Everything you need to know about LED strip lights
When you’re looking for a creative and easy to install accent lighting, LED strip lights are your best option — they give you practically limitless options and are rather easy to set up. This makes them one of the most popular components of DIY lighting projects and an appreciated addition among architects and interior designers. Here’s some basic information about them.
What are LED strip lights?
A LED strip light is simply a long strip/tape of small circuit boards with surface-mounted, placed at regular intervals LEDs. Their length and depth varies, but they’re always narrow and flexible enough for great versatility — they can be effortlessly placed in awkward spots, e.g. between cupboards, under cabinets, inside wardrobes, along the stairs or banisters. Their adhesive, peel-and-stick backs allow them to be set up on any surface like wood, plastic or metal. LED lights are available in many colour options, starting from cool white, through red, green and blue, to almost any combination of those three. You can also buy strips with waterproof casing, so they can be used even in wet places. Installation wise, there are two kinds of LED strips — plug and play or wired. The first one can be set up almost from the get go, doesn’t require an electrician to safely install and can be moved to different places. Wired strips are made for permanent installations and may require an electrician to properly set them up.
You can find different colors of led lights on the website: https://lucasled.ie/led-strip-lights.
In short, main benefits of LED light strips are as follows:
- low energy consumption,
- high flexibility,
- can be cut to desired length,
- varied colour options,
- waterproof options available,
- easy to install.
How to choose the right transformer?
LED lighting consumes far less power than traditional lighting, requiring only 12 V (Volts) of power. This means that a mains wired LED strip needs a compatible transformer to work.
While browsing for the right LED transformer, there’s three main factors to consider:
- size of LED chips,
- length of the given strip,
- total wattage.
LED strip lighting comes with either large or small LED chips and lengths ranging from 1 to 5 metres. How to make sure, which type of chips is used? The smaller ones are marked as “3528”, which refers to their measures — 3.5 mm x 2.8 mm. Analogically, large LED chips are marked “5050” for their 5 mm x 5 mm measures. Why does it matter? 5050 chips are brighter per metre than 3528 ones.
Calculating total wattage of a LED strip is also straightforward — all you have to do is a simple sum based on this:
- 60 small LED chips require 5 watts per metre,
- 60 large LED chips require 15 watts per metre.
For example, a 4-metre LED strip with 60 small chips equals 20 W. However, make sure to add another 20% to avoid potential transformer’s overload. Going by that previous example, a 20 W strip should have a 24 W transformer.
What about dimmable LED lights? The lights themselves are dimmable in most cases, but you’ll also need a compatible transformer. Simply look for one labelled ‘dimmable’ and check if it’s compatible with your dimmer switch.
How to install LED strips?
When you already have all the components ready, it’s time to put your LED strip lighting in place. The exact installation process may vary depending on the location or need of additional support from an electrician, but there are a few universal principles.
Wired LED strip light
While installing LED lights connected to the mains you’ll need to follow these steps:
- Connect an LED compatible transformer to the mains; use 2 core flex cable for extension (if required).
- Connect the strip itself to the transformer (preferably in an out-of-sight, but not too hot place).
- Peel the strip’s back and tape it onto the desired surface.
- Cut to length if necessary.
If you want to install an RGB strip with a remotely controlled colour changing, you’ll have to connect an RC remote unit between the transformer and the given strip.
Plug and play LED strip light
This type of strip lighting is even easier to install. Simply:
- Cut to length (cut spots are marked).
- Peel the strip’s back and tape it on.
- Plug it into the power supply and switch it on.
Where can you buy LED strips lights?
The easiest answer is the Internet. Many shops specialising in LED lighting, can provide you with strip lights and all the accessories you’ll need to set up your dreamed mood lighting.