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Cabinet Lighting

1 July 2019

Some of our cabinets are deep.  The advantage is we have more storage space.  The disadvantage is not much light gets in the back and so things get lost back there and forgotten.  It's also just hard to see in there.  This is a project to fix that.

I chose to solder many of the connections in this project.  As I got into it, it became quickly aparent that was not the easiest choice and that solderless connectors would have made this whole process go much faster.  On the other hand, I like soldering.  I used solderless connectors for connecting the wires to the swtiches.  Hot glue holds the wires in place where needed.

 Schematic of the lighting system drawn using Scheme-it.

How it was before.  It's difficult to see what is in the back.  It gets more difficult when one gets closer since that blocks more of the light going into the cabinets.


The power bus with the power cord attached.  It wasn't essential, but this one has an LED on it to indicate power is going to the bus.  That was helpful when troubleshooting.

Some of the parts and tools for installation and testing.  On the right is a strand of the LED lights.  To the left of that, near the power bus, is a set of the magnetic switches.  All the parts and several of the tools, including my new Hakko Mach1 solding iron (not pictured), I purchased from All Electronincs in Van Nuys, CA.

Beginning the installation.  Soldering in tight spaces is a challenge.  Fortunately, I managed to avoid burning myself or anything important this time.


The magnetic switches I used.  These are similar to the kind that are used in home security systems to detect if a window or door is opened. They are different in that it is possible to set them up as Normally Open or Normally Closed depending on how one connects the wires.  In my case, I used the contact labeled "NO" or Normally Open so they would close (i.e. complete the circuit) when the door was opened.

Positioning them turned out to be a challenge because I couldn't set them next to each other in the way they are typically used.  I had to test various relative positions to see what worked and what my options were.  It turned out that these switches are very flexible in that it didn't seem to matter what angle the magnet sat next to the switch in order to affect it.


The box that contains the power bus.  A 12V power adapter, plugged into an outlet behind the refrigerator, supplies power to the system.

The first cabinet completed.  I chose LED's that put out a warm white light since that is less harsh on the eyes.

All the cabinets completed and everything put back in.  The difference is striking when one compares it to the photograph near the top.