Picture of LED Indirect Lighting
My kitchen used to have soffits above the cabinets (drywalled boxes that extended from the cabinets to the ceilings). This would have been fine had they not been constructed to be open to the attic, turning them into reverse radiators that sucked all of the heat out of the kitchen in the winter. I'd had enough and they were gone. Now after drywalling over the exposed insulation in the walls and ceiling I decided that it was too shadowy above the cabinets.

That's where 5050 LED strip lights came to the rescue.

Step 1: SMD LED strips

Picture of SMD LED strips
SMD stands for "surface mounted device" (took a while for me to find that out). They come in various sizes, lengths, prices, and color. They are 12v. The particular ones I got are 5050 warm white. I bought two 5 meter (16.5 feet) reels. 5050s are about the brightest strip lights you can get. I actually could have gotten away with using the 3528 strips because these 5050s are just a tad too bright.

As you can see in the pictures the LEDs come with a self adhesive backing. Most do.

I choose the non-waterproof variety because I installed these on top of my kitchen cabinets. Underneath I would have used waterproof. Waterproof can be used anywhere, inside or out, and would make great walkway lighting or accent lighting on decks or houses. Being 12v you can also make some crazy light effects for cars.

If you want multiple colors you can purchase the RGB strips. They will have special power supplies and most have remotes. these can be set to a wide variety of colors and there are even programs in the controllers that will make them fade from color to color and flash and do all sorts of things to give you headaches or trigger seizures.
byomes1 year ago

Great write up! I was wondering how would maintenance be if an led goes out somewhere in the middle? Would you cut out and replace by soldering both sides to the existing strip?

tennysol1 year ago

Now all you need is some crown molding around the cabinet tops to add a decorative touch.

dlewisa (author)  tennysol1 year ago

I did that not long after doing the lights. I just had to find the hickory molding and then figure out the color matching. You can see it in this instructable about something else.


LP22 years ago
Nice work !, Thanks.
Wish I had seen this "Before I store bought mine"
dlewisa (author)  LP22 years ago
Thanks! There's always next time.
Djandco3 years ago
I played with the RGB but it looked so tacky :-(
Also, as I didn't have any (overly) high moisture areas I used the non waterproof ones.

I have to say that you get a much more even spread of light than you do with Tubes and a brighter light that I got when I tried it with EL tape.
2011-10-11 00.39.38.jpg2011-10-29 13.17.24.jpg2011-10-29 13.17.33.jpg
dlewisa (author)  Djandco3 years ago
yeah, the RBGs would be good if you wanted to turn a room into a shag-shack. Maybe have the lights and a CD of Barry White turn on with the same switch.

I've always wanted a toilet where the bowl lights up on the inside for those late night trips to the bathroom. Maybe have a photo sensor and motion sensor so that all you have to do is walk in the room and assume your stance. No more squinting at bright lights and swearing late at night.

Ooo, use UV LEDs and maybe it could be a sort of self sterilizing toilet.
Did you know there is an Ible for a lighted toilet? I don't know who the writer is from that Ible, sorry.
dlewisa (author)  ThamarBerber2 years ago
very nice!
canucksgirl3 years ago
Nice idea. Thanks for sharing :)
Electorials3 years ago
Awesome =D 5 stars ^^
dimtick3 years ago
i did this a while ago by simply laying strands of christmas lights on top of the cabinets. the light wasn't even and kind of splotchy. i love your simple solution. the light is amazingly bright for such a small ribbon and very effective.
dlewisa (author)  dimtick3 years ago
I was worried that these wouldn't be bright enough, but that wasn't the case at all. I thought about the christmas lights too, but I've been scared by too many years of warnings about them causing fires. These strips definitely have a good even distribution and light spread. 120 degree light angle I believe they say.
dimtick dlewisa3 years ago
there wasn't any problem with heat with the christmas lights. they got hot but never anywhere near what it would take to harm the cabinets. I laid them on aluminum foil as a precaution and to act as a reflector. The problem with the christmas lights is that the light was very uneven. there would be bright and dark areas on the wall. even when your really careful to evenly space the lights, the bulbs themselves aren't consistent. that's fine on a christmas tree but not when you want a nice even glow.

now how did you hide your power cord? how is it switched?
dlewisa (author)  dimtick3 years ago
The power that comes out of the wall and is screwed into the power supply comes from a switch. Originally that switch controlled the light over the sink, but we always left that light on. I ran another wire to power the light over the sink and used the switched wire for the LEDs. The lamp wire running from the power supply is ran against the wall on top of the cabinets, tacked down here and there to keep it neat. You'll notice that the cabinets are separated from one side of the room to the other and here I ran the lamp wire into the wall, up into the attic, then back down on the other side of the room to feed the LEDs on there.
Djandco3 years ago
I did this in my kitchen a while back. Top idea and I wondered why more people don't try it.
Personal preference, I went for the cool white as I think the warm white looks a bit washed.
dlewisa (author)  Djandco3 years ago
I considered the RGB ones for a while with all of there crazy colors and fading and all that. Eventually I decided that it's just my kitchen, not a disco. When I get around to making a new bar though . . . I can imagine a strip below and behind the bottles. Glowing bourbon. Swell.
canida dlewisa3 years ago
Clearly your kitchen should be a disco.

Nice job! It looks great.
dlewisa (author)  canida3 years ago
Get that disco ball spinning extra fast! I feel the need to boogie.
yokozuna3 years ago
Very nicely done, 5 stars!