Smart lightning for your porch

Summer is here and with the current travel restrictions many of you might stay home this summer. Maybe you will do some work or do like me and build a new porch. I am not really a carpenter but with some basic skills and googling it is not as hard as you might think. As this blog is about tech stuff primarily I wont go into the details how mould but in general it is not as hard as you might think.

Woodworking and building

When it comes to woodworking I will give you some tips anyway.

  • Make the groundwork really stable.
  • Buy a good cross-cut saw. I got the Metabo KGS216M for about 1500€ and compared to what the total cost is it is worth it. It looks like this.

 

  • Buy quality jetting screws
  • Buy quality decking wood.
  • When mounting the decking put them as tight as you can IF they are brand new and wet. You will get glitches later on when the wood try anyway.
  • Put the decking wood with a happy face
  • Put cable duct in the deck before mounting the deck.
  • When using some kind of pipes under the porch make them as straight as possible. It may be hard to pull the cables trough.
  • Another tip may be to use a fishingline with a paper attached to it an put a vacuum cleaner in the other end. Now the fishing line can be used to pull the real cable.

 

I had an existing deck that was old and ugly. I decided to replace it and make it the same level. It was two levels before and this was not really good.

The result was amazing. It just looks wonderful. I still have some work left to do some stairs and finalizing the fence. However I can not mount the fence until the light is in place.

The hardware

So time for the light. I looked into some options how to get some nice light on the porch and there were some options.

  • Bulbs vs Led strips
  • 24 volt vs 12 volt
  • What transformer to use
  • How to do the cabling
  • IP Classing
  • White, RGB, RGBW or RGBWW
  • Using profiles or not to mount the led strips
  • Lights in the deck facing up or in the fence shining down.
  • How to control them

I decided to go for led strips. They are just more cool. When it comes to the voltage I used 12V in the end. There are more led strips to choose from and as long as you do not have long distances it won´t matter. The led strips comes in maximum 5 meters and you will need to connect them in parallel. Maybe 24V would be better in some ways but I am not sure. I also decided to put the led strips in the porch without any aluminum profile. The strips comes with a protective silicone shell that works fine.

The ledstrip I bought is this one below. Actually two of them.  I wanted RGBWW as you want a warm white color. Also outdoor use was a must. the winters here in Sweden may be hard.

Working voltage: DC12V
LED chip: 5050
LED quantity: 120leds / M
Light color: RGB+WW
Protection rate: waterproof IP67
Length: 5M
Width: 17mm

Price: About 25€

 

The transformer I used was a Meanwell HLG-240H-12A from Amazon. I could order it from Germany for about 60€. in Sweden the same item would cost the double. I had 10 meters of led strip with 120 leds per meter so I just had to start counting how much power I would need. You want the transformer to be a little bit over the max consumption.

I also bought some long RGBW cables and some wire connectors.

 

The transformer was put in a IP65 box from Jula together with a Shelly RGBW2. This is supposed to be places under my porch close to the house wall.  The Shelly RGBWW is just amazing. You can controll any RGB led strip by using this. And you can also connect it to AC 230 volt if you want to.

 

The porch fence

One of the big challenges was how I was supposed to mount the led strip in the fence.

I bought another tool that I have not used before. I think it is called a router. It is an amazing tool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did not really knew how to mount the led strip in the fence. First I used the router to make more room. I also used glue first but I turned out that it did not work with the silicone. So I anded up using small nails instead. I also put shrink tubing around the cables and used fire to close them. At the end I used the connector for closing the end of the led strip. And connected one cable to the power extension.

 

 

Turning it on and off

In my case the transformer was places outside and is connected to a normal wall plug. I can off course control this via the app, Alexa or Home Assistant. I really wanted to be able to use a normal wall switch but it was to much work to connect a cable through the house walls inside mounting a new wall switch. But wait, I have a Shelly 2.5 and a dimmer already inside the house. One Shelly 2,5 is connected to an outlet that is not used. Shelly has something called DDD and by using this one Shelly can control another Shelly. Even without internet. So in my case I used the outlet that was not used on channel 1 and used:

http:admin:mypassword@192.168.0.21/relay/1?turn=toggle

When the button is pressed the led strips and RGBW2 turns on. I first wanted to solve this via Node red or some Ikea Tradfri device but this worked so much better. You could even go further and use long press for creating effects. Shelly has good documentation on their site. It could like this:

Examples:
http://192.168.0.50/color/0?turn=on&red=255&green=86&blue=112&white=0
Will switch device ON and set Red, Blue, Green and White colors.
http://192.168.0.50/color/0?turn=on&white=20 Will switch device ON and set only White
http://192.168.0.40/color/0?go=open Will switch device ON.
http://192.168.0.50/color/0?turn=on&gain=27 Change the intensity or RGB to 27%

The final result

I am quite happy with the final result. It came a lot of rain yesterday and it seems to be waterproof. I did put a lot of silicone to make sure the soldering would survive the winter.

 

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