How To Turn A Corner With LED Strip Lights
Posted by Josh Knoedler on Oct 6th 2016
LED strip lights are becoming the go-to solution for many lighting projects. Strip lights are versatile, easy to install, put out a lot of light, are inexpensive to purchase and operate and have a long life expectancy. Furthermore, strip lighting is available in 120-volt line voltage or 12-volt low-voltage, meaning you can use them in almost any setting. If you haven’t used LED strip lights before, you can find out more information here: What Are LED Strip Lights?
Strip lights work great for many projects, but a recent LED strip light installation utilized them above and below my kitchen cabinets. Installing under the cabinets was pretty easy since I was just doing straight runs. However, because I wanted the strip lights to follow the contours of my crown molding on the top, I had to figure out an easy way to bend them around each corner of my various depths of cabinets. Strip lights bend great on a single plane — but not side to side. Therefore, to install an LED strip in a corner, I needed to get tricky.
Option #1: The Cut-and-Jump
One solution is to buy an LED strip light jumper connector, cut the strip light and attach the connector in the middle. This allows you to bend the two sections of strip light in any direction as you can see from the image. Using a connector is the best option if you don’t have a bendable LED strip or if you’re worried about damaging the strip.
The main drawback to using a jumper connector for corner installation is that soldering is often needed. However, you can purchase connectors where no soldering is required. That being said, I’m inherently lazy and was determined to devise an easier way.
Option #2: The Ribbon Bend
After a bit of fiddling, I found an easy solution for my LED strip corner installation that looked good and was easy to implement. I’m calling it the “ribbon bend”. (Others call it the “90-Degree Pinch”.) Essentially, I am looping or contorting the strip back around in a tight curl that doesn’t hurt the strip light and allows me to change direction.
As you can see, the corner portion does not stick to the surface. It sort of floats there. Since this is just a short section, it doesn’t affect the installation integrity or have any significant impact on the uniformity of the light output. That’s all there is to it. I used this technique in my LED lighting strips installation to turn all my corners without the need of any additional accessories or added hassle and I am very pleased with the finished results.
Since completing this project, I’ve discovered two other ways you can bend your LED strip lights around corners.
Option #3: The Corner Fold
You can put a 90-degree fold in a strip light using the following steps:
- Lay the strip on a flat service and find the point where you’ll be making the fold.
- Fold the strip light at a 45-degree angle in the opposite direction of the corner.
- Bend the fold back on itself.
- Crease the fold and use super glue to secure it.
This corner fold has a more finished look for situations where the strip lights will clearly be visible.
Option #4: The Accordion Curve
Create a gradual turn in your strip lights by using small accordion folds that are spaced out by several inches. The folding technique is similar to what’s described above. Use accordion curves for rounded edges and non-90-degree angles (either greater or smaller than).