LED light strips are a cost-effective way to give light to your house creatively and simplistically. Coming in a wide variety of colors, LED lights add some pizzazz to your living space without being noticeably bulky with cords or lampshades.
The only downside is that LED light strips come in fixed lengths. So, it’s not always possible to buy this product with a suitable length for your project whether it’s for your TV led backlight, or under-bed LED lighting you want to find an exact fit.
The question, then, arises: can you cut LED light strips? That’s where this article comes in. Keep reading to find out if you can cut light strips and the proper way to do so.
- Can You Cut LED Strip Lights?
- How To Cut Strip Light Safely
- Will Both LED Strip Sections Work Once Cut
- How To Connect LED Strip Light Sections
- LED Strip Not Working After Cutting
- Verdict: Can You Cut LED Light Strips
- FAQ’s How to Connect LED Strips
Can You Cut LED Strip Lights?
Seeing that there are many brands and products of light strips out there, this answer varies. Cutting LED lights depends on what kind you get. Keep in mind that if it has a cut line, indicated with dotted or dashed lines, and a symbol of a pair of scissors, you can cut it. Otherwise, don’t try to, seeing it can inflict more harm than good.
Where to cut LED light strips
It’s crucial to cut only on the given cut line. For most LED lights, these are between the copper dots. If you cut through or before the copper dots, you won’t get an electrical current to the next section. In other words, the lights won’t work.
Also, use a pair of sharp scissors to ensure a straight and crisp line. A general rule of thumb to follow is that LED strip lights can be cut anywhere from 5cm to 10cm intervals, but that can fluctuate depending on what LED lights you purchased.
How To Cut Strip Light Safely
This section will break down a few steps on how to cut a strip light safely and effectively, so you can make your home look bright and colorful in no time! Remember to double-check if you can cut the lights you bought. If you cut a light that is not meant to be cut, the lights might not work, and you end up spending money for nothing.
1. Unplug LED Strip Lights
Disconnecting the power seems like an obvious first step. However, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that nearly 400 people are electrocuted in the U.S. every year.
Directly cutting a light strip that’s connected to power is extremely risky, so put your safety first. LED strip lights are designed to be cut, so even though a shock is less likely to happen, it’s best to unplug them before cutting.
2. Measure LED Strip Length To Cut
If you bought a LED light strip that’s too long for your needs, then no worries. Simply measure the right length first, so you know where to cut off the extra part.
3. Find the LED Strip Cut Line
Most of the cut lines will be easy to spot, either with the copper dots or a scissors logo on the cuttable part of the light strips. Be careful not to cut it too short, or all this work will be for naught.
4. Cut LED Light Strip With Scissors
To avoid causing damage, find the logo before cutting. Once you do, slice away the excess strip portion that you don’t need. Cut straight—not diagonally or at an angle. You risk slicing through other parts of the strip that will cause your light to not work.
Will Both LED Strip Sections Work Once Cut
LED lights are versatile, coming in various styles, such as flexible, rigid, monochromatic, and waterproof. These strips are a series of LED emitters installed on a narrow circuit board in reels between three and sixteen feet.
You can cut along the designated lines, each section broken into individual circuits, and each line signaling the break of one circuit and the start of another. Cutting anywhere else will result in the circuit or the whole strip stopping working. The lines indicate where the circuits are closed and where you can cut safely and without damage.
That said, both sides of your LED strip light will work once you cut them without issue. Simply make sure that you’re cutting in a safe place to break the circuit but not damage it. If you don’t want to waste your money, you can reuse the second half of the LED strip.
If ever in doubt, there’s no harm in testing the lights to see if they work. Once cut, most companies don’t allow replacements or returns.
How To Connect LED Strip Light Sections
Alright, you’ve cut your lights and are loving the ambiance it gives to your living room. But say maybe a few weeks later, you need them for a bigger part of your house. Can LED strip lights be reconnected? Absolutely, and this process is quite easy to do. There are a couple of ways to approach this, and those options will be explained in just a bit.
Using a strip connector is a breeze, seeing that it doesn’t require any tool, apart from a knife, to cut away the translucent plastic covering. You will insert the LED light strip into the connector, confirming that the components match up.
Another viable option is to solder directly to the strip with a soldering iron. Aligning the wires onto the copper dots with the polarity matched will establish a connection. After plugging in the strips, the only thing you need to do is check if they are working.
You can connect different brands, but make sure they have the same voltage. One might wear out faster or look dimmer compared to the other.
LED Strip Light 4 Pin Connector Kit
This 4 Pin Connector Kit is reasonably priced with a simple application. It’s suitable for 10mm wide ribbon lights. After peeling off the coating, you can connect both non-waterproof and waterproof LED lights. They are flame retardant, durable, flexible, made with PVC material and tin-plated copper wires.
They easily transmit electric conductivity with a longer lifespan than other products. They are a perfect accessory kit for your LED lights, providing a multitude of connectors with an easy installation. You don’t have to worry about soldering or stripping. They snap on quickly, and you can enjoy your lighting with no hassle.
There are a few parts to keep in mind when using a connector kit, so let’s quickly go over their roles. An LS-10 establishes a continuous run between the lights and connector. The LS-11 connects the strip to the wall. On the flip side, the LS-12 connects the two strips with more cable, used for when you need to go around a corner. Finally, the LS-13 is a rigid connector that stays in place.
The next section will describe the easy steps to take that will allow you to use a connector kit and the corresponding parts flawlessly.
As said previously, you don’t need any tools for this process. Take the end of the strip, and cut the light at the designated point. You will see two metal contacts and insert the light into the connector. You should not need to force the light into the connector.
Check to make sure that the positive and negative sides match or that the polarities are aligned.
Once you insert the light, place the silver clamps on top of the connectors. Close the connector’s lid. You should hear a click, signaling that you’re ready to use the reconnected strip lighting.
Solder Copper Pads
If you’re opting to solder, then the process is equally straightforward, with just a few other tools and steps.
You will need:
- LED tape
- Wire strippers
- Two core cables
- Solder and soldering iron
To begin, strip the cable so that only a small amount of the wire shows. Solder into the wires and the ends of the LED tape where the copper pads are located. The cables are connected to the copper pads by heating the solder. As always, the polarities need to match.
You can also do a similar process with two pieces of LED tape. You’ll trim back the copper pads in half, then line up both to make a whole copper pad. Put the pieces together, solder, and make a bridge between the tapes to allow for a flow of electricity.
LED Strip Not Working After Cutting
If you notice that your LED strip lights aren’t working after cutting, you can troubleshoot a few issues. Firstly, it’s okay to admit that mistakes happen. Check if your lights were designed to be cut in the first place. If they weren’t, then what’s done is done, and you’ll have to get a replacement. If you’ve cut lights that aren’t designed to be cut, the damage is permanent and irreversible.
The second possibility is to check if you’ve cut in the right place. Cutting outside will damage that circuit, so you can always trim back to where the cutting line is located.
A final piece of advice would be a possible voltage drop. Reduce the length of the light strip based on your power supply. LED lights require a lot of power, so overwhelming one power source could lead to them shutting down. Keep in mind that cheap LED lights can be a fire hazard.
Verdict: Can You Cut LED Light Strips
To answer the main question of this article, yes, you can cut your LED light strips. After reading this article, you now have a better understanding of what you can and cannot do. As long as you take the proper safety precautions, such as unplugging the lights before cutting them, and following the directions given by the manufacturer, you shouldn’t run into any issues.
LED light strips are easy to use and relatively simple to navigate. You can always call the store you purchased them from if you have any doubt. If you don’t see any cut lines, it’s better to verify with a professional than cut and regret it afterward when they don’t work.
LED lights can be cut into various intervals, but that depends on the brand. A sharp tool is always recommended above a dull tool, which is likely to cause unexpected damage to your lights. If you feel uncomfortable doing any of this on your own, check with your retailer and ask questions beforehand, so they can do what you need for your project inexpensively and safely.
FAQ’s How to Connect LED Strips
Connecting LED strip lights is affordable and easy for anyone, so if you’re thinking of completing a larger project by yourself, then here are a few quick steps in how to accomplish your goals with LED lights.
To reiterate, unplug your strip lights before starting. Measure, measure, and measure again. Depending on what area of the house you’re doing, you might need a straight or angled connector. Use scissors to cut the light strip where indicated, either along the copper section or the dotted lines. This step is especially important to have the connector work.
Peel back any adhesive for a clean connection between the lighting strips. Place the strip light into the connector gently, and with the small clamps, you can secure the lights in place. Make sure the lights are facing correctly and plug in the lights to make sure everything is working, adjusting accordingly.
Hopefully, this article has given you better insight on whether or not you can cut your LED strip lights and the proper method to take when approaching this process. The most important takeaways are remembering to be conscientious of your safety when handling these lights, making sure that you can indeed cut them, and finding the proper areas to cut.
There are add-ons you can include, such as connector kits, if you need to reconnect strips. Overall, LED lights are versatile, easy to use, and customizable for any project.