LED Polarity: Understanding and Troubleshooting

Posted by Joshua Prieto on Nov 17th 2015

LED Polarity: Understanding and Troubleshooting

Are you having trouble getting that LED (light emitting diode) rope, strip, or other LED lamp to light up? Well one of the most common and easiest things to troubleshoot is making sure your LED’s polarity is correct! That’s right, unlike incandescent lighting the polarity of an LED matters- so if it is reversed it will not light up. Don’t worry, it’s an easy fix, just reverse your connections and voila!

Why You Need to Know LED Polarity

Polarity is the direction the electrical current runs. The reason this is important in an LED light is because a light emitting diode and any electrical diode is a semiconductor. Semiconductors only allow electrical currents to run one way. This means if you have the direction of the current wrong, electricity will not flow through and your LED will not light.

LED polarity plug example

This is actually common in several electrical devices today.  A cord’s plug has one prong that is larger to help match the polarity of the outlet. A great way to understand LED diode polarity is think of a standard car battery. On the battery you will find a negative and positive terminal. Current flows from the positive terminal to the negative terminal and this is its polarity. If you mix things up and put the negative cable on the positive terminal and visa-versa, you probably know that this is bad and can damage your battery. LED polarity works in the same way except it is usually less damaging when you reverse the polarity =).

How to Find the Correct LED Polarity

If you still haven’t figured out how to find the correct LED polarity, it’s quite easy. Most LED lights, including LED rope and strip lights, have a reverse polarity protection on them. You can find out the correct polarity by trial and error without damaging the LED. If your LED light doesn’t light up after connecting it to your power supply then simply reconnect your power supply cable to opposite sides. There you have it, you now know that LED polarity does matter and when you cannot seem to get your LED to light up check to see if you have your polarity reversed first. Simple as that!

LED polarity success!

Want to Know More About LED Lights?

If you enjoy learning about LED technology and what it can do to improve your life, Birddog Lighting has the resources and information for you. Keep up on LED technology and how to apply it by following us on our social platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn) or if you have specific questions on products or lighting projects, give us a call! We are always willing and able to help.


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