Introduction: LED Tape - Under Cabinet Lighting - No Soldering!

This Instructable will give you the building blocks to install your under cabinet LED tape without soldering any wires.

Every cabinet is different. Be creative and the results can be amazing.

Please vote.

Please feel free to ask questions.

Disclaimer:

This project is 100% low voltage (12 volts DC). I didn't tap into the 120 volts side of the plug outlets or my electrical system. I simply plugged in my project to the wall receptacle. If you chose to work on the 120 volts side or use other power supplies that are more hard wired please consult an Electrician.

Step 1: All the Pieces You Will Need.

  • LED Tape - 3 meters - (Warm White)
  • Power Supply
  • Low voltage LED Switch
  • Male and female connectors
  • LED tape jumper
  • Low voltage wire

I purchases all parts from: https://montrealimport.com/en/33-led-strip-led-rib...

You can get them from anywhere that is in your area.

Step 2: Put Connectors on to Your Switch

Put a male and female connector on to the switch.

Trim the wires to suit installation.

Ensure that the connector is female to mate with the power supply. Continue to switch male and female connectors along your installation for consistency.

Step 3: Test the LED Strip.

Step 4: Measure the LED Tape and Cut

Measure the LED tape and cut it at the correct location. LED tape can be cut ever three LEDs.

Step 5: Trim Off the Silicone and Connect the Jumper Wire.

Trim off a piece of the silicone from the end of the tape.

DO NOT CUT THE CIRCUIT.

The connector on the jumper is connected by pressure.

Ensure to keep polarity the same throughout the installation.

Test your connection.

I cut the jumper in half to feed the wire through my cabinet. Then used the male and female connectors to connect all the wires together.

You can search YouTube for videos how to use these jumpers search: How to Splice Extension Jumper Cables PCB LED Strip.

Step 6: Now Peal and Stick the Tape.

Once you have your length set and jumpers installed you can now install the tape.

Peal off the backing of the 3M tape and stick to underside of the cabinet. The cleaner your cabinets are the better the tape will stick.

DO NOT touch the sticky tape. It will not adhere if you get it dirty.

More tips on sticking tape at end of this Instructable.

Step 7: Feed the Wires Through Cabinet.

Once you have the tape installed, drill holes to feed the wires through the cabinet. This will allow you to use one power supply and switch.

Connect all the wire using the male and female connectors.

I used hinged plastic wire conduit to hide all the wires inside the cabinets. It has a peal and stick backing and will install nicely inside white cabinets.

Use all these steps to complete your LED under cabinet project. These steps are just building blocks. Every cabinet is different. Be creative and the results can be amazing.

Step 8: Before and After...

The pictures speaks for them selves.

Note: Still finishing my cabinet doors. Once I get my cabinet doors all on you will not be able to see the LEDs over the stove anymore.

Step 9: Now the Bad News...

The tape doesn't stick very well at all. Basically is there to help you get it set up then you will need to use a secondary method to keep the tape in place.

I used two other methods.

  • Clear Silicone
  • Crazy Glue

The silicone I used like a strap and placed a bead over the tape. This worked really well so I put a bead ever 3"-6" or so.

At the ends where you have more weight with plugs and the switch I used quick dry super glue. This stuff also worked really will to hold the tape in place. I put the super glue on the back of the tape.

I have had this installed for three weeks now and not one piece has fallen down.

I hope you enjoyed this Instructable.

Please vote.

Ask me questions, I will do my best to help.

Thanks,

CHADOVISION

Comments

author
dubyaohohdee (author)2016-10-11

I did this a couple months ago. I mounted the LEDs to some small pieces of wood with hot glue and then used a finish nailer to mount them under the cabinets. This made mounting much easier.

Also a really easy enhancement is to add a motion detector like this - http://i.imgur.com/Xb8lNNU.png

author

Clarification: The motion detector would replace the switch. My system is always on so anytime you walk into the kitchen the lights come on without having to use a switch. Also, here is the ebay link from my pic above. "LED DC5-24V 5A Strip Automatic MINI PIR Infrared Motion Sensor Detector Switch" http://www.ebay.com/itm/LED-DC5-24V-5A-Strip-Automatic-MINI-PIR-Infrared-Motion-Sensor-Detector-Switch-/281735553264?hash=item4198bf60f0:g:vQwAAOSwPcVViNYJ

author
dimm0k (author)dubyaohohdee2016-11-04

sweet, I was just thinking of implementing something like this but have no idea what would be needed for something like this... thanks!

author
mattb5 (author)dubyaohohdee2016-10-19

So does it shut itself off after a certain amount of time? Is that time changeable?

author

I could really use something like this in my closet but have no outlet, just a wall switch for a ceiling light... At the risk of sounding like someone who contemplates recreational electrocution, could this be (somewhat easily) hardwired into the switch or is that a job for an electrician?

author

For several years I used a string of battery powered Christmas wreath LEDs with a normally closed magnetic switch. A magnet keeps the switch open. Open the door pulling the magnet away from the switch
causes the switch to close and the lights come on. Lights turn off when the door is
closed. Three AA batteries lasted for over 2 years.

My small magnet sticks to the steel hinge without gluing. Mount the switch to the door frame next to the magnet. Just cut one of the LED strands and wire to each end of the switch. Couldn't be easier. Digi-Key or a local electronics store should have them. This illustration shows one that can be wired open or closed, thus the three terminals.

author

Most wall switches are wired with a single romex cable to interrupt the power at the light itself. In other words, the power is going to the light and is being turned on or off using the switch.

If you're lucky, the power mite be going to your switch 1st and then to the light.

With this configuration, you can put in a combination switch/outlet and that will give you the needed power for your low voltage xfrmr for the lites.

author
FirstSpear (author)bill.glode2016-10-11

bill

Intrigued. In UK and Spain (only two I'm really familiar with, though brief examinations appeared to show same in Greece and Turkey), LIVE always goes to the switch first, then to the light fitting. NEUTRAL is unswitched connection from light fitting back to the supply box NEUTRAL. What do you mean?

I have seen some wiring that didn't follow this sequence, but they were always amateur cockups.

Genuinely interested.

Came across an absolute doozy once in Spain. Confused bloke had wired changeover switch so that to achieve light OFF, both terminals at light fitting were made LIVE (no potential difference = no current flow). Still got drawing somewhere.

author

It's usually the switch first in my experience here in the US, but it can be wired second. These excellent illustrations come from http://www.buildmyowncabin.com/ which I really found useful for DIY residential construction.

wiring-light-switch.gifpower-into-light-wiring.gif
author
TDJ2591 (author)DustandDoghair2016-10-11

I'm not an electrician. I easily added an outlet inside my closet that is fed directly from the closet light wall switch outside the closet. When I flip the switch, both the LEDs and the overhead closet light come on. I was able to mount the outlet directly below the switch so it was just a matter of cutting out for a single outlet box, running Romex to the switch and installing the box and duplex receptacle.

I'm not advising you to do it yourself. As a disclaimer, always hire a qualified electrician for home wiring modifications.

author
DustandDoghair (author)TDJ25912016-10-12

Thanks, TDJ.

author
kneedeep (author)DustandDoghair2016-10-11

@dustanddoghair - I HAVE YOUR SOLUTION!! I had the same problem in closet & pantry so I went on the hunt for a simple "no wiring required" solution. Found some Indoor Light Bulb Socket Motion Sensors... They kick but, just screw it into the socket and screw your bulb in and leave your light switch on. I did have to ditch our not so fancy ceailing sconce, but the wife didn't mind. They have sensitivity and time adjustments too! Here's a link to a similar one on amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001V7R5XG/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_awd_x_C5r.xb3GV8WRK

author
DustandDoghair (author)kneedeep2016-10-12

THAT is a neat product! Thank you!

(I'm actually looking to run these lights in the bottom of the closet, but I have a few places where this product would be perfect for us...thx!)

author
dubyaohohdee (author)kneedeep2016-10-11

Good idea. And here we were trying to reinvent the light bulb.

author
kneedeep (author)dubyaohohdee2016-10-11

Haha right!?

author

In UK, and rest of Europe - at least those countries that I'm aware of, one side of a light switch is ALWAYS live, the other side is SOMETIMES live (due to action of switch), so you could take a connection from the Always Live side to use to power something else, but you would be advised to do the maths concerning combined current pull of each circuit, and current-capability of the Always Live cable feeding the switch. (Cable current capability and calculation readily available online. Can't give advice as UK uses only copper conductors, while US uses aluminium; that's "al-oo-min-ee-um", by the way. Just saying. Fnah. (For meaning of "Fnah" refer to old issues of MAD magazine.)

Probably not considered good practice, but UK Regulations do allow for one spur from each Ring Main socket, so this would just be applying that consideration to light circuits - maybe.

(Not shouting there; "Always" and "Sometimes" differentiate conditions.)

author
JAMESM466 (author)DustandDoghair2016-10-11

"Recreational electrocution"...you're my favorite person for today.

Depending how the ceiling light is wired, you may be able to add an outlet for the power supply. Since the lights would be of occasional use, perhaps a battery would be the better source a power. 8 AA batteries (rechargable) should do it.

author
KISELIN (author)JAMESM4662016-10-11

Sure, a battery-backup would do the job. Now you got a power-distribution center in Your, (where), with a power-line, sence-detector, to light up.. what? There was a light at the beginning?

author
DustandDoghair (author)JAMESM4662016-10-11

Thank you Bill, Dubya, why, and James. Food for thought for when I'm feeling brave (and fed up with not being able to find my shoes). The buildmyown link helped clarify. Thanks, again!

author

Sure, wire in a combo switch/outlet or get one of these outlet lightbulb adapters. Not sure if that violates some code or not, but it would work.

http://www.do-it-yourself-help.com/images/switched...

http://www.oogalights.com/Home-Garden/Lighting-Acc...

http://www.homedepot.com/catalog/productImages/400...

author

oh ho, that looks even easier - sorry I've got a new construction mindset

author

It's not hard, but standard disclaimer would be to hire an electrician. You'd have to dig into this a good ways on the AC side as well as the DC discussed if you don't have an outlet. This pic tells most of the wiring story: http://www.buildmyowncabin.com/electrical/wiring-l...

If you're adding LED lights, you'd want to add an outlet/receptacle to plug the power supply into. You'd need a multimeter or similar to figure out which black wire is to the light and which to the power (if there's only one black then you found it). The light switch will help. Keep in mind 120V is enough to kill you if you're not careful - take all safety precautions. You'd have to turn the whole circuit off and verify it's off with the multimeter and a voltage sensor of course before modifying anything. https://www.walmart.com/search/?query=voltage%20de...

author

Hey Dubya - roughly how long do those motion detectors leave the lights on before they turn back off?

author

If you connect them through an Arduino, you get to pick the time. I used one to turn on bathroom lights automatically. Although we found it annoying that there are two parts to a cat that would trigger them. Our place annoyingly had the light switch for bathroom in the hallway. So, we added PIR control so that the light would turn on after we entered the bathroom so everybody did not get woke up. When the cat climbed into toilet for a late night drink, it would turn on light though as his butt was hot enough to trigger light until he put his tail down. We found putting a delay of 5 seconds prior to turning on lights was adequate for him to get to the part of drinking where he put his tail down without triggering lights. It was just about enough time to enter bathroom and shut door prior to light coming on.

author

The back cover pops off and there are 2 adjustment screws. 1 for sensitivity and the other is for duration. Mine is set at about 80% for sens and ~40% for duration. The duration on my unit ranges from 3 seconds to 10 minutes. Mine is dialed in at about 3 mins.

author

that's awesome, thanks dubya!

Thanks to you too Chadovision - this is a very clean install!

author
robloew2 (author)2016-10-17

I've found these led tapes also work great to light up the inside of dark bathroom, kitchen, and even cabinet interiors on my cruising powerboat. You can easily have them turn on automatically using mechanical microswitches from amazon, 5 for about $7.35 or so. For boat or vehicle applications, when the alternator raises the nominal 12 volts to 13.5 while charging, use Vetco VUPN7407 adjustable voltage regulator, $6.95 from the same on-line source. Anything much over 12 volts will shorten their life span greatly..........great write-up, love the no-solder idea!

author
JeffP40 (author)2016-10-13

just use a hot glue gun. mine has been up for months

author
IzNoGuD (author)2016-10-13

I used staples not glue

author
zornorff (author)2016-10-12

Great idea and the lighting is really nice in kitchens. However, as someone who has done this, I offer the following:

1. The glues on the tape must be able to stick to the surface.In my case, I opted for aluminum strips attached under the cabinets.

2. Cheap LED strips begin to burn out, leaving dead spots in the middle of the strip.

3. You WILL need to prepare the strip and solder if you need custom lengths.

Thanx for posting this project.

author
GoGmaGo (author)2016-10-12

I've never attempted anything like this. Is it removable? IE; I live in an apt and don't want to leave any traces of my handiwork when I eventually move.

author
chadovision (author)GoGmaGo2016-10-12

As long as you are not drilling holes in the cabinets, you can remove this for sure. Like other have said you could use 'Velcro' or place the strips on to yard sticks. There is lots of ways to make this removable. I just wanted to give building blocks here, since everyone has a different application and idea.
Hope that helps.

author

You may be able to rig something up with command hook type products. I have used their medium cord clips to hold LED strips.

author
dosserj (author)2016-10-12

Chadovision! Great stuff. I do not find the power supply at the montreal website. Is there a good place to get one? Thanks!

author
chadovision (author)dosserj2016-10-12

I used one of these:
https://montrealimport.com/en/31-power-supply-12-volts-led-strip-

Depending on your run of LEDs you can chose 1, 2, or 5 amps. There are some hardwired ones too for all those guys who talked about that on the comment threads.

author
pfic06 (author)2016-10-11

I added LEDs to our new kitchen and it works great. Couple of things to consider

1. If you have granite counter tops. do not face the LEDs down, Place the LEDs on the inside lip facing the wall. Other wise you will see the reflection of the LEDs on the counter. And you will still get good lighting.

2. I also placed them on top of the cabinets, facing the wall. Really highlights the top of the kitchen.

3. I installed a light dimmer and transformer at the time, not really needed but let me dim the lights for effect. However that greatly increased the cost, as I bought a 60 watt transformer about $60 and a matching dimmer About $40.

author
CC95 (author)pfic062016-10-12

another cool thing I used on my project were some acrylic "boards". When you scuff acrylic it disperses the light. So, if you had an acrylic sheet (sized) sitting ontop of a shelf and scuffed (with sandpaper) the sheet - any LED lighting applied to this will make the whole surface glow!

(Also - if you only scuffed a certain area - like a logo - only that would glow!)

author
graydog111 made it! (author)2016-10-11

I bought LED ropes, one 2 meters long & one 1 meter long off eBay. They were very inexpensive & worked great for about 6 months, then the LEDs started failing. I am going to try again.

IMG_1651.JPG
author
CC95 (author)graydog1112016-10-12

after doing a lot of intel before my project - I found that the general consesus seems to be that the "rope" lights are inferior to the "strip" lights.

They ropes may be better in outdoor situations, but by and large are not as bright as strips.

author
musicmajor (author)2016-10-12

I guess this is a good instructable if you know something about the wiring, but its not explained well enough for a dummy.

author
skeleton1 (author)2016-10-12

I have done this same thing but using the solid white plastic LED strips that come in various lengths, along with white plastic covered wire race between sections and to power, all attached with small screws. Drilled through the bottom lip of the cabinets and into drywall, fished power wires, and installed boxes with standard toggle switches powered off existing counter top outlet boxes for a built-in look. The large corner cabinet needed four sections mounted in W pattern to get good even light.

author
MadisonA5 (author)2016-10-12

Thanks for a great instructable!

I had wondered about using this stuff but wasn't sure it would do what I needed.

Your photo's show how much light I can expect, and I'm really impressed.

You've shown how easy it is to use too which is good as I'd expected it to be more fiddly.

author
TC UmitS (author)2016-10-12

Solder and forget forever. Those connectors just sucks!..

author
CC95 (author)2016-10-11

i had very spotty luck with those clamp connectors. They don't make the connections very well (in my project anyway). Soldering may be a pain - but it worked better.

author
yopauly (author)CC952016-10-11

The first time I did lights I used solder throughout and never had any problems. We moved and did the lights again using the connectors and ended up redoing the whole thing as each connector failed. luckily I could solder in place(sometimes with contortions) so I didn't have to tear any light strips out. From now on I'll solder wires to the light strips and use crimp on butt connectors hidden in the cabinets.

author
chadovision (author)CC952016-10-11

Agreed, I just couldn't be bothered this time. I have quite a few joints and didn't want to solder.
Yes solder is more reliable, just not as convenient. I find since everything is glued down the joints stay fine with the clamp fitting, on this application.

author
CC95 (author)chadovision2016-10-11

You have NO IDEA how MUCH I Wish those connectors worked better!!

author
CC95 (author)CC952016-10-11

This is a helpful Instructable. Thanks.

author
jimvandamme (author)2016-10-11

I put strips into a U shaped channel used for mounting shelves. The shape shields your eyes from direct LED light.

The other mod I did was to use a PWM dimmer box. They're $3 or so from China. I put an illuminated switch on the box so I can see the switch in the dark.

I use a 12V power supply in the basement to power this and a few other gadgets and lights around the house.

The only problem I've had is some of the segments have crapped out after almost 2 years of use. You get what you pay for. I over-lit it to begin with, but the gaps look silly. At least they're hard to see because of the shielding of the mounting strip.

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