You’ve got questions and we’ve got answers. At Birddog Lighting, we’re committed to customer satisfaction, which is why we’ve compiled a collection of all of the most commonly asked questions. Find information on installation, purchasing, project planning and more, all in one convenient location. Check our FAQs section first to find answers to all of your questions about interior illumination as well as answers to questions you’ve never even thought of asking. Our FAQs area is a great place to get a crash-course on LED rope lights. Questions are arranged by category for easy navigation.
At Birddog Lighting, we’re the experts on flexible lighting solutions. Whether you’re looking for answers to questions about our products, shipping, installation, our return policy or something else, our FAQs area is a great place to get started. With answers to dozens of questions right at your fingertips, you’ll probably find that your question has already been answered. On the off chance that it hasn’t, help is just a phone call away. Our rockstar customer service team is always ready to lend their expertise and to provide personalized service. Just give us a call and we’ll be happy to help. With over a decade of lighting experience under our belt, Birddog Lighting is your go-to destination for rope and strip lights.
- 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?
Rope and Strip Light FAQs
- I see a little "box" on the LED rope/strip light power cord. What is that?
- If an LED strip light has power consumption 1.46 watts per foot, does that mean that it's brighter than an LED rope light that has a power consumption of 0.8 watts per foot.
- Can these rope/strip lights be cut?
- Can LED rope/strip lights be used outdoors?
- Can I bend the LED rope/strip lights?
- What kinds of accessories will I need to plug my LED rope/strip lights in?
- Can I hardwire these lights?
- Can the LED rope/strip lights be dimmed?
- What are the maximum run lengths?
- Can I change colors in a single run?
- How many mounting clips will I need?
- What mounting clips are best for outdoor use?
- How easy is it to work with the LED rope/strip lights?
- What is the max run length on 12V LED strip light?
- Are all LED rope lights really 12V?
- What's the difference between 12V and 120V lights besides the voltage used?
- Why can't I get my Neon LED Lights into the track?
- What are SMD LED Strip Lights?
Trouble Shooting Installation
- I purchased LED rope/strip lights and when I plugged them in, they didn’t work.
- 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?
LED and Incandescent FAQs
- What's the difference between LED and Incandescent rope lights?
- Can I use the same power cord for my incandescent rope lights and LED rope lights?
- 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?
- Can I replace fluorescent T12 bulbs with LED T8 blubs?
- What are LM79 and LM80 ratings and how do they pertain to LED lighting?
- 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?
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. For more details please see our LED rope lights page.
I purchased LED rope/strip lights and when I plugged them in, they didn’t work. Why?
99% of the time when you plug in an LED rope or strip light and it does not work, it's a polarity issue. The LED rope and strip 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. For detailed instructions on installing LED strip lights, please see our 120V LED strip light instructions. 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. Also note that inserting the power connector pin all the way to the plastic disc is not required. The pin should be inserted only as far as to keep it secure in the rope light - pushing the pin in too far can cause damage to the internal wiring or may cause a short.
Can I use the same power cord for my incandescent rope lights and LED rope lights?
No. 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. This prevents the LED rope lights from flickering. A rectifier is not required for incandescent rope lights, so the power cords for that lighting do not come with a rectifier inline. LED power cords can technically be used for incandescent rope lighting. However, we recommend you use the proper cord for each lighting product for optimal safety. 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/strip 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 LED strip lights or LED rope lights. The DC voltage prevents the LEDS from flickering.
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 recreational 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 19.5 inches, and on our 12v products it will be every 2-4 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 LED rope/strip lights be used outdoors?
Yes, our LED rope and strip lights can be used indoors or outdoors, however they cannot be submerged or heavily soaked with water. For damp or outdoor applications approved weatherproofing materials are required at all ends and connections (power cord, end cap, splices, etc.). Electrical tape or other improvised sealing methods are highly discouraged and will void the warranty.
Can I bend the LED rope/strip Lights?
Yes, rope lights are more flexible than the strip lights and can be bent in all directions, however you cannot crimp the rope lights or make a sharp 90* bend. The LED strip lights are flexible enough to be wrapped around a pole or railing but can not bend laterally. For turning sharp angles with the LED rope and strip you will be required to use an L connector or female to female extension at the cut mark.
What kinds of accessories will I need to plug my lights in?
Each spool or custom cut comes with one power cord, one power connector (pins) and one end cap. For a simple installation of one run, this will be enough to get your lights operational. For additional runs cut from the same spool, additional power cords and end caps will be required.
Can I hardwire these lights?
Yes, LED rope and strip lights are able to be hardwired. Due to differing Electrical Codes across the nation, please consult a licensed electrician before attempting this.
Can the LED rope/strip lights be dimmed?
Yes, all of our 120v linear lighting can be dimmed. Please use the appropriate dimmer for each type of lighting. Incandescent Rope Lights can 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 lighting project is different so the amount of clips required can vary. Generally we recommend that they be used every 6 inches to 1 foot apart. You may require more for mounting around bends or to keep the rope light from sagging between clips.
How easy is it to work with the LED rope/strip lights?
It is very easy to work with the rope and strip lights. 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 approved weatherproofing materials, but the rest of the installation instructions remain the same.
What is the max run length on 12V LED Strip Lights?
The maximum run length on 12V LED Strip Lights wired in series is 20 Feet. Using a higher amperage power supply will allow multiple runs (max 20 ft.) to be wired in parallel. For parallel wired max runs please refer to our 12V power supply page - 12V Power Supplies
Why can't get my Neon LED Lights into the track?
We have found that if the lights don’t snap in snugly then they are at risk of falling out. There are a few tricks to help. Find a tool (a screwdriver handle works well) that is slightly wider than the track. Insert it into the track so that it spreads the sides open. Then run the tool up and down the length of the track a few times to ream out the opening making it slightly wider. This will make it easier to snap the track into. See the attached pic for an example. If you wanted to use your heat gun you could probably even go a little wider by heating up the track first and then reaming it with a wider tool. You can also spray some WD40 on the track before inserting the lights. This will help the light slide right in.
Can I replace fluorescent T12 bulbs with LED T8 blubs?
T12s, T10s, and T8s mostly all share the same G13 bases, so the answer is YES, you can use our LED T8s to replace T12 bulbs. However, all T12 bulbs use a magnetic ballast, therefor you will have to use the bypass bulbs only and will need to bypass the magnetic ballast. Our ballast compatible bulbs only work with electronic ballasts.
What are LM79 and LM80 ratings and how do they pertain to LED lighting?
These are performance tests done by EPA recognized labs which measure specific metrics including flux, intensity, efficacy, chromacity, and color characteristics of solid state LED products. The LM80 goes a step further than LM79 by conducting these tests at several differ temperatures. These test are useful in helping to compare different LED lighting products and how they will perform over time in certain conditions. Currently these reports are not available for our line of LED lighting products.
What are SMD LED Strip Lights?
Most LED strip lights are created using SMDs (Surface Mount Devices). This means the LEDs are imbedded onto the surface of a flexible conductive metal strip and then covered with flexible PVC by a process of extrusion. SMD LEDs are brighter than the older capsule style LEDs that are used in most rope lights. SMD strip lights are directional meaning they emit light in one direction meaning then have a front and back. Our 120 Volt strip lights have a beam angle of 120 degrees. SMDs are an efficient and versatile way to produce quality linear LED lighting.
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