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Any expertise here on LED light strips?

Discussion in 'LEDs and Optoelectronics' started by wayner, Apr 18, 2017.

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  1. wayner

    wayner

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    Apr 18, 2017
    I am a newbie here and I am doing a few projects at home with LED light strips - for the most part the simple 5050 RGB strips that sell for about $10/5m strip on Amazon or ebay. Anyone here have any expertise on using these?

    My questions will relate to issues like this:
    • Advice regarding the strips - are they all pretty much the same made in the same facotry in Shenzhen or is there a significant difference in quality?
    • Pros and cons of different ways of joining strips
    • How to weatherproof strip joints
    • What type of wire to use to run power to amplifiers for long runs
    • Different types of controllers.
    • Power supplies for long runs which need more power.
    • Where to buy
     
  2. wayner

    wayner

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    Apr 18, 2017
    No replies after 24+ hours so I guess that the answer to my question is no. Anyone have any ideas where to go to get answers to my questions? I have tried googling and posting in a few different forums but there doesn't seem to be anyplace to find this type of info.
     
  3. Harald Kapp

    Harald Kapp Moderator Moderator

    11,662
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    Nov 17, 2011
    They are definitely not. You'll experience differences in color, even in pinout of the strips. I suggest you get all you need in one batch to minimize the risk of incompatibility.

    These usually come with connectors which clamp onto the LED stripes. Easy to reconfigre, but in th elong term probably not so stable. Is yu don't need to reconfigure, use wire and solder the connections.

    I'd use heat shrink tubing or silicone, may be both in combination: first a blob of silicone for insulation, then heat shrink tubing for stability.

    Usually the max. length of one length of LED strip (joined from multiple shorter strips) is given in the technical data of the strips. The copper traces within the strips can carry only a limited amount of current and will drop some voltage along the length of the strip. Therefore the farther away you are from the controller, the dimmer the LEDs will be. This effect is not notieceable with the naked eye on short strips, but it is noticeable on long strips.
    The controllers are typically designed for the max. meaningful length of LED strip. Adding more strips at the end will overload the controller, so there is no use in adding additional wiring to control longer LED strips.

    Wherever you want. The cheap stuff from Asia you can expect to get in the same 'quality' wherever you buy. If you need quality stuff, go for a local dealer. He'll probably sell you the same stuff, but he should be able to support you in selecting the matching controller for a longer length of led stripe. It will also be easier for you to handle in case you need apply for warranty. He'll have a deeper look in your wallet, though.
     
  4. wayner

    wayner

    7
    0
    Apr 18, 2017
    Thanks for your answers Harald. My project is to install strips around the perimeter fencing for my swimming pool. The longest run will be around 20m which will require 4x5m strips. I am using the 5050 RGB strips that have 300 LEDs per roll or 60/m. This requires a power source for each strip so I am using an amplifier after approximately every 5m.

    The RGB strips that I am using all seem to have the same pinouts - four pins or pads for +12V, Red, Green and Blue. I have tried soldering the strips and soldering two strips together to join them is not too bad as they can sit on top of each other, but soldering wires onto the pads on the strips is something that I find extremely difficult as the pads are so small and my soldering skills are not great. I have taken to use the clamp connectors but they are sometimes not so stable, although using shrink wrapping does help. I am running the strips along the top of the fencing and I am splicing at each fence poll which means as less as 1m between splices up to about 3m between splices. Is it ok if I put on shrink wrapping first and then use silicone to seal the shrink wrapping to the strip/wires? The problem with using the silicone first is that it gets very messy if you have to redo the connection which can sometimes happen.

    To power the amplifiers I am planing to use landscape lighting wire - likely 12 gauge. This wire is generally used to run 12VAC loads whereas I will be running 12VDC from a transformer that I have in a pool shed. The amplifiers I am using are about 10mmx30mmx3mm.

    I believe that the strips that I am using have a maximum power draw of 72W/5M roll. Therefore for my DC power supply cable that is feeding the amplifier I will be at 216W as the first 5M run will be powered directly from the lighting controller. Can I run 216W @12vdc or 18A over 12Ga wire? I would think I can as 12 gauge wire is much thicker than the copper traces on the strips that are handling 6A at the beginning of the strip.

    I have bought a bunch of different strips from Amazon and eBay. I have also tried buying locally and they actually look the same so I am not sure that buying locally makes sense as you are looking at C$50 vs C$12 on Amazon or ebay.

    My light strips will be run roughly where the red lines are in this photo: [​IMG]

    FYI - the connectors I am using look like this (except the clamp connectors on both ends):
    [​IMG]
    The amplifiers look like this:
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Harald Kapp

    Harald Kapp Moderator Moderator

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    Nov 17, 2011
    In my opinion it's the second best option. Still beter than no sealing at all.
    This table lists the max.ampere for different wire gauges. 18 A requires AWG 9 or thicker. I'm sorry I don't know what 12 GA wire is meant to be. If you mean AWG 12, then it is probably a bit on the thin side for it is recommended up to 9.3 A only (see column "Maximum amps for power transmission") although it wll survive as it is rated for up to 41 A chassis wiring. The difference is explained here.
    That looks like a fine solution to the issue of voltage drop :D
     
  6. wayner

    wayner

    7
    0
    Apr 18, 2017
    Thanks for the info. By 12 GA I did mean AWG 12. I will have to try out this wire and see. If it is an issue then I may see voltage drop but presumably this will only happen when you are using white as that is when all three channels are on and using the full 12A or 3x4A.
     
  7. Harald Kapp

    Harald Kapp Moderator Moderator

    11,662
    2,697
    Nov 17, 2011
    Good luck.
    Let us hear about your results.
     
  8. wayner

    wayner

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    0
    Apr 18, 2017
    Will do. I have done some of the initial work in a temporary fashion - many of these questions relate to how to do the final/permanent work. I will post some photos once I start making some significant progress.
     
  9. Harald Kapp

    Harald Kapp Moderator Moderator

    11,662
    2,697
    Nov 17, 2011
    :)
     
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