LED Only Apartment Lighting




About: I'm a Linux enthusiast, avid diy-er. I work for a company that manufactures "smart" invertors (an Uninterruptable Power Supply for the entire house). I've installed wind generators, solar panels and various ...

My on average power consumption is 100 watts! If I turn on ALL the lights in my apartment I will be consuming 324 watts.

Motivation: saving money on electricity, being energy efficient and doing it on a budget

Scientific data: When a light-emitting diode is forward biased (switched on), electrons are able to recombine with electron holes within the device, releasing energy in the form of photons.

This makes perfect sense to me, but if you're a bit confused read this wikipedia page on Light Emitting Diods http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light-emitting_diode.

LEDs use even less power then Compact fluorescent lamps (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compact_fluorescent_lamp) and in the recent years the price of these lights have gone done enough to be affordable.

Disadvantages to using LEDs:

   1. They do not emit as much light as regular or CFL light bulbs.
   2. If they do, they cost way to much.
   3. To achieve normal lighting conditions you must use many LEDs
   4. If you use DC power, you must use very thick and costly wiring to
       reduce resistance at low voltages

I looked online and in various stores for LED lights. The most affordable ones seemed to be flood lights with a GU5.3 plug. However, it would take very many of these "bulbs" to produce sufficient light and lots of wiring. But since these worked with 220 Vac (European standard) I would save on wiring.

 My choice LED light bulb consists of 18 small LEDs put together in a hexagonal matrix with a reflator background with a small individual power supply inside each lamp. Thus, it uses regular voltage and each light reduces 220 Vac to 12 Vdc the diods need (pic included).

I bought 10 of these lights in a hardware store and started experimenting with how much light these would give out. It turned out that I was happy with 4 lights per 10 square feet (1 sq meter).

I also had a white string of LED Christmas lights from IKEA, which I wanted to use in the bathroom.

Once I had the lights, I could start planning my lighting with LEDs.

Step 1: Plannig

My apartment is 516 square feet (48 sq. meters - 8 x 6 meters) 26 x 20 feet (I'm including a photo with detailed dimensions, although in Russian and metric). One studio/room and a bathroom.

I figured to grid the ceiling in 1.6 x 1.6 in  (50 x 50 cm) squares and put the LEDs in intersections. I needed 135 LEDs.

I looked online and in various stores. I found the best deal in Moscow, Russia to be at LED-LAZAR http://led.promzone.ru/service.htm – a manufactured of LEDs in small town of Serpukhov (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serpukhov), outside of Moscow.

For the LED - G5.3- 220 whites I paid 70 Russian Rubles which is roughly $2.50
I also bought 20 of the improved/higher luminosity LED-G5.3-6UW-C at 80 Russian Rubles per light bulb, which is roughly $2.75

I bought these at wholesale prices since I was getting over 100 light bulbs.

I paid $275 for 130 of the  LED - G5.3- 220 and $55 for the improved  LED-G5.3-6UW-C. I spent roughly $330.00 for all my lights.

I then had to buy the fixtures to install the light bulbs in a fake ceiling made out of drywall. These ran 29 Russian Rubles per fixture, which is about $1.00 I spent another $135.00 for the fixtures to install the LED lights into.

Now I had to buy the wires. Each LED uses 2.4 watts of energy. So If I turned on all 135 lights simultaneously I would be using 135 x 2.4  = 324 watts. And according to Ohm's law, this means that there would be a current running through the wires of (324 watts divided by 220 Vac) 1.5 Amps. I then looked up wire diameter tables online and got 3 times the diameter I needed, which was 1.5  square millimeters.

I purchased 700 feet (200 meters) of this cable at about $150.00

Below is a link to over 20 photos of my lighting setup (in Picasa web albums)

slideshow via picasa

Step 2: Tricky Places, Like the Shower LEDs

In some areas I had to use some tricky techniques like drilling holes in the drywall and placing a strand of 130 LED Christmas lights from IKEA. I had to paint the piece of drywall before I drilled the holes and installed the lights. I then put covered it with cellular poly carbonate panels and installed the tropical shower head under them.

Here is a video on youtube of my tropical shower with LED lighting in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoDxtuhRAFU

Some of these photos are self explanitory of what was done.

LEDs in the shower

Step 3: Installation

I ran the fatter central light power wires to corner locations of the kitchen, main area and bathroom. I then drilled holes and ran wires from the central cable through each hole in zigzag pattern. Each LED light is connected in parallel according to city/electrical code. I have the skills and permission to work with wiring under 20 k Wt, but I called the building electrician to inspect my setup and attach the main power circuit breaker.

Below are self explanitory pics of my setup already powered up.

I've also added some photos of my LED lighting over a computer desk/treadmill, an idea I got from this wonderfull instructable https://www.instructables.com/id/Treadmill-Desk/ by ewilhelm

More photos and slideshow via picasa

I'm in the finalists for LED CONTEST! Thank you everyone!
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    85 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    To the author of this magnificent instructable.
    Thank you for THINKING, and
    thank you for sharing this.
    I think all of the hoopla merely reflects that you have an impressive instructable.
    It is EASY to find fault.
    Finding diversity and flexibility and ingenuity would be more productive.
    Thanks for this. When can you help me with my place? LOL.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Great write up. I'd love to see if this could be solar powered since you pull 12v from the backup batteries usually.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Looks a bit violet but it could be tha camera's white balance setting since a couple photos don't have the violet tone.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I am really curious about the details and what products you used. I am assuming somewhere you had to use a power brick or some sort of converter to step down the power going from your power service into the lighting systems. Did you use something custom or just a generic power block that comes with an under cabinet lighting system?

    I want to do something like this in our laundry room with exposed ceiling. Not being an electrical engineer I was hoping to be able to use an under cabinet modular system and tie it into the existing wiring.

    4 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    No power brick was used. The leds are designed for 220Vac use. I took one apart and there is a capacitor and a diod bridge which brings down the voltage to whatever the leds use: https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/msCmuVvgyhhsy4GGs0_hzA?feat=directlink


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    It takes a transformer to raise or lower voltage.A diode rectifies AC to DC and the capacitor smooths the pulses out of the DC voltage.The diodes and capacitors have little effect on voltage manipulation other than minute parasitic voltage drops.
    Usually placing 3 LED'S in series will allow them to be powered with 12volts using a current controlling resistor,12 volts seems to be the preferred voltage set up since this allows the user to switch to battery power in case of power outage.If you plan to power many LED'S then I would recommend using a current regulator such as a LM317 or larger current controlling package. LED'S can be powered by low voltage AC as well.
    To all those interested in a project like this I suggest NOT using typical dome type LED'S, as these are not designed for lighting applications but rather for indicator applications.The sm5050 is a good choice for low power consumption use at low cost but you will need to use several in a series parallel configuration.
    LED'S are available in many wattage's now for lighting applications from less than 1 watt to over 10watt each.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    These are set up with a current regulating switching power supply. No transformer is likely to have been used as they aren't needing to achieve a precise voltage, rather a switching pulsed high frequency output through an inductor which ends up as an average current tolerable by the LED and a frequency high enough the human eye cannot detect it.

    Here is the big design choice. You can opt for modularized "bulbs" each with their own step down rectified power supplies in them, leveraging existing bulb sockets available for a mains 110VAC or 220VAC system, or for various ways to drop current on a 12VAC or DC system, OR you can do it from scratch with the emitters, custom housings, and a single or fewer (think I'd want more than one so A single point failure does not cause loss of all light everywhere) centralized power supply.

    Generally the centralized supply will be more power efficient and "can" cost less in total if you are skilled enough to fabricate your own light housings, but it will be much less user/homeowner/etc friendly for someone else to deal with later which is a very good reason to avoid that kind of setup for permanent residential lighting where average people have to deal with problems later opposed to specialized industrial situations or portable and/or disposable lighting devices.

    On the other hand if you were to use a centralized supply with fancier circuit including active PFC, your power factor could be very close to 1 so measurements and conclusions about power usage were more precise.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    LM317s are linear regulators and being such they dump excess voltage as heat. The further you need to drop from input to output the worse it is too. As much as I may like linear regulators efficiency isn't really their strong suit. A better choice would be a switching supply like we use in our computers.

    I powered a regular dome LED once with some diodes and a resistor to use as an indicator light in a project I built and was amazed how much power I had to dump to get an LED to work off wall power. I think I used a 5 watt 2200 ohm wire wound resistor and the thing got hot enough to cook on! Calculating it I could have even gotten away using a 2 watt resistor. The 5 watt one I used was almost getting too warm for my liking though so I stuck with it.

    It worked out OK replacing a burnt out neon grain bulb I didn't happen to have another on hand to replace it with. But I'm sure it is a massive waste of power.

    It is on the right side of the tan box with the black stripe on it in this picture where I'm wasting another 100 watts of power load testing a linear supply I'd built:


    I was so mad because I'd already cut that case out for that particular indicator lamp then the neon bulb burnt out! All the circuitry for the LED is inside that metal case. I built it on an old lug strip.

    For the curious:

    The insides of that linear supply. It is LM723 based adjustable current limit variable voltage with 3 TO-3 boost transistors. Sorry I never did take a picture of what is inside the tan box. Well, this is one thing in there:


    The rest is a number of block bridges to rectify outputs and a custom barrier block I made to connect everything together. Mostly it looks like a rat made a nest out of wire though.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    So with your total watts consumed figure you've actually used an ammeter on the AC power input to measure this or did you just add up the rating of all your LED lights?

    8 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    What model? I'd like to see such a device that has a gauge that displays its input. That is rare.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I must say it's all Greek or Cyrillic to me? Klingon? Chicken ran though spilled white paint? The correct answer is D All of the above.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I'm glad you have absolute faith in your instrumentation. Having been exposed somewhat to the complexities of power factoring AC current myself let me just say I've my doubts.

    The only way you could test the two for me would be to use the same method for both loads. Anything else is apples and oranges I'm afraid.

    I'm sure you're saving power, I'm not so sure you know exactly how much power you are saving though. Because actually figuring that out isn't trivial. Well, it isn't for all us folks who can't count every electron flowing past a point. ha ha!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Today I recieved an Instructables.com T-shirt and badge and some stickers! Thank you!!!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Such a great project! If only more people would do this. The only thing for me is I don't think I could handle such harsh lighting.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    That was what I was thinking. While the overall project is impressive the results I mean the place looks blue! I'd have tried to get a different spectrum LED. Some LEDs do seem to have a rather bluish cast about them to me. But I've seen purer white emitting ones as well.