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Rope Light FAQs

For complete rope light installation instructions click here.

The item I want to purchase shows as "backordered".  What does this mean?

I can't find the item I want to purchase on the site.  Why?

What's the difference between LED and Incandescent rope lights?

I purchased LED rope lights and when I plugged them in, they didn’t work.

Can I use the same power cord for my incandescent rope lights and LED rope lights?

I purchased RGB rope/strip lights from another company and the accessories/controller from Birddog, but the lights aren't working.  Is there something wrong with my controller or my lights?

Are all LED rope lights really 12v?

I see a little "box" on the LED rope light power cord.  What is that?

Do LED's last forever?

How can LED's be brighter than incandescent lights if the lumen output of the LED's is lower than the lumen output of the incandescent?

I heard that LED's do not generate any heat, is this true?

Why do LED's cost more than incandescent lighting?

If an LED strip light has power consumption 1.46 watts per foot, does that mean that it's brigher than an LED rope light that has a power consumption of 0.8 watts per foot. 

What's the difference between 12v and 120v lights besides the voltage used?

I placed an order over the phone/on your site with my credit card and I received something emailed to me from PayPal, does this mean that I now have a PayPal account?

Can these rope/strip lights be cut?

Can Rope Lights be used outdoors?

Can I bend the Rope Lights?

What kinds of accessories will I need to plug my lights in?

Can I hardwire these lights?

Can the Rope Lights be dimmed?

What are the maximum run lengths?

Can I change colors in a single run?

How many mounting clips will I need?

How easy is it to work with the Rope Light?

 


The item I want to purchase shows as "backordered".  What does this mean?
This normally means that we ran out of stock and have more on the way.  Backordered items normally ship within 2 business days of being received by us.   Please call to get approximate ETA's.


I can't find the item I want to purchase on the site.  Why?
This can mean that the item may have been discontinued or we no longer carry it as a "stock" item.  If this is a repeat order, please give us a call and we can let you know if it can be special ordered or if it is still be available, but with a different model number.


What's the difference between LED and Incandescent rope lights?
"The main difference between the two is the bulbs themselves.  LED stands for Light Emitting Diode.  The LED rope lights use much less energy than the incandescent rope lights.  LED's also last longer, between the two types of lighting.  The LED's may initially cost more than the incandescent, but due to the lower power consumption of an LED you will save money every month on your electricity bill.  LED rope lights are also brighter than Incandescent rope lights with more delivered lumens.  LED rope lights do not cause harm to the environment when they are disposed of, while incandescent rope lights are filled with potentially harmful substances for our landfills.   Contrary to popular belief, LED rope lights do generate heat, however they will be ""cool to the touch"" when installed properly, incandescent rope lights get very hot and should not be used where they can be touched or rubbed against, which may inadvertently cause burns. "


I purchased LED rope lights and when I plugged them in, they didn’t work.
99% of the time when you plug in an LED rope light and it does not work, it's a polarity issue.  The LED rope lights are polarized and the cords and accessories will only work in one direction.  If this happens, simply take the plug off (leaving the pins in place in the rope light) and turn the power cord 180* (upside down) and replace it, or try taking the pins and inserting them and the power cord into the other end of the rope lights.   Another common issue is that the pins are not making a good connection with the wires inside the rope lights.  This is very important and the pins MUST make contact with the wires inside the rope light or the electrical circuit will not be completed, causing the lights to not illuminate. 


Can I use the same power cord for my incandescent rope lights and LED rope lights?
No.  The LED rope lights require the use of a rectifier on the power cord to convert the electricity from AC to DC as it runs through the rope light.  A rectificer is not required for Incandescent rope lights, so the power cords for that lighting do not come with a rectificer inline.  LED power cords can be used for incandescent lighting, however incandescent power cords cannot be used for LED lighting due to the lack of rectifier. 


I purchased RGB rope/strip lights from another company and the accessories/controller from Birddog, but the lights aren't working.  Is there something wrong with my controller or my lights?
It can depend, due to the 4 wire configuration of the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) linear lighting, the "hot" or power wire could be located in a different place on the lights than it is on the accessory.  Each factory has their own specification on how the wiring in the lights are manufactured.  Should the "hot" wire not be located in the same place on both the accessory and the light, this will interfere with normal operation of the lights, potentially causing no power to be delivered in the lights to the appropriate wire.


Are all LED rope lights really 12v?
While many linear lighting products that feature LED's inside them are 12V, not all rope lights are produced that way.  12V Rope lights will have a 20' max run length and are mainly used in automotive or recreational vehicles where they can be plugged directly into a 12VDC power source (such as a marine or car battery).  120V rope lights are more versatile as they can have a max run length of up to 600' with a high powered rectifier and come ready to plug into a wall receptical. 


I see a little "box" on the LED rope light power cord.  What is that?
The little "box" on the power cord is the rectifier.  This changes the electricity from AC (alternating current) to DC (direct current) as it runs through the rope lights. 


Do LED's last forever?
No, this is a common misconception.  LED's like all light sources slowly fade over time.  Factors that can cause this light output degredation, or lumen depreiciation can include drive current, heat generated within the light itself and the general conditions the lights are used in.   Lights used in extreme weather conditions will age faster than lights used in ideal conditions indoors. 


How can LED's be brighter than incandescent lights if the lumen output of the LED's is lower than the lumen output of the incandescent?
This has to do with the amount of "delivered lumens" that are associated with LED's.  Comparing the lumen output of a conventional light with the lumen output of an LED light is inaccurate and misleading.   Delivered lumens are a more accurate measure of light in comparison between the two, as this describes how much light a fixture delivers to the surface or area you want to illuminate.  To determine how much of a conventional lights' delivered lumen output reaches a task area, you must discount any light lost in the fixture housing, as well as any light lost as a result of lensing, shading, and filtering.  Since incandescent and fluorescent lamps emit light in all directions, you must further discount any light emitted in a direction away from the target area.   LED lighting fixtures are integrated systems in which the light sources (LED's or SMD’s) the fixture housing, and the primary optics are inseparable.  Lumen measurements of LED lighting fixtures, therefore, are performed on the entire system, and already account for light lost to the fixture housing and lensing.  Furthermore, since LED's are (almost always) inherently directional, they emit almost all of their light output in the desired direction, rather than dispersing it in all directions.   Since LED's natively produce intensely saturated colored light, they require no gels or filters which can block a significant percentage of a fixture's light output as in a conventional fixture.


I heard that LED's do not generate any heat, is this true?
Because LED's produce no infared energy, the beam of light from an LED light is cool.  However, waste heat is produced within the LED itself during the conversion of electricity into light.  This waste heat must be properly removed from the lighting to maximize the performance and to avoid damage to the LED's.  In LED lights, heat removal is accomplished through heat-sinks that draw heat away from the LED's and dissipate it into the air surrounding the fixture or light.  


Why do LED's cost more than incandescent lighting?
Initial costs of some LED's may be higher than comparable incandescent and fluorescent lighting solutions, but please keep in mind that the initial cost does not account for the total cost of owning, operating, and maintaining the lights.  Because of their long anticipated lifespan, LED lights avoid the maintenance and material costs which multiple re-lamping of incandescent or fluorescent lights require over tens of thousands of hours of operation.  Also, because LED's consume much less energy, annual power costs can be reduced by up to 80%, in some instances.  The total cost of LED lighting, therefore can be significantly lower than conventional systems with the payback on LED lighting being realized in less than a few years.   


If an LED strip light has power consumption 1.46 watts per foot, does that mean that it's brigher than an LED rope light that has a power consumption of 0.8 watts per foot. 
The power consumption of any particular light has no bearing on how bright it is.   This is simply how much power is used to operate the lights.  A watt is described as: the SI unit of power, equivalent to one joule per second, corresponding to the power in an electric circuit in which the potential difference is one volt and the current one ampere.  The measure of light output or delivered lumens will give you an accurate assessment on how bright the lights are. 


What's the difference between 12v and 120v lights besides the voltage used?
12V lights are used mostly in recrecational and/or automotive vehicles where a 12V power source is readily available.  While some customers may have 12V lighting systems for their landscape lighting, this is normally 12VAC (alternating current) and the 12VDC (direct current) lights will not work with those systems without a special 12V rectifier.  120V can be used in places where a 12V light would be more appropriate due to the power supply available, but an inverter would be required to change the voltage of the power coming through from 12V to 120V.  120V lights are mostly used where a (line voltage or) wall receptical is available.  12VDC lights running off a transformer or battery will have a max run length of 20 linear feet.  12VDC lights plugged into power with a special rectifier for use with a 12VAC system would have a maximum run length determined by the wattage of the rectifier.  


I placed an order over the phone/on your site with my credit card and I received something emailed to me from PayPal, does this mean that I now have a PayPal account?
We use PayPal as our merchant services for credit card transactions.  This only means that you now have a brief receipt of the transaction.  You have not been signed up for any PayPal services by us. 


Can these rope/strip lights be cut?
Yes, on all of our linear lighting, you will find a stamp at the appropriate cut increment.  For 120v LED products this is at every 39 inches, and on our 12v products it will be every 4 inches.  Each spool comes with the appropriate power cord for the product to plug into power. Additional runs will require the use of an additional power cord.  Additional power cords can be purchased separately on our site.


Can Rope Lights be used outdoors?
Yes, our rope lights can be used indoors or outdoors, however they cannot be submerged.  For damp or outdoor applications shrink wrap and silicone sealant are required at all ends and connections (power cord, end cap, splices, etc).


Can I bend the Rope Lights?
Yes, rope lights are flexible and can be bent, however you cannot crimp the rope lights or make a sharp 90* bend.  For sharp angles you will be required to use an L connector at the cut mark. 


What kinds of accessories will I need to plug my lights in?
Each spool comes with one power cord, one power connector (pins) and one end cap, along with mounting clips.  For a simple installation of one run, this will be enough to get your lights operational.  For additional runs cut from the same spool, addtional power cords will be required.


Can I hardwire these lights?
Yes, these are able to be hardwired.  Due to differing Electrical Codes across the nation, please consult a licensed electrican before attempting this. 


Can the Rope Lights be dimmed?
Yes, all of our 120v linear lighting can be dimmed.  Please use the appropriate dimmer for each type of lighting.  Indcandescent Rope Lights and be dimmed using a standard wall dimmer, for LED's please use a dimmer that is rated for use with LED lighting.  12v Products can also be dimmed, depending on your installation and application either an inline dimmer will work, or you can purchase a dimmable driver for use with a wall dimmer. 


What are the maximum run lengths?
The maximum run length on the 120v LED rope lights is 180' with a standard power cord, and 600' with a high output rectifier. The max run length on 120v Strip Lights is 330' with a standard power cord.  The max run length on 120v incandescent rope lights is 150'.   The max run length on any of our 12v linear lighting is 20'.  If you require longer run lengths, you would be required to use an additional power cord.


Can I change colors in a single run?
Yes, using an inline splice, invisible splice kit, L connector, T connector, Y connector, or X connector you can join two or more different colors together at the cut marks. 


How many mounting clips will I need?
Each spool of 120v Rope lighting comes with 100 clips.  This should be enough to mount the entire roll, as we generally recommend that they be used every 1.5 feet. You may require more for mounting around bends. 

How easy is it to work with the Rope Light?
It is very easy to to work with the rope light.  For single runs of 148' you would just need to unspool the rope light and plug it in. For shorter runs, you would just need to unspool the lights, cut at the appropriate cut mark, replace the end cap from the end of the spool to the new end where the lights have been cut and plug them in.  We have detailed installation instructions on our site.  For outdoor or damp installations, you would want to test the rope lights prior to installing the shrinkwrap and silicone sealant, but the rest of the installation instructions remain the same. 

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