Stairways are the most beautiful displays of workmanship in homes and I love the challenge of making them look even better. Showing off the workmanship with lighting seems like the next step. We have been working for a long time on an way to illuminate a stairway without adding big clunky lights and stringing wires all over the stairs. The small form factor of the LED helped us the cross the first hurdle, providing us a way to tuck a small light into the handrail.
Important factors to the homeowner are the ability to turn the lights on or off which we provided with a dimmer. In technical terms it is a 12VDC pulse width modulation dimmer. It is a highly efficient way to dim lights rather than wasting the energy in a resistor. The homeowner wanted the lights to be hidden during the daytime and to not be a distraction. “The lights should be invisible,” he said.
We developed a special printed circuit board and attached LEDs to it so that it is small and rigid enough to mount in a small groove that is milled into the bottom of a handrail. Milling the handrail was done easily with a 3/16″ dado blade and a table saw in our shop. The lights were made in our R&D lab and have now become a regular production item. The lights were installed inside the groove and held into place with a permanent adhesive.
Running the wires was not as challenging as with thought. We chose to use two of the iron balusters as conduits of electricity. The transformer is a class 2 electronic transformer that steps the voltage down to a safe 12VDC. The voltage and amperage are protected and so low that there is no risk of shock. The powdercoating on the outside of the balusters provide further insulation. It was a very simple way to hide the wires in this application.
The LED lights provide a nice warm glow that doesn’t overpower the room. The end result was exactly what the homeowner wanted. The cost was in their budget making everyone happy. We were thrilled to be able to create it for them.