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LED Deck Lighting- in color!

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We put up these color changing LED lights on this deck just in time for a big party thrown every year!  They added a nice atmosphere to the party and everyone loved them. 

This whole project only took about 1 1/2 days to complete.  The first day to install the wiring and flexible LED lights, and the second to connect the controllers and go over the strips with clear silicon for extra protection.  If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask!  Enjoy :-)





 
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Step 1: Draw Schematics

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Don't be intimidated by the planning needed to do this project!  I promise you, it will be well worth the effort!  Each deck is slightly different, so there is a lot to consider before you get to work:
 
Draw a rough sketch of your deck including measurements.  Decide where you want to put the lighting, making particular note of:
~electrical source (where you can get the power from)- this doesn't have to be outside- you can have the LED controllers/power supply in an attic or basement out of the weather and hidden and just run the low voltage wires out to the strips.
~Where you can run the low voltage wire so that it is not noticeable (for example under an overhang/lip of the deck).
~Where and how you want to control the lights from (wall switch, remote, DMX, or timer).
~ How bright you think you want the strips (this can help size the wire, controllers and power supplies). 

After making the rough sketch, you must:
1. Decide how many feet of flexible LED strip you need.  Also, decide which sections you want connected together and which ones you want to be able to control separately (for color or brightness).
2. The best way to run the wiring.  In most cases you should plan on running a maximum of 2 rolls end-to-end per 22-4 supply wire- if you stick to this recommendation, you will be able to have long runs (up to 50') of the wire without having to worry about voltage drop.

Some final things to consider:
~ The more home runs (low voltage wire from the strips back to the controller), the better- as this will provide less voltage drop (power loss) and more options as far as control (if you ever want to add or change anything).
~ If you have a large area you can have several home run locations and either run a larger wire back to the controller or put an amplifier and power supply there to boost the power and signal.
~ If you are looking to run the strips at reduced brightness (dim level- an example would be for under stair treads or outlining your house, you can run several (4-6) rolls together on one controller and power supply.  However, you must then keep the lights at this dim level (for example 35% of brightness) or your power supply will be overloaded and could blink or stop working.
~ Group the wires from each independent section together (each section which you would like to have individual control of), so that they can be connected to separate controllers/amps.
~ For large installations, make note of how many feet of flex strip are on each wire so you can correctly size the amplifier needed. 
would it not be a better connection to use heat shrink before the silicone?
Hi, how well has this held up? My Dad is skeptical about the silicon to adhere the strips to the wood, are they still stuck to this date?
botguy242 years ago
Its real life TRON!!!! SO cool!
Hmmm... it's great job. Very nice for night party :)
kelseymh4 years ago
This is a beautifully constructed project, and an outstanding Instructable.  Thank you very much!

And as an aside for others reading these comments --- this is how a commercial member of I'bles can contribute!  They've got links to their own products for sourcing the raw materials, but nowhere did they stick in a shill, like, "We can do this for you for the incredibly low price of ...."  Most excellent.
usLEDsupply (author)  kelseymh4 years ago
Thanks for the comment!  We are so glad it came across that way :-)  
We love your deck! We are wanting to do something simular, but don't know much about these lights. We have 184' of railing not including gates and steps. We would like to go all the way around using one controller and one transformer. Can we do this or do we need to buy more? Any suggestions or tips on how to do this?
agreed 

thumbs up!
Im thinking i want to do a similar project on my deck i built last year. i will roughly have 2 runs for the under my railing one about 22' long and the other about 19'. on top of that i would like to have another setup for under the stair treads (2 sets of stairs, 3 strips per set of stairs both are roughly 4 feet wide)

i would like to have longer runs able to be set to one color and the stairs set to another. Could you please point me into the right direction for all the components i will be needing.
usLEDsupply (author)  crazylikeacharger3 years ago
You will need just over 4 16' rolls of RGB strip (we would recommend using at least IP-65 rated strips and ideally IP-68 rated strips, which are completely waterproof) and a 150 watt power supply (which could power all the strips). The easiest way to do two zones is simply to get two different models of RGB controller. For example you can use the 20key RF controller for the railings and the 8key RF controller for under the stairs.  Other components include wire, silicon, etc.  Feel free to ask us any more questions and we will do our best to help!
ichisato3 years ago
Great final product and GREAT instructable. Thanks! Beautiful deck btw. :)
sutek4 years ago
Excellent 'ible'. I have been playing around with using led's and strips at my home and particularly in the pool. To clarify i tried a strip lights around the inside top of the pool under the lip. This gave a nice warm glow but were unsuitable for the wet. I am wondering if these strips would be suitable as even though they wouldn't be under water permanently, they will be submersed at times.
usLEDsupply (author)  sutek4 years ago
Thanks :-)  There are different waterproof ratings for flexible LED strips...some are not waterproof at all, some are water resistant (like the ones we used for this deck), and some are completely waterproof (and these are the type you would want to use around the pool).  We'd recommend these 12V Waterproof RGB Flexible LED strips ...or any other 'waterproof' LED strip, as long as the waterproof rating is IP-68.  This rating means that they can be completely submerged in water.  When connecting more than one strip you can also easily make the connections waterproof by using 3M Scotchlok Waterproof Butt Connectors. 
gnubalance4 years ago
 Looking at that video, it would appear that the whole deck is bathed in that beautiful LED light by simply installing these strips under the railings and on the gazebo.  Do you also have LED floods or any such add-ons to achieve the bathed lighting effect?  It certainly seems to cover a large area.
usLEDsupply (author)  gnubalance4 years ago
no there are no floods lights or other lights just the strips under the railing.
they are wide angle 120 deg leds so they do make a nice even glow over the whole deck:-)
mythros4 years ago
nice, but would be cooler if it was made to change color with music.
usLEDsupply (author)  mythros4 years ago
A simple way to do that would be to use an audio controller w/ a built in microphone (which is only about $35) or if you want to program a full light show which goes to the music you could use a DMX decoder.

I'm new to this, but when I first saw a led light show that goes with the music on one e-mail, I started dreaming about it, does the LEd strips already has different colors on it? where can I purchase it? thanks...

usLEDsupply (author)  rossleung4 years ago
You can buy LED strips in single color (i.e. they don't change- red, blue, green, white) or in RGB (This means that they are color changing.  RGB stands for red-green-blue- each LED chip is actually 3 LEDs in 1, and by changing the intensity of each of these individual colors, you can make all the colors of the rainbow).  You would need these: RGB Flexible LED strip and RGB RF remote controller with audio (if you want to control the lights to go to the music).  They are very easy to install, if you have any questions we would be glad to help. :-)
rmd.64 years ago
Hello, congratulation this is a realy howsome job.
I would like to do a deck lighting, but only with white light.
Can you give me some tips on the kind of material I should use? (I'm new on this kind of things)

Thank you
usLEDsupply (author)  rmd.64 years ago
Thanks~~if you do not want to use color changing LED lights, you could use the the same concept using warm white LED strips.  The installation process would be the same, except that you would not need RGB controllers.  However, you could put them on a dimmer (so that you could adjust the lights to any brightness).
Thank you for the quick answer, very kind of you
coppeis4 years ago
must make now
JermsG4 years ago
Nice instructable.

I have a couple of points about the sentence:
"...even being covered in snow in northern climates where under the railings are raillery going to get wet"
 - I think by "raillery" you mean "rarely"?
 - You can always tell a northern-hemisphere author, when they think that it snows more in the north than in the south. Depends how far south you go, dude!
smokie19694 years ago
WOW! this is awesome! I want to build a deck when my new house is completed later this year....now I have even more ideas to add to it.

What would you suggest if integrating this during the decks construction to make it easier? maybe using a router to rebate all the lights? or put them un der the deck somewhere as well?

Also how much did this cost you?
Thanks again!
usLEDsupply (author)  smokie19694 years ago
The strips are thin enough that you don't need to router the boards (unless you want to).  You can router a notch in the top of the post before you put the railings on so that you could feed the strips through and not have to make connections at each post.  The led strip is about $5/linear foot.  It would also be easier to run the control cable/wire before you build the deck+ you can plan out where you need it to go. 
sumatra4 years ago
What is the music on the video?  I like it!

thanks.

I love the project and really enjoyed reading the guide.  Keep up the good work =).
simsavant4 years ago
bet no one said this yet ...nice property ...self landscaping?
 
Toulouse4 years ago
 those LED christmas lights are extremely economical right after christmas (i got them for like $3.00 a strand) and they are of pretty good quality, could be used in a project like this i imagine. they lit my dorm room for a while until the fire marshal said otherwise :(
Traditionally, xmas lights are a horrible fire hazard.  Manufactured by the cheapest method in the worst factories.  Not so true anymore, and the marshal likely didn't realise they were LED's as opposed the the usual incandescent fire hazards.
How did you have them wired?  The LEDs themselves are unlikely to be a hazard.  The daisy chain of multi-outlet extension cords, each one with three or four things plugged into it, and all plugged into a big block multi-outlet -- that's the fire hazard.
fire marshal would prolly claim water was a fire hazzard too -_-

LEDs are cold -_-
oortcloud4 years ago
All that soldering and then you use crimp connectors... tsk tsk ;)
Totally understand, though.
jeff-o4 years ago
Wow, that's a fantastic looking backyard!  I only wish I lived in a more temperate climate - if I tried something like this it would be destroyed by winter every year.  :(
xboxteen014 years ago
Outstanding project and results.
XOIIO4 years ago
That is amazing! Really cool!
depotdevoid4 years ago
Love the idea, and I love the deck!  One day I'd like to have an outdoor space as beautiful as yours to wire up all full of LEDs!