Ultimate Guide to Connecting LED Light Strips

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Update time : 2020-07-27 15:01:56

There is so much to love about LED light strips. They are an efficient, eco-friendly solution to your lighting needs. They provide a lot of variety in terms of color and size. Flexible LED light strips help you light unusual places where traditional sources of lighting simply cannot reach. And they allow you to be as creative as you want with your lighting projects. 

LED strip light

Imagine working on a DIY accent lighting project in your home with traditional sources of light. Harrowing isn’t it? However, buying and connecting LED strips take all that hassle away and help you realize your creative lighting dreams. 

Choosing flexible LED ribbon lights to light your space is a no-brainer. But now you have to install them. This may seem like a daunting task but it is fairly simple if you follow some basic steps. Read on to learn more about how to connect and install LED light strips

How to Connect LED Light Strips With Each Other

Unless you’re lighting a very small project, chances are you will need to cut and connect LED light strips with each other. This is actually one of the greatest benefits of choosing LED tape lights. You can connect multiple strips together to light larger spaces and unusual nooks and crannies. There are two ways to connect LED tapes with each other:

1. Clipping

The easiest way to connect two LED strips together is to use a LED light strip connecting clip. Two LED strips can be joined with each other using a male to male clip. This clip may take many forms:

    a). Hippo Buckle LED Strip Lights Connector: Hippo Buckle light strip connector lets you connect two LED strips with each other easily. This connector has space for LED light strip on each of its two ends. You simply have to install one end of your strip to the hippo buckle connector to connect two strips together. The ‘buckle’ on the connector keeps the strips in place once installed. 
Hippo Buckle light strip connector

You can use these connectors to connect two strips together or even connect your LED strip to the power supply. In either case, these connectors help you extend the distance your LED light strips can cover effectively. You can use this connector to connect single color and RGB LED lights strips together. 

    b). Solder-Free LED Strip Lights Connector: While hippo clips are great for connecting individual LED light strips with each other, they don’t have enough space to connect parallel LED tapes to each other. That is where this larger solder-free LED strips lights connector comes in to play. It has enough space to connect multiple LED strips with each other. 

You can use this connector to connect single color and RGB LED ribbon lights together. It is also compatible with dimmable LED strip lights. Plastic clips keep the LED strips in place and the connection secure. 

    c). Solder-Free LED Wire Connector: Your project might require your LED light strips to go around a corner or an unusual shape. That is where the solder-free LED wire connectors come in handy. These wire connectors have clips on both ends so you can use them to connect two LED light strips with each other. They are great for extending the length of your LED light strips.

Solder-Free LED Wire Connector

The wire connector is a great way to cover corners and other areas of your space where you don’t need light. This is because these wires don’t have LEDs mounted on them. They can only be used to extend the length of the strips. You can connect both single color and RGB LED tape lights with each other. 

2. Soldering

While clipping is an easy and convenient way to connect LED light strips with each other, there are some cases where clipping isn’t an option. For example, if you are connecting strips that will be mounted using aluminum frames, you can’t use clips to connect them. In that case, you will have to solder the LED tapes to each other.

Soldering LED light strips to each other

Soldering LED light strips to each other is not a very difficult process. However, it does require some specialized machinery and has a bit of a learning curve. To solder two LED strips together you have to cut the strips to the size you want, remove the covering to expose the strip, match the ends of both strips exactly, and solder them together. 

Factors to Consider When Clipping and Soldering LED Strips

While clipping and soldering are two different methods of connecting LED strips, both have certain requirements to work. 

Here are some factors you should consider when connecting LED tapes to each other:

      ●  Always cut LED wires from the copper connections you will find every 2 inches or so in the LED tapes. This is important so that the essential LED components on the tapes don’t get damaged.

      ●  For soldering and clipping, LED tapes need to be exposed. So carefully remove the plastic casing of the tapes right next to the copper connections. Make sure to expose the lettering as well. This step is not needed when using hippo connectors

      ●  When connecting tapes through soldering or wire connectors, make sure to match the right wires on each LED strip to each other. So, red connects to red, green to green and so on.

      ●  Always use a heat shrink cover to protect the connections. Indoor and outdoor heat shrink covers are different, so make sure to get the right one.

How to Connect LED Light Strips to Power Supply

Now that your LED ribbon lights are connected, let’s see how you can connect strip lights to the power supply. There are many ways to connect your light strips to power. You can connect each strip directly to the socket, this is especially useful when lighting smaller spaces or projects. You can use LED light strip clips to make the connection. Or you can hardwire your LEDs directly to the main power source of your home or building. This last one is usually recommended for larger projects like lighting an entire building or office. 

Led stripe isolated on the white background

No matter what way you choose to connect your LED lights to the power supply, there are certain steps you have to take beforehand to ensure you’re making the right decision.

Step 1: Calculate LED Strip Wattage

Ideally, you should already have an idea of how much power will be required to run your LED light tapes. However, there might be some additions or subtractions in the number after you’ve cut and connected the tapes together. So, calculate the overall wattage required to power your flexible LED light strips again. 

This can be done easily by multiplying the length of the strip by the wattage per meter of the strip. For example, if you have a 3.8m long strip with 5W/m power draw, you will need a transformer with a capacity of at least 19W to power it. You can find the power draw information for each LED strip on its packaging or on the manufacturer’s website. 

Another consideration when calculating strip wattage is the voltage requirement for the strip. Generally, LED strips have a 12V or 24V voltage requirement. You have to choose a power source that is compatible with the voltage of the LED light strip, otherwise, it might not work.

If you’re using the same LED light tape for your entire project then multiply the length of the entire strip you want to power from a single source with the wattage per meter. This will give you the power capacity of your power source. If you’re using different types of LED ribbon lights then calculate the wattage requirement for each of them and add it all. This will give you an idea of how much juice they need to work.

Step 2: Find Compatible Power Supply

Now that you know how much power you need for your LED light strips to work, the next step is choosing the right power supply. You need to choose a power supply that will use only 80% of its overall power to run the LED tapes. This is important for the longevity of both your power supply and LED strips.

Lighted diodes on reel LED tape, and voltage converter

For example, if your LED strip wattage requirement was 19W, you will need a power source that has a minimum output of 23W (19/0.8). This will keep your power supply from getting overheated. Once you have the minimum wattage requirement down, choose one of three options to for supplying power to your ribbon lights:

    a). Sockets or Plug-Ins: You can choose to power your LEDs by connecting them to the power sockets in your space. You will need a good Desktop LED Power Supply for this. Simply connect one end of the power supply to your LED tapes and the other to the socket to light up your tapes. This is a good option for using LED ribbon lights in homes, smaller spaces, and for task or accent lighting.

    b). Hardwiring: You can connect your LED light strips directly to the power wiring in your space. This is an effective way to power your tape lights, especially if you’re lighting an industrial or commercial space. You will need Aluminum Case LED Power Supply to hardwire your LED tapes and this process is best handled by professionals.

    c). Batteries: You can use batteries to power your LED ribbon lights. This is a good option if you want to power a small accent piece or take your LED lights with you on the go.

Step 3: Connect LED Strip to Power Supply

After choosing the right power supply, it is time to connect your LED light tapes to it. As mentioned before you can connect your LED ribbon lights to your power supply via power socket or by hardwiring.

If you choose to connect your LED tapes to a socket, there are two ways to do so: 

The way to connect your LED tapes to a socket

The first is to connect each length of the strip to a single desktop power supply that can then be connected to the socket. 

Another way to connect your LED tapes to a socket

The second is to connect parallel LED ribbon lights together using a wire clip and connecting the wire clip to the socket. Both of these ways will help you light your space without worrying about Voltage Drop. You can also use LED light strip plug connectors to connect your strips to power sources directly. 

Conclusion

LED light strips are a great way to light your projects. They are flexible enough to fit into tight spaces and they are easy to install. They leave a very small carbon footprint and don’t emit a lot of heat. You don’t need to worry about maintenance costs and they are more energy-efficient than traditional sources of lighting. You can easily connect LED light tapes together to fit your space. 

Looking for custom-made LED light strips? Reach out to usand we’ll design bespoke LED light tapes that are just the right length for your project.