IKEA – Lighted Wall Unit for Living Room

The completed units, Mounted TV.

My cool lighting fixture was a TV Unit in my old apartment. I reused the materials to give it a new life in my townhouse rental.

I  love trips to Ikea! What’s more I love having left over pieces from past creations that can be reused for new masterpieces! In the apartment I had a wall panel TV unit which I am giving a new purpose in the townhouse I am renting. The living room needs light in the evenings and I wanted something unique and fun. In continuing the theme from the Extra large Entertainment Center and Kitchen Cabinet builds, we used extra pieces and Ikea Multicolor Led lights to give the living room an interesting but Coordinated Lighting/music Board piece. The lighting element has been an ongoing saga after hooking up too many Ikea LED lights. This resulted in an epic fail. For details read on, to skip, go to Researching My Options.

I reused the frame and wall panels from the apartment TV unit and purchased two more frosted glass panels to fit the frame. I upgraded the white LED lights to Multicolor LED lights from IKEA. This proved to be a major issue. As it turned out, the AC adapter for the IKEA Multicolor lights cannot accommodate more than 4 lights to an AC Adapter unit. My fixture needed 12 and when I tried to hook up all 12 to one adapater, the lights would trip once every 15 minutes or so (they would go off for a minute and then come back on). So I had to split them up into two units each with it’s own AC Adapter but that meant two separate wired remotes. Now, the unit only tripped once every hour. Secondly, the unit required wired remotes which had to stick out of the unit to access and all around looked tacky. I was not satisfied. It was time for better solution!

Researching My Options

I researched options for more heave duty LED lights. My search led me to an LEDWholesalers product for a wireless remote LED Rope Lighting Kit .  After comparing cost and quality to other lighting options, I decided to purchase the 16.4 Ft RGB Color Changing Kit from  LEDWholesalers via Amazon.com. As luck would have it 16.4 Feet is the perfect amount of rope light to covers the entire perimeter of the frosted glass portion of the unit. I LOVE the wireless remote option! And the lights do change color and just plain WORK! but…. well… there was another problem.

 The Wrong Way

So I got the rope light and love the fact that I don’t have to mess with a two wired remotes. The installation was very easy and I love that the rope light is heavy duty and is even rated waterproof and tough enough for outdoor use. For my project, it is about as tough as one can expect! I didn’t use the gummy strips to attach the light but instead used 3M products to secure the coated LED lights to the frame. The nice thing about LED lights as that they do not burn hot, so there isn’t an issue of fire hazard or other material meltdown.

But… we have an issue. By covering just the inside perimeter of the unit, I have this big “dead spot” in the center where the unit is not lit. After spending over a month obsessing and complaining, it is time to fix this problem! Gita.me Home project in Full Effect!

Greenish line represents placement of LED rope light. Because it is around the perimeter of the fixture, there is a "dead spot" in the center of the fixture.

Greenish line represents placement of LED rope light. Because it is around the perimeter of the fixture, there is a “dead spot” in the center of the fixture.

 

Correct Wiring Configuration and Materials Calculation

It’s time to put on your math caps kids! Here is a word problem:

Gita has 16.5 feet of rope light. She has a 5 panel unit that she needs to cover with the rope light. Each panel measures 47″ X 12.” The rope light can be cut every 12 inches and Gita can purchase connector wire (1 foot connector wire length) to bridge the rope lights if she opts to cut the rope lights into multiple pieces. 

Questions:

  1. How much rope wire does Gita need to properly light the unit?
  2. Does she have enough rope light right now to make this project work?
  3. What configuration should be used to maximize the amount of cable she already has?
  4. How many connectors will Gita need to purchase to cover the vertical width between the rope lights?
  5. What is a good  Plan B if this doesn’t work out!?

Answers

Each panel is 47″ long. I have 5 panels on the unit but after studying the unit carefully I really only need to cover 4 panels since the bottom most glass panel does not need to be lit up twice (See Diagram). This model requires that the rope lights be facing downward to cover all glass panels and provide even distribution of light .

This visual demonstrates the correct way to snake the lights around. the frame to ensure even light distribution. This should result in no "dead spot" in the center. The arrows indicate direction that the LED lights will be facing.

This visual demonstrates the correct way to snake the lights around. the frame to ensure even light distribution. This should result in no “dead spot” in the center. The arrows indicate direction that the LED lights will be facing.

The rope lights have a “Cut Here” mark every 12″ where it is safe to splice  the wiring. This means that I will cut the rope light at the 48″ mark which will give me an extra inch to work with when attaching to the connector.

Answer to Question 1: How much rope wire does Gita need to properly light the unit?

48″ X 4 =  192″ of rope light is required to cover the length of 4 panels

Answer to Question 2: Does Gita have enough rope light right now to make this project work? 

Take the number in inches of how much I have minus how much I need (answer to question 1)

198″ – 192″ = 6″ EXTRA

Yes! I have enough light for the 4 panel configuration!

Answer to Question 3: What configuration should be used to maximize the amount of cable she already has?

See Diagram

Snake the light from top to bottom. Cut the rope light into 48 inch  lengths. Use a 1 foot connector to bridge the vertical area between each panel. With the rope lights in the DOWN position, Gita will only need to cover 4 panels to achieve even light distribution between panels.

I should also mention that in the diagram I show connection to the hidden surge protector in a spot behind the panel.  To connect the lights to power, the light kit comes with an AC adapter with plenty of extra cable to bridge the distance between the rope light and the surge protector. I still have about 6 inches of rope light left after covering the 4 panels so I may have one of the pieces measure 18″ instead of 12 for simplicity.

Answer to Question 4: How many connectors will Gita need to purchase to cover the vertical width between the rope lights?

I need to order a minimum of 4 connectors. But since there is a possibility that I might want to extend these, or that one of the connectors may not work, I will order 5 connectors.

Answer to Question 5: What is a good  Plan B if this doesn’t work out!?

The good thing about this particular rope light set it that it is expandable. If I am not satisfied with the configuration due to uneven light distribution and find that I really do need to cover that 5th panel, no worries. I just will have to order more of the same model rope light. In that case, for this reason it makes sense to order an extra connector since they are really inexpensive to purchase, but expensive to ship individually.

Now it’s on to find the correct connectors for my kit and go shopping!

Update: May 3, 2013  – Experience with LEDWholesalers Support

I have to say I am VERY pleased with the service provided by Thomas at the LEDWholesalers Customer Support via email. Here is a link to a blog post on my Customer Experience with LEDWholesalers. Yeah, I am gonna put it all out there because it is a key part of this project blog, and Thomas deserves it after giving me the quality advise and timely response for an order that he knew was going to be under $25 . If any of you have a project that requires Geeked out  lighting please take a look at the LEDWholesalers website.

Kudos Thomas! Hey Thomas’s boss… give the guy an “On the Spot” bonus or a free lunch or SOMETHING! Hook him up! :-) 

For anyone out there who ever needs to seek help from customer service, take note: BE NICE! Be grateful, and be as specific as possible. That is the key to getting good service. Take it from me. I have had just about every kind of customer service job from inside call center sales to technology sales, to  high end investments, and now Business Development. I have dealt with the mean, the angry and the all out CRAZY customer. I always did my best to help all of those personalities out. But please, remember that the person who is trying to help you is a HUMAN BEING deserving of the same respect and dignity that you want back from them. And your attitude will make the difference between an “ok” experience and a fantastic one!

 

 

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