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Community and Q&A

Source for DC Linear Light Fixtures

pjpfeiff | Posted in General Questions on

When planning a new bathroom I had the daft idea to make my own vanity lighting out of strip LEDs and aluminum extrusions.  Now that installing these lights is the last thing I need to do before final inspection I don’t think the anodized aluminum with cheap plastic lens will be a good look next to all the stainless steel finishes.

Is there a source for DC fixtures (preferably taking 24V) that would work well for vanity lighting?  I’m looking for linear fixtures to install vertically on either side of the vanity.

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  1. Expert Member
    Akos | | #1

    I would check you local electrical code before going too far on the 24v lighting. At least here, rules for class II lighting have changed and it is no longer a free for all it once was. This means you might have to use pre-made equipment, no more DIY light strips.

    1. pjpfeiff | | #5

      Are you saying that even if I could find pre-made 24V lighting, that might not be ok? Actually during rough-in inspection they asked me about the wires wires I left dangling that were intended for these lights and didn't seem bothered about the idea of low voltage lights there. I don't believe I mentioned that I intended to make the lights myself, though.

      1. Expert Member
        Akos | | #7

        24v track lights or 24v light fixture would be fine. Random LED strip in an extrusion could be an issue.

        The simplest is to find something like an under cabinet light or linear pendant that you can integrate.

        The inspector might accept UL certified LED strips provided you use their connector system and wiring. No random on-line buy with soldering.

        The cleanest install for extrusions is to get the mud in ones. Once mudded in, mask off everything but the edge where the lens snaps in and paint in wall color. You won't see any metal at all. Provided the walls are white, the lenses can even be painted with wall color but I would leave them as is. When on, you won't notice the lens at all.

  2. Expert Member


    Your decision may have avoided an odd grey area. There is some confusion about which homemade fixtures require UL approval, and which, and in what circumstances, can get by on just using UL components. Probably best to just use a store bought one.

    1. pjpfeiff | | #6

      Indeed. So I was hoping to find store-bought low voltage fixtures where I could use the wires that I ran for this purpose. In fact since the channel I bought has no way to attach to a junction box I did not install those where these lights need to go (seems wrong to me now, but the inspector saw this at rough-in and didn't voice any objections). So if I have to use 120 V lighting I need a way to add junction boxes that can hold a fixture...and at least one of them needs to be pretty well centered over an existing stud. I don't have the skills to seamlessly patch a big hole in drywall and neither do the contractors I've had here, so I'd really like to avoid that.

  3. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #3

    There are several companies selling what is basically molded crown moulding that has a groove for a strip light. There are also companies selling aluminum extrusions for cove lighting that you can put a light strip in. These are probably better options than a full DIY route, but I don't know if you'd have code/listing issues in your locality. You may find that if you get light strips made by the same companies that make the extrusions that you can assemble them into a fixture that is considered to be listed. You'd have to check with the manufacturer to be sure.

    BTW, you don't want stainless steel here. What you want is ANODIZED aluminum, which is typically made from the 5052 aluminum alloy. This stuff has a nice look, and it's not that far off from stainless -- maybe a slightly lighter gray/silver color, but pretty close otherwise. Stainless stell is much more difficult to work with compared to aluminum. If you do go with stainless, 303 is probably the closest to appliance finish in terms of color, but 304 will be more resistance to staining. 316 is even better, but it has a darker appearance. None of the extruded profiles will have a brushed finish though, that's something you would have to do yourself. Anodized aluminum is the only commonly available metal profile that has a ready-to-go finished appearance.


    1. pjpfeiff | | #4

      Right, I purchased anodized aluminum extrusions designed to house LED strips, but I've now decided they don't look good next to the existing brushed stainless finishes. Of course even if they had the same finish as everything else there's still the issue of capping the ends. The plastic caps that came with the channel don't make for a very good look. So anyway I thought if I could get SS extrusions I could brush it myself. But even then I'm left with figuring out how to get a nice look with the end caps.

      1. Expert Member
        BILL WICHERS | | #13

        I've usually seen these installed either between two "things" that stick out, so the ends aren't an issue, or the ends are mitered with a tight fit to another extrusion on the other side of a corner. I suppose you could try getting some 0.060" or so 5052 aluminum sheeting and cutting an end plate, then carefully filing it for a tight/close fit to the profile of the extrusion you're using. That would be a lot of work, but you'd at least keep with a consistent metal look. Note that if you want the screws flush with the face of the plate, you need to get "undercut" flathead screws. The "undercut" part means the taper of the underside of the screw head has a sort of notch in it so that it will still sit flush in a thin piece of sheet. Regular flathead screws are usually too deep. If you don't want to deal with that, a regular pan head phillips screw looks pretty good -- I usually use stainless steel fasteners when working with aluminum.

        You could brush the aluminum too, but I don't know if you'll get a consistent look. I've found Scotchbrite pads work pretty well to put a light brushed finish on these. There are also people who do their own anodizing, but that requires some equipment and a chemical bath, so it's a pretty serious DIY project.


  4. ErikOlson | | #8

    SS doesn't really extrude the same way aluminum does. Doubt there is anything to replace the extrusions you already have.

    1. pjpfeiff | | #11

      Yeah, I don't think there is anything made for this purpose. I found some channel that could might work, except that I'd have to figure out how to attach the lens/diffuser (and there would still be the problem of capping the ends in an aesthetically-pleasing manner).

  5. dan_saa | | #9

    A client who is an electrical engineer used for their vanity in flush recessed strip. Data sheet says 24v.

    1. pjpfeiff | | #12

      Interesting, thanks. I was aware of the recessed type when I made the decisions earlier...not sure why I decided against it. It was probably either too modern a look for this bathroom or I just didn't trust my skills to mud it in seamlessly (in the days where I thought I would do everything myself). It should eliminate the problem of the ugly end caps, though. That company also has surface mount with what looks like less-obtrusive end caps than what came with the extrusions I bought, so that may be an option.

  6. GBA Editor
    Kiley Jacques | | #10

    I reached out to lighting designer David Warfel to see what he recommends. I'll let you know what he says. In the meantime, I know he sources from American Lighting, and I found this series of DC products that might be of interest: Lightstar.

  7. GBA Editor
    Kiley Jacques | | #14

    From lighting expert David Warfel:

    24V DC linear fixtures are very common but usually need assembled. I like THIS channel:

    and THIS tape from American Lighting:

    but almost any good linear manufacturer will have similar product.

    I really want THIS channel to work at vanities:

    because it distributes the light more evenly, but the plastic diffuser is rather fragile so ordering extras would be smart.

    1. pjpfeiff | | #15

      Thanks, Kiley!

  8. woobagoobaa | | #16

    Might be a solution here ...

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