LED wires are no longer strange in modern life. The product is widely used in decorative lighting. You can easily come across LED string lights at showroom shelves, shops, cafes, supermarkets, entertainment centers, apartments, etc.
Can you cut LED strip lights? is a common question when decorating spaces with this light type Whether you are an installation technician or a user of LED lighting, you all need to know the basic knowledge to install led string lights or how to cut LED strip lights in the right way. The following article will provide detailed instructions on how to properly connect LED wires.
Can the LED strip lights be cut to suit the length position installation?
One of the big advantages of the LED strip is that it is breakable, that is to say, that you can cut it to fit it best for your project. So we cannot cut it anywhere, on the LED strip we find copper points and it is on these same points that we will cut and solder the LED strip. Depending on the LED strip the spacing between 2 copper points will vary, in general, the cutting lengths vary between 10cm and 1.5cm. The length of the tape can therefore be adjusted relatively well depending on the installation.
How to cut an LED strip?
Cutting an LED strip is not a very complicated operation, you just have to do it in the right place on the LED strip. To know where to cut on the tape we will find cutting lines materialized by copper points located at regular intervals, generally, we are on a few centimeters. For example, for a 30l/m RGB LED strip, the cutting lines are found every 10cm. For a 120l/m white LED strip, you can cut the LED strip every 2.5cm. The more LEDs the LED strip will have per meter, the closer the cut lines will be. Usually, between 2 crop marks, there are 3 LEDs. It is very important to respect the cutting lengths because if you cut anywhere, it is the section of 3LED that will be defective.
As for the actual cutting, you can do it with wire cutters or a pair of scissors if you want to be more precise
Before making more in-depth descriptions, it is necessary to know the four main voltage ranks under which an LED strip operates:
- 5 VDC LED strips: They are not very common. These are digital or analog tapes usually connected to USB ports.
- 12/24 VDC LED strips: Without doubt the most widely used. You have to know how to cut and join the different sections of the tape, but the main advantage is that they can achieve precise and more elaborate installations, adapted to the needs of each project. The big downside, to be honest, is that they need a power supply or transformer to convert 220VAC current to VDC.
- 220 VAC LED strips: Their IP65 protection makes them the preferred outdoor lighting. They are great for highlighting specific points in a garden, for example. They do not require a transformer and are therefore easier to install.
Procedure for cutting and joining 12V LED strips
The steps for cutting and joining 12/24 VDC LED strips are not complex and, as we have already mentioned, they are also safer to undertake than those of other installations. But it is necessary to carry them out with attention and care:
- Calculate and cut the section (only if you need to cut) of the LED strips you need. If you need to make a cut, remember that as a general rule 12 VDC ribbons can be cut every 5 cm and every 10 cm for 24 VDC. Usually, it is clearly indicated where the separation can take place.
- It is necessary to ensure that the profile where the LED strip will be installed is clean before gluing them. Although it is not mandatory to use aluminum profiles, it is strongly recommended to install LED strips in them, in order to avoid the temptation to place them directly on wood or plaster.
- Connect the ribbon to the transformer corresponding to the existing instructions. You will need two cables (red and black) which you will connect with the sign + (+ V) or – (-V) respectively. Then, the power supply will have to be connected to the electrical network.
Are you going to join several sections of 12V LED strips?
- You must pay attention to sections hinted at every LED strip type.
- The union of the different sections can be managed via rigid connectors or connection cables. Rigids are more secure and provide straight unions, right angles, or even more complex T-shaped installations.
- Glue the LED strips on the corresponding profile and connect them to the transformer and then to the electric current.
Although 12v and 24V LED strips can be cut and assembled without problems, always following the corresponding instructions, it is recommended that any installation of this type does not exceed 10 to 15 meters, respectively, in order to avoid falls from unexpected tension.
220V LED strips: a more specific case
These ribbons are a “modified” version of the previous ones. Its main advantage is that they can be connected directly to the mains, which greatly facilitates the installation, as it saves you from having to depend on a transformer (a key element of 12 / 24V LED strips). This type of tape can extend up to 50 meters without fear of voltage drops
More details installing 220V LED ribbons:
- They are available in coils of 50 or 100 meters. Another big difference from other similar lighting systems is that you can only make cuts of exactly one meter. If this measurement is not followed, the ribbon will not work.
- The sections can be joined together simply by soldering the connecting cables to the other end.
- The steps to install 220V LED strips are even simpler. We always start with the introduction of the 4 pin connector to the LED strip. These connectors have two distinct parts: the pointed tips and the rounded tips. These are those which must coincide with the ribbon, those are those which are introduced in the current correcting cable. Once all the elements are connected, all you need to do is plug the strip into the power grid.
- If the tape does not light, we recommend that you look at this post.
- Finally, it should be noted that the protection rating of 220V LED strips is IP65. That is why they are generally used for the decoration of outdoor spaces.
How to weld on LED tape?
Again this is not rocket science, you just have to be meticulous and a little bit equipped (at least a soldering iron and some tin). The realization of a weld on LED tape will take place in 3 parts:
- Preparation of the LED strip
- Soldering the connector or cable
- Finishing and protection of the weld
As for the preparation of the LED strip, we will make sure that everything is ready for simple and efficient soldering. That is to say that we will remove the silicone protection if we are in the case of a waterproof LED strip. To remove the silicone we will use a cutter (be careful not to cut yourself), you just have to make a small incision in the silicone to easily remove it. If there is any residue left on the copper points, you can lightly scrape the copper points with the cutter, being careful not to damage the electronic circuit.
Now that it’s ready, we will be able to weld. To start, you have to come and deposit a small pewter ball on the copper points, this is called “tinning”. Then you have to do the same thing on the cable or on the connector to be soldered, after having stripped it you can put it on the wires.
As soon as the LED strip and the cable/connector are tinned, you can proceed to solder. For that, you simply have to put the 2 parts in contact and put your soldering iron on it, in this way the tin which is on the 2 parts will liquefy and merge and the wire will be sealed and solder after a few seconds. Of course, before soldering the cable you have to make sure to match the polarities, otherwise, it simply won’t work.
Once the weld is done, it must be protected and solidified. For this, we will use the heat-shrinkable sheath. It is a sheath that is placed around the weld 1 or 2cm wide and which under the effect of the heat will retract and stick to the weld, on cooling it will harden and therefore protect and solidify the weld.
To retract the sheath, you can use a heat gun, a hairdryer, or as a last resort, a lighter (be careful not to burn yourself and the cable).
Now that you’ve done all of that, it’s time to test your LED tape to see if your solder is done right.
By Solderless Connectors to connect up the LED Strips
The first thing you need to do is make sure you cut your LED strip in the right place. You can find it at all 3 LEDs where there is an indicator line and exposed copper connection points on either side. Cut the tape precisely on this line with good sharp scissors or a sharp working knife.
Now you need to fully expose the copper connection points on the tape, so you need to remove all of the silicone covering there. Make a small incision next to the LED (only in the silicone, not going all the way to the ribbon) and remove as much of the silicone as possible. Then clean the tape thoroughly with rubbing alcohol and a small brush. If there is silicone left on the connection points, the current will not flow well. Also, be sure to remove the glue from the back of the tape so you can easily slide the solderless connector into place.
Once it’s done, insert the exposed portion of the tape inside the solderless connector, with the copper connection points under the metal pads of the connector. Apply pressure to the metal pads using a ballpoint pen; you have to make sure that they grow on the connection points. You can also try adding a small piece of electrical tape on top of the metal pads to give you additional padding when closing the plastic paddles. This will help push the metal pads even harder on the connection points.
Repeat the same process for the other solderless connector. It is very important to respect the polarity when you reconnect your pieces of the LED strip (R, G, B and V + must match).
There you go, you have now lengthened your LED strip circuit!
***Refer to more: How to connect LED strip lights together? [Expert Answer]
How many LEDs per meter are needed?
It may seem like a trivial detail, but the amount of LEDs per meter directly affects brightness and power consumption. For this reason, before proceeding with the installation, it is important to analyze the purpose of the lighting to choose one type of strip or another. These tips will help you choose the correct ribbon:
- 30 LEDs/meter: For home decoration, also widely used in decorative plaster ceilings, decorative borders for home items, wall decoration, garden walls, trees, and gardens.
- 60 LEDs/meter: Used to provide standard lighting, it can illuminate facades, pergolas, any type of room, corridors, display cases, shelves, etc.
- 144 LEDs/meter: Used when looking for high light output. Widely used to accentuate signs, beacons, exterior lighting, etc.
Do both sides still work when you cut them?
Of Course, both sides of your LED strip light still work if you cut them.
The Important part is the cutting points. The cutting points have been marked, this is the safe place to disrupt the circuit without ruining it.
As long as you choose the right one, make a point to cut it so it’s not a big deal.
This is good news as you don’t create any more waste and you can still reuse your second half.
Here we are, LED strip lights can be modified to fulfill your demand for any installation, even what is its shape. If you are not sure how to make it done, you can get your LED strip lights cut by a professional.
From now on, you do not have to wonder Can you cut the LED strip lights, cutting the LED string lights will no longer be a problem for you. You can confidently create and design your lighting space with LED string lights. Hope all of this information can be helpful for you. I wish you success!