Carpe Diem:24 November, 2021

Kitchen Under Cabinet Lighting

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Ambient lighting can really put a nice vibe on a room. It’s all personal taste, but for me, I love ambient lighting. It makes the room glow and classes it up a bit.

I finally got around to putting in some under cabinet LED strips in the kitchen and am quite pleased. Our kitchen is nice, but is a little dated. It’s on our list of things to redo, but kitchens are spendy! Plus everything we have works, it’s just not the look that my family wants. As a middle ground, doing small upgrades such as under cabinet lights spices up the kitchen a bit.

An of course, the lights needed to be controllable through home assistant.

Project Goal

Install LED strips, pair with home assistant, automate!

Ingredients

Equipment

There are TONS of LED light options out there. I won’t go into too much detail about all the different types here, but mentioning this because much of choosing LEDs comes down to personal preference. For example, you can get individually addressed LED strips where each light on a strip can be its color. This is pretty neat where you can make cool designs with the lights, but they are more expensive. For my purposes, standard 5050 RGB LEDs would do the trick. Since I’m just looking for ambient lighting, 1 color per strip was fine. Check out your options and figure out what features you want for your application.

For my install, I chose this LED package because it had everything I wanted nicely packaged up and included all the necessary install hardware. The big things I was looking for were:

  • Casing and diffuser built in
  • Mounting hardware including cable management clips, brackets, screws
  • WiFi controller
  • Power supply
  • Enough LED strips for all my cabinets

This LED kit had everything I needed and is a great price. Win win.

Installation

Install was not too bad, but I did learn a few tips:

  • Adhesive strips have a TOUGH time working in the kitchen on cabinets that have been up for a few years. I could not get strips to stick in certain areas due to the years of oil build up. I opted in screwing in the brackets and am very happy I don’t have to worry about them falling out.
  • Cable management is 100% required. Seeing dangling cables really kills the vibe. Think through the install to figure out how you can route cables so that they are not visible when occupying the room under normal circumstances. By normal circumstances I mean where people will most often be looking. Yes if you get down and look up, you’ll see cables, but people don’t often do that. From my normal standing height, none of the cables are visible.
  • Related to the above, given advancements in technology, we can install multiple controllers instead of trying to run longer cables over tough areas. In my setup, I have cabinets that my sink area splits. Instead of trying to route a cable to connect the two, I just bought another WiFi controller and hooked them up independently. Once all set up, they operate as one.
LED Controller

Integration

Magichome – the good and the bad.

In terms of controlling the LEDs from HA, there are a few options. A WiFi controller came with the LED package that works with the MagicHome app. It’s a small, compact controller driven off 12v. It is also compatible with Home Assistant out of the box.

Pros

  • Small compact size
  • Plug and play
  • Has its own RF remote
  • Local only support (no need for internet access or cloud account)
  • Cheap
  • Compatible with home assistant

Cons

I really only have 1 con for this controller: Latency & Connectivity with Home Assistant. Initial Commands are quick to be received, but subsequent commands can take longer or appear to not be received at all. In addition, the UI in HA is slow to update. For example when turning on/off, the LEDs will turn off pretty quick, but the switch in the UI doesn’t update for a second or two.

These latency issues can be annoying when trying to do many commands repeatedly, however for my application, this isn’t too much of a concern. Generally these lights will be automatically turned on and off with the rest of my house lighting only a couple times a day – far from requiring high performance. In addition, I regularly will not be manually turning on the lights (automation does all this!).

If you don’t want to deal with the latency issues, there are other controllers out there. I read that you can even flash the MagicHome controllers with custom firmware, but it involves soldering and a USB serial adapter – I didn’t want to dive into the weeds on this, but it appears to be doable. A quick google search will yield results.

To add the MagicHome controller to home assistant, we’ll use the flux led integration. As of HA 2021.11, devices will be auto-discovered and are able to be added via the integration UI. If you’re on a previous version of HA, it’s pretty easy to add via configuration.yaml – see below for my setup where I have 2 controllers.

  - platform: flux_led
    automatic_add: true
    devices:
      192.168.1.110:
        name: Kitchen Under Cabinet 1
        mode: rgb
      192.168.1.111:
        name: Kitchen Under Cabinet 2
        mode: rgb

For my kitchen, I have a large gap between cabinets across the sink. Instead of trying to run a long extension cable, I bought another magichome controller that was pretty cheap. This was as seamless to set up as the controller that came with the LEDs. Once added to Home Assistant, I went ahead and made a light group so that I could control both controllers together giving the impression of a single light.

light:
  - platform: group
    name: Kitchen Under Cabinet
    entities:
      - light.kitchen_under_cabinet_1
      - light.kitchen_under_cabinet_2

Automation

As of the time of this writing, I don’t have a ton of automation enabled for this. The light just turns on with the rest of the ambient lighting in my house after sundown. Then the LEDs also turn off when it’s lights out in the house. However I do plan to spice this up a bit:

  • Set certain RGB values to match lighting in the rest of the room or based on time of day. E.g.
    • Nighttime have a warm light
    • AM have a cooler light
    • Change light temperature when other lights in the room turn on off
  • Holiday themes – Christmas, Halloween, St. Patty’s
  • Lights turn on when motion after lights out

I’ll share my enhancements on a later post. That’s it for now!

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