We recently moved into a new house and the first thing I wanted to do was to install under cabinet lighting. I knew that I wanted to DIY the LED strip and controller – I didn’t want a remote. I also have never done anything like this before and we have pretty, brand new cabinets and I didn’t want to ruin anything.
I did a ton of research into which controller to use and settled on a Shelly RGBW2. Mostly thanks to The Hook Up – I really like this guy’s videos and they’ve been super helpful while I’ve been researching LED strips and various other smart home things.
I don’t remember exactly how or why, but I chose these BTF Lighting LED strips. Again, I don’t have any experience with LED strips but for this project so far they’ve been pretty solid. I chose the 60 LEDs per meter strip because I wanted as much light as possible and a “smooth” look to the lights on the backsplash and counter. I also wanted the strips themselves to look like I didn’t piece this together myself so I picked up these aluminum channels with diffusers. To power everything, I got these 24V/5A power supply bricks that came with an adapter with screw terminals that made it easy to hook up to the Shelly.
Making the LED strips
The BTF LED strips were able to be cut about every 6 inches so I measured out the length I needed under each section of cabinet and cut the strips. I bought this 5-strand wire kit with connectors because I thought the plastic connectors would make it easier to hook the strips together (I was wrong – they were terrible, but more on that in a bit). After I had the strips cut, I measured out the aluminum channels and diffusers and cut those to length. At this point, I tested each section by temporarily connecting them to the Shelly RGBW2 to make sure they all worked as expected.
As I said, these were brand new cabinets in a brand new house and I didn’t want to ruin anything so I took my time and planned things out. We had switched outlets installed inside the cabinets when we built the house, so I had easy access to power that I could hide. Initially, I thought I was going to have to put the power supply inside the cabinet and just deal with losing a bit of space. I discovered, however, that there was a 3-4 inch cavity between the side of the cabinet and the wall that I could use to hide the power supply and the Shelly.
Time to make my first hole in our brand new cabinets 😬😱. I didn’t have a great tool for this, so I used a large drill bit to make a hole large enough for one end of the power supply cable to fit through. Once I had the cord through, I attached the power supply to the side of the cabinet with some velcro command strips. I used zip ties to gather the power cord, and secure the Shelly RBGW2 to the power supply. Next, I measured and marked holes to pass wires between cabinet sections then drilled those out with a smaller drill bit.
Since I wanted all the strips to be controlled from the same controller, that meant I had to get the wires from one side of our cooktop to the other. There aren’t cabinets above, but there is a vent hood with some decorative cabinetry around it that I was “pretty sure” was hollow. I drilled a hole in the bottom of the cabinet to the right of the stove so I could pass the wires up into the cabinets to reach the vent hood height. Then I measured (3 or 4 times) out where the hole should be to pass wires behind the vent hood and drilled that hole.
This part ended up taking forever and was way harder than I imagined. There was a hollow section behind the vent hood, but there were 2x4s beside the cabinets that I also had to drill through, so instead of being a 3/4″ deep hole, it was 2 1/4″ deep. That made getting the wires out of that hollow cavity extremely difficult. I did it, but extra holes were needed on the bottom side of the vent hood to help guide the wires into the hole on the other side.
Next, I mounted all of the aluminum channels under the cabinets. They came with little metal clips that the channels snapped into. I used two clips per section, marked the location, and attached the clips being careful not to put the screws in too far and have them poke through the inside of the cabinets. Once the clips were on, I put the LED strips in the channels (without using the adhesive backing), and inserted the diffusers.
The next step was to make the connections between strips by using the plastic connectors in the wire kit I bought. These were pretty easy to hook up, but the connection wasn’t great. I used them like this for a while but I sometimes had to wiggle them to make a good connection, sections would randomly turn off, and one of the red, green or blue channels wouldn’t work. I lived with it like this for a little while, but eventually bought a soldering iron and soldered the connections instead. That was more work, but I’ve had no problems with the connections since I did that.
I repeated a similar process for a second controller and set of light strips in a pantry area next to our kitchen. So I have two Shelly controllers controlling two sets of under cabinet lighting. I’ll also note that initially, I didn’t add a light strip over the stove. I decided a few weeks later that it was too dark and went back in, drilled another hole on the bottom side of the vent hood, retrieved the wires, and spliced in another strip.
Controlling the lights
The Shelly controller comes with an app that you can use to control the LED strips. The app is mostly fine, but can be a bit unreliable if you switch away from the app, and then come back while controlling a light. Shelly also has a cloud service that you can turn on so you can control your lights from anywhere, but I’m not using that feature. You can also send direct commands to the Shelly controller by sending a specific
POST request to its IP address.
I opted to use the Shelly integration for Home Assistant. It made it easy to get my controller into Home Assistant and start interacting with it more reliably than the Shelly app. Home Assistant allowed me to group both of my Shelly controllers into one “button” so I could control both of them at the time. I also set up some automations in Home Assistant that will turn the lights on/off, and adjust the brightness based on the time of day. These automations simply send
POST requests to the Shelly IP addresses to make the changes.
I also use the HomeKit integration for Home Assistant so that I can control the under cabinet lighting from anywhere by using my Apple TV as a HomeKit hub. Since it’s available in HomeKit, I can also use Siri to turn them on or off. This is handy if I’m in the middle of cooking something and decide that I want more light.
The next step is to add a Shelly 1 UL to the switch controlling the switched outlets that my lights are plugged into. Once I do that, we can use the wall switch to turn the lights on/off without losing the automation functionality.
This was a really fun project that was a bit more work than I expected but really paid off in the end. I’m really happy with the final look of the kitchen, and it’s been really handy having the automations set up to turn them on/off throughout the day.
Let me know if you have any questions about what I did, and I hope someone gets some use out of this! 😃