Do you like to illuminate your kitchen cupboards, the backside of your TV, and other places? LED strips are the best solution for your decorative accent lighting needs. Every strip comprises LED emitters attached to a narrow circuit board. However, one major problem is that LED strips are too long. Their standard length is around 100 feet. Still, it does not affect your decorative lighting project. But, how do you cut LED strip lights according to your needs?
When you cut the length of these strips, it will not affect the LED lights. But, an improper cutting technique can damage the lights. Here is a brief guide on how to cut and reduce the length of LED strips for a DIY decorative project.
A Brief Overview of LED Strip Lights
Designed with FPC, the LED strip lights remain assembled on a circuit board. You can find a comfortable brightness level with these LED strips. These strip lights are not thick, and thus, they do not consume much space. You can not only cut the LED strip light but also extend it without affecting the LED.
As the FPC is a soft material, you can stretch, roll, fold, and bend the LED strip light without breaking it. Moreover, you can fit it in small and irregular places. For these reasons, LED strips are used for advertisement boards. Our easy-to-follow guide on how to cut these strips will make your project successful.
LED light strips are available in different sizes and shapes. While some have a waterproof design, others are not waterproof. Moreover, you can choose between monochromatic and RGB LEDs. You may also cut the strips to custom lengths. Every LED strip has varying cutting lines. For instance, 1 meter of a strip may contain 30 LEDs. You will find the cutting line at every 10 cm.
Why Do You Need to Cut Your LED strips?
You may have thought of illuminating a particular room with LEDs. But, what will you do when one corner does not need lighting? Adjusting the LED strip length is the best option. Thus, you need to cut your LED light strips in different situations. The excess strip can be used for other purposes.
How to Cut LED Strip Lights: Guide to Cutting and Connecting LED Strips
Using a pair of scissors, you can cut your LED light strips. The end of every LED includes a pair of copper dots. Your LEDs will continue illuminating light by cutting between these dots. They can also be connected to the power source using quick connectors. A soldering method is an alternative way to connect them. The proper connection ensures that these LEDs light up beautifully and create a colorful atmosphere. Let us discuss the steps for cutting and connecting the strips.
Cut Your LED Strips Apart
Measure the LED strip length before cutting it. You need to cut at particular points to let the LEDs work properly. Most importantly, you should identify the length of the strip needed for your decoration project.
The rear side of the strip has copper dots where every light is connected to the other one. Detect the cut light that runs between copper dots. Select the line, which is closest to the desired LED length. Use your scissors to cut the strips carefully and avoid damage to LEDs.
Choose Your Quick Connectors to Secure LEDs
While buying LED light strips, you need to purchase quick connectors. The backside of the LED has negative and positive signs. Line up the black wire of the connector with the negative side. The red wire needs to go with the positive side. The connector has a plastic bar that is to be pulled off. However, you must do it carefully, as the connector is made of delicate materials.
Remove the adhesive backing of the LED and reveal the copper terminals. But, in the case of LEDs without backing, you need to cut off the plastic. You can then slide the end of the LED to insert it into the connector. Pull back the plastic bar, and your LED must not budge. It also ensures protection of the connection from potential damage.
Wires of similar colors should be connected to the wires of the connector.
Apply the Soldering Technique
You can now remove the plastic cover from the end of the strip. Use a knife for this step and remove plastic debris. After heating up your soldering iron, you need to hold the metal solder cord over your LED. The wire will melt directly onto copper dots. The right amount of solder material is needed for this purpose.
Choose the red and black wire to attach to the LED terminals. While connecting the LED to the power source, you need to ensure that there is some extra length of wires. Pass the cord through the smaller hole. Then, the wire stripper can be fitted to the end of the wire. Twist each wire end and apply the coating with solder. It is the way to solder wires to your LED.
Connecting Multiple LED Tape Lights – Choose the Right Connection Method
There are different types of connection clips. Hippo clips make it easy to connect 2 LED strips. These connectors have space for LED strips. Set up the connector with a strip’s end and join strips together. After the installation of the connector, the strips will be secured in place. You can choose these connectors to join single-color and RGB LED light strips.
Solderless connectors are best for joining parallel LED strips together. You can also use them for dimmable LED light strips. They have plastic clips to secure their position.
LED wire connectors are available in solder-free versions, and they help in joining one LED light strip to the other one. They are best as the corner connector.
Waterproofing Tips for Strip Lighting
Though you can cut waterproof light strips, it does not make your strip 100% waterproof. The new point of connection can get damaged by moisture. The best waterproof light strips have silicone sealer coating. You can also remove it at the copper dot and cut. These waterproof strips are found in different types and have varying technical details.
Can You Cut Almost any LED Strip?
There are different kinds of LED light strips and some models are not designed to be cut. For instance, light strips integrated with separate IC chips must not be cut. There is a gap of a couple of diodes between these chips. The diodes are present along the strip. Each chip has the capacity to control a particular number of diodes. Thus, every section of your strip will display different colors. While cutting the strip, there is a risk of damage.
You must check the copper sections of the light strip. In some strips, you can find a small scissor sign. The marking will prevent you from making any mistakes. But, the absence of the icon indicates that there is no way to cut the strips. You should also avoid cutting your RGBIC strip lights. They are designed to control different lights independently. Thus, after making a cut, these strips will not work correctly.
Do Both Sides Work When You Cut the Strip?
The light strip cut at the correct markings and reconnected properly will work smoothly. Both sides of this strip will illuminate without any issue. Markings found in the light strips are not much different. Every couple of inches on the strip has copper sections.
Each side should have a good number of copper markings to enable you to cut the strip. Similarly, at the time of reconnecting, they help in making correct connection points to ensure a smooth flow of current through both sides.
LED Lights Not Working After Cutting the Strip? Find the Solution:
It seems that customizing the LED strip length is an easy process. However, there is a chance of making mistakes. You may notice that LEDs are not working properly after this cutting project. The first thing to check is that these lightings are designed for cutting. We have already said that some light strips do not work when cut.
The circuit of these lights runs continuously through the length. Thus, they can get damaged permanently due to your cuts. Another thing that you should check is to confirm the correctness of your cuts. Without the right step, there is a chance of destruction of the individual circuit.
The length of 12V LED strips must not be more than 10ft. In the case of 24V LEDs, the strip length should be within 15 feet. It enables you to avoid problems like voltage drops. A shorter length is a better choice for an electric power supply.
We hoped this helped you learn how to cut LED strip lights. It can be concluded that LED strip lengths are adjustable to your needs. You do not have to have professional skills for cutting and reconnecting these strips.