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Old 10-12-2009, 01:13 AM   #1
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DIY Lighting Fixture


Greetings. I would like to design and build some custom light fixtures for my living room to compliment some new furniture we purchased. I'm pretty decent with wood and have done some household electrical, but have never built a lighting fixture and would appreciate some guidance.

First, just to give you an idea of what we are dealing with. Sorry no pictures at the moment, it is all just in my mind. The fixture will be relatively simple. As a base/foundation/back I will use a plank of reclaimed wood, approximately 30"-36" tall by about 18" wide. I have the great iron grills which I plan to mount on a 1.5" deep wood frame which would in turn be mounted on the reclaimed wood plank. As for the lighting, I was thinking about just using some rope lighting around the inside of the wood frame, with some rice paper, or a plastic filter of some sort, behind the iron grill to hide the inner workings. Rather than hard wiring this, I'd like to make these so that they just plug into an outlet.

First, any major issues, concerns or suggestions?

If not, then I have a couple of questions.

Is rope lighting the best material for this application? From what I see at the local big box, they come in lengths much more than I need. Any suggestions where I can find it in either shorter lengths or adjustable(is this still allowed)?

I'd like to build a switch into the wood frame of each fixture that would control the lights, just a simple toggle switch or something. Should this be a problem? Most rope lighting is low voltage, right? So, I guess depending on where I place the switch I'd need to get a low voltage or line voltage toggle. Any suggestions as to which route I should go? Does the toggle switch require a j box like a regular switch? or can I just mount the switch and make the connections inside the body of the fixture?

Any other suggestions or thoughts would be much appreciated. Am I missing anything?

Thanks!

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Old 10-12-2009, 07:07 AM   #2
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DIY Lighting Fixture


Lighting fixtures, or the components from which they are made must meet UL standards. If you can incorporate these into your designs, should be OK. Boxes or caps where wires connect must seal fairly tightly with the electric box in the wall/ceiling. This keeps sparks/fire contained, should it hasppen.

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Old 10-12-2009, 08:21 AM   #3
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DIY Lighting Fixture


[
I'd like to build a switch into the wood frame of each fixture that would control the lights, just a simple toggle switch or something. Should this be a problem? Most rope lighting is low voltage, right? So, I guess depending on where I place the switch I'd need to get a low voltage or line voltage toggle. Any suggestions as to which route I should go? Does the toggle switch require a j box like a regular switch? or can I just mount the switch and make the connections inside the body of the fixture?

Any other suggestions or thoughts would be much appreciated. Am I missing anything?

Thanks![/quote]

Why add complexity? You'd need a transformer for low voltage operation. Mounting switches in a fixture is no problem. Look over the sorts of switches available and you'll find one that suits your design. A switch in a fixture would not require a Jbox, but should be installed in a safe, workman-like way. Observe how switches are installed in the types on display at Home Depot, Lowes, etc.
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Old 10-12-2009, 01:54 PM   #4
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DIY Lighting Fixture


Many rope lighting sets are connected to standard voltage (120 volt) circuits with no transformer. Although the individual lamps (bulbs) are low voltage, the wiring has to be designed assuming 120 volts.

Standard voltage rope lighting sets cannot be cut to a desired length.

Low voltage rope lighting sets might permit cutting to length but may also have restrictions such as cuts limited to locations every three bulbs apart. You would have to do some soldering of thin wires as well.

Lamp cord or other cable without splices can be strung through holes bored in the wood body of a light fixture you are crafting.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 10-12-2009 at 02:00 PM.
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Old 10-12-2009, 03:34 PM   #5
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DIY Lighting Fixture


Excellent info guys, thanks so much. Hopefully you can help me nail this down a bit further.

These are going to function as fairly large sconces on either side of our flat screen. The lit area will be approximately 29"H x 10"W x 1" D. I am planning to use rice paper or some other filter to hide the inner workings.

What do you suggest I use to light this? Is rope lighting the right way to go? Running it around the inner perimeter box? Will that give me a pretty consistent glow? Or is there something better for this application?
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Old 10-12-2009, 05:40 PM   #6
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Paper is very flammable. I think that rice paper used as a shade or diffuser very close to the lamps is not a good idea.
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Old 10-12-2009, 08:22 PM   #7
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What I would do is instead of using the string light stuff try to incorporate a standard socket into the fixture, and put a CCFL light in there. It produces low heat and it will be seated in a UL approved socket. Your light would basically be a cover over an existing light.

If you do end up customizing the innter workers try to line it with foil or some other material that wont catch fire. I think foil can burn at certain temps, but don't think it can with just sparks, or heat of a light. I would make sure to test these for a couple days straight in a controlled environment though. Probably good idea to avoid any oil based paints/sealants as well.

Actually, wonder what it would take to actually get something UL certified. Guessing it would cost lot of money...
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Old 10-12-2009, 09:49 PM   #8
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Hmm, excellent selection, but I am not sure how well that will work here, but perhaps we can build on it. The area I'd like to light is 29" x10". I am afraid that a single bulb at the base of a 29"x10" box might not really light it up all that well.

Any thoughts?
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Old 10-12-2009, 10:25 PM   #9
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DIY Lighting Fixture


Quote:
Originally Posted by oilseal View Post
[
I'd like to build a switch into the wood frame of each fixture that would control the lights, just a simple toggle switch or something. Should this be a problem? Most rope lighting is low voltage, right? So, I guess depending on where I place the switch I'd need to get a low voltage or line voltage toggle. Any suggestions as to which route I should go? Does the toggle switch require a j box like a regular switch? or can I just mount the switch and make the connections inside the body of the fixture?

Any other suggestions or thoughts would be much appreciated. Am I missing anything?

Thanks!
Why add complexity? You'd need a transformer for low voltage operation. Mounting switches in a fixture is no problem. Look over the sorts of switches available and you'll find one that suits your design. A switch in a fixture would not require a Jbox, but should be installed in a safe, workman-like way. Observe how switches are installed in the types on display at Home Depot, Lowes, etc.[/quote]
My concern with the OPs project is that he wants to mount all of this heat-producing equipment on a wood frame. As you well pointed out, that for low voltage (and not necessarily low-heat) producing lights there would be a need for a --very high, heat producing-- Transformer. Where would all this heat dissipate?! The best course of action would be (if they have the funds) to Custom Build a light fixture to his specifications at a Lighting design/build outfit. There are such stores. They would, at least know what (UL) listed materials to incorporate, while at the same time assure heat dissipation. (No matter what)Don't Drink and Drive, Ever!!! (Please note;My comments somehow merged with those of "Oilseal" Poster #3; The Second paragraph is where my own comments begin)!

Last edited by spark plug; 10-12-2009 at 10:31 PM. Reason: Inadvertent merging with post #3
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Old 10-13-2009, 08:45 AM   #10
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Spark Plug- Thanks for the advice, well taken. Nevertheless, I am really interested in making these myself. I am hoping perhaps someone on here has some experience and can give me proper guidance to avoid the dangers you indicate.

Thanks!
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Old 10-13-2009, 09:34 AM   #11
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DIY Lighting Fixture


LED rope light would provide very little heat
Low power use & best bet for a 29" x 12" area
That would be about 8', I think they come in 9-10' lengths premade
Just modify the size to use the full length
I have 2 sections od LED rope light in the kitchen that we use
Lights up the whole kitchen & uses about 10w
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Old 10-13-2009, 02:20 PM   #12
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DIY Lighting Fixture


So, you can cut the lengths of rope light down to size? Are all of them adjustable, or just certain ones?

I am afraid that the shape of the rope light will be very visible through the filter/screen of the sconce. Is that a real concern or no worries?

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