Bookshelf/Bookcase Lighting – Hardwired System

Measure available space for Flexible LED Strip:

In this system, we are lighting a bookcase. There are two main methods when it comes to bookshelf LED lighting. You can run the LED strips horizontally across each shelf as we did in this design. The other option for bookshelf lighting is to mount the LED strips vertically, going up each column and holding the shelves in place. How you decide to mount the LED strips will come down to your personal preference. We suggest mounting the LED strips wherever you have a lip to hide the LEDs behind. For the bookcase LED lighting, we used our Normal Bright Flexible LED strips, which provide nice accent lighting and can run further distances than a brighter LED strip.

Mounting the Flexible LED Strips:

We mounted the LED strip on the lip of the shelves so the LEDs face toward the back of the bookcase. This will illuminate the entire shelf below it. To keep the light output consistent, you can drill a 5/8” hole between each separator to keep the LED strip one long continuous run. This keeps your light output consistent, preventing any shadows between separations. The LED strip lights for shelves are mounted with the adhesive on the back of the Flexible LED strip. To ensure a strong hold, clean the area with a cleaning solution before installing the LED light strips for the bookshelves.

Installing your Transformer:

Before we run cables to our LED strips, we need to install the transformer. This device will take the line voltage (120VAC) from your house and step it down to 12VDC. We used a 100w magnetic transformer to power all of the LED strips. We suggest mounting the transformer in a location that will not be seen. In this project, we installed the transformer on top of the bookcase. An electrician ran high voltage from the switch location to the top of the bookcase, where we terminated the high voltage lines to the transformer. From there, we can run our low-voltage cable from the transformer to the LED Strip locations.  *Make sure to have a licensed electrician or contractor install your transformer.

Running Cable to the Flexible LED Strips:

Make sure the power is off before you start making connections to your transformer. In this system, we are using standard Interconnect Cables to make our connections from the transformer to the LED Strips. To start, you will need to cut one of the connectors off of the Interconnect Cable. Then expose a small amount of copper on the Interconnect Cable using cable strippers. Look for white writing on one of the sides of the cable, this indicates your (+) positive lead. The side without writing indicates your (-) negative lead. Splice the positive lead to the red lead coming from the output of the transformer and splice the negative lead to the blue cable on the output side of the transformer. After you splice all of your cables to the output of the transformer, cap the splices with wire nuts to secure the cable connections. You should now have as many cables coming from the transformer as you have LED strips in the system, run a cable to each LED strip. Finally, test the lights by turning them on!

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • How do you illuminate a bookcase?

Finding the perfect LED lights for a bookcase depends on your personal preference. Some people prefer rigid LED bars of 12-inches or more for a bookcase of standard size. These lights are durable and feature diffusers giving more even lighting. However, to mount an LED bar, you will need to drill holes into your bookcase and attach mounting brackets. You’ll also have to hide the wires leading to the power source.

If you want to illuminate your bookcase without making holes, then LED tape lights might be the thing for you. They are simple to install and can light up every edge of your bookshelf without requiring any tools. 

  • How do you light a bookcase shelf?

Depending upon the ambiance you want to create, you can choose warm-and-fuzzy light or stark-and-contrasting light. 

The advantage of an LED shelf lighting system is that you can change its color temperature. The lower or higher numbers on the Kelvin scale indicate the warmth or coolness of the LED light. A bluish hue indicates cool lighting, while yellow undertones are common to warm lights. 


While choosing the color temperature for your LED bookcase lighting, remember that the color should blend seamlessly with its contents. 


  • How do you light the top of a bookshelf?

Here are a few ways to light the top of your bookshelf:

LED strip lights

LED strips are an affordable way to illuminate the top of your bookshelf. They are easy to install, and all you need to do is peel off the adhesive backing, cut the strip to your desired size, and stick it to the edge of your bookshelf. 

Puck lights

Puck lights are circular fixtures that go right beneath a shelf to illuminate the surface below. These are a great choice to highlight your books, collectibles, or any decor pieces on your shelf. These lights are comfortable for the eyes as you can avoid glare, which is common in direct lights. 

Picture lights

Another great option to illuminate the bookshelf top is picture lights. These are unique wall lights mounted half a foot above the shelf, pouring light on the top shelf and highlighting your collectibles and paintings, and bringing out their brightest side.

Ambient lights

Ambient mood lighting is the perfect way to bring a welcoming change to your reading space. These fixtures can fit however high or low you prefer, and since they’re mood lights, you can change colors and effects to create just the right vibe.

Flameless candles

Flameless LED candles are the best alternative to candlelight. It creates a warm ambiance without the fear of burning the bookshelf down to ashes. You can choose flameless candles that flicker gently and produce dim lighting. You only need a few batteries and a switch, and you can turn your bookshelf into your favorite spot to spend a cozy evening. 


  • Can you put a lamp in a bookcase?

You can put a lamp on a bookshelf and illuminate it to stand out. However, there is a minor issue with placing a lamp on the bookcase, which is the wiring. You will need to hide the wires, or it could ruin the sleek appearance of your bookcase. 

If you do not want to drill holes in the side of the bookcase to hide the wires, you could use battery-powered LED lights instead.


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How to Cut, Connect, and Power LED Flexible Tape
Where to Place LED Strips and LED Systems in your Home
Hardwire Transformer Installation
Interconnect Cables | Inspired LED

Products for Bookshelf/Bookcase Lighting – Hardwired System

Select options 12v normal bright led flex tape $7.20$119.64
Select options magnetic class 2 transformer $67.67$214.34
Select options $5.50$7.50
Select options $49.50
Select options $5.00$39.50