We all love LED lights, especially how they’ve revolutionized the lighting industry. Due to their immense flexibility, these lights can brighten up almost any space setting including profile areas where traditional incandescent and halogen light sources can’t manage. Another huge advantage of LEDs is that they’re both eco-friendly and energy-efficient making them a perfect solution for your lighting needs. But, regardless of their huge benefits, the topic of how to connect LED strips has left most people seeking answers.
As we mentioned earlier, the flexibility of LED strips can allow you to be creative when managing your lighting projects. Whether it’s adding some ambiance to your kitchen, living room, office or commercial space, LED strips can offer a cost-efficient way of accomplishing all that.
So, with that said, this short guide will discuss everything you need to know about connecting LED strips. For easy perusal, we will break the article into three parts where we’ll start with cutting the LED strips, connecting them together then connecting the lights to a power source.
Note: The first two phases are easy to accomplish even without any electrical knowledge. However, the last section, which is connecting the strips to a power source, will require you to have immense knowledge in dealing with power connections. So, if you’re ready, then let’s roll.
How to Connect LED Strip Lights: Step by Step Guide
Part 1: Cutting the LED Strips
- Step 1. Measure the Size of your Space:
Whether the LED strips are for decorative purposes or for lighting up a vanity, you’ll first need to measure the perimeter of the space you’ll be installing the lights on.
So, to accomplish this, simply use a tape measure to record the measurements. Note that, after you record the initial measurement, you’ll need to add a few meters to make the LED strips longer.
- Step 2. Mark the LED Strip:
Next, refer to the measurements you took earlier to measure the strip accordingly to find exactly where you’ll be cutting. Using a marker, mark the spots where you’ll be cutting. Make sure that you spread the light strip to make the process easier.
- Step 3. Locate the Designated Cutting Points:
This is one section you need to be really keen on. You see, LED strips have markings along the strip that tells you where it’s safe to cut. Some are marked with colored dots while others are marked with drawings of scissors.
Depending on the light strips you purchase, the cutting spots can either be spaced or close together. Light strips with spaced LED lights have spaced cutting points while those with LED lights close together to have their cutting points close together.
- Step 4. Cut the Strip:
Once you’ve located the designated cut point, use a pair of scissors to cut along the cutting points gently. Make sure you don’t cut close to the LED lights to avoid damaging them.
Part 2: Connecting the LED Strips
a) By Using Clip Connectors
- Step 1. Choose a Strip Connector that’s Compatible with your Light Strips: Using a strip connector in your project is quite useful as it allows you to connect multiple LED strips together. Here, you need to be very careful as light strip connectors defer depending on the specific model of your LED strips.
- Hippo Buckle Lights Strip Connector: This type of connector allows you to clip and connect two LED strips close together. It’s the best for connecting both single color and RGB LED light strips especially if you need to extend the distance of the strips.
- Solder-Free Light Strips: For the case of parallel LED tapes, using this type of connector can really help. They’re also ideal for connecting RGB, single-color, and dimmable LED strips.
- Solder-Free LED Wire Connector: If you need to extend the length of your LED strip, then you can consider using this option. These wire connectors also help to connect two light strips together as well as allow the LED strip to curve in different shapes as well as fit in profile areas.
- Step 2. Connect the Strip to the Wire: Once you figure out which strip connector to use, slide one end of the LED strip to the open end of the strip connector. Use the colored wires of the connector to figure out which wire connects to which dot on the light strip.
- Step 3. Lock the Strip Connector: When you align the strip connector to the LED strip, close the connector gently. If you’re using a fold-over connector, press down the flap until it latches. For the case of a slip-on connector, use the grey or black button to lock it.
b) By Soldering the Wires
- Step 1. Prepare a Well-Ventilated Working Area: The first step you need to take in case you consider this method is to isolate a working area that has enough ventilation. You can even choose to work outside or add a fan in your room.
- Step 2. Wear Safety Gear: Wearing protective glasses and safety gloves is ideal when you’re getting ready to solder. This will protect you against any injuries as soldering iron can get really hot.
- Step 3. Add Solder to the Wires: This process is called pre-tinning where a little solder is added to the wires. Also, add a little solder to the points of the LED strip where the wires will get in contact.
- Step 4. Attach the Wires to the Light Strip: Once you’ve lined up the wires, use the iron to connect the wires to their respective points on the LED strip.
Part 3. Connecting the LED to a Power Supply
Now that you’ve connected the LED strips together, it’s time to connect the strips to the power supply. There are various ways you can do this. However, the two main methods are either by connecting the light strips individually to the socket or by hardwiring the LED strip then connecting it straight to the main power source.
Now, since our LED strips will be used to illuminate small spaces, we will choose the first method, which is connecting the light strips to the socket.
- Step 1. Calculate the LED Strips Wattage:
The reason why it’s recommended to calculate the LED strip wattage is to help you determine the type of transformer that will be compatible with your lights. To calculate the wattage, simply multiply the length of the strip by the wattage per meter. This means, if the light strip is around 7 meters with an LED strip wattage of about 5W/m, then it will be [7 × 5 = 35 watts].
This means the transformer needed should have a power capacity of about 35 watts. To learn about your LED strip’s wattage, you can check on its manual or the website’s PDF files.
- Step 2. Connecting the LED Strips to the Power Supply:
Here, you need to be certain that the specific power supply can power your light strips. Also, you should ensure that the power supply you choose can use 80% of its overall power to run the lights.
To ensure this, you’ll need to multiply the total wattage of your LED strip to the maximum power usage of your power supply which is 35W × 80/100 (0.8) = 28W.
- Step 3. Now Connect the LED Strips to the Power Supply:
Now, there are two methods you can use to connect the LED strips to the power supply. You can use the series or the parallel connection method. The first is to connect the LED strips to a single power supply then connect the power supply to the socket. The second involves connecting parallel LED strips to a single wire clip then connecting the clip to the socket.
One advantage of a parallel connection is that there’s an immense power supply. However, with the series connection, there will be regular issues with voltage drops, which can be annoying.
So, are you still struggling to connect your LED strips? Well, you don’t have to strain anymore as this short guide has offered you a crystal clear step-by-step guide on how to connect your LED strip. LED lights come with so many benefits. First, they don’t leave a notable carbon footprint and second, they don’t emit heat thus making them cost-efficient.
They’re also easy to maintain as compared to their halogen and incandescent predecessors. They’re subtle, elegant and always open to immense decorative creativity for those that love interior decoration.