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Trying to install LED panel lights on a loft ceiling. There's a ridge beam I can attach them to, but I'd like to avoid putting in screw holes if possible (this is a condo that has shared structural beams). enter image description here

I was thinking of welding a steel c clamp made of 2"x 1", 1/16" thick tube that would be press fitted against the beam, with double sided VHB tape in between to further secure it. enter image description here enter image description here I plan on having 2 clamps for each panel, so the downward force is ~2 kg. Obviously, my main concern is will this hold up safely over the years?

Will the clamp or beam deform over time (creep). Unlikely for steel, since it's no where near the melting point, but what about the wood?

Will shrinkage due to temperature or cycling cause it to become too loose?

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    How do you plan on running electrical cables or conduits to these lights? Will there be junction boxes? Do the lights weigh less than 4 pounds? You'll need to solve that first or as part of this. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jan 2 '20 at 19:30
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I don't think your plan to make a custom bracket will work for a number of reasons. It's way larger and heavier than necessary, it will be very hard to make a spring clamp of that size to make a pressure clamp, and it will be hard or impossible to slide it on over VHB tape. VHB tape may or may not hold up to the heat generated by the light.

It's always good to be careful about drilling holes in a beam, but the tiny holes needed for a few small short screws to hold up LED panels won't have any significant effect on the strength of the beam.

If you'd still rather not drill the beam, you could hang the lights from the joists near the beams. If you want a surface mount, you could mount them on the short side, that way they will shine on more of the room.

If you don't mind hanging the lights from a v-shaped wire or chain, you could hang them from eye screws into the joists on the longer side of the ceiling. That will keep the lights level and get them closer to the center of the room, which will give you more even lighting. It will also let some air circulate over the light, which will help the heat dissipate, which will be better for the LED fixture and for the ceiling.

If you are really set on hanging them in that exact position, you could make a small bracket to go across the bottom of the beam (perpendicular) and attach to the ceiling on either side, either with toggles into the drywall or preferably with screws into the joists. Not something out of 2" tube steel, more like 3/16" flat stock.

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  • Wow, that's a lot of suggestions. I never thought of using the joists. I guess they're more sacrificial than the beam. But they're also structural, so should get approval before proceeding. I don't think heat will be an issue. These are 50W panels spread over 4'x1'. "If you want a surface mount ..." - I think that will be the hardest (no through holes on the panel or mounting tabs in the back). I can propose these ideas to the HOA. I guess the press fit clamp will have issues, but I could make it a real C clamp with a screw that can be tightened – Yale Zhang Jan 2 '20 at 11:18
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    @YaleZhang - I have drilled thousands and thousands of small holes like that in beams and joists to hang electrical equipment and many other things, I assure you it's a very common practice. I would worry much more about something invented for the purpose either damaging the structure or resulting in an insecure mount of the electrical equipment. – batsplatsterson Jan 2 '20 at 12:04

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