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Cabinet and Display Lighting Using LED Strip Lights and Aluminum Channels

For this project we used our Ribbon Star Max Warm White LED Strip Lights inside of our Triangle Shape Aluminum Extrusion with clear cover to create custom lighting fixtures to illuminate these cabinet shelves. This project can easily be done with a few cutting tools, drills, and the ability to solder wire to the strip lights. The newly added LED Lighting brought a modern, clean and unique feel to a dark and uninviting cabinet area.

Completion Time 1 - 3 hours for average person
Skill Level Intermediate - Advanced
Tools Used Tape Measure, Saw, File, Drill, Screw driver, Scissors, Wire Stripper, Solder Iron
Cabinet and Display Lighting Using LED Strip Lights and Aluminum Channels

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1.) Measure the Space for your Lighting

Measure the space where you plan on putting your LED Strip Lights. With the 120° beam angle of the strip you might not always want to take your lighting all the way to the corners of the space, this can cause unattractive hot spots in the corners of the cabinets. To avoid hot spots in the corners of your cabinets shorten your lighting lengths a 2-4" on each side.
LED Cabinet 1

2.) Mark the Cut Line on Aluminum Channel

Use the measurements from step one to mark the cut lines on your aluminum channels. You may want to adjust this measurement slightly based on the cutting points of your LED Strip Light. Be sure to always measure twice and cut once.
LED Cabinet 2

3.) Cut the Aluminum Channel to Length

Use any type of metal saw you feel comfortable with to cut your aluminum channel. In this case we carefully used a hack saw to make our cuts by hand without the use of a miter or band saw. After we made the cuts we used a small file to shave down any metal burrs from the cut.
LED Cabinet 3

4.) Cut the LED Strip Lights to Length

Use a sharp pair of scissors to cut your LED Strip Lights to a proper length that will fit inside the channels including end caps. When cutting your LED strips be sure to always cut down the given cut line between the two pairs of copper pads. The more copper pad you have to work with the easier it will be to solder in the next step.
LED Cabinet 4

5.) Solder Wire Leads to the LED Strip Lights

Determine the amount of wire you will need to get connect your strip light to your 12VDC power source and then solder that length of wire to the copper pads on your strip. We used a small piece of black heat shrink to cover the solder connections after they cooled. If you need instruction on soldering wire to an LED Strip Light Click Here to see our tutorial.
LED Cabinet 5

6.) Adhere the Strip Lights to the Aluminum Channel

Peel back the double sided 3M adhesive on the back of the strip and install the strip to the channel as center and square as possible. It's always a good idea to wipe the mounting surface with some rubbing alcohol prior to installation to remove any dust or oils. Be sure the surface is clean and dry before installation.
LED Cabinet 6

7.) Cut the Plastic Extrusion Cover to Length

Use a saw or very sharp pair of cutting tools to cut the plastic cover for your aluminum channel. Remember that the end caps take a bit of space on each end so cut your cover accordingly. I installed the end caps first, then installed the cover and made an eyeball cut with a very sharp pair of shears. For precision work, make measurements and guides for cutting points.
LED Cabinet 7

8.) Assemble Pieces to Complete Extrusion

Assemble the proper end caps, and covers to complete your extrusion. For this purpose we used the end caps with holes on the wired end and closed end caps on the other. After the end caps were installed, the clear covers simply press and snap into place.
LED Cabinet 8

9.) Secure Extrusion Mounting Clips

Use your tape measure to mark the area where you will install your extrusion mounting clips. For a secure hold each 1M channel requires at least 2 mounting clips. We made our marks for the clips and then drilled pilot holes on each point that needs a screw. The clips require a counter sink to sit flush so we took a larger drill bit to create the counter sink on the mounting surface.
LED Cabinet 9

10.) Snap Extrusions to Mounting Clips

Once your mounting clips are securely fastened you can now simply snap your extrusion into place. The clips secure themselves on ribs of the channel, secure the posterior side of the channel and then simply snap the other side into the clip.
LED Cabinet 10

11.) Wire to Your 12VDC Power Source

Now that your extrusions are mounted securely, wire your leads back to your DC power source. You have many different wiring options so choose what is best for your situation. Always be certain to use sufficient wire gauge for the electrical load of your lighting. You can either wire each lead to the DC source (easiest option if you have space to hide wires), or in this case I used the wire to my furthest extrusion and then spliced into that wire to create a T connection at each shelf. I used solder and heat shrink but any concealable wire connector would work just the same.
LED Cabinet 11

12.) Conceal your Connection Wires and Accessories

The final step is to conceal your wiring and your accessories such as dimmers, power supplies, etc. There are a variety of different types of split wire looms, or cable covers that can be purchased online or at your local hardware store. We concealed our wires to the back corner of the cabinets and then used double sided VHB tape to stick the mini touch dimmer to the bottom side of the last shelf. The new LED lighting looks great, uses a small amount of energy, and was simple to install for any person with the tools and motivation to do so.
LED Cabinet 12
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