each LED will have full brightness. On the first truss I made individual power runs for each of my 9 LED strips. This was way too much work. After that I wised up and ran one power 'bus' the length of the truss and tapped off the bus to each LED strip. I used the same 18 gauge speaker wire for this. Much less wiring, much less ladder time, much neater installation. Live and learn eh?

Step 4: How Many LED Strips Can I Run Off of a Power Supply?

Eventually you will find yourself asking this question. Here is how I determined how many strips per power supply.

On the side of most PC power supplies there will be a chart that tells you the current load per voltage rail. On my power supply photo you'll want to look at the intersection of the YELLOW +12V Column and the 300W Output row. It reads 14A. In simpler terms, this says that when using a 300 watt power supply the 12volt yellow wires can output up to 14 amps of current.

Okay, now that we know how much current we have to work with, the next question is: How much current does each LED strip require? A search of the LED specs shows that each 5M strip draws 30 watts of power. Interesting, but still doesn't answer our question. How many 30 watt LED strips can I run off a 14amp power supply?

To answer that question I searched online for a power calculator. I entered the value of 12 for the voltage we're using, and the value of 30 for the Power of each LED strip, hit calculate and it tells me that each LED Strip will require 2.5 amps of current.

So to answer the question of how many lights can I run off a power supply, the answer is..... it depends.

In our example the power supply we used can output 14 amps. Divide 14 by 2.5 and you get 5.6. Or in other words, you should easily be able to run 5 strips off this power supply.

I also said the answer depends. It depends because power supplies will vary in their current ratings. The example I used was just for this one particular power supply. Many dedicated 12vdc power supplies are rated at 30 amps for example. More amps = more LEDs. Look at the label and do the math.

Step 5: Make the Power Connections

It's time to connect your LED strip lighting to the PC power supply. There are a couple of ways you could do this and now is the time to make that decision.

Hardwire: Connect the power leads of the LED strips directly to the PC power supply. This is an okay solution but what happens if you ever need to replace a power supply? You'd have to cut and resolder/crimp a new one in place. There's nothing wrong with this solution. I just choose the next option.

Connectors: Solder a PC power connector on the LED power ends and connect it to the power supply. This way if the power supply dies, you have a quick disconnect. Be up and running again in seconds with minimal hassle

At this point we should talk about the power supply. A PC power supply is not instantly ready to use for our project. We need to make one quick modification for the power supply to turn on when plugged in.

This guy does a pretty good job of converting a PC power supply into a source for your lights. Remember, we're only interested in using the +12 volts.

Once the power supply has been modified and you have your connection on the LED lights, connect the two and plug it in.

Since this was a new lighting installation and my only source of light, I installed switched outlets between my trusses to power the PC power supplies and in turn, the LED strips. Walk in the door, flip the light switch and let there be light!

Step 6: Final Thoughts and Sources

I'm really happy that this gamble paid off. The lighting is bright, even, and fantastic. I believe I spent maybe a tenth of what a commercial application would have cost.

The LEDs are available in all colors but two flavors of white. Cool white and Warm white. Cool is similar to florescent lighting where Warm is closer to incandescent. I went with all Cool white. While it looks terrific, I think it's slightly too blue. If I were to do it over again I would have gone 2 cool, 1 warm.

They also come in a waterproof version. The non-waterproof ones are a bit cheaper and that's what I used.

I ran out of lights during the project and had to buy more from a different source. The second ones were cheaper but had two small dead spots. Get what you pay for? Regardless, dead spots are not a big problem. They can be easily cut out and replaced.

Even though there is plenty of light, I think it still needs more light directly over the workbenches. I like LOTS of light. But your mileage may vary. I'm going to convert my old shop light into LED using this same method.

One source for lights: http://goo.gl/WRkh70 They've only been up for a week but seem to work fine.

Just pick one that has free shipping and a good rating. Expect a week or two shipping from China to the US.

You can get them from any of a hundred vendors on ebay. Do a search on: 5M 300LEDs SMD 3528 5050 5630 3014 RGB Flexible LED Strip Lights

If given the option, choose the 5630 non-waterproof variety. At least that's what I used.

Computer Power Supplies: I work in IT and have access to lots of discarded computers. That's exactly what you want. Ask the IT guy at a nearby school, or business or anywhere that's large enough to have an IT staff. Be friendly, bring candy, most likely they'll have a few laying around that they'll give you.

The other option is to buy a dedicated 12vdc power supply from ebay. Search for: 12v regulated power supply. This one sells for about $20 http://goo.gl/v9aR6S

If you go this route instead of the PC power supply, just connect the red and black wires from your LED lights to the power terminals on the power supply. This would honestly be an easier solution but I had easy access to free power supplies so I saved myself $100+

The tape I bought from Amazon. I looked at a few China knock-offs on ebay but didn't trust the quality. Go with genuine 3M. https://goo.gl/F6ODQw

Because this project uses low voltage DC current, it is both safe and legal for you to do yourself. The most dangerous part of this project is standing on the ladder.

One last thing. This project is fairly labor intensive. Expect a lot of ladder time!

This was a fun and rewarding project. I hope you find this Instructable useful!

In hindsight....

I was about halfway through this project when I realized that it would be perfect running under solar energy.

Why/how? The entire thing runs on 12vdc the same as your car battery. Solar panel kits are getting really cheap and it would be pretty easy to connect to the lights. While this wouldn't work for lighting your house, for occasional garage lighting I think solar would be a perfect solution. Another project for another day.

<p>Say I got a SMD 5630 that needs 35/40w a roll Could I just buy a dc12v 3A Adapter? Splice plug in and that should work? </p>
<p>For longevity sake, when selecting a power supply - always double the capacity of the load demands. To run 40 watt load select a supply that can handle 80 watts. Also for those led strips, they get a little warm and would live longer if they are mounted on an aluminum strip. The strips may last as is for a while but you will notice some dimming on a few led's or just burn out.</p>
<p>35W/12V = lower than 3A</p><p>40W/12W = higher than 3</p><p>With a supply that can supply 3A, the 35W strips are OK, 40W is too much. That would be a quick way to kill the adapter...</p>
So this should be what I need and can hook up 2 strips. Correct? Thank you for your help. Want to see if this will do the job in my Garage.12V 3A Switching Power Supply
ok so I could get this and should work? 12V 3A Switching Power Supply<br>Then can hook up 2 strips. Correct? Thanks for your help
Used in bedroom with an arduino to dim it down to be able to have a little game light
<p>If you are only using a single strip, an option is to buy aluminum channels with covers like these. I bought a set and they're terrific.</p><p>http://www.ebay.com/itm/10m-10pcs-1m-led-aluminium-profile-for-10mm-5050-5630-3528-strip-led-channel-/252827312089?</p>
<p>Assuming a power supply with sufficient capacity, is there any concern about wiring an entire room's perimeter (say 25 meters worth, which should be about a 12.5amp draw @ 6W/m) off of one power supply? i.e. would the end of the strings get proper current, or is there a max run length to take into account?</p>
<p>I'm running about 50 meters off a single power supply. No problems so far.</p>
<p>I would use heavier wire to connect to the power supply. Wire is all current capacity and will burn if loaded too heavily.</p>
Thanks. That's certainly a good suggestion, and one that I would have been taking in either case.<br><br>My main concern is if the LED strips themselves can handle the current. <br><br>I've done projects with WS8212 RGB LED strips, but it's never been with more than 5ish meters, so long runs are a bit foreign to me.
<p>The internal wiring in the strips is thin, so there is significant voltage (and light) loss in the far end of a long strip. I run extra wiring parallel to my strips and connect it to the strip every meter or so.</p>
<p>yeah that is a good method to prevent power loss. In the end all the sections are electrically in parallel but you need the external wiring to overcome the internal resistance of the strip</p>
thanks a lot. these have helped light our new barn. so far I've got three done
<p>That's AWESOME!</p>
<p>Has anyone tried doing this with the RGB strips? Any thoughts on complications doing something like that? I am not sure how I could use one remote for all the strips if I did it. </p>
<p>That is one hell of an idear I have a small 4x3mt shed with all sorts of hobby machinery and I recon this would be the the best lighting ever as it can be placed anywhere you need light with out the worry of getting a boot from it.</p><p>Great thinking 99 PS like you I have access to a sh load of pc power supplies</p>
<p>I found inexpensive LED modules made for signs that are very bright and still low power. They distribute the light very evenly. I bought the JSLED 12v power supplies that are on the same site. You can find them <a href="http://www.brightwaysupply.com/eco3s-lw-ns-v2-samsung-1-w-6-500k-white.html" rel="nofollow">here</a>.</p>
<p>What about using lath which is the same width as the truss, laying out the length you want to put lights on, doubling the lath to straddle the ends, taping the lights to this at counter level and then screwing this to the truss? Would it destroy the strips to put screws through this to the truss. Or maybe a person could even use zip ties every 2-4' to hold the strips up. This would save a lot of overhead work and ladder time. </p>
I was so drawn into your inst that I rushed out and bought all the stuff I needed only to find that all the led strips I got were either 75 or 60 watts which easily doubled the number of power supplies and open breakers in my breaker box not to mention the amount of power required to flip the light switch. my question is whether I'm reading the specs wrong or is everyone here able to find 30 watt 5m led strips?
<p>Hi Ron, it seems this is no problem, you just need fewer strips. In the case of this instructible I think it would have been even easier to use those higher-powered strips (mostly because the wiring is simpler).</p><p>It is a good idea to run a copper wire parallel to the LED strips and connect at least at both ends (maybe also in the centre if you use the entire 5M in one go) to get nice and even lighting.</p><p>The mains voltage side should be no problem to begin with, because if you want light the LED solution is the most efficient and anything else would require even more mains current.</p>
<p>Super n&aacute;vod ! :-)</p>
<p>what does it look like at night ?? now that is the true test...if so, please show us :)</p>
<p>I'd be interested to know if these LED strips from China emit radio frequency interference. I had a cheap LED bulb that completely wiped out reception in the lower shortwave bands and even interfered with some parts of the AM broadcast band. North American, Japanese and European LED products are supposedly FCC-approved (or similarly regulated), so they shouldn't emit RFI.</p>
<p>The LED strips are different construction from your LED bulb. So no worries...:) However, the power supply that you use 'may' generate the EMI. So pick a good quality power supply. </p>
<p>My 2 cents here:</p><p>I built a similar setup in my garage, using old laptop power supplies as the power source. (I modified the supplies to output slightly more than 12V, so I got the right amount of current for my strings. I also added wiring to avoid voltage drops along the length of the strings.) This created some interference on my garage radio, as the LED strips act as a large antenna for the noise coming from the switching power supplies. So I have to add additional filtering, the PC supplies were not designed for this purpose. (And my radio is right next to the lights.)</p><p>Possible solutions for those who get similar problems:</p><p>-Listen only to strong radio stations ;-) (or use WiFi radio). I am currently at this stage when using my lights, the following is on the to-do list for when I have too much time on my hands.</p><p>-Add extra RF filtering to the DC power. RF chokes and RF decoupling capacitors will be the right medicine here. Place the filters as close to the power supply as possible, noise should always be treated as close to the source as possible.</p><p>-Use a better power supply. If you have one of the old fashion, heavy, transformer based power supplies available, you get the noise on the mains power frequency and nothing on the RF bands. The led strings are way to short to act as antenna for mains mains power frequencies, so this will not be any worse than the noise from the DC power itself. Make sure you get true DC, though. Some older &quot;DC&quot; power supplies are rectified AC with poor filtering, so the voltage has a strong AC component. This is OK for many applications, like car battery chargers, but not for LEDs. Too high voltage, even for just a short amount of time, is the one of the best ways to reduce the life of your LEDs. (Heat is the other one, but that it not much of a problem for these LED strings.) And be aware that many of the 12V power supplies used for halogen lights are 12V AC, you need a rectifier, decoupling caps and a voltage regulator to use these for 12V LED strings.</p><p>-If necessary, add RF shielding to the LED strings. Start by shielding the DC cable between the power supply and the LED strings if the cable is not already shielded. (Laptop power supplies are usually shielded already.) The shield should be connected to the shield of the power supply at one point (and one point only) if the power supply has a shield. Connect to 0V (or GND on the DC side) if not. Adding a layer of aluminum tape behind the lights should reduce the radiation from the led strings. The alu-tape should be connected to the cable shield (again, at only one point). This can be done more elaborate by also adding insulating tape over the strings (unless you use strings that are already insulated) and then an additional layer of alu-tape over that, (not covering the LEDs themselves, of course), effectively creating a Faraday cage. Small holes in the shield to let the light out will not decrease the efficiency of the shield significantly at these frequencies. Just make sure you get good metal-to metal contact between the two layers of alu-tape, the glue on most of these tapes is not conductive and can create gaps in the shield.</p>
<p>If you install a power line filter such as Uxcell 20A rated current JR-1220-R power line EMI filter ( Amazon) on the output of your power supply and run a separate ground this should knock out the noise. I used these years ago to stop the 50,000 watt AM radio station I worked at from get into phone lines up to ten miles away </p>
<p>Dear Firesign,</p><p>LED or Light Emitting Diodes do not emit any RF.</p><p>They also do not emit Infra-Red emission.</p><p>It's safe, cool to touch and use low volts for operation.</p>
<p>@firedesign the LED strips have nothing on them but dropping resistors and LEDs, they generate no noise that I can find on any of my radio receivers and CBs. I did have to decommission one of the switchmode power supplies I was using because it DID generate a horrible white noise hiss, but I think when buying these things at opp shops I was bound to get at least one faulty SMPS. </p><p>There are also three-colour, data-controllable strips of some diode similar to WS-2811 LEDs that use digital controllers and/or Arduino to manage, and I imagine they could cause RFI with a badly designed controller circuit. Also, some of the colour-controllable LED light bulbs have rubbishy little controller circuits and they can generate RFI. </p><p>But in my experience simple white LED strips are as silent as the power supply you use to drive them and are ideal for the shack. </p><p>Hope that helps. </p>
<p>I'll just add my $0.02. There is nothing in the LED stripes that could emit RFI (they are just LED's and resistors) - unlike the LED bulb which apart from the LED's themselves incorporates switching power source (including most notably coils running at several tens of kHz).</p>
<p>Thanks for the information. My husband and I are getting ready to do under counter lighting in the kitchen and your article was helpful.</p>
<p>Hi buddy, that's a very detailed instruction. Just a quick one, I wanted to put up 70m long LED stirp for my 6m*6m garage, just the same density as yours. So how it works at night when making solely the LED as the light source? Thanks.</p>
<p>I have 6 * 2 * 55 cm of led strips in a garage. 800mA for a light fixture. 6*0.8 = 4.8A * 12V = 60W. 7meters total. Not too much, but quiet enough. I don't have white ceiling, so some of the light is lost. Led strips are 5630.</p>
<p>That's very helpful Stefan, as in my previous plan 70m of LED strip will make 560W, almost as consuming as my bandsaw, not worthy for the lighting. Cheers.</p>
I wish i had seen this before ordering LED light tubes for my shop. I ended up ordering direct from China to get 8 foot tubes for a reasonable price. I still had to fork over about $23 each. The lights already have dead spots. Thank you for posting your efforts! What a great instruvtable this is!
<p>Brilliant idea with 3M tape. I intend to redo my entire workshop this way. It is brilliant and saves a ton of space too. I don't need graphs to know that no matter how you look at this, it is cheap, and highly efficient compared to any other form of lighting that you are going to install in your garage.</p>
<p>Oh yea...they can get hot but they won't set your trusses on fire. :-)</p>
<p>WARNING! I believe that the output from a PC power-supply is a pulsing DC pulsing at either 120Hz for American 60Hz supplies and 100Hz for European 50Hz supplies.</p><p>Using a pulsing DC supply will cause a strobe effect and cause any device rotating at an harmonic or sub-harmonic of the pulse to appear to be stationary. In a workshop, shed or garage where rotating machines exist This could be VERY DANGEROUS. </p>
<p>TomHoag is true and I would like to add: PWM uses 10ths of kHz and then rectified and filtered. Lathes uses often their own lightbulb.</p>
I stand corrected on PC power supplies I wasn't sure quite how they worked. I'm still in the age of transformers and rectifiers as depicted in the Instructable. <br><br>I don't understand, however, &quot;10ths of kHz&quot; surely a tenth of a kilohertz is 100Hz (Which is what I said). Do you mean tens of KHz?<br><br>I'm not just referring to lathes but also angle grinders, hand drills and routers etc. most of which are not self lit.<br><br>My warning still stands for anyone who is thinking of powering the LEDs from and old 12V Battery Charger.
<p>Sorry, I thought about arduino pwm, which is variable from arduino to arduino in a range 1Hz to maybe above 62000Hz<br>As you see, English is not my native language. I understand that 1/10 is not equal 10. Angle grinder is so loud. I have one in my hand summer-daily.</p>
<p>It is correct that PC power supplies do use a pulsing method (PWM), however the DC output is well filtered, so there is no pulsing. </p>
I stand corrected on PC power supplies I wasn't sure quite how they worked. I'm still in the age of transformers and rectifiers as depicted in the Instructable. <br><br>My warning still stands for anyone who is thinking of powering the LEDs from and old 12V Battery Charger.
Is there any fire hazard here? How hot do those less get against the trusses?
I'm pretty sure that LEDs don't get hot. The only thing that might get hot would be the power supply which usually has a fan.
<p>LEDs - like all forms of lighting - emit heat as well as light. They are just more efficient than other forms of light and dissipate a lower proportion of the electrical energy as heat.</p>
<p>In fact... LEDs have an electric efficiency of about 10%! This means that almost 90% of the electric power you give them is dissipated as heat. This varies a lot with the LED type and color (higher power leds are more efficient), but.. &quot;dissipate a lower proportion of the electrical energy&quot; is wrong ;) Then, since with that 10% they can emit a lot more light than other light sources, they light a lot with low power ;)</p>
<p>I think this image will clear up any questions about LED efficiency, which is the highest. CFL is next and regular light bulbs are the worst.</p>
<p>As the image clearly say, that one is the lighting efficiency (i.e. how much light you get versus the input power), while I was speaking about electric efficiency (i.e. how much power you convert in light versus the input power). Of course LEDs lighting efficiency is the highest among the &quot;consumer&quot; lamps, and I remarked it a lot of times, but they do waste a lot of energy, just like the old ones. Taking the values provided by Steven, a 100W incandescent bulb throws away 95W (and converts the other 5 in about 1500lm, so each &quot;used&quot; watt produces 300 lumens), while an LED throws away 90W (and gets about 10k lm, so about 1000 lumens per each &quot;used&quot; lumen). So the reason why LEDs are more lighting efficient is more related to the fact that they better convert the &quot;used&quot; power into light (because they output a narrower spectrum, thus avoiding the waste in IR and UV ranges) rather than because they dissipate less heat (because they still dissipate 90% of the input power)</p>
<p>Yawn, this is getting so old!!! If you cannot admit that an LED which converts 3 times as much of its input power into light compared to an incandescent lamp is wasting a smaller percentage of its power input as heat then it is pointless to continue. For me, 85% is significantly less than 95% - it is about 10.5% less (to one decimal place). Try taking a 10.5% cut in salary and see how you feel about it!!</p>

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