How to Hard Wire LED Strip Lights

Posted by Birddog Lighting on Aug 3rd 2020

How to Hard Wire LED Strip Lights

If you've ever walked into a dark theater in the middle of a movie, you know the power of LED strips. According to Forbes, using LED lighting in your home can save money over incandescent bulbs for over ten years. 

LED strips are an excellent light source for dark areas. They are very convenient for children's rooms, because they don't burn hot, and can give off a nightlight consistency to help children sleep. They can even change colors, which children will love! 

LED strips are a perfect soft light source for your home, business, or outdoor area. They don't take a lot of technical know-how to install and look great. We'll show you how to connect your LED strips using a power source. 

Before You Install Your LED Light Strips

Before installing your LED strip, you'll first measure the space where you'll be using your LED strips. You'll want to get a rough estimate of the length of the LED strips you'll need for the project. You can purchase LED strips online

If you're placing LED strips in different parts of the home, make sure to measure each area so you can tally up how much you'll need for the whole project, then you can cut the length you need for each space. 

Once you've done that, you'll want to check the area for power supplies. The reason for this is one option for LED lights is using a simple plug with a dimmer, switch, or even a Bluetooth device to control the lights. This is also the easiest option for installing LED strips. 

Finding the Right Power Source

The easiest way to install strip lights is to use a power source like an outlet with a switch. Another option is to hardwire it to the panel in your house. Neither is better than the other, just personal preference. 

STEP 1: Check Your LED Strip to See What Voltage They Require

Typically, LED strips come in two voltage options, 12-volts and 24-volts. You must have a power supply that matches the volts required for the lighting. Having an amount that is different from your LED strip voltage could damage the lights, or be unsafe. 

12-volt strips are an excellent choice for most locations and use less power. 24-volt strips have twice the run length of 12-volt strips so they are suitable for projects that require a longer length of the area, such as outdoor lighting. The brightness of the lights does not depend on the voltage, but instead, depends on the quality of the diode.

STEP 2: Determine the Maximum Power of Your LED Strip

Each LED light strip uses a certain amount of wattage on the strip. Check your package to see how many watts are used per foot. Then multiply the watts by the length of the strip you'll be using.

For example, if I have a LED strip that is 25 ft long and has a requires 5 watts per foot, you can find the total wattage by multiplying 25 x 5 = 125 watts. 

STEP 3: Calculate the Minimum Power Rating

Once you've found out the total wattage of your LED strip, you'll want to find the minimum power rating. This will give us the least amount of wattage the power source needs to light our LED strip.

To do that, we multiply our total watts from before (125 watts) by the number 1.2.

125 x 1.2 = 150 watts. 

The power supply should have at least 150 watts to ensure the LED strip will work. At times, your LED light may need more power, so to ensure we have enough power in this instance, we add 20%. 

150 watts x 20% = 180 total watts

STEP 4: Divide the Power Consumption by the Voltage to Find the Minimum Amps Required

Amps are how fast the electricity moves through a current. If there aren't enough amps for a long strip of LED lights, then the lights may dim or shut off, which is an essential part of the process. Luckily, it's easy. 

Let's go back. You'll recall we had 125 watts of power. To find the minimum amps required, we'll just divide our strips voltage (either 12 or 24) by the power 125. Let's say we use 12-volt wiring. 

125 ÷ 12 = 10.41

This will give us the information we need to power the LED strip. The adapters look like ones similar to what you would use to power a laptop. 

With the math out of the way, now let's get into the installation. 

Installing Your LED Strip With a Power Source

To install an LED strip to a power source, you'll need the following items: 

  • LED strip
  • Control device like a switch, dimmer, or wireless Bluetooth controller
  • Power supply

By connecting these three sources, you will have a fully functional LED strip. You'll want to test it a few times to make sure it's good to go. Just follow these steps. 

STEP 1: Connect the LED Strip to a Switch

Most LED strips will come with a plug, but you may need to use only a portion of the strip. In that case, you'll need to cut and add wiring. This sounds complicated but isn't.

Cutting Your LED Strip

To cut your LED strip, simply look for the cut symbol marked with a scissor line. These can be found at different points on the LED strip. Simply measure, then cut on the line, and that part is done. 

Connecting Your LED Strip

Next, to connect the LED strip to a switch, you can use a strip connector, or you can solder the wire to the LED strip. Soldering makes a more reliable connection but requires more skill. 

Using a strip connector makes this a much simpler process. These easy to use accessories make installing LED strips a snap. Simply slide the LED strip into the short end of the connector and fold over.

Next, connect the switch to the other end of the connector using either the strip connector or, if no cutting was required, the attached connector. 

STEP 2: Attach Your Switch to the Power Supply

Once you have attached your LED strip to a switch, dimmer switch, or Bluetooth wireless switch, it's time to connect it to your power supply. You can either wire this through a wall-mounted switch or a simple switch with a barrel connector. 

If you're using a simple switch, simply connect your switch to a power supply that resembles a laptop cord, and plug it in. You now should have a working LED strip. 

STEP 3: Placing Your LED Strip

LED strips come with adhesive backing to make it easy to stick to a wall, under a bed, or even under a cabinet. Wherever you are placing your LED strip, make sure to wipe the area with warm water to ensure it is clean of any debris. 

Next, pull back the layer and stick the LED strip in place. Test your light. 

LED Strips for the Win

Now you know how to install LED strips in your home using a simple power source and an outlet. We hope this helps you with your next LED project.

For more information about our products, or information about lighting, check our blog regularly. 

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