Lighting the LEGO House!
** July 2019 UPDATE **
You can now buy all the parts needed for this project here!
This project was suggested by an Instagram follower and we're very grateful. This has been such fun.
We didn't own the Lego House set 21037 - it's pretty exclusive being only sold in Billund, Denmark and costing a lot to buy an imported set. But it's been on the to-do list so we went ahead and did it!
We used Bricklink to get the parts for this and it was very easy - 774 pieces, all quite common though with a few uncommon colours, and just a name plate which is unique. That name plate was thankfully not too expensive though at £1.30 it was the single most expensive piece in this build!
Putting this together was a delight with lots of unusual structures which seemed to make little sense before they slot perfectly into place and make it whole.
As is clear from the outside, this building is made of many large blocks and coloured flat roofs. Less obvious is that many of the ground floor buildings have trans clear bricks all the way through, and there's a large central courtyard with a microscale representation of the Lego Tree of Creativity in the centre.
The ground floor is fairly well fixed in place. The second storey is made of multiple individual blocks which connect to the base. All are different but with common elements. It's reasonably easy to pop a single block out where needed.
On top is a removable roof unit comprising the top four coloured blocks plus the top-most 2x4 brick piece.
The giant 2x4 is particularly interesting as it's just 2 plates thick and uses multiple small components to make a representation of a classic brick, all surrounded by 'panel' pieces which are basically tiles with a vertical side added to make them one brick high. More on that later.
Initial plans were to put lights into all the front facing clear-trans windows, to illuminate the windows.
After the first few tests it was clear that a light at the front of these windows was too bright, so we reverted to using strip lights inside stuck to the floor to illuminate multiple windows.
1) Getting Power In
We opened up the base at the back of the model to allow us to insert a 12 port expansion board connected to a 50cm cable. This gives us plenty of cable to connect it up afterwards.
The cable exits underneath between two of the Dark Bluish Grey plates.
2) Adding Bit Lights
With a bit of trial and error we decided to add 'room' lights to the following places.
We start to dismantle the blocks one by one to get to the left Yellow staircase section.
And then insert a 15cm White Bit Light under the clear trans plates at the corner. The staircase block is actually hollow so easy to then route the wire back to the middle of the house.
Time for a quick test to check it's all working!
Next the front corner block with the Bright Light Orange roof.
And the block with Dark Red roof tiles on the right:
The centre of the block is helpfully a trans clear 2x2 brick! Very easy for us to fit a Bit Light in the very middle.
3) Adding Strip Lights
Fitting bit lights to every single trans-clear window section would have been very tedious and expensive, so we experimented with adding strip lights inside the house to illuminate all the windows at once. This works very well.
When looking at the house from the front the left hand side is already covered by the bit lights so it's really the front and right windows we need to light up.
This configuration works well and spreads light through all the visible windows:
Pause for a quick test!
Shown above the first floor window is lit from within by a bit light - all the other visible windows have light from our ground floor strip lights shining out.
4) The Roof Module
To start this off we wanted to add one last bit light - right at the front. There's a trans-clear 2x1 plate which is surrounded by opaque pieces so gets no light at all. This was a little fiddly to fit but it's worth it.
And finally - the big 2x4 brick on the roof!
This was the most challenging part.
Do we light it at all? Do we leave it out?
Here's our 'final' lighting project without doing that roof brick.
It was clear we had to do something. The design of that brick was a real challenge.
Each stud on the brick is a 1x1 White Square Plate with a 1x1 Clear Trans Round Tile on top. You cannot fit even our tiny bit lights between a stud and a tile as there's just no free space in there at all.
Here's how it's constructed - you can see the brick module is entirely separate and holds onto the roof with a series of 1x2 jumper plates.
To achieve an illuminated effect without being too overbearing we considered replacing those 3x3 and 1x3 plates with clear-trans pieces and lighting those. Thus the light could radiate up through and around the brick. Sadly not to be due to lack of availability of those parts in clear trans.
In the end we opted for going all-in and lighting all 8 studs! We replaced the 1x1 White Plates with clear-trans equivalents and put the bit lights UNDER these. So it's a white plate > Bit Light > Clear Trans Square Plate > Clear Trans Round Tile.
For this section we used 30cm White Bit Lights to ensure we had enough slack to properly route the cables down into the building and make removing the roof section still possible.
That works great and though we ended up with a bundle of 8 cables to hide it still worked out well.
We ended up having to make very minor changes to the building to fit the cables through but as you can see this results in a very neat fit with the cable bundle only visible from the rear.
- 1 x Power Supply. We used an AA Battery Pack but you could do just as well with a USB Cable.
- 1 x 12 Port Expansion board
- 1 x 8 Port Expansion board
- 3 x White Strip Lights
- 4 x 15cm White Bit Lights
- 8 x 30cm White Bit Lights
- 4 x 5cm Connecting Cables
- 1 x 50cm Connecting Cable
- 1 x 2 Port Expansion Board (to connect the 50cm cable to a USB cable or to an AA battery pack)
- 8 x LEGO 1x1 Round Plates in Trans Clear to hold the lights under the roof studs (as you cannot put the LEDs directly under the trans clear tiles)
This was a great project to do - the house lends itself extremely well to being lit up and though it took a lot of lights to do it justice the end result is stunning.
If you'd like to achieve this effect yourself just drop us a line and we'll get you a bundle price for these components all together.
Until next time - happy building!
Here's a few photos to showcase how it looks now!