How To Install LED Strip Lights - The Definitive Guide

Date Published: July 10th, 2020

One of the most common questions we get here at Light Supplier is “how to install LED strip lights”. The truth is you don’t need extensive knowledge in electronics or lighting to install them yourself, and it can be done in one day as part of a DIY project. We do recommend consulting an electrician beforehand, but once you’re ready to install your LED strip lights, follow our guide below for a simple step by step process. The following information can be used to install LED Strip Lights under cabinets, inside furniture, or in wardrobe spaces.

Before Installing Your LED Strip Lights

Before going ahead with your installation, whether it’s for under cabinet lighting or somewhere else, make sure you choose the right colour and brightness. We offer a range of LED strip lighting that offers different colours, lighting intensity and styles to suit your preferences. For under cabinet lighting, we recommend strips that offer 600 LEDs per reel, and brighter settings for added intensity. We also suggest adding a dimmer switch to be able to control the intensity of your lighting depending on the time of day.

Recommended Supplies:

Depending on your project, we recommend adding the following supplies to your preparation list:

  • 2 reels of your preferred strip lighting
  • 100W Mean Well 12v Power Supply
  • Cerrowire extension
  • Strip-to-strip solderless connector
  • Strip-to-strip "no wire" solderless connector
  • LED strip Dimmer (optional)
  • Sharp scissors
  • Wire strippers
  • Measuring tape
  • 4 wire nuts
  • Black electrical tape

Choosing The Right LED Driver Based On Voltage

Before choosing your driver, you need to know that there are two types: those that use low voltage DC and those that use high voltage AC input power. Drivers that use high voltage AC are called off-line drivers. In most circumstances, we recommend using a low voltage DC input LED driver. Even if the input voltage is high, using a switching power supply will make it possible to use a DC driver. You may also find that cutting and connecting strips, as well as the length and density of the LEDs, affects what kind of drivers and power supplies they’d need. Always ensure that you read the information provided with your products to ensure that installation is carried out correctly.

Step 1: Double-Check Your Lights

Before installing your lights, it’s important to double-check that they work. This can be done in a safe environment and all your LED lights can be easily checked. Follow these steps to ensure that your strip lighting is working correctly:

  1. Create a “mock” installation that allows you to check for any missing parts or supplies
  2. Release the strip lights from their reel
  3. Attach the (uncut) lights to your power supply and turn it on
  4. Check that all of the LED lights are lit up
  5. Check the brightness and intensity of the lights and decide if they’re the right choice for the installation. It might be worth asking yourself if you need a dimmer or another colour for your project

Once you have completed these steps, proceed to step two. If you have found an error with your LED strip lights, for example, if one of the diodes is broken, this could be a simple connection error. If you’d like to fix this, read on to step 4 or get in touch with one of our team members today and they will be able to help you further or replace your strip lighting entirely. Checking that your lights are working correctly ensures that you have the right colour and intensity, and a mock installation will help you to see up close if your new strip lights fit in with your decor and style. Keep reading to find out how to install LED strip lights successfully.

Step 2: Measure & Cut Your Light Strip

Now that you have ensured that everything is in working order, you can start installing your lighting. Whether your strip lighting is to be used under cabinets, counters or inside furniture such as bookshelves, you will need to do the following:

  1. Measure the length of your installation area exactly. This can be done with a measuring tape and will determine how much length of your strip lighting you will need.
  2. Cut your strip lighting with sharp scissors to the exact measurement of your installation area. This will prepare you for a quick installation.

Note: LED lighting can only be cut in designated areas that are marked on the strip itself. If you’re not sure where to cut your strip lights, check out the following video:

Step 3: Strip & Power Connection

In order to make a connection with your power supply and dimmer (if you’ve chosen to have one), you will need to add a low voltage extension wire to the end of the first run of strip lights. To do this, you must cut it to length, strip an inch of the wire insulation for both the extension and the strip light, and wrap them together. You can also use wire nuts to secure your connection at this step, or simply add them loosely in order to tighten them later during your full installation.

Step 4: Connecting LED Strips Together

More likely than not, you will be using two sets of strip lights for your DIY project. If you’re using more than two, you will need to connect cut sections of LED strips. To do this, you will need a strip-to-strip connector. If you can, find that one that’s solderless, it will save you more time in the long run, especially if you’re installing your lights alone.

strip lights connectors.jpg

Once you have a connector, connect the first run of lights to the second and so on until you have a continuous strip that can be installed around corners etc. To attach the connector, peel back around 0.5 to 1 inch of the tape (both front and back). This will expose enough space for a connection. Before connecting, ensure that the wider white side is facing up.

Once this is done, find the positive and negative ends and note the wires coming from the connector to ensure that they align correctly.

Note: Although black and red wires can denote positive/negative, this isn’t always the case. Look for the right marking before attaching anything together. Also, ensure that your lights are not connected to any electrical units at this time.

Step 5: Testing

Once you have successfully completed step 4, you can test your lights again. Using either wire nuts or a 2-way terminal block, connect all of your strip lights to a power supply. Ensure that all the wires are connected properly and that all of the diodes are working.

Also, take this time to ensure that your dimmer is working. If your lights are not as bright as before, or if they don’t come on right away, you will need to check your connectors. Sometimes the positive/negative alignments may not be securely connected, and you will need to disconnect and connect them again.

Note: If you notice a fault with your lights and decide to check the connectors, ensure there are no electrical currents to avoid injury or harm. 

Step 6: Install & Enjoy

Now that the harder steps are out of the way, you can carefully place your strip lights and install them where you wish! Be careful not to tug or pull on your strip lights, and always ensure that they’re installed in a way so that all of the diodes are level. Once they’re installed, sit back and relax with your newly installed LED strip lights! We hope you found our guide on how to install LED strip lights useful.

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