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Step by Step Guide to Outdoor LED Strip Light Installation

Posted by Birddog Lighting on Aug 10th 2020

Step by Step Guide to Outdoor LED Strip Light Installation

LED lights use 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting. They've become the most popular way to spruce up businesses, residential homes, and holiday parties. 

The best part about LED lights is they can be used inside and outside if you buy the correct type. Not only will LED strip lighting make a building look nice, but it can also add extra security to your business or residence. 

While outdoor LED strip light projects are nothing new, strip lighting is quite different and can be tricky to navigate for the first time. If you're unsure of how to install your outdoor strip lighting, keep reading for a step-by-step guide. 

Choosing the Correct Outdoor LED Strip Light

There are three main categories of LED lights when it comes to the environment they're most suited for. They are classified as non-weatherproof, weatherproof, and waterproof. 

Non-weatherproof LED lights are only to be used indoors. Weatherproof LED lights can be used outdoors, while waterproof LED lights are mostly used to light pools and other areas close to water.

When planning on installing LED strip lights, you need to take note of the Ingress Protection (IP) rating. The IP rating measures the amount of water and solids an LED light can handle before complications arise. 

If you plan on installing strip lighting outdoors, you will need lights that have an IP rating of 65 or higher. Look over an IP rating chart to find out exactly what rating would be best for your DIY LED light project.

Length

One of the biggest hurdles of installing LED strip lights is finding out the length you'll need. When measuring the space you want to light, be sure to account for the corners you'll be wrapping around, as well as any gaps or elevation changes in the path you want to light. 

It's important to know the exact length you'll need because every LED strip has a maximum amount of strip that can be continuously powered without a voltage drop. If you go over this length, your LEDs won't be as bright at the end of their strip.

Once you've measured the totality of the length you want to light up, correlate the length with the LED strip's maximum run. Higher voltage strips have a higher maximum run. 

You'll likely need more strip than the maximum run will allow. In this case, all you need to do is wire the extra strip to the original power supply, rather than the strip you installed before it. 

It's also possible to use an amplifier instead of running each run of the strip back to the power supply. In this case, you connect the end of each run of strip lights to the beginning of the next run with the amplifier to avoid voltage drop.

Voltage and Power Supply

When choosing a power supply, know that its voltage must match the voltage of the strip lights you plan to use. Strip lights mainly come in 12 or 24 volts.

You also need to take note of the wattage of your power supply and strip lights. The wattage of your strip lights needs to be at least 20% less than the wattage rating of your power supply. 

If this is confusing to you, don't worry, you aren't alone. Luckily there's an easy equation that you can use to find out what wattage of power supply you need. 

First, find the watts consumed per foot of your strip lighting. Multiply that number by the length of your strip lighting in feet.

Once you get that number, multiply it by 1.2. The number you get will tell you the smallest sized power supply that you'll need to run all of your strips. 

Color and Brightness

Once you get through the technical elements of installing LED strip lights, you can finally focus on the fun stuff. There are so many colors and brightness levels to choose from when it comes to LED lighting. 

You can choose strip lights that come in one single color, a mix of a few colors, or you can purchase LED strips that change colors. Color-changing strip lights are great for conveying different moods and come with a wireless remote with which you can control the colors.

If color LED strips aren't your style, there are also different shades of white to consider. The lower the lumens, the warmer the white LEDs will look. 

Warmer, softer whites give off more of a yellow shade. Cooler whites will give you a bright, stark shade of white. 

Typically, the brighter the LED is, the higher quality it is. However, you may not always want your business or residence to give off the brightest of light. 

If you want to frequently change the brightness of your LED strips, you can wire your strip lighting to a dimmer. Connect the output wires of your power supply to the dimmer, then connect the dimmer to the input wires of your strips. 

Installation

Once you consider all of the above and gather all the supplies you need, you can begin installing your outdoor LED strip lights. Depending on the strip lights you get, the difficulty of installation varies. 

If you buy adhesive LED light strips, installation is as easy as pulling the backing off and sticking them to the surface you desire. Of course, you'll need to clean the surface before you apply the strips. 

If the surface you want to attach the lights to isn't smooth, you can use adhesion promoters. This will help the strip lights stick to bumpy surfaces. 

Without adhesive LED light strips, you can use mounting strips to keep your lighting attached. Depending on the surface you are lighting, you can use adhesive mounting strips, or you can use mounting strips that screw into the surface.

Light It Up

You've got the knowledge you need to embark on your outdoor LED strip light journey. Now it's time to find the perfect lights and accessories for your home or business. 

Visit Birddog Lighting to find strip lights in all kinds of colors, lengths, and sizes. We'll be happy to set you up with the right LEDs for your needs.