Jul 08 2019
n a previous article we focused on the main things to look out for when buying LED Strip Lights for the first time. Now we are going to take you through the next phase; installation. Installing your LED Strips can be anything from very simple to quite difficult, but ultimately it all depends on what end result you are trying to achieve with your lighting system. For example, introducing a 1 metre strip of LED lighting into your kitchen cabinet may be a lot more straight forward than using 20 metres of RGB LED Strip Lights to outfit a club and run this on DMX Control. Regardless of what you do there are a few universal things to look out for and this article will take you through some of them.
We will start with the LED Tape itself. This consists of a long piece of high impact, flexible circuit board with surface mounted devices, or SMDs, positioned along its length. There are a few different things to consider here including, LEDs per metre, LED chip size, strip light colour and length. Strip Lights are available in two LED per metre varieties, 30 LED per metre and 60 LED per metre. As suggested by the name the latter has twice as many LEDs and is a lot brighter than the former. They are designed to be used in a lighting context where they are forced to compete with background illumination. So for example if you want to use them in a daylight setting, such as a shop street display, or add them to a room that already has general illumination and still want them to be seen, you should opt for 60 LED per metre as their sharper light output makes them suitable for these purposes. Aside from this a 30 LED per metre strip will be able to handle most other lighting arrangements, such as club setups, or anywhere else they don't have to compete with background lighting.
When you look at the specifications of strip lighting you will usually notice a series of four numbers that to most people might not mean a lot. These actually refer to the size of the individual LEDs on the strips. Typically you will find chip sizes of either 5050 (5mm by 5mm) or 3528 (3.5mm by 2.8mm). The key difference between these two types of chip size is the consistency of light they produce. Smaller LEDs will create a more jagged and inconsistent effect, while larger LEDs will provide a more even spread of light.
Another decision to make is exactly what colour strip light you want to buy. They are usually available in three main colour varieties, including warm and cool white and interchangeable RGB. The former two are for adding stylish ambient lighting to commercial and domestic settings while avoiding being too garish with the end result. They can be used to aesthetically to enhance the appearance of a room by adding layered or accent lighting, or they can add functionality to kitchens, bathrooms or offices where they can be used as task lighting to aid work. RGB LED is a direct substitute for old fashioned disco lighting and offers thousands of programmable effects. Typically they will run directly from a remote control which works in conjunction with a red eye sensor attached between the strip light and transformer. However, DMX Control is also an option. This is a form of advanced effects programming that uses an industry standard signal to control the brightness, colour and frequency of the lights.
The most obvious consideration to make is the exact length of strip lighting that you require. This depends on the nature of your setup and how complex your intentions are. Usually most lighting arrangements can be achieved with a single strip. Strip Lights are available in 5 metre and 10 metre reels as standard, but longer or shorter bespoke lengths can be ordered so call your provider to find out. Lengthening or shortening strip lighting can be done all by yourself as well. To shorten a strip light can be done by simply cutting the strip at one of its cutting points spaced approximately 5cm apart along the length of the light. To attach two pieces of strip together, and thereby increase the length of the light, you will need a soldering iron and some two core wire. Simply solder these wires to their respective plus and minus solder points at the end of the strip light where the cut has been made and do the same on the other strip to complete the connection. This method can be used to achieve a bit of extra length, especially when trailing them around a large corner.
This article has given you a few of the main specifications associated with LED Strip Lighting and how to ensure you get exactly the right light you desire for your purposes. Look out for additional articles on how to make sure you meet the power requirements of your lighting system.
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