I was helping a friend with purchasing some furniture at Ikea few months back and while there, I thought if they may had something that could be easily converted or adapted to fit Gigi.. They had some small cabinet and it didn’t take much to convert them from “Ikea furniture” to Gigi’s furniture. There are a lots of things that I don’t like about Ikea furniture.. They do use a lot of MDF and honeycomb structure for their production, and while they are lighter and they can be flat pack, they certainly don’t offer either strength or durability.

But they also sell furniture made of Swedish pine, that while it has plenty of imperfection and knots, it is still a million time better than that ugly MDF!

So I did buy three small chest drawers, and as you can see from the pictures, they were easily converted to fit the bedroom. I didn’t simply modify them, but also improved them by, for instance, replacing those “plastic rails” Ikea use, with proper metal sliders. I also had to replace the knobs with proper motorhome push/pull locking latches.

Finally three coats of marine varnish, did the trick and made them look “right at home” for the effect I was after..

To the point of this post now, on the way out (if you have been there you know about the stupid labyrinth they force you to go through), I also notice they had bathroom cabinet with built in lights..(see, the labyrinth does work.. Bastards.. 😀 )

Thinking that I wouldn’t mind one of those for the bathroom, as my mate at Tradelink already confirmed that all he had in stock was just plain cabinet, I decide to buy one and then see later on, if a conversion to fit Gigi, was actually possible.

The cabinet himself is built like all the others, with quality waterproof chipboard and melamine on top. The two glass mirrors door are also good and I did like the fact that those built in lights worked in both way, as they also lit the inside of the cabinet..

Last month it was time to install the unit into the bathroom. First thing was to see if I could converted from using Main 240 Volts AC down to my 24 Volts DC power. I knew that inside the little white box there was going to be a voltage regulator as you can clearly see the LEDs used inside the lights. What I didn’t know was what voltage they had come down too.

On the label it had DC 600mA 12W, then below Max 24 Volts, but I have learned long time ago not to trust China optimistic electronics specs when it comes to labels..

For start, 600mA and 12Watts are only 20 Volts, not 24. Either way if I connected those LED directly to my ‘real’ 24 Volts (that because of the solar, they are more like 27 Volts), they would have probably burned. Now it also happen that when I checked the lights before the conversion it appear that IKEA got the LEDs job done the wrong way around as the cabinet had more light going inside that the actual amount of light coming out. Finally another thing that I really didn’t like was the fact that those LED lights are connected in series inside the plastic box.

That meant, that if one single LED fails (and if you read IKEA reviews they do quite often), both lights strip will stop working. I’m wondering how many people got caught into that trap and replace both lights strip when, it had to be only one, that needed replacing…

It was time to have some fun. In true Top Gear spirit, I did plug in both lights strip into my 24 volts system and they did actually work! For few seconds… 😀 I had the feeling it was going to happen.. Now it was seriously time to get to work and replace those silly lights. All I wanted to keep was the aluminium frame and plastic cover (that was supposed to be waterproof. More of this later).

If you look at the pictures you can see that I have removed the original 4 aluminium LEDs strip from the white aluminium frame and replaced them both with 4 strip of 5050 LEDs (you can buy them on Fleabay 5 metre roll for $15.00). One of the strip was partially glue to the aluminium frame, but it was easy to remove with a little screwdriver pushed behind the strip.  now you can also see that in the original LEDs strips, they have 6 LEDs in one and 60 LEDs on the other. Well the 6 LEDs was the one facing outside the cabinet. That’s way, there was way more lights inside the cabinet than on the outside. Perhaps mine where assembled the wrong way around, because in the Ikea shop the 6 LEd’s strip seem to be on the inside, not the outside like mine.

Now we have 24 LEDs on both side of the light frame, so the amount of lights going in and out is even, but it is definitely 100 times better on the outside than before. You can see the reflection of the bathroom in the mirrors and it give an idea of how much lights is now coming out. Then, because I completely replaced all the LEDs. I was also able to connect them in parallel and that mean, that if one LED’s strip fails, the other side will still work!

Finally a word regarding those original waterproof LED’s lights. They are not waterproof! They use a little bit of silicon rubber at both end to seal the lights, but it doesn’t seal perfectly because of the design and therefore humidly and condensation will always find their way in. If you replace the LEDs strip you can actually buy waterproof LEDs rolls and fix the problem for good.

The last picture was a little bug that stopped on my hand just long enough for me to take a picture.. The beauty of nature..