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LED lighting of Fairbury Old City Hall Stained Glass Panel

I made this stained glass panel several years ago. I framed it in an oak panel.

I am out of window space to display it [it is roughly 17 wide by 27 high], so I want to make and LED lighted display for this I can display it on a wall.

The only other stained glass panel I have lit with LED was the Bluebird stained glass panel that is installed in the Community Center building in Chatsworth, Illinois.

The bluebird panel is quite a bit smaller than the Old City Hall panel.

LED Strip Light used on Bluebird panel

I paid $16 to amazon back in march of 2018 for this strip light, including transformer and dimmer. This unit is no longer available.

1 Potential LED strip light replacement

This unit is the same length as the Bluebird LED strip light, but has a whopping 300 lumens/ft compared to only 72 on the bluebird unit.  The bluebird unit was only $16 and you got the transformer and dimmer with it. This superbright unit is $40 plus cost of transformer and dimmer !!

I decided to make a spreadsheet to help properly design the LED lighting system for the Old City Hall panel.

LED Design for Fairbury Old City Hall stained glass panel

Because the old city hall panel is a lot bigger than the Bluebird panel, if I could buy the old LED strip light, the chamber would only have about 1/2 (or 0.54) of the light as measured by lumens per square foot of panel.

If I buy the super dooper unit with 300 lumens/foot, I get 2.24 times the light on the old city hall panel versus the bluebird.  If I bought 2 of the old units, the light level would be about right, but I would have to deal with 2 transformers and 2 dimmers.

Regardless of which LED strip light system I pick, I think it will fit regardless of the system, as long as I have the same depth I had on the bluebird light.

Box Design

I had issues with the LED's showing too brightly if the box is the same size as the stained glass panel.  For old city hall, I want the LED's outside of the edges of the SG panel.  I can do this a couple of ways. I could have a 2-level expanded box design, or do a different design.  I think the different design will be simpler to make and work better.

A cross-section of the new design is shown below.

I checked the bluebird box design, and it had 3-9/16" available for the LED strips. I will increase the width of the side pieces on the new design to 3-1/4", which is max I can get from a standard pine 1x4.

Found Replacement for LED system I used on Bluebird box

It includes transformer and dimmer.

The other unit with 600 vs 300 LED's is $40 without power supply and dimmer !!

If this one does not have enough light, could use it on smaller SG panel, and buy more expensive one for old city hall SG.

Ordered replacement that is same as LED system I bought for Bluebird panel

It will be interesting to see if my Excel spreadsheet, which is based upon a lumens/square foot of stained glass panel, actually works or not. As I stated above, if this is not enough light, then I can use it on a smaller size stained glass panel.

My spreadsheet assumes the LED lights were max'd out with respect to the dimmer on the Bluebird panel.  I don't remember what dimmer setting I used on that project.  It could be it was not 100% on the Bluebird panel, and therefore might work ok on my larger old city hall panel.

Sketchup Design

Start Building Box

I started with the front frame .I used 45 degree angle joints, but I used Kreg pocket screws on the back side, with 2 screws per 45 degree joint. I tried to make sure the pocket started at least 1/4" inside the outer edge, because then it will be hidden by the inner box.

OOOPS - I am Human :)

I just got the front frame glued up, when I realized I made the front frame too wide at 3.25 instead of 2.5 inches !!   It wasn't dry yet, so I removed the Kreg pocket screws, table sawed the width down to 2.5 inches, and reglued.  I was only able to fit in 1 pocket screw per corner, but that is ok.

Merlin strap clamp

This clamp works really great for these types of projects, but it is always a pain to wrestle with it and get it in the right position. I used it on both the front frame and the back box.

2 Levels of spacers to secure stained glass

This method worked fine. I ended up making the first and second level spacers both 5/16" thick, so I could leave the planer thickness setting alone.  I ripped 3/4" thick pine in half, then ran it through 1 time on the planer.

Changed groove depth for back from 3/16" to 3/8 deep

As I thought about it, I will hold the back on with round headed screws. If I make the groove the same depth as the 3/16" luan, the screw heads will stick out and could possibly scratch the walls. If I made it 3/8" deep, the top of the screw head should be below the outer lip of the frame.

This LED light kit a little different than Bluebird one on past project

On the bluebird project, I drilled about a 1/2" diameter hole in the box and slipped the wire through that.  This new one is different in that I had to put a notch in the back of the box for it to work.

Installing the LED strip

The new LED kit came with a few plastic straps/screws..........I had enough left from the Bluebird project to finish it.  This 16.4 foot strip made 2 complete wraps around the inside with about 2 inches more left.

2 vent holes in top

I drilled 2 holes, 1/4" diameter in the top, to let out heat..........even though LED's are not supposed to make any heat :)

Original Building and stained glass panel in sunlight

Nailed It :)

I was really nervous about not having enough LED light, but this project came out perfectly !!!!!!  It is great at full dimmer strength, and is still ok as you apply the dimmer.

In Dark with full strength dimmer setting

Some fluorescent room light and dimmer at 40% full strength

Sketchup Warehouse

YouTube Video

Closing Thoughts on this project

This project turned out perfectly !!

I plan on adding LED light boxes to more of my stained glass projects, so I can display them on one of my basement walls.