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Monthly Archives: July 2012

  • Question... What is an LED Driver and which do I need?

    When buying LED Strip Lights, you will also need an LED Driver.

    What is an LED Driver?

    An LED Driver (also called a transformer) is a unit that matches its output to the voltage and current requirements of the device it serves. In the case of LED Strip Lights, the driver "steps down" the mains voltage from 240 to 12 volts and changes the current from AC (Alternating Current) to DC (Direct Current).

    Drivers come in many shapes and sizes. The kind you need depends on the type of power outlet you are using and the size of your installation.

    What types of LED Driver are available?

    We offer two main types of driver; "plug and play" and mains ready.

    "Plug and play" drivers are designed to work from a standard power outlet. They are fitted with a standard 13 amp, 3-pin plug for immediate installation. This also allows the strip lights to be relocated if desired.

    Mains ready drivers can be connected directly into your home's existing lighting circuits, and allows the strip lights to be operated from a new or existing light switch. The strip lights cannot be moved once installed, but does make for a more stylish lighting experience.

    Your driver also needs to be large enough to manage the power consumption of your strips. All drivers have a maximum load which needs to be equal to or more than the wattage of your strips.

    To calculate the wattage of your strips, multiply the wattage per metre by the number of metres you are using. For instance, our single colour 60 LED 5050 strip lights uses 14.4 watts per metre. If you are using 5 metres, the overall load will come to 72 watts, therefore requiring an 100 watt driver.

    A single driver can be used to power more than one length of LED Strip Lights. For example, if you are installing a length of strip light in two seperate areas, but want to run them from the same driver, you can use a terminal block to split the circuit. This is particularly useful when using colour changing LED Strip Lights, as it allows you to synchronise your lights.

    Some drivers will come with an IP rated enclosure that makes them suitable for use in wet and damp conditions. Always check the IP rating of your LED Drivers before installing LED Strip Lights in the kitchen, bathroom or close to any source of moisture.

    For any more information about LED Drivers please call 0116 321 4121 or email support@ledstriplights.co.uk.

  • What is the difference between 3528 and 5050 LED Strip Lights?

    The SMDs (Surface Mounted Devices) used by single colour LED Strip Lights are manufactured to two specifications. To distinguish between them the numbers 3528 and 5050 are used. But what exactly do these numbers mean and how do they differ from one another?

    The numbers are actually a code that refers to the physical dimensions (length and width) of each individual diode. The 3528 measures 3.5mm by 2.8mm and the 5050 measures 5mm by 5mm.

    For the sake of simplicity it is better to think of the 3528 as a "small" chip and the 5050 as a "large" chip.

    Apart from their size, the other main difference between these two kinds of LED is the amount of light they produce. As might be expected, the larger, 5050, chip delivers more light due to its greater surface area, while the smaller, 3528 chip gives less light. For the very same reason, 5050 chips are more power demanding than 3528 chips.

    When it comes to choosing one type of SMD over the other, the matter is complicated by the fact that neither is necessarily better than the other.

    Generally speaking, LED Strip Lights that use 3528 SMDs feature a greater number of LEDs per metre, while those that use 5050 SMDs have less. At the moment the standard for 3528 is either 60 or 120 LEDs per metre, delivering 400 and 800 lumens respectively, while 5050 feature 30 or 60 LEDs per metre, giving 510 and 1020 lumens.

    It is worth bearing in mind that a strip light that has a large number of smaller LEDs spaced closely together will create a more concentrated light than a strip light that has a small number of large LEDs spaced further apart.

    As a rule of thumb it is better to use smaller LEDs for decorative lighting, such as grazing and accenting, as their light tends to be more directional. LED Strip Lights with larger LEDs are better for functional lighting or illuminating an area, such a kitchen work tops, as the light they produce is spread over a larger area.

    When choosing a strip light the following questions are relevant:

    What effect am I trying to achieve?

    Where am I using my strip lights?

    How much light do I need?

    How large is the area I am trying to illuminate?

    If are still unsure about which type of strip light you need you can of course speak to your retailer who should be able to offer advice.

    For any more information about LED Strip Lights please call 0116 321 4121 or email support@ledstriplights.co.uk.

  • LED Strip Lights Under Kitchen Cabinets

    Under cabinet lighting is a relatively inexpensive and surprisingly effective method of enhancing the look and feel of your kitchen. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it also serves a functional purpose by creating more light on work tops which are otherwise left in shadow. To get the best possible results for minimal effort, why not try using self-adhesive LED Strip Lights?

    To install strip lights  you will need to measure the length of your cabinets and ensure there is a suitable mains power supply close by. When taking measurements, always bear in mind that strip lights can only be cut at 2.5, 5 or 10 cm intervals, so round up or down where necessary.

    LED Strip Lights can be powered from a standard mains outlet or they can be wired into an existing lighting circuit. The question you need to ask yourself is whether you want your strip lights to come on at the same time as your main kitchen lights or if you want to be able to control them independently.

    As LED Strip Lights have a self-adhesive backing you won't need to purchase any additional mounts or attachments, but if you are installing them near any sinks, kettles or other potential sources of condensation, it is worth investing in at least an IP65 rated coating to prevent against short-circuits.

    As a rule-of-thumb, cool white LED Strip Lights are the best single colour strips to use in this application as the light is clear and bright.

    Don't forget to explore the possibilities of a dimmer switch as this will allow you to vary the brightness of your strips. For dimmability you will need either a dimmable driver or a 12V dimmer switch which installs between the driver and the strip lights.

    In most kitchens you will find that the cabinets are not connected in one continuous run, but are instead seperated by gaps. This can present a problem if you want to install LED Strip Lights on all your cabinets, but only have one power point available. This can be overcome by connecting your strips in series or parallel using 12V cable.

    In the former case you will simply bridge the gap between each cabinet with a length of cable, in the latter case each strip is run back to the power supply seperately. If possible we always recommend connecting in parallel as this minimizes the liklihood of voltage drop.

    So to recap:

    - Take Measurements,

    - Make sure there is a power point available,

    - Choose an IP65 rated coating if necessary,

    - Choose a colour temperature to match the decor,

    - Pay attention to the spacing of your cabinets and work out how you will connect your strip lights back to your power point.

    Of course it isn't just the underside of your kitchen cabinets that can benefit from LED Strip Lights. They can also be installed along the top side facing towards the ceiling and along the kickboards.

    For more information call 0116 321 4121 or email support@ledstriplights.co.uk.

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