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I was thinking of attaching a simple dimmable LED light strip to the ceiling of my room. Ideally the finished look is to have a 20 meter long strip fit around the ceiling nested and hidden from view, as shown here:

enter image description here

I have found a plasterer who is willing to add a polyestyrene ceiling and replaster it and rewire the existing ceiling chandelier. This will give me that groove all the way around the edge for me to add my LED strip, and conceal it from view. How can I control this LED light strip via my computer (initially via the PC, ideally web browser, but eventually I will get round to creating a mobile app)?

What light strips would you recommend (dimmable, colour changing), and how would it be wired to recieve control from a computer or mobile device. I understand some of these lights come with a small remote and infra-red receiver - I am not interested in either of these components. I want a central point of control, so that eventually I can start doing the same to other parts of my house.

EDIT: Just to clarify (as requested by tester101) this is a DIY project, as it involves finding a DIY solution to something that I have seen in lots of places. I am not looking to have the community research and build me a new product that I will sell to become an overnight millionnaire. I honestly just want to know, if anyone here has wired in LED strips into their homes, and what the best way of doing it is without it being plugged into a wall socket and being visible.

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I've never seen a commercial product do what you want. But that doesn't mean it's not possible. I've seen a lot of people do some pretty amazing things with some customized hardware and a little bit of software programming. I recommend taking a look at some raspberry pi (small computer popular with modders) forums for ideas. –  diceless May 14 at 20:41
    
I actually own two raspberry Pi's myself. I was hoping for a more commercial solution instead of bespoke. Thanks anyway. –  Husman May 14 at 20:44
    
I'm tempted to vote to close this question, since it seems to be more of a hobby electronics project (which are off topic here). It's also a bit vague, and sounds as if you're asking us to develop a new product for you. However, I'll hold off judgement and let the community decide. –  Tester101 May 15 at 12:38
    
Apologies if this is the wrong place for this question. I assumed a DIY stack-exchange forum was a good place for a diy project. Essentially I want an LED strip wired into the mains power for the room, controlled by the existing light switch, I can use some form of control device either X10 or DMX or something to control it remotely at a later date. I do not need anyone to build me a custom product, but surely someone out there has wired an LED strip into their homes power supply? –  Husman May 15 at 13:11
    
"How can I control this LED light strip via my computer", "how would it be wired to recieve control from a computer or mobile device". Nowhere in the question did you ask about connecting the LED strip to mains power. –  Tester101 May 19 at 9:49

2 Answers 2

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From what I have researched, it is possible to wire LED light strips into the mains for a house, but there are several things to consider.

First you cannot directly solder the LED strip into the mains, you will need a transformer (also called a driver), to reduce the voltage of the mains to 12V, which is typically what LED strips use.

Stemming from the first point, to actually have a neat solution, you now need to hide the transformer, behind some plaster in the wall, in a recess, behind a fish tank so on.

In my case, I plan to have the transformer hidden above the ceiling, as shown in the following diagram (the blue is the mains cable, the red box is the transformer, and the green is the LED lights, there will be a further drop ceiling int he form of polystyrene blocks, that well go on the ceiling, leaving a 10cm gap between the edge of the wall, so as to hide the LED strips but allow the ambience of them showing):

enter image description here

It is important to note, that transformers may run warm or get hot, depending ont he load. Keep them away from flammable materials and ensure they are ventilated well to keep them cool and running smoothly (and from burning your house down).

I have been told that the power requirement of the LEDs need to be calculated carefully. You need to know the power usage per meter of your LED strips, most daylight white strips use 14.4 Watts per meter (W/m) but they can vary widely (I have seen 4.8W/p, 7.2W/p, 9.6W/p and 14.4W/p) - they vary depending on brightness levels, number of LEDs per meter (usually 30 or 60), the colours the LED can output (either plain white or RGB) and so on. Check the energy use of the strip, and multiply that by the length that you need. So a 14.4W/m strip for a length of 20 meters will mean you need a transformer that can output 14.4x20 = 288W at a bare minimum.

There will be a slight loss of power the longer the strip is, hence someone suggested that I try to split the strip into 2 segments of 10 meters for better energy efficiency. The theory being that due to resistance in the cabling, and heat output, the strip will require more than 288W (and end up drawing perhaps 300W), but I could not find exact calculations for this. By splitting it into two segments of 10m, each segment needs 144W or thereabouts. The transformers will also be a lot quieter and run cooler.

Other important factors to take into account are the type of LEDS used and the colour of the lights. You can get plain white LED strips, They range from a warm white colour to a bright white. See the following picture from seesmartled.com.

enter image description here

The plain white are slightly cheaper than the colour changing RGB kind, which typically come with a remote, or an switch of some sort to allow the changing of colours.

Finally placements of the LEDs also needs some consiferation, they should in my opinion be placed so that they cannot be seen directly, but rather the light is reflected off a matt surface. Reflective surfaces do not work well, as the light looks really focused and spotty, see the example below, with the reflective floorboard (might have worked better with carpet or a more dull surface) versus the ambient light on the ceiling, which is a matt surface and diffuses the light much better.

EDIT: Thanks to gregmac for the following: Most of the strips I've seen actually have a limit on the total current they can handle, and so only allow you to chain power for a few strips at a time. You'd need to run separate wires for each set of segments you need; whether you power them with one or multiple transformers is your call. There are different wiring requirements depending on the types of LEDs you're using (individually addressable or not; white vs RGB vs RGBW), so you'll need to figure some of that out before you start.

enter image description here

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Most of the strips I've seen actually have a limit on the total current they can handle, and so only allow you to chain power for a few strips at a time. You'd need to run separate wires for each set of segments you need; whether you power them with one or multiple transformers is your call. There are different wiring requirements depending on the types of LEDs you're using (individually addressable or not; white vs RGB vs RGBW), so you'll need to figure some of that out before you start. –  gregmac May 20 at 14:23
    
I have had one one these units before, an unbranded one from eBay, which i put together using 3 5m strips for a total of 15m. But it does vary depending on a number of factors. –  Husman May 20 at 14:29
    
It's not that it won't work, per se, but it's that the wires (traces) in the strip itself are only rated for a certain current.. get beyond that, and it will heat up too much. This can lead to something from nothing happening, to the LEDs lifetime being shortened, to the strip actually failing, to starting a fire. This is really no different from regular household wiring, and the reason we don't use 14/2 for dryers and stoves, for example. –  gregmac May 20 at 15:02
    
Good point. I'll edit the answer and make a note of that, as it might help others in the future. –  Husman May 20 at 15:06

I think Phillips HUE light strip

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They look quite expensive and are just plug and play lights. Ideally I need it to be wired into the room, without being plugged into the wall. –  Husman May 19 at 18:58

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