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Have you considered a DIY project lately? Perhaps you want to redecorate your bedroom, the kitchen or extend the house. When thinking about how you can improve your home, have you considered a better way to light it? With LED lights fast becoming the number 1 home lighting solution, many households are switching to new ways to better light their homes. Whether you are decorating your children’s bedroom or converting the loft, LEDs can play an integral part of your DIY project.
Additionally, LEDs are leading the way in terms of reducing energy consumption across the globe and driving us toward near-zero energy consumption as lighting technology continues to improve.
This guide will first consider some of the most popular DIY projects around the home including loft conversions and garage workshops. It will then go into each of the main types of LED Light including spotlights, downlights, and floodlights. Finally we have a number of general tips including health and safety, and when to see professional help.
Some Tips for Adding LEDs to Your DIY Projects
Rooms from kitchens to bedrooms, dining rooms to living rooms, are the simplest of all to fit for new lights. Most of the time you are going to have existing wiring, junctions, switches, and fixtures to work with. Moving to downlights or LED Spotlights is fairly simple because you can make use of ceiling recesses, wall spaces and so on. Just make sure you know exactly where all utilities are from water pipes to gas to wires and joists. Plan thoroughly and take your time, as one of the most frustrating events that can occur when planning new lighting is to find that there are no nearby power sources available, forcing you to run additional wires and add more time to your project.
Lofts present an interesting challenge within a home. You have the advantage of wall spaces - usually along two rather than 4 sides, and underfloor space which is often filled with insulation materials. When wiring any underfloor sections, the wires need to be well insulated and all junctions covered - please consult professionals about the best way to wire these areas. Ceiling spaces may be slightly more difficult to light due to sloping roofs and a lack of places to hide wires. This means spotlights tend to be the best light fixtures though some may use downlights on an artificial ceiling at the very top of the roof, which would solve this particular problem.
When doing loft conversions, planning and safety are paramount. Good flooring needs to be added to ensure you do not accidentally fall into the rooms below because the lower floor ceiling board is not going to carry your weight.
Additionally, LED Panels are a fantastic way to add extra light to your new loft. For example, LED Panel lights can easily be incorporated into existing (or new!) ceiling fans to brighten up the area, and save a few pounds on your next power bill at the same time.
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Many but not all garages have sockets pre-installed in the house and may also house the building’s main circuit board and fuses. Installing lights is fairly simple for garages and workshops. You need a good powerful light for the main room - we’d suggest a couple of tube lights down the middle of the space using ceiling fixtures. If it is a garage space you’re lighting, you’ll have to run the cables along the ceiling and down the wall to your mains as there’s no ceiling or wall spaces to hide them. For workshops, we’d advise you to use spotlights over specific tools or workstations so you can direct/focus light specifically on the task at hand.
If your garage is detached from the main house and is not pre-connected, you will need to use an aboveground or belowground cable to connect the two, this may, given you will be using the workshop for power tools require a new fuse, so if a tool triggers the fuse the rest of the house is isolated from any damage/overloading.
Lighting Your Shed
Often times, sheds have little-to-none natural lighting and LED light bulbs can be the perfect solution for bringing light into these small quarters. Depending on the size of your shed, you may only need a few LED bulbs to light a large structure, or just a single small LED bulb to bring light to a smaller shed.
The key challenge for adding lighting to an outdoor shed is how you wire the lights into the mains electrics in the house. The further your shed is from the house, the more of an issue this is. Assuming the lights are not powered by an auxiliary generator, solar panels on the roof or from batteries, there’s two main ways to connect to the house using cables. One is the overhead cable which is ok for shorter distances, but does require a means of keeping it taut, weatherproof, and safe for people to walk under. The most common method is to bury the cable under ground and connect to the mains within the house - usually via the kitchen or garage depending which is closer. Seek professional advice on the best way to connect the two together.
Within the shed, assuming it is prebuilt or build to order or just built to instructions, lights will require fixtures and traditional lights and spotlights tend to make for the best ones. You will need to consider the fact that unlike with building lights, you cannot hide wires in cavities and ceiling spaces. The wires will need to be pinned to the wall and run down to the main cable going to the house. This will make it harder to hide wires internally.
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How to Install Our Lights:
Lights are not as difficult to install as you might imagine. The key is safe and secure wiring within the wall or ceiling space.
These are recessed spotlights. They tend to be spaced out throughout a ceiling in rows or squares depending on size and shape of the room. In order to fit LED downlights you normally need extra space for ventilation. However, with LEDs this is less of an issue, giving you some flexibility. Here’s some tips:
1. Make sure you know where the joists are so you can avoid them.
2. Plot out your lights before you start - know how many you want and where you want them.
3. Measure the size of the lights so they fit the hole properly.
4. Carefully cut out the holes in the ceiling
5. Terminate wires into a suitable connector - also wire the downlight into this.
6. Use connector covers (also known as chocboxes).
7. Push up all wires and the chocbox into the hole.
8. Insert the light into the hole so it clips into place.
Spotlights: spotlights sit out from a wall or ceiling on a fixture. This will need screwing into position and wiring as normal in the ceiling space or down a wall so the wire is not visible.
Tube Lights: As with spotlights, ceiling tube lights require an appropriate fixture and being screwed into the ceiling. They’re far simpler than downlights to install.
Floodlights: Big external lights, sometimes set as security lights with motion sensors. Drill and screw the fixture into the wall with wires secured to the wall or preferably inside out of the way.
High Bays: As above, secure the fixture to the wall or ceiling or girder as appropriate.
Bulkheads: Again, simple matter of screwing the fixture to the wall and following similar hidden wiring rules of the downlight.
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Health and Safety Considerations
Before installing any new lights including wiring, please pay close attention to the most recently available rules and regulations provided by the government. Also ensure that all lights and circuits are isolated correctly and adhere to fire and safety regulations. This is particularly important with regard to areas where ventilation is minimal. LEDs are the safest light bulb available on the market and so produce less heat than other bulbs. While this means recesses can be minimized a safety first approach is advised in case someone subsequently replaces the bulb with a non-LED one. Remember, when in doubt always consult with a professional electrician and installer if you run into trouble. It is never wroth risking the safety of your loved ones and yourself just save a few pounds by not hiring an experienced installer.
Our top advice includes:
Be Prepared: Think carefully before starting a project about what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. Plan what you are going to do, in what order, what tools are required if any, what needs to be done by an expert and what can you reasonably do, what help do you need from friends/relatives.
Get Advice: Not just on how to do your DIY project, but legal and safety advice for any machinery, tools, or skilled elements such as wiring and plumbing.
Consider the Impact on Your Household: How will the noise, tools, movement of objects, messy, coverings and so on affect your family. If the electricity needs turning off for a period, how long, can it be isolated, and how will affect the home?
Wear the Right Clothes: Nothing baggy and nothing you don’t mind getting dirty or ruined. Preferably you want something comfortable and durable, plus sensible footwear - preferably steel toe-capped boots to protect your feet if you drop anything.
Have the Right Safety Equipment: Gloves and goggles are a must for a lot of work especially carpentry. Consider also face masks and hardhats so you do not inhale anything and protect your head from falling objects. Ear defenders are a must if you are going to use loud tools and machines.
Beware Asbestos: Many houses still have asbestos in the ceilings and sometimes in the wall plaster. Make sure you are aware of what asbestos is in your house before you make any changes to it.
Good Lighting: A little ironic given you’re installing lights, but make sure your workspace is well lit; especially when doing dangerous or fiddly work.
Take Breaks: Fatigue, along with carelessness, is one of the biggest risks when doing DIY at home. Take regular breaks and keep refreshed - it will help your concentration.
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When to Seek Professional Help
DIY is not for everyone and not all aspects of DIY are for everyone too. When it comes to lighting your home and especially for when lighting a business, it is best to have a qualified electrician do the wiring or check the wiring to ensure it meets safety and legal standards. This also applies to removing existing electrics, fitting sockets, fuses, and negotiating obstacles such as gas and water pipes.
If you are unsure about choice of bulbs and fittings, LEDLights.co.uk are only too happy to help you make the right decision. We’ve included as much information here and on other pages such as our buying guides as possible and continue to update them, in addition to our Help and FAQ pages. However, if we’ve not covered it yet, we are only too happy to help via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or on the phone (0845 533 2852).