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Unread 01-16-2020, 04:07 PM   #1
TipsyMcStagger
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LED Strip in a Niche with Diffuser?

I plan to use LED strip lighting in an aluminum channel with a diffuser insert (similar to this) under my floating vanity, so the individual LED emitters will be less harsh.

I saw on Youtube that the Schluter SG110AE12 Deco profile works well as a concealed channel for LED strip lighting in the top of a niche. This seems like a great solution.

I'm wondering if any of you pros use something similar to the Schluter channel that can accept a diffuser insert? I'd like to avoid that pin-point light effect in the niche if at all possible.

I will probably be using these high-density IP65 LED strips in both the niche and under the vanity. They are 5050 LED strips and are 10mm wide. The SG110AE12 has a 1/2" channel, which equates to just under 13mm.

Thanks.
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Unread 01-16-2020, 05:17 PM   #2
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Don't know about the Schluter channel, Brad, but that price on the light strips seems a bit harsh to me. Compare to Amazon, including one 120v power supply and a dimmer.
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Unread 01-16-2020, 05:28 PM   #3
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Thanks CX. No doubt, there are a lot of LED strip options. Nearly all come out of China but some are definitely better than others.

I don't mind a few bucks either way. I've read some good things about that particular strip from LED Supply but there are clearly many options.

Attached is a pic of the Schluter SG110AE12 profile. You can see the flange which makes it ideal to tile into place. I'm hoping to find something similar that has a compatible diffuser insert. Or simply a diffuser insert that will fit this profile.

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Unread 01-16-2020, 07:38 PM   #4
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I've used many feet of those cheap ones I linked, Tim. Mostly in my motorhome and have had no problems with them at all. The only thing could be improved is the adhesive on the strips, but for less than perfect surfaces, such as wood cabinet face frames, I spray some contact adhesive on the wood first and that seems to work well so far. So far being just a couple years.

I think you should try a strip behind your vanity face (If I understand your application) and see if you think you really need a diffuser at all. I've got strips in similar locations and find the light quite acceptable without any diffuser in front of the strips.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 01-16-2020, 08:40 PM   #5
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You're probably right about not needing the diffuser. I tend to over think things but I figured the aluminum channel would do double duty as a heat-sink

To clarify, in addition to the niche, they will be used underneath the floating vanity. They will be placed around the perimeter of the vanity base, facing down. They will illuminate both for effect and as a night light.
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Unread 01-16-2020, 08:46 PM   #6
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You will not likely even detect the heat, Tim. Almost none.
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Unread 01-16-2020, 08:54 PM   #7
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A number of companies make LED holding channels with diffusing covers for wet locations. We've installed a few. Usually order them through Graybar as I like to support brick and mortar when possible.
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Unread 01-16-2020, 09:09 PM   #8
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I just found this online. It's exactly what I had in mind.

Unfortunately, this company is in England and I doubt shipping is feasible. I looked on Graybar but didn't see anything similar.
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Unread 01-17-2020, 12:48 AM   #9
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I've installed lots of undercab LEDs and have come to some conclusions. I would always use a channel and diffuser if possible. Milky diffusers are best at hiding the intense pinpoints of light. The difference between cheap stuff and better is consistency of color temp, lumens per LED, beam angle and longevity. I don't buy the cheap stuff. Only two I'd consider is LOOX from Hafele and Tresco which was purchased by Rev-A-Shelf.

I used to order channels and lenses from Outwater and use strips from Tresco. More recently Tresco has fleshed their line out to include channels. Although more expensive, the one stop shop is really convenient. I frequently don't use their connectors and simply solder to copper pads on strip...more flexible installs that way. Tresco wireless controls are superior to others I've tried. It's all modular but I often don't use that functionality, preferring to have wire lengths cut to fit installation.

Advice I'd give is this: you want close to 3000 K color temp. Higher seems like it would be better, but you want that warmth in bathrooms and kitchens. 4000 or 5000 skews things and makes stuff look weird and pale...trust me.
You don't need RGB LEDs unless you're looking for a goofy light show. You don't need boatloads of light for what you describe.1.5 watt per ft. is plenty for most and I always put dimmers on the circuit. I also use low voltage (12v) to wire everything up and put the driver close to 120v source. All switching and dimming on the 12V side.

Tresco makes a really cool wireless setup that looks like a conventional Decora switch but requires no wiring so can be put anywhere. I even set one up to magnetically stick to refrigerator, which was fun.
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Unread 01-17-2020, 07:39 AM   #10
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Thanks for the thorough reply. I'll have a look at the Tresco stuff.

I found this diffused channel on Amazon. I'm thinking I can simply cut off one flange and use it as I'd intended in the niche.

The color issue is something I'm very familiar with. I've replaced nearly all of the lighting in my home with LED. I've found that color is definitely subjective but this is my preference;

Outside, all of my landscape lighting is 2700K. Inside, the living areas and kitchen are all 3000K.

I have a large walk-in closet which is 4000K, as well as 4000K in my recently renovated guest bath. I don't regret 4000K in the bath and I plan to use the same in the master bath.

My kitchen and living room are one large space. Initially, I used 4000K in the kitchen but I changed it to 3000K, to match the living room. I found 4000K was too stark and institutional for the kitchen and highlighted imperfections in the drywall. It was especially unappealing at night.

But in the bath, I prefer 4000K. It's a space where you're bathing and looking in the mirror and I find the whiter light more appropriate.

Again, all subjective but this is my preference.

I was planning to use this Magnitude dimmable power supply and dim on the AC side. It seems to be the simplest and most future proof solution. Why do you prefer to dim on the 12V side?
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Unread 01-17-2020, 10:29 AM   #11
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That channel is interesting. I love all the stuff that's being developed for LEDs.

My thing with color temp is this: How it renders skin tone is my acid test. Color Rendering Index or CRI with LEDs is playing catchup with things like Zenon or even good flourescent. So adjusting color temp is the main tool for gaining warm skin tones. This is as simple as holding hand by light and choosing what's most pleasing. This method is not completely supported by science, but I don't care in this case. For my shop, I use 4100K flourescents with high CRI. Slowly replacing with LEDs but in no hurry with 30+ 8' fixtures.

I like the low voltage side of things because of flexibility. Everything is smaller and can be snaked around inside cabinets and walls. It doesn't require electrical boxes and all the other stuff associated with line voltage. Can wire an entire kitchen with 18 and 16 ga. dual conductor. Especially nice for retrofits. I'm slowly convincing my electrician...
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Unread 01-17-2020, 10:47 AM   #12
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I see. In this case, I can put the two power supplies in the vanity and it'll be pretty tidy. Or, if I choose to use the standard density LED strip, I can get away with a single 60w power supply. The standard density strip is 540 lumens per meter and the high density is 1080 lumens per meter.

Since the power supplies will be located adjacent to the vanity LEDs, the only wire I'll have to run any distance will be from the niche LED strip to the power supply in the vanity.

I think in this case, it's a simple solution and allows for use of a standard wall dimmer. There's always more than one way to skin a cat but I think this should work well.

The only down side I can see to this diffuser channel is that the 6' length is seemingly only available in a bundle of five for $70-ish dollars. I'll only need one stick for the niche but it's a small price to pay in the overall scope of the job.
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Unread 01-17-2020, 11:16 AM   #13
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I'd be hesitant springing for any diffuser that I couldn't first see how well it diffuses.

I opted for pretty high end LED under cabinet fixtures for my kitchen. Line level, dimmable, built in driver, LV connections between fixtures, 3000K, with diffusers. Can still see the individual elements reflected on the granite.

Also agree with the output; for nightlight and accent light duty you won't need much. I installed an LED night light "plaster in" fixture in my recent bath remodel, also line level, switched by a motion sensor. Comes with a 3w equivalent LED in various colors - I opted for red, behind a clear diffuser. Thing was still too bright.
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Unread 01-17-2020, 11:34 AM   #14
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Yes, the quality and effectiveness of the diffuser is definitely a crap shoot, without getting firsthand feedback (hence, my original post).

But in an imperfect world, I suppose a partially effective diffuser is better than no diffuser at all.
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Unread 01-17-2020, 12:16 PM   #15
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We're getting way off the subject of tile here, but no diffusor I've seen gets completely away from identifying individual elements on strips. Milky opaque comes closest but typically reduces lumen output a smidgen.

When I look at the LED fixture world that diffusion is best achieved with indirect reflected light bounced around inside fixture somehow. LEDs do have downsides and those intense light pinpoints are one of them. On the whole though, they better fulfill the promises that CFL made but never delivered.
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