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LEDs For Your Layout

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LEDs For Your Layout
Posted by up831 on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 11:53 PM

Someone in Jeffery's Trackside Diner mentioned LED lights instead of fluorescents for their lighting.  To start this thread, I just copied and pasted my comment in the diner to get the discussion going.

Another possibility instead of 4' fluorescent fixtures, would be LED strip lighting, which is fairly continuous for 20' or more.  This form of led lighting is available at your local box store.

 On the dream side, there is also an LED strip type lighting , which is imbedded Into the ceiling and walls.  It is more sophisticated and specialized, and not for most budgets.  With this type of lighting, the need for a valance is eliminated.  However, it is pricey.  If anyone would like more info, pm me.  I can steer you in the direction to inquire further.  (No Vinnie, I'm not a dealer for these fixtures.)

IdeaIdea  

I have a feeling most of us have or have had layouts that are illuminated by a single 77 Watt bulb or equivalent in our basements.  LED strip lighting is inexpensive, long lasting, and bright.  And it is much more energy efficient.  It will also eliminate those dark spaces between fixtures of fluorescents.

If you want to pursue LED lighting, I would advise to select "bulbs" that are full spectrum.  These put out "warmer" color than most.  LEDs have a tendency to be more on the blue or cooler white side than warm.

Hopefully, people will have comments and questions about LEDs.

Less is more,...more or less!

Jim (with a nod to Mr. Van Der Rohe)

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Posted by mlehman on Wednesday, March 01, 2017 2:57 AM

My primary layout lighting for the last three years is a bunch of LED strip lighting.

A big selling point for me on it is the fact that is emits parallel-oriented light. This makes it a lot more like sunlight than most other lighting and helps with the realism of the layout.

While I still use individual LEDs in some cases for car lighting, I now mostly use snippets of LED strip lighting.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, March 01, 2017 6:51 AM

up831

I have a feeling most of us have or have had layouts that are illuminated by a single 77 Watt bulb or equivalent in our basements.  LED strip lighting is inexpensive, long lasting, and bright.  And it is much more energy efficient.  It will also eliminate those dark spaces between fixtures of fluorescents.

This could prove to be a very interesting thread. I wholeheartedly agree about the dark spaces between flourescent fixtures.

I have a basement layout that measures 45' x 25', set up in what I call an open-P arrangement.  I have twelve 48" double tube fluorescent fixtures strategically placed across the layout.  Dark spaces between them is a problem.

LED lighting sounds interesting, be it individual fixtures or strips. I hope to learn more from this thread.

Here is a rough drawing of my layout and fluorescent fixture placement.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, March 01, 2017 8:36 AM

There is a current thread about a layout under construction which is using home made LED lighting. It sounds pretty Mickey Mouse but this is anything but! The thread has become quite long but you can go directly to the information on how the lighting was done here:

http://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/node/20664

Here is the main thread. The lighting details are on page 2 and 3:

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/11/t/258833.aspx?page=1

I have purchased a significant number of LED strips as well as the power supplies. If I was doing it again I would buy the newer 4' LED tubes that look like fluorescent lighting, and run the fixtures end to end so there wouldn't be any gaps in the lighting. Installing the LED strips and power supplies will be a lot of work. The LED tubes run off of 120 volts so it is a much simpler installation. No 12 volt power supplies with multiple circuits.

Dave

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Posted by mlehman on Wednesday, March 01, 2017 9:04 AM

hon30critter
I have purchased a significant number of LED strips as well as the power supplies. If I was doing it again I would buy the newer 4' LED tubes that look like fluorescent lighting, and run the fixtures end to end so there wouldn't be any gaps in the lighting. Installing the LED strips and power supplies will be a lot of work. The LED tubes run off of 120 volts so it is a much simpler installation. No 12 volt power supplies with multiple circuits.

Just wanted to note that there are alternatives to the LED strips that require outboard power supplies. The LED light strips I use have a built-in power supply and are encased in a clear plastic sheath.  Hanging them is as simple as tacking them to your ceiling and plugging in. Makes them easy to adjust as needed, too. Look around and consider all your alternatives with shopping for lighting, as this is a fast-changing area of technology.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by up831 on Wednesday, March 01, 2017 5:42 PM

Mike is right about LED strips being more of a "plug and play" kind of thing.  It's really as simple as stapling the strips to the ceiling and plug them in.  

But, you can take the same strip and run it behind a light valance, and run the strip on a seperate circuit.

One thing I would like to mention here.  If one looks at Mike's pictures one would see several light strips and some spot lights Used in Trac lighting.  More than one type of light fixture can illuminate a space.  If we take each type of fixture and run them on separate circuits, it's known as layered lighting.  You see this very often in restaurants, etc.

If I use the layout drawing, I can still leave the fluorescents in place and add LED strip lights on a separate circuit to snake around the layout and not only eliminate the dark spots, but have two different ways t light the layout.  If the circuits are on dimmers, you can do more than just illuminate the layout, you can use the fluorescents (even if LED) for work lights, or dim them to only light up the layout itself, to put the layout "on stage" as it were.

Less is more,...more or less!

Jim (with a nod to Mr. Van Der Rohe)

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, March 01, 2017 7:31 PM

up831

If I use the layout drawing, I can still leave the fluorescents in place and add LED strip lights on a separate circuit to snake around the layout and not only eliminate the dark spots, but have two different ways to light the layout.  

Great idea, but why on a separate circuit?

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, March 01, 2017 9:42 PM

mlehman
The LED light strips I use have a built-in power supply and are encased in a clear plastic sheath.  Hanging them is as simple as tacking them to your ceiling and plugging in.

Hi Mike:

Are the power supplies in the form of wall warts or are they built right in to the light tubes themselves?

Thanks

Dave

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Posted by joe323 on Thursday, March 02, 2017 6:16 AM

If I recall right and I am at work on break not near the SIW they are built in and you an daisy chain them like Christmas lights.

Joe Staten Island West 

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Posted by mlehman on Thursday, March 02, 2017 1:38 PM

Jim,

Good point on using multiple sources of light. I tend to just use the LED light strips most of the time. I turn on the track lighting for pics or visitors and hope to replace the halogens in it with LEDs. I turn on the old tubes when I want to burn moneyWink

hon30critter
Are the power supplies in the form of wall warts or are they built right in to the light tubes themselves?

Dave,

There is a lead cord that plugs into the wall and it has a "lump" in it that does the electrickery. This connects to the first light strip, then the remainder can be added one after the other on up to near 200' (IIRC, if need be). The connectors are similar to those on rope lighting, except smaller.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, March 02, 2017 3:00 PM

richhotrain

 

 
up831

If I use the layout drawing, I can still leave the fluorescents in place and add LED strip lights on a separate circuit to snake around the layout and not only eliminate the dark spots, but have two different ways to light the layout.  

 

 

Great idea, but why on a separate circuit?

 

Rich

 

Anybody?

Alton Junction

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Posted by Renegade1c on Thursday, March 02, 2017 4:06 PM

I decided to go with all LED lighting on my current layout. So far I have used about 300 feet of it. 

 

Above is a picture of the LED lighting in its valance. 

Here is the overall room. I have since painted which make it even better.

Here you can see the lights on the lower deck. 

 Here is the same vein showing the even lightingredients of the LED from a different view.

I really like the light they provide and also not have 110v running around the layout.

Colorado Front Range Railroad: 
http://www.coloradofrontrangerr.com/

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Posted by up831 on Thursday, March 02, 2017 4:27 PM

richhotrain

 

 
richhotrain

 

 
up831

If I use the layout drawing, I can still leave the fluorescents in place and add LED strip lights on a separate circuit to snake around the layout and not only eliminate the dark spots, but have two different ways to light the layout.  

 

 

Great idea, but why on a separate circuit?

 

Rich

 

 

 

Anybody?

 

 

Hi Rich,

Sorry for not responding sooner.

The reason for having the different types of light fixtures on separate circuits is to have total control over the lighting in the space.

For definition, separate circuit does not necessarily imply a separate feed from the breaker box.  It does mean having two or more lighting circuits on different switch and dimmer controls.  (The load from the lighting has to be less than the load capacity of the circuit, or you will have to have a separate line from the breaker box.)

With layered lighting you can have say the LED strip lights at full intensity and have the spotlights dimmed, or vise versa.  

Now, let's say you want an LED strip of blue lights to represent moon light.  You can have the other lights off or significantly dimmed and the blue strip at full intensity to represent a full moon.

On Mike's very nice layout, he could just have the spotlights on and the rest of the lighting off or very dim to showcase that trestle or factory' etc.  BTW, halogen lights can get very hot.  Xenon lights have pretty much the same spectrum and are cooler.  And, they should be able to be used in the same fixtures.

I have simplified the concept to illustrate the point.  Example, it is possible to have a frequency converter that will take the same LED strip and make it accent one or combination of RGB hues, hence eliminating the need for extra strips, but significantly enhancing the complexity and the cost.  You get the idea.

One thing I would suggest is that the output in "lumens" of the LED strip should be enough to fully illuminate the space.  Otherwise, you'd end up having to install multiples to achieve the same effect.  

Hope this helps.

Edit: Renegade must have posted while I was writing.  The pictures pretty well illustrate what I've been saying.

Enjoy!

Less is more,...more or less!

Jim (with a nod to Mr. Van Der Rohe)

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, March 02, 2017 4:51 PM

 There are LED dimmers (and RGB controllers) that are distributed - one dimmer or controller which cascades to multiple modules that go between the poower supply and LED strip - so one control can drive many many amps of LEDs by adding in more controllers that take their signal from the single master. This way you are controlling the low voltage side of the circuit so you can use multiple smaller power supplies or one large one with seperate runs to various strings of LEDs.

                        --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, March 02, 2017 5:48 PM

up831
 

The reason for having the different types of light fixtures on separate circuits is to have total control over the lighting in the space.

For definition, separate circuit does not necessarily imply a separate feed from the breaker box.  It does mean having two or more lighting circuits on different switch and dimmer controls.  (The load from the lighting has to be less than the load capacity of the circuit, or you will have to have a separate line from the breaker box.)

ahh, OK, so not a separate circuit, but separate wall switch controls that could be on the same circuit. 

Rich

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Posted by mlehman on Thursday, March 02, 2017 8:43 PM

richhotrain
ahh, OK, so not a separate circuit, but separate wall switch controls that could be on the same circuit. Rich

Yep, that's how mine mostly are...except for those thirsty old tubes above the suspended ceiling and the halogens on the tracks. There's about a kilowatt feeding them and they need their own circuit. My track lighting was split into two circuits, because I had roughly 36 of them at one time -- 1800 watts, more than you should try jamming into a 20 amp circuit really.

Thing is, you'd have to have a whole bunch of LEDs before they're exceed the capacity of a 20 amp circuit.

BTW, re my blue LED light strips, I just leave them on all the time. I switch the white lighting on/off as needed. That way I can often avoid turning on the bulk of my lighting but can still pop into the layout room as needed.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by middleman on Friday, March 03, 2017 11:22 AM

A lot of LED options out there. I haven't tried the 4' tubes in the train room,but I replaced the fluorescents in the kitchen with LED's - a big improvement.

When I had a small On3 setup underneath my HO layout I used the LED strips.They were a great solution for installing lighting in a limited space.

The ceiling in my layout area is finished,and I wanted to do as little damage to it as I could,so I use track lighting with 12 watt(roughly equal to 75 watt incandescent)LED spots - 4k with a 90+ CRI. I'm very happy with it.Obviously,it wouldn't work well for lighting between levels,or where the layout is close to the ceiling,but depending on your layout area,another option to consider.Please excuse the mess - still under construction:

Mike

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Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, March 04, 2017 12:59 AM

Mike:

The LED spots certainly do a great job and I really like how they look from a cosmetic perspective too. I have already spent some money on LED strip lighting but I'm going to price out LED track lighting. It would be so much easier to install! I can always sell the power supplies for the LED strip lighting on eBay.

How far apart are your track lights?

Dave

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Posted by middleman on Saturday, March 04, 2017 10:19 AM

Hi Dave,

Roughly 2' between each can,a little less at the corners. This casts a nice uniform light on the layout.The benchwork is in the shape of a fat "L" - about 25'x25'. There's a total of 30 cans over the 2 rooms,total of 360 watts.Not bad for all that light.These are the bulbs I'm using:

https://www.amazon.com/Hyperikon-equivalent-Dimmable-UL-Listed-Star-Qualified/dp/B014ENVQ42/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1488642308&sr=8-1&keywords=hyperikon%2B12%2Bw%2Bled%2Bbulbs&th=1

These have a CRI of 90+. I wasn't aware of the color rendering index when I bought my first LED bulbs(they were rated at about 80).Colors are much more vivid under the higher rated lights.

Mike

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Posted by JohnsTown RR on Saturday, March 04, 2017 1:23 PM

I find myself mostly reading this forum but the LED question was timely for me.  I have an HO layout in an 8' by 12' room with 2 levels.  The lower level was darker than I thought it would be.  I did some homework and ended up purchasing modular LED under cabinet lighting by Lightkiwi from Amazon.  This purchase came with 12 each 6" LED panels that attach to each other or you can connect a 3 ft. or 6 ft. cable to each of them.  The kit also comes with a 24 volt transformer and a dimmer.  This transformer can run up to 15 panels.  If this is interesting to you for your application, you can go to YouTube and see these bright led's.  Go to Youtube and request "Welcome to Johnstown".  It sure is bright enough.  Hope this helps.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=welcome+to+johnstown

John 

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Posted by mlehman on Saturday, March 04, 2017 2:48 PM

Mike,

Thanks for the link. I was thinking you were using MR16 fixtures...but I forgot you're in O scale hereLaugh My brain was still stuck in HO.

middleman
These have a CRI of 90+. I wasn't aware of the color rendering index when I bought my first LED bulbs(they were rated at about 80).

Yes, the CRI is an important number and 90+ is a good place to be. I noticed that the lamps you linked are the 4000K lamps. They are also available in 5000K (which is what I'd go for if I had the larger fixtures like yours instead of my puny little MR16 ones.) And for a nice price, too (4/$30).

If people do have MR16 fixtures, you may need closer spacing, as they seem to have a smaller pattern/footprint than the fixtures/lamps like Mike is using in his pic.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, March 04, 2017 7:58 PM

Mike (middleman),

How high are your ceilings? Never mind. I just did a quick plan for using track lighting and several fixtures would have to be mounted to one of the low bulkheads. That would put them below my line of sight which obviously wouldn't work. Back to the strip lighting.

Thanks,

Dave

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Posted by middleman on Saturday, March 04, 2017 8:38 PM

Dave:  I meant to put that in this morning's post - should've had my coffee before I got on the computer. The ceiling is 8ft.,and the benchwork is(mostly)4 ft. off the floor.

Mike:They call the 4000k "Daylight White" and the 5000K "Crystal White". I actually bought several of each to try out,and thought the 4000k looked more natural. The current pictures of my layout make it look a bit more "reddish" than it actually is. I've got a new camera,and I'm struggling to find the right "white balance" setting.

Mike

Edit: Saw your edit right after I posted,Dave. On to plan B! Good luck,let us know what you come up with.

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Posted by gmpullman on Saturday, March 04, 2017 9:36 PM

Hello...

My layout is going on 22 years now and the lighting has gone through several OK, MANY changes in that time. Fortunately, many of the existing fixtures were easily converted to LEDs.

I started out with several 2' x 4' fluorescent fixtures with the big T12 lamps and magnetic ballasts for general lighting and many track lights with 50W halogens and R lamps in them

My next phase was to "upgrade" to CFLs in the track lights (Yuk!) and T8 fluorescents with electronic ballasts in the 2 x 4s.

Even my LEDs have been replaced over the past year or two with dimmable LEDs. These have improved recently, some of the "early" dimmable models were not very good. The newest ones have a broader range of dimmability.

Here is a small sampling of my lighting arsenal:

I always keep an eye out for sales and closeouts and watch for fixtures at the Habitat For Humanity Re-Store for economically priced fixtures.

These recessed 3" cans were $5. each and they take an MR-16 GU10 beautifully.

Here is an overall view of part of the layout with the "work lights" on. The 2' x 2' panels are LED thin panels and the 2 x 4s are converted by removing the ballasts and hot-wiring the tubes. Some LED "tubes" wire with a hot and neutral on each pin at one end, others have both pins at one end hot and neutral at the other end. Some work with the ballast left in place but I MUCH prefer to remove the ballast.

And here is a similar view with the LED MR-16s lit:

On the "other half" of the layout room I use more track light fixtures and some of these are MR-16 GU10s and medium mogul PAR 20s.

Home depot was closing out those neat goose-neck lamp holders. They came with 50W halogens but a MR-16 is a direct replacement.

Like Mike, I get many of my LEDs from Amazon and some from a place called 1000 Bulbs.

I make inserts using white melamine paneling and the gimbal mounted 3" can lights snap right into a hole I make with a hole saw.

Sometimes the beam-spread is mentioned in the specs of the lamps but generally the spot is pretty tight, this can be used to an advantage, too, if you want to highlight a particular scene.

Hope this helps, Ed

 

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, March 05, 2017 4:29 AM

Ed, your lighting is one thing, your superb passenger station scene is quite another. Tell us more about the scene, the roads you are running, etc.

Rich

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Posted by FowlmereRR on Monday, March 06, 2017 3:36 AM

Has anybody had bad experience with the RF interference from LED fixtures affecting operations? E.g. wireless throttles, etc.? 

We installed LED track lights in our kitchen and if we have them on, it blocks out transmissions from our remote weather sensors to the base unit in the kitchen (432 MHz band). This is apparently a well-known problem with LED units where the driver circuits produce broadband RF.

I tried installing ferrites on the leads to the lamps with limited success. I would be wary of having miles of LED strip if they could radiate as much crud as our kitchen lights!

 

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Posted by middleman on Monday, March 06, 2017 1:15 PM

FowlmereRR:   I've never noticed a problem.My DCC is an MRC Prodigy2 Wireless,and it has some quirks,but they were present before I switched to LED's.The transformers I've seen for the LED strips have the inline suppressor blister,and the BR30 spots I have are big enough that they could possibly accomodate an internal device.I don't know that,but the sides of the boxes they come in state that they comply with several FCC regulations.I hope others will chime in. I have heard of this issue before,but I don't remember anyone on this forum mentioning it.

Mike

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, March 06, 2017 8:34 PM

 Plus most wireless DCC systems are either 900MHz or 2.4GHz, there shouldn't be much to interfere with at 433MHz. And second order harmonic would be 866MHz so still enough away from the 900MHz radios.

                               --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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