LED strips are usually sold as long reels. There are 3 to 16 feet long LED strips available. But what to do if they are too long? Can you cut LED strips to your needed length for your project? The good news is: LED strips can be cut down. Before you take out your scissors stop right now! In this guide we will show you the important details you need to pay attention to before reducing the length of your LED strips.
Cutting down LED strips
The default length of LED strips are often not suitable for your lighting project. So many people ask themselves if they could simply cut down their LED strips. Will they still work if they are cut down? Yes, your LED strips will continue to work even after they have been cut down provided that they are cut along designated lines.
You cannot cut your LED strips just anywhere because than they can get damaged. There are designated lines on your LED strips that indicate the place where they can be cut. These are marked so that you can cut them safely without damaging them.
There are many individual circuits that make up your LED strips. The cut lines indicate where one circuit ends and where the new one starts. If you don’t cut your LED strip on the cut line but somewhere else, the circuit, or the whole strip, will stop working.
What are LED strip lights?
LED strip lights are decorative lamp belts made up of individual light emitting diodes which are mounted on a narrow, flexible circuit board. It is half an inch or 10 to 12mm wide and operates on low-voltage DC power. They are also known as LED ribbon lights or LED tape lights.
In the back of the LED strip is a double-sided adhesive. You can mount your LED strip on any surface by simply peeling off the adhesive. The flexibility of LED strips allows it to be mounted also on uneven and curved surfaces.
What are the benefits of using LED strip lights?
For your projects, you don’t need to worry about space requirements since LED strips can be cut to the length you require. LED strips can be bent vertically so light can be installed in seemingly impossible places. You can opt for single color LED strips or those that change colors.
You can install your LED strip lights in tight places because of their small width. You can even hide your strips from view. It is easy to install. You simply peel the adhesive in the back and stick it to any surface.
You can dim your LED strip lights with their provided controller or connect them to any compatible home automation system. You can buy LED strip lights that are dust and water-resistant. LED strip lights are widely customizable in terms of color, width, length, voltage, brightness and CRI.
How do you cut LED strip lights?
You might think that it is very simple to cut LED strip lights. Many people, however, have made the mistake of not following the proper way of cutting and it has resulted in damaging their perfectly good lights.
Follow this guide to properly cut your LED strip lights
Whatever type of LED strip light you have, you can be sure of one thing, and that is that you can cut it into your desired length. Throughout your LED strip, you will find straight or dotted black or white lines which indicate the places where you can cut. It is possible to cut on these lines because circuits are completely closed here. So, it is safe to cut your strips here without damaging it.
Since there are different types of LED strips, the cutting lines on each will also be different. However, most LED strips have cutting lines after every 3 LEDs. You will also find copper dots on both sides of the black cutting line. The pattern they form is symmetrical. There are 2 copper dots on single color lights but on color changing RGBs, you will find 4 copper dots. If you locate these copper dots, then you will see the cutting line in between.
Before cutting, you need to test your lights first to see if they are working. The reason for this is that cutting your LED will surely make your warranty void. Then determine the length of the LED strip that you need for your project. Be accurate in measuring the part of your home where you want to put your LED strip lights.
Then cut the strip on the line that is closest to your required length for a perfect installation. Use a pair of scissors or a sharp knife to cut your LED strip on the line. Do it slowly so you don’t cut off something else accidentally. You won’t get hurt if this happens but your LED strip can be damaged.
How do you connect your cut LED strip to a power source?
If you cut your LED strip, you will get rid of its pre-fitted socket so you will need something new. There are two methods of doing this. One is by using a strip connector and the other is by soldering a new socket onto the strip. The easiest way of doing this is by using strip connectors. You don’t need tools for this method. With a knife, start by cutting away the translucent plating or silicone covers on the copper pads.
Using rubbing alcohol and a small brush, clean the strip thoroughly. Make sure that there is no silicone left on top of the copper connectors. Otherwise, your lights will not work properly. The strip should then be inserted into the connector. Make sure to match the components – red lines with red, green lines with green, and so on.
The other method uses a soldering iron. You can directly solder a socket to the LED strip by first melting the solder on the copper pads and then attaching the wires to the solder puddles. It is important that the wire’s polarity match the positive and negative marks on the strip.
Match the black wire with the negative mark and match the red wire with the positive mark. When the wires are connected to your strip, you can then plug it to a LED power source to check if they are working.
How do you reconnect two LED strips?
You can reconnect or attach two LED strips by using the same methods given above. You can either solder the two pieces together or use a strip connector. You can easily purchase connectors of varying shapes from retailers.
Cutting your LED strips to your desired length is not hard. You just need to pay attention to their designated cutting lines. With LED strip lights, you will be able to customize its length, by cutting or attaching, to meet your installation requirements. If you need shorter strips, cut them accurately. If you need longer ones, attach other strips to your existing ones. This is the reason why LED strip lights are becoming very popular today.