Posted on November 27 2023
- Micro Led's
- 3v or Universal Transformer capable of 3v power supply
- Copper Tape Wire
- Brass Tape Wire Brads
- Round Dollhouse Wire
- 1/4" Eyelets
- 1/4" Drillbit and drill
- Optional Supplies:
- Scotchtape to tape down wiring
- Jewelers pliers to hold brads
- Dremel or similar tool to groove wood for round wires
- White cardstock to hold LED's in place
- White spray paint for eyelets (or color of choice)
- Black sharpie for marking round wire
I've recently gotten quite a few comments and questions on my recessed lighting on social media accounts. So I thought I'd do a little rundown for anyone who is interested in knowing how I did it. I don't have pictures of each step, but it's a pretty straight forward process.
When I started this house I knew I really wanted to have recessed lights. I love everything about them in a modern house. I knew that the ones made specifically for dollhouses were going to be out of my budget unless I wanted to do a light or two at a time. My goal is to make as much as I can on my own and save money for fun purchases like furniture and other goodies. So I set out looking for ways to make them on a very small budget.
I started looking for small, warm white LED lights that would work with a 12v lighting system, and stumbled upon some that said they would work with my voltage. They looked like they would be just what I needed. I was so excited when they came in the mail. I was a little disappointed when I opened them and saw that the wires were rather thick and the black plastic close to the light was pretty long and would create bulk issues if I didn't drill out my floors. But, in the fashion of trying things, I gave it a go. I got my first light attached under my stairs and I was horrified by the color. I understand that LED lights put off a different sort of color than regular bulbs, but having warm white LED lights throughout my real home, I didn't expect them to be purple hued. So back to the internet I went.
Not what I was after :(
I started researching mini LED lights and started to learn more about what I was needing and about electrical in general. I almost skipped even attempting the electrical in this house, but my wonderful husband convinced me it just wouldn't be the same. I am going to fess up, any kind of electrical work scares me, and I am sure I am not alone in this! I did start doing tape wire in my other dollhouse, but I only ever got two lights installed, and they were regular dollhouse lights, everything worked together like it should. With the LED's I was finding that for the bulbs I wanted with the voltage I had, I was going to need bulky resistors. I was going round and round trying to figure out exactly what I needed, where it needed to go and all of that, which for some is a walk in a park, for me it's a massive headache. After some thinking a lightbulb finally went off (no pun intended). I could bypass using the resistors if I hooked it all up to a 3v transformer instead of my 12v dollhouse system. If you try to attach 3v lights to a 12v system without a resistor, you will push too much power to the bulb and burn it out. So back to Amazon I went and found these micro LED's and this universal transformer.
Warm White Micro LED
I did plan where all of my lighting would go before starting any wiring. I measured and marked each location and used a special 90 degree drill attachment to drill out the holes. Because the grommets I used for the cans are 1/4", I drilled a 1/4" hole. I picked up a pack of 100 grommets, or eyelets I guess, at Hobby Lobby for $1.99. I took a handful outside and spray painted them white.
1/4" Eyelets used for the cans.
The rest of the process is pretty straightforward. The only thing to remember with LED lights is that unlike dollhouse lights, they have to be wired correctly to a positive and a negative or they will not work correctly. I figured out which wires were which by simply sticking one of the LED lights into the universal adapter LED plug. Once I figured that out, I made sure all of my positive ends got attached to one color of the copper tape, and the negative ends the other. With the lights that I bought, the copper colored LED wire was positive, and the silver was negative. When I attached my lead in wire, I marked one of the wire sides with black sharpie so that I had them correctly attached. I ran a long lead in wire from the first floor up the wall behind the kitchen backsplash and through to the second floor. I used my dremel to groove out the wall to tuck the wire into.
Lead in wire attached to plug adapter.
I attached my positive wire to the blue part of the copper tape, and the negative to the copper colored tape. I attempted to solder these, but quickly found that it was not a method I was going to have the patience for, so it was the only connection I soldered.
Lead in wire attached to copper tape on second floor.
Then it was just a matter of attaching all of my lights to the tape wire. I wanted to get as much downward light as possible, so I used small squares of white cardstock to not only help hold my light into place, but also to help reflect it down. I poked a small hole into the cardstock and pushed my light wires through, positioned it over my hole and glued the cardstock down. I also left about 1/4" of the LED hanging down past the paper, if it is pulled up too close to the paper, it will emit a lot less light.
I ended up using those awful little brads for this, but I found it was way easier to manage with a pair of jeweler's needle nose pliers to hold the brad rather than the brad holder that is made for them. I tapped them in just enough to keep them stable and then wrapped the LED bare wire around them. The LED's have a single wire, so it was pretty easy to do this part. I used my jeweler's pliers to pinch the wire around the brad and then finished tapping them all the way in.
LED attached to tape wire.
I didn't want to hassle with stripping the coating on these, so I just left them long and bent them out of the way. They are so small that I don't feel it will have a huge impact on my floor when I put it over it.
I finished them off by putting the eyelets/grommets in place on the ceiling. They were a tight fit, so I used a small jeweler's hammer to tap them in. If some of the LED lights looked crooked in the cans, I just used my tiny pliers to carefully bend them into a centered position. I turned the power off each time I did this!
*Side Note* If you have a wiring system in place already and do not/cannot add a separate electrical run for a 3v system, these can be attached to a 12v system. The LED's I purchased came with a bunch of resistors for different voltages. You would just need to use the appropriate voltage resistor in addition to your LED. From what I have read, the resistors need to be attached between the positive(copper) wire and the main power source, in this case the tape wire. I did not use them, nor am I experienced with them, so I advise to do your own research as well if you are using them. There are places that sell micro LED's with built in resistors to use with a 12v system as well, but they are a little more pricey.
Pack of resistors that came with my LED lights.
Original Post: February 16, 2020