I had motion-controlled lights on my front steps for about a year when I decided I could do better. While it was nice to move up and down the steps without having to hit a light switch, the overhead lights powered by the Insteon Motion Sensor and SwitchLinc just felt like overkill in the middle of the night, no matter how low I dimmed the lights in the motion program.
Inspired by the indirect lighting in movie theaters, I went looking for other options and finally discovered this little gem: a 16 foot reel of flexible, bright LED lights. These things are awesome, and have all kinds of uses in the automated home. They even come with an adhesive backing to stick them wherever you want – under counters, on stairs, and even inside drawers and cabinets. I decided to apply them under the handrail on my steps to provide motion-activated light at night:
There were quite a few challenges around how to power and control these, which I’ll cover in future posts, but as you can see in the above picture, the first challenge I had was that there wasn’t a contiguous run of railing to follow, so I had to come up with a way to cleanly break between segments of railing. The trick was to run wires inside the drywall:
- It is easy enough to stick the lights under that lip, and solder a wire between the segments. But since you didn’t want the wire to be exposed, start by scoring the drywall between segments:
- Continue to expand the hole until you can fit the connected wire into the routed hole:
- Liberally apply spackle over the wire, filling in the hole:
- Sand and paint, applying the same techniques we covered in the drywall post:
- That’s it! The end result is a nice clean look without exposed wires:
Stay tuned for two different options on how to power and control these lights – one wirelessly, and one wired into our Insteon system.