I needed a lighting solution for my spiral staircase. After looking at various options (such as direct lighting from above or below) I decided to create my own lighting using some cheap components and a bit of time.

I’ll show how I designed and built my lighting rig. Hopefully I can help other people avoid some of the issues I’ve found and improve my project and others.

Project Steps

Pictured here is the center support for the staircase. All wires and components (except the LEDs themselves) are housed here.

Next we can see one of the LED strips that I used. They’re sold in long pieces that can be cut down to about 2.5in pieces containing 3 lights and a resistor.

Lastly, the circuit board that I made to provide power to the lights. Not my best work but it serves its purpose.

Thankfully, my soldering skills have improved a great deal since I started the project.

The first step was drilling holes into the center support. The holes allow you to draw the wire through and keep things hidden.

I used three 3in self-tapping screws to serve as a platform for the battery and circuit board (and later the dimmer switch). This allowed me to run wire unobstructed and still provide support for the components.

I accidentally used the wrong gauge wire initially. It was quite a bummer when smoke started pouring out of the support. Luckily, steel pipe is harder to burn through than the cheap wire I was using. The real shame was that I spent around 2 hours running it all and had to pull it out.

Be careful when placing holes in any sort of support structure. You can weaken it substantially if you aren’t careful.

I took the cap that had been covering the top of the stairs and sanded around the edges to make it easy to turn. I use this to control the dimmer switch for the lights. It is connected to a 12v DC dimmer that I ordered for about $18.

The dimmer rests on top of the 12v UPS battery that is powering the whole thing. The battery lasts for around 6 days before needing to be recharged. I think eventually I’ll use a small power supply that will power the lights as well as charge the battery. That way the lights will still work during power outages.

I made a simple stencil of an arrow to show which way to turn the cap. I think it serves its purpose well enough but could probably be clearer.

Here you can see the completed system. The cap is turned clockwise to brighten the lights, counter-clockwise to dim them.

By powering the system with a battery there is no need for a wallwart or other wires running to the stairs. This keeps things tidy and also allows for light during power outages. As mentioned earlier, I believe it will be prudent to add a more permanent power source to avoid wear on the battery.

Any comments or ideas are welcome. I don’t believe that I did everything in the best manner possible but, all in all, I think the finished product is well worth the effort.

The total cost of supplies (not including solder, hot glue, etc.) was around $70; $36 for the lights (which amounts to 20 of the 3-LED strips, not all of which were used), $18 for the dimmer, and $16 for two 100ft spools of 20-gauge wire.


A great way to light a spiral staircase.