Need suggestions wiring an LED chandelier.

Discussion in 'The Projects Forum' started by Flinthound, May 8, 2015.

  1. Flinthound

    Thread Starter New Member

    May 8, 2015
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    Hi, I want to use the root base of a driftwood tree as a chandelier for my house, with the bottom of the root base down. I want to drill approximately 50 random, vertical holes in the roots, place bright white LED's in them, and run wiring in a mortised channel on top of each root, as to be recessed. I wish to use bright white LED's, powered by my home's electrical system. I want a dimmer. The LED's should be replaceable, I suppose. I understand that I'll need a transformer of some kind. As an electronics and wiring beginner I would appreciate any advice you can give, from materials to method. I have soldering experience. Please be as specific as you wish. If there is a thread that you think might be helpful please send me a link. As the project progresses I will post photos if anyone is interested. Thanks!
     
  2. wayneh

    Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
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    Several options to consider. The most ghetto is to just use a string of LED Christmas lights but I can't imagine how you'd route the wires gracefully. And there's the old problem of the whole string going down when one bulb fails.

    The most elaborate approach might be to use a 12V supply and power each LED individually. They'd all be in parallel with their own current-limiting resistors. This has the advantage of truly independent LEDs.

    A sort of in-between solution would be to use 12 or 24V supply and use 3 or 6 LEDs in series on each branch of the circuit. Electrically, you'd have 3 or 6 LEDs in series, with one resistor, and then several of these strings in parallel. There are a LOT of options for LED strings that use 12V. You can cut them into segments with multiples of 3 LEDs.

    One place to start may be to find the LED you like most. Color (warm or cool?), degree of beam focusing, maybe frosted, etc. Do you want the LEDs to provide significant illumination in the room, or mostly just look cool?

    If you want actual room illumination, you might consider just using commercial LED accent bulbs and wire traditional sockets for them.
     
  3. Flinthound

    Thread Starter New Member

    May 8, 2015
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    Thanks for your quick reply. I briefly considered the Christmas lights, but as you said, there's no way I'd be able to hide the bulky wiring. The driftwood root base itself is (or will be, when I find it) four or five feet in diameter, and I am hoping to have pinpoints of light all over the bottom, recessed into drill holes, so that light is cast more or less downward, and provides good lighting over a dining table. I want some of the smaller roots to have lights also, so the LED or bulb would have to be small. I think a warm, frosted light would be ideal. I will try to find some very small accent bulbs and sockets. Excellent suggestion, thank you.

    I guess I'll have the voltage transformer and wire junctions hidden inside the trunk of the root base. I expect to have more than three lights per root, so perhaps I'll use a 24v system and run six lights and a resistor per string and wire the strings in parallel inside the trunk, as you suggested. Somehow I'll need to incorporate a dimmer switch as well. It's a log home with exposed logs on the interior and mortar chinking. I am thinking to hang the "chandelier" from a beam, run the wiring along it and behind some window trim to a 120 volt outlet or perhaps hard wire it in a junction box. I guess I'll cut into the chinking to mount the switch and junction box.

    I am unsure what gauge wire to use. The LED string wire can be a smaller gauge than the main wire that ties the strings together in parallel, can it not?

    Thanks again for your time.
     
  4. DickCappels

    Moderator

    Aug 21, 2008
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    Just a thought. You might want to investigate a means of fireproofing the driftwood structure.
     
  5. djsfantasi

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 11, 2010
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    You do realize that you won't be able to use a simple light dimmer for dimming? LEDs are dimmed by PWM. perhaps you could find a commercial LED controller.

    For remote dimming (I.e., from a wall plate), I'd think you'd most likely run controlled low voltage line to the chandelier. Not mains voltage.
     
  6. Flinthound

    Thread Starter New Member

    May 8, 2015
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    djsfantasi, thank you for the heads up on the PWM dimmer. Also, I will mount the LED driver on the wall somewhere and run only low voltage to the chandelier.

    DickCappels, as for fireproofing, do you think I would need it with low voltage wiring? I'll be soldering and shrink tubing all wire connections. Bulb heat could be a concern. Perhaps you can recommend a bulb type. About 20 bulbs I think, small, frosted, warm glow, provides enough light to illuminate a dining room table area. Run on low voltage system, dimmable. I am having a hard time wading through all the options online.
     
  7. wayneh

    Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
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    I think a place to start is with the light equivalent of a 60-100W incandescent bulb. This is far more than what 20 "generic" LEDs can deliver, so I think there is a gap in the plan.

    You might look into 12V automotive bulbs for taillights or dome lights and such. These cram a lot of individual LEDs into a small bulb. I believe there are accent lights made for home use that use the same basic approach - lots of LED chips in one package.
     
  8. DickCappels

    Moderator

    Aug 21, 2008
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    Yes, there are many ways to do this.

    It is not the voltage that I was thinking about, it was the power and in particular, the number of watts per unit volume that could be hazardous. Since you are going to spread around the LEDs, (the places where high power dissipation could occur in the case of a failure) it may be enough to just use a power supply with the lowest power rating that will still work. As I said, its only a thought.
     
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