Why Shopping is Not Research

My normal practice is to research every part of the house remodel. I usually spend hours on the internet gathering information about the best way to design and complete a project. But every once in a while I forget to research before shopping. It is a bad idea to confuse shopping with research.

I did ask the tiler who did this lighted niche what kind of light they used, but it was the electrician who did it and he didn’t know.

Lighted shower niche
Lighted shower niche

I began by shopping for an LED waterproof dimmable light fixture for our niche. The Amazon product descriptions really led me astray though. I bought a damp proof thin fixture that came labeled dry locations only and a garage vapor proof light that was supposed to be dimmable but came with non-dimmable specifications. Both had to be returned.

Thin LED fixture not damp proof
Thin LED fixture not damp proof
Vapor proof shop light not dimmable
Vapor proof shop light not dimmable

I finally realized I needed to research the way to light a shower niche and came across a video relatively quickly. Normally I would rather read how to do something than watch a video but could not find a text and photo post.
In the video a tiler explained how he lit niches. He recommended cuttable LED strip lighting that was certified IP65 which means waterproof. The strip just has a thin film over the LED’s and the connections to keep out water. I had to find a strip that was both waterproof and dimmable.

An LED driver that is a combination of dimmer and transformer is also required. I purchased one with low 12 volt output because I read it is best not to oversize these. The strip will only be about 3 ft long and will draw less than an amp. Also it is easier to fit the smaller driver in a junction box.

Waterproof dimmable cuttable LED strip
Waterproof dimmable cuttable LED strip
Small dimmer/transformer
Small dimmer/transformer

The LED strip can be shortened at any copper connection and 12 volt wires can be soldered to the copper ends. The wires are then connected to the DC side of the dimmer/transformer.

Cut and solder
Cut and solder

The AC side connects to a Triac dimmer which is just one that works with LED bulbs.

Dimmer and dimmer/transformer (driver)
Dimmer and dimmer/transformer (driver)

The tiler was pleased that he found the strip fit perfectly into the Schluter DECO SG 15mm trim piece. That can be mortared right into the edge of the tile.

Schluter SG Shallow Gap trim piece
Schluter SG Shallow Gap trim piece

I was disappointed to see the trim did not come in the bronze color option and this style was not in stock at the tile or home improvement stores. I was able to order a brushed steel version from Lowes to ship to my home at no extra expense.
But again I had not thoroughly thought through the installation. The issue that came up is that the niche is already wired for 120 volts. And the light strip needs 12 volt wire. Since the walls are attached and waterproofed and the dimmer needs to be accessible, it will have to be installed in a power box in the niche. I can use low voltage for this as the dimmer encloses the 120 volt wiring. The box is a whole other problem to solve. I think we can build it into the top of the niche by using leftover Kerdi board and a 3/4” spacer. The niche is a little taller than I wanted it to be anyway.

Wired niche
Wired niche

I think a low voltage bracket and some 3m tape will hold the small driver.

Low voltage bracket
Low voltage bracket

I also had to special order a white, waterproof cover for the bracket. They normally come in gray. The cover will have to be tiled around it..
It may be that the Schluter edge cannot be mortared in because of the width of the bracket. I also ordered some LED strip channels and they will arrive earlier than the edge piece. We can use whichever works best.

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