Table of Contents
- Can You Cut LED Strips?
- How to Properly Cut LED Strip Lights
- Connecting Multiple LED Strip Lights
- Steps When Using Solder
- Steps When Using Electrical Tape
- Powering Your LED Strip Lights
- Safety Tips When Working on LED Strip Lights
- Final Thoughts
- Frequently Asked Questions
Anyone who has ever wanted to add a touch of extra light to their living space knows the appeal of LED strip lights. Available in a range of colors and brightness levels, they are a simple, affordable, and energy-efficient way to make any room feel more festive or cozy. The ability to customize your LED strip lights can make them even more appealing, allowing you to adjust the length and configuration of your lights to fit your space.
Cutting LED strip lights can be a confusing task for anyone who has never done it before, but with the right information, it doesn’t have to be! If you’re asking the question, “can you cut LED strips?” This guide will help you determine where and how to cut your LED strip lights, as well as how to connect them in series and parallel. Lastly, we will tell you how to properly connect your LED strip lights to a power supply.
Can You Cut LED Strips?
In a nutshell, yes, you can cut LED strip lights. But before you start hacking away at your new lights, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First of all, it’s important to know how long your LED strip light is. In general, how much you can cut depends on how long your light strip is to begin with. Most LED strip lights are sold in reels of 16 ft. (The length will vary depending on the manufacturer). If you want to cut your LED strip light, it’s best to do so in multiples of 16.
While some manufacturers don’t recommend cutting LED strip lights because doing so can affect the performance or lifespan of the light, most LED strips are designed to be cut and reconnected. Just make sure you have a steady hand and a sharp pair of scissors! That said, it is important to note there are some types of LED strip lights that you cannot cut, like RGBIC strip lights for example. RGBIC = red, green, and blue with an independent chip. You cannot cut these because doing so would ruin their lighting effects and ability to change colors.
How to Properly Cut LED Strip Lights
Now that you know it’s possible to cut your LED strip lights, how do you go about doing it? Grab your scissors and follow these steps:
Step One: Determine the Length
Determine how long you want your LED lights to be. If you’re using them as an accent light, measure the distance between where they will be placed and where they need to end up (e.g., above or below a shelf or cabinet). This will give you an idea of how much lighting tape needs to be cut.
Tip: When measuring how long you want your LED strip lights to be, it’s best to add about an extra inch for trimming later on. This will make it easier to fit the lights around corners and edges or in tight spaces.
What if you don’t have a tape measure? If you don’t have a tape measure, you can use a piece of string or wire to help you measure the length. Just hold one end of the string or wire against the starting point and drape it along the edge where you want your LED strip light to end. Then, using a ruler, measure how long the string is. This will give you an idea of how long your LED strip light needs to be.
Step Two: Cut the Strip Light
The next step is to cut your LED strip light. Most strips have a designated cutting point located about every 16 inches (or other multiples of 16, depending on how long the strip is). These lines are usually marked with black or white dots or dashes and can be easily seen against the backing paper where the lights are attached. Use these markings to give you an idea of where to cut LED strip lights.
If you’re not sure where the cutting points are, check your LED strip light’s instructions. Alternatively, if your LED light doesn’t have these markings, you can cut it anywhere along its length as long as the strips are in multiples of 16.
Once you’ve found the designated cutting point, hold your scissors against it and cut along the line. BE CAREFUL NOT TO CUT THE WIRES CONNECTING THE LIGHTS!
Step Three: Remove the Excess Strip Light
Now that you’ve cut your LED strip light, there will likely be some excess material left over. This can easily be trimmed away with scissors so that the LED strip light fits better in its desired space.
Connecting Multiple LED Strip Lights
Once you’ve cut your LED strip lights, how do you connect multiple LED strip lights together? Most people think that connecting multiple LED strips is a tricky task, but it doesn’t have to be! All you need are a few parts and some basic electrical knowledge. To successfully join two or more pieces of LED strip lights, use either solder (a low-temperature type of metal alloy) or electrical tape.
Soldering is a more permanent solution and is used to create a strong, watertight connection between the LED lights. Electrical tape, on the other hand, is an easy way to connect strips together without any soldering required (although it’s not as durable as solder). It’s also a good idea to have extra wires on hand so you can extend the length of your light strips.
Steps When Using Solder
To connect two or more pieces of LED strip lights using solder, follow these steps:
Step One: Prepare the Wires and Strip Lights
The first thing you need to do is remove about a quarter inch of covering from the end of each wire on your LED strip light. This will expose the bare wires underneath.
Step Two: Strip the Ends of the Wires
Next, use a wire stripper to strip about half an inch of insulation off the ends of each wire. This will expose the copper wires underneath.
Step Three: Tin the Ends of the Wires
Tinning the ends of your wires is an important step in soldering. It helps to create a strong connection between the wire and solder. To do this, use a soldering iron to heat up each wire until it turns a light copper color. Then, using flux (a type of chemical cleaner), coat the exposed wires and solder. This will help to clean off any dirt, grease, or oil that may be present on your wire.
Step Four: Create a Solder Joint
Now it’s time to create the solder joint between your two LED light strips. Hold one of the bare ends of each wire against a soldering iron for about three seconds. Then, holding the two wires together, apply solder to each side of the joint until it forms a shiny ball-like shape.
Step Five: Repeat Steps One Through Four for Each Connection
Repeat steps one through four (preparing the wire and strips, stripping the ends of your wires, tinning the ends of the wires, and creating a solder joint) for each connection you need to make.
Step Six: Connect The Wires Together
Once you’ve made all of your solder joints, it’s time to connect the bare ends of your wire together! You can use heat shrink tubing or electrical tape to cover up any exposed copper (make sure not to cover the soldered joints).
Steps When Using Electrical Tape
While not all homes have a soldering iron, most do have an electrical tape. The process for using this to connect LED strip lights is similar to the one above with some minor differences. See below for a step-by-step guide:
Step One: Cut Your LED Strip Light
Just as above, you should first make sure you’re cutting in the right place. Double check that your cut is at a specific point on the strip where there is a cut line and be careful not to damage any of the wires leading up to it (the red, green, and blue lines). After making your cut, use your fingernails or a sharp object to remove the coating on the adhesive so that the tape will stick.
Step Two: Strip Your Wires
Find the end of the wire that you’re connecting to (whichever is connected to your power source) and peel back about an inch of protective coating. This will expose two wires inside, usually a black one and a red one.
Step Three: Connect the Wires
Take your electrical tape and wrap it around both exposed wires, making sure they are secure. To create a more stable connection, twist each wire around one another in opposite directions (like you would with a pair of headphones or with those twist ties from the grocery store).
Step Four: Attach Your LED Strip Lights
After connecting your wires, firmly press the adhesive strips on each side of your LED strip lights together. Then, use a piece of electrical tape to cover the two wires where they connect, which is one final step that will help ensure your connection stays secure and doesn’t break apart.
Powering Your LED Strip Lights
We’re almost done! Don’t worry, the hard parts are over. The last thing you need to do is figure out how to power your LED strip lights.
Choosing a Power Source
The first thing you need to do when powering your LED strip lights is to choose an appropriate power source. The amount of voltage and current that your LEDs require varies depending on what type of lighting strips they are (e.g., RGB, single color, etc.). You can usually find this information on the product’s packaging or in its manual.
Once you know what type of LED strip lights you have and how much voltage and current they need, it’s time to choose a power supply that can match these specifications. There are a few different types of power supplies available on the market, such as:
- A wall adapter (plug it into an outlet and plug your LED strip light into the adapter)
- A battery pack (usually comes with a built-in charger)
- An AC to DC converter (converts household current from 110V to 12V or 24V so you can use it with your LED strip lights)
Connecting Your LED Strip Lights to the Power Supply
After choosing your power source, it’s time to connect your LED strip lights to it. This process will vary depending on the type of power supply you have, but most of them use a barrel connector (male) and a terminal block (female).
If your power supply has a barrel connector, all you need to do is insert the male end of the connector into the female terminal block. If it doesn’t have one, you can use a wire nut or some electrical tape to attach one to your LED strip light’s wiring.
If your power supply is an AC to DC converter with screw terminals (instead of a barrel connector), connect the positive and negative wires from your LED strip lights to the corresponding screws on the converter. Then, use a screwdriver to tighten them in place.
Once your wires are connected, you’re ready to power on your LED strip lights! Simply plug in your power supply (or insert batteries) and watch them light up.
Safety Tips When Working on LED Strip Lights
If you’ve reached this point, congratulations! You’ve successfully learned how to install your LED strip lights. But before you get to work cutting, connecting, or powering them, there are a few safety tips to keep in mind. When working with electricity, always be aware of the risks and take precautions to avoid accidents. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Always read the product manual before installing LED strip lights.
- Keep all electrical wiring away from water (and don’t install them in a bathroom if they’re not waterproof).
- Wear protective goggles when cutting, connecting, or soldering wires.
- Never touch an electrical wire with wet hands (or while standing in water).
- Never touch live wires (the kind that is exposed and has no protective coating).
- Only work with LED strip lights that are UL-listed (this means they’ve been tested by Underwriters Laboratories and meet safety standards).
- Don’t overload your power supply – it should never exceed the maximum wattage rating.
- Don’t use a power supply that doesn’t have overload protection, as this could lead to damage and even fires. Be sure to check the product specifications before purchasing any power supplies.
- Make sure to keep flammable materials and liquids away from your LED strip lights (they can potentially start a fire if they come into contact with something hot).
- If you are working on a project that requires electricity and it’s going to take up more than 30 minutes of your time, make sure there’s someone nearby who knows what they’re doing. They should also be able to turn off the power if something goes wrong or an accident happens.
LED strip lights are a great way to add some personality, creativity, and fun into your home, office, garage, or whatever space you’re lighting. They’re also affordable and customizable. If you were wondering, “can you cut LED strip lights,” now you should know that you can and, after reading the steps, you should also know how. You don’t need to be an expert to cut, connect, and power these lights, but it requires patience and attention to detail as well as an understanding of how to do it properly. We hope this guide was useful in learning how to cut, connect, and power your LED strip lights correctly and safely.
Frequently Asked Questions
After going through the steps, here are a few frequently asked questions that first-time LED strips users tend to ask us. We’ve provided the questions and answers below for the benefit of our readers.
Is it safe to cut LED strips?
Yes, it is definitely safe. LED strips are actually designed to be cut since they have cut lines. If you accidentally miss the cut line though, you won’t get hurt but you may damage the LED strip.
Can you Cut and Connect LED strip lights?
Yes, you can reconnect strips that have already been cut. You can follow the steps we provided above to connect two strips together or you can also use a quick connector (you can find this in any hardware store) and some adhesive to put them together.
Can I install LED strip lights under cabinets?
Yes, you can. All you need to do is get the right measurements, attach the strip to a power source, and use some adhesive to attach it.