After completing a few small projects on top of the Husky 60″ workbench with pegboard I’m currently testing for review, I found the ceiling lights in my garage were inadequate for task lighting. I wanted to find some way to get a nice even source of light onto the bench.
In my search, I found a set of Commercial Electric 600 Lumen linkable LED strips at Home Depot. They come with adhesive tape backing as well as brackets for permanent mounting. Since the bench is a review sample, I don’t want to modify it just yet. I try to keep tool samples in as close to original shape as I can so that I can review the actual product, not my modifications.
These LED strips are said to be for adding accent lighting to any space. The set comes with (4) 12-inch light strips, linking cables, an AC adapter with on/off button, and some mounting hardware.
After a little pondering, a light came on in my head. If I mount the LED strips to the metal shelf using some magnetic tape, I can hide the glare from the LEDS and be able to reconfigure the lighting on the fly.
By metal shelf, I mean a ferromagnetic steel shelf. Magnets won’t stick to non-ferrous metals, such as aluminum, and certain types of stainless steel.
I knew I had some 1/2″ magnetic tape somewhere, so I picked up a set of the LED strip lights at the nearest Home Depot. When I got home I discovered that the strips are closer to 3/8″ wide, and I could’t find my 1/2″ magnetic tape anywhere. I did have some 1″ magnetic tape from a previous project, so I decided I could cut that down to the width of the LED strips.
The magnetic tape is easy to cut with an X-Acto knife and Savage straight edge. I just lined up the straight-edge using the LED strip and made a few scoring passes on the magnetic tape. I could have cut all the way through the magnetic tape, but I found I only needed to cut it about halfway through and then fold along the cut. The magnetic tape breaks apart along the cut line.
Then I just removed the backing on both the magnetic tape and the LED strip and pressed the sticky sides together.
Once I had attached magnets to all of the LED strips, I arranged the LED strips underneath the metal shelf. Since the shelf is 48″ wide and the length of the strip plus the power connector is longer, I had to get creative in my layout under the shelf. I could have cut a few inches off one of the strips, but I would loose some LEDs.
Instead I connected two sets of two strips together and ran them diagonally towards the center, then I used one of the strip connectors that comes with the kit to connect the to strips together.
I put the shelf back on the pegboard and turned the strips on again. The strips put out a total of 600 lumens over their 4 foot length which provide an adequate amount of task lighting. It definitely could be brighter. I could try to find a brighter LED strips, or I could buy a second set and use 8 strips instead of four. But for now it accomplishes what I set out to do.
If you actually had 1/2″ magnetic tape and didn’t care about a little extra magnet hanging off the LED strips, you could save yourself the trouble of having to trim the magnetic tape down to size.
Since these LED strips run off a transformer that outputs 12V, theoretically you might be able to run these strips off of a 12V or even 18V battery so you could use this setup in a shed or a trailer that doesn’t have power, but that’s a project for another day.
Total Project Cost: $34
- LED strip lights: $30
- 1/2″ Magnetic tape: $4
Buy Now (LED Strips via Home Depot)
Buy Now (Magnetic Tape via Home Depot)
(As of the time of this posting, there’s a promo code (SHINEBRIGHT) that drops the price of the LED lighting kit to $27. It’s said to be valid 06/28/2017 – 07/15/2017.)
Stuart’s Note: Do you want to see more DIY LED workbench or under-cabinet projects like this?
Nice job…..works well ..
I actually 3m VHB taped some Feit LED shop lights to the underside of a metal shelf on workbenches here where I work and it’s actually been great.
Koko the Talking Ape
I have thought a lot about this kind of project, but one thing that hangs me up is that it is difficult to tell whether the resulting light will be bright enough, or what character the light will have. Lumen ratings just tell you how much light the thing is putting out total, not how much ends up where you want it to. And it says even less about the quality of light. Four feet of LEDs in a line spaced every six inches might make a nice diffuse but intense light, but the same LED’s spaced over 8 feet might not be intense enough. And four feet of more LEDs that are more powerful but spaced farther apart might make a distracting multi-shadow effect. All three might put out the same lumens, but only the first is usable.
Or I could just screw around with these strips. They aren’t super-expensive.
I suppose I could always buy some bare LED’s and conduct some experiments, but I am not really set up for that, nor do I have time, plus I think some industry group like the IEEE would do it better.
How about updating your review of LED replacements for fluorescent fixtures?
I really should. I’ve had bad luck lately trying LED replacements and fixtures. I purchased some of the cheap Philips tubes from Home Depot and they blew up one of my fixtures. Yeah it said to only put it in approved fixtures — in very small print Most people wouldn’t catch that and I wanted to see what would happen. I’m really surprised they are allowed to sell them .
I’ve installed 4 Toggled LED tubes (purchased at Home Depot) recently and I’m happy with them so far (laundry room and closet). I bought the dimmable versions, but I haven’t tested the dimming yet. The light is good (I’ve got 4000K and 5000K tubes) but I think the CRI is only about 80.
I’m about to install 8 more in our basement. These will be on a dimmer.
The Toggled tubes require removing the ballast from the fixture (you can just cut the wires and leave it there, although I did remove them) and some minor rewiring in the fixture.
I ordered these from amazon:
They’re great. These are the ballast removal type (which I think is the way to go anyway – why leave the ballast in?)
I couldn’t find ones that I wanted at any of the local big boxes. They were either ballast in or the wrong pinout (I was replacing T12s).
For what it’s worth, T8s fit in T12 fixtures. If you want to stick with fluorescent, you just need to change out the ballast for a T8 ballast.
A few years ago, I converted a few T12 fixtures to T8 since the T8 tubes make slightly nicer light and the electronic ballasts are silent and more efficient.
i got them at lowes a few years back..exact same thing..the connection on mine were iffy, but did use separately as under-lighting on the shelves of my bed..neat little lights.
More DIY please.
that’s nifty. I might have to try that
I personally prefer to buy LED lights in 16′ reels. Then I cut dadoes and install aluminum extrusions with a diffused lense for the LEDs to go inside of. In the shop and garage cabinets over workspaces this works really well, especially when the lights are dadoed into the front bottom edge of the cabinets. I then use 12 V power supplies and various switches that allow me to turn the lights on either by waving my hand in front of the flush mounted switch or touching it or pressing and holding it to dim the lights. The light is great for working on projects and looks pretty cool lighting up the workbench so I usually just leave them on and it creates a nice ambient light when I come in to the dark garage at night.
I do a similar lighting in custom kitchens. It’s way cheaper than purchasing light kits and I can maximize lighting coverage. I get the aluminum channels at outwater.com and the light reals from Amazon.
BTW I used the same system in my work trailer that run off my Milwaukee 10.8V M12 batteries.
Thanks for the outwater.com heads up, looks like a good resource for hardware and lighting components. I’ve been using Häfele for years but their pricing is atrociously high.
Check out the LED strips that Lee Valley sells:
Those are almost exactly what I use, but I buy mine in 8′ lengths.
Thanks, I’ve been thinking about some track like that for another project.
I recently did some hobby-room cabinets for one of the kids – we (I use that term advisedly since I was paying for the hardware and giving of my time) decided on WAC LED puck lights instead of strip lighting. I borrowed a jig (True Position) from my ex- compatriots to recess them into the cabinets and route the wires. Overall we were very satisfied with the outcome.
You should have ordered the lights from eBay. 20′ roll for like $6. 1500 lumens. Solder wires to the ends run a switch & mount it inside the tool box, drop wires through the bed follow the frame , fuse it & run to the battery. Less than $20.
If you’ve purchased this before , do you have a reliable seller that you purchase from that you can share?
Give $6 isn’t that much to gamble, but shipping time is a huge variable. I didn’t want to wait 3+ weeks for something coming from China. Then find out it wasn’t what I wanted.
And are you talking 1500 lumens for the whole 20′ strip — that works out to 75 lumens per foot — half of the 150 Lumens per foot of the kit I used. I would have needed to use 2x the lenght to get the same amount of light. Sure there’s room in this project, but I’ve been hesitant to buy strip LED lighting before because of this horrible Lumens per foot density.
I know you are sponsored by Home Depot, but I can’t resist pointing out that I bought a 5 meter roll of LED’s from Amazon for $10. I’ve used them to make a workbench light much like yours for both me & my father. I made a replacement trunk light for my car (much brighter than the old single incandecent bulb). I also added lights to my wife’s sewing machine so she could see her work better. After all of that, I still have over half of the roll of LED’s left. I bought a few power supplies and some switches to use on these various projects, and I still haven’t spent over $30.
No, I am not sponsored by Home Depot. Actually neither is Stuart or ToolGuyd. ToolGuyd might get a few pennies if somebody clicks on the link (I don’t know what the current deal is). But with Amazon affiliate links you get way more. So If I was being “sponsored” why wouldn’t I use Amazon?
We don’t choose the link sources based on how much money we can get on affiliate links. We base them on what we used, where the best price is, where is the most convenient for the readers, etc.
The problem I’ve found with trying to buy strip LEDs online is that when you dig in and look at the specs they usually have an abysmally low Lumen per foot rating. So, if you have a link for a good cheap roll of LEDs please post it.
Also this was not a project I did for the site, it’s something I wanted now, and afterwards I asked Stuart if he wanted me to write it up because I though people could benefit from it. Why go get takeout when you could buy all the ingredients for cheap and make it at home? I couldn’t get what I wanted anywhere locally so I picked the easiest way to make it. Convenience. Plus if I didn’t like the color temp I could return it.
Again I’m serious and not trying to be snarky, please post the link to which LED strip you bought, if you have them the power supplies too. If it’s too much to put here throw it on the forum.
As Ben mentioned, this was NOT a sponsored project. If a project is sponsored by HD or any other party, you’ll see it mentioned at the start of a post, and likely at the end too.
In regard to LEDs and LED strips, there can be big differences in quality, even between products that look nearly identical.
I’ve been meaning to checkout the Lee Valley stuff, and a reader turned my attention to flexfireleds.com (thanks, Brian!). And because of this post, I might check out the Commerical Electric strips from Home Depot.
I also have a bunch of rigid LED strips from Ikea that I’ve been meaning to play around with.
I’ve seen lots of junky no-name LED strips on Amazon, and have been hesitant. Which one did you buy?
I am always hesitant about buying electrical items that do not have UL or FM certification. We sort of take it for granted that stuff that is being sold to us will not burn the house down or give us a shock – but ist good to be cautious. Sometimes cheap goods might be a bargain but it can be hard to tell unless there is lots of positive online reviews that look trustworthy and seem knowledgeable and pertinent.
Even more disquieting is the fact that fake UL labeling may be applied to some cheap goods. Some of the hoverboards that burnt up – reportedly had fake UL labels meant to deceive. You can go to the UL website to learn more.
Not everything is akin to that bad Chinese wallboard that got sold here – but scammers and bad products do get made.
I should have also said that in today’s marketplace – higher price doesn’t always equate to higher quality either – but buying from a reputable manufacturer through a reputable source that will stand behind what they make and sell – is worth considering along with the price.
I’ll trust a good retailer in lieu of a good brand, such as Lee Valley.
With Amazon, I’ve grown distrustful of some of the no-name stuff. ToolGuyd is solicited all the time to review random stuff, and most of the products I look at for kick and giggles have tons of 5-star reviews in a very short time span, but no history.
I won’t knowingly spend more on the same stuff. A lighting company was selling an 8-cell 12V AA battery box for say $20. I bought a bunch from Digikey for maybe $6.50 each. The same with a simple dimmer – instead of $25 or so, I ordered from Mouser or Newark for $12 or so.
In those cases the products were exactly the same.
But with LED strips, I’ve seen and heard of junky stuff, which is why I’m hesitant to try unknown brands or unvetted retailers.
Here’s what I heard about some reviews that appear on even legitimate sites:
A vendor wants to promote their product.
They and/or their employees, relatives and whomever they can get open (or have) a plethora of different email addresses and accounts at the retailer (might be Amazon or Home Depot as examples).
These shills buy the product – as several different and distinct orders.
Then they write favorable reviews – and perhaps provide positive feedback about the vendor.
Sorry for the skepticism – but that maybe how you get a “tons of 5-star reviews in a very short time span.”
Sorry I took so long to get back to this….
My apologies for the Home Depot confusion. From the article titled “Husky 60pc Universal Mechanics Tool Set with 100-Position Ratchets and Universal Sockets,” the opening paragraph reads… “Home Depot sent over a Husky 60pc “Universal” mechanics tool set for review. We’re currently in a paid partnership with Home Depot, and this is one of the tools they sent over this quarter for review consideration.” Since this article was posted 2 days later, I just assumed that the partnership was still in effect.
According to my Amazon purchase history, I bought this LED strip on March 25, 2015… https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D83BGVS/. I paid 10.99, but they are currenty selling for half that. I did have to wait a couple of weeks for shipping from China, but that wasn’t a concern for me at the time. I used this switched 12v power supply on my wife’s sewing machine… https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00S1GRFYY/. For the rest of my projects, I have used the cheapest 12v power supply I could get on Ebay (item # 191604556001 & 201117228308). My purchase history shows one purchased for 2.33 and one for 2.29.
Ya’ll keep up the good work. I do like the DIY project write-ups. I enjoy seeing what other people are doing for inspiration for my own projects.
Thanks for getting back.
Sorry, I thought the “Sponsored by HD” was out of the blue. After you commented again, I went to the post you referred to and saw how confusing it was.
I talked to Stuart last week about it and it only applies to linking to HD for a few specific reviews he’s working on.
Anyway, I purchased the LEDs and power supply in your links and am looking forward to playing with them.
I needed the brightest replacement led 8′ and 4′ tubes that I could find for my new garage.
I found a company called eledlights.com and their lights are unbelievably bright. I have 8′ 6,600 lumen tubes at 6,000 kelvin and 4′ tubes with 3,000 lumens at 6,000 kelvin. They also sell 4′ magnetic strips that are extremely bright for use in converting an old fluorescent fixture by slapping them on instead of using tubes. If someone wants the highest quality, super bright strip leds, please look into this company. They sure would work on a metal work bench, replacing the fluorescent tubes or incandescent bulbs. Their 4′ lamps are very reasonably priced. The magnetic strips are pricey, but look at their light output. loup68
Those led strips look like the type used in led tv’s. Those usually have a slightly blueish tint, but they’re very bright. I’ve bee thinking of doing something similar with those for a while now.