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How to Order LED Tape


LED strip tape is one of the greatest products to derive from the LED lighting revolution. It offers the most flexibility and versatility of any lighting product. Used primarily in homes as under cabinet lighting and businesses as background or display lighting it can be cut down to almost any length you need, as small as 50mm! Or it can be installed in limitless lengths by adding other accessories like amplifiers and power supplies.

Some retailers offer LED strip tape in kits that includes a 5M pack of tape, a power supply and a controller. As we offer many variations and are able to cut to the exact lengths you require we don't offer kits. This can sometimes make ordering difficult as you have to create your own kit from the components we offer. This ensures you don't get any wastage, have the right components you need and each run of LED strip tape is cut to the exact lengths you need, ready to be installed.


What is LED Strip Tape?

It is a series of small LED chips and resisters that are soldered onto a PCB (printed circuit board) with a self adhesive 3M backing. Although some of our LED tape range like the IP68 (outdoor rated) or RGB+WW (colour change + warm white) uses mounting clips instead. Clips are supplied with your order.

The type of LED chips that are used are called SMD (solder mount device). SMD LED chips are available in various sizes, the most popular version is called SMD5050 which is a 5mm high by 5mm wide chip, hence the name SMD5050. With bigger LED chips you get a brighter light output, but this consumes more wattage requiring bigger LED drivers to power them and generates more heat.

There are many different types of strips on the market such as SMD3528, SMD3014 and SMD5630. Each containing different chip types and varying quantities of LEDs per metre. The SMD5050 with 60 LEDs per metre in an IP65 water resistant rating is our most popular version.

Pack Lengths & Cut Points

LED tape has specific cut points which are different for each version depending on the LED type, quantity of LEDs per metre and the voltage. The cut points range from 50mm to 167mm. Although we offer a cutting and soldering service the pack lengths are either 5 or 10 metres. You can easy install longer runs than 10 metres, it just takes a bit more thought and we recommend discussing this with one our lighting experts on 01706 868343 or email us at sales@downlights.co.uk.


Which LED Tape?

It is important to select the right LED tape for your application otherwise it might be too bright or too dim. This mainly depends on where it's going and what type of lighting effect you want to achieve. Here are some recommendations of which type to use in which circumstances:

  • Under cabinet lighting - Use 60 LED per metre SMD5050. This offers a bright seamless lighting effect allowing you to see clearly and accurately what you're doing. Or better still...Go for the RGB+WW LED tape which is a combination of colour change LED and warm white. This offers the perfect mix for modern kitchen lighting with the added warm white effect for chopping.
  • Plinth lighting - Use 30 LED per metre SMD5050. This offers a more subtle background lighting effect.
  • Overhead lighting - This is a judgment call and depends if you plan to use this as your main light or if you only want a background effect. For a main light, the 60 LED per metre version possibly with a TRIAC dimmable LED driver which will allow you to dim the light with a conventional dimmer switch. Or for a more subdued effect go for the 30 LED per metre version.

    The colour changing version used in this kitchen example was created using the 60 LEDs per metre version:

 

  • Pelmet lighting - this dining room pelmet lighting example shown below was done with warm white 60 LEDs per metre tape but was installed with a dimmable driver allow the customer to set the lighting levels to their desired settings. For reading or playing board games it can be set to full brightness but for romantic meals it can be dimmed to create or more intimate setting.

 

  • Home office space - This would be a definite for the 60 LED version as you'll need a brighter light to be able to see what you're doing more accurately. The cool white 4000K would also be our recommendation as this is the same colour temperature you'd get in traditional office. The 4000K colour is clearer and 5-10% brighter than warm white. The LED tape in this installation was mounted into an LED extrusion rail to provide better heat dissipation as it was being mounted onto wood. The opal diffuser improves the optics by reducing glare and spreading the light out more evenley.

  • Outdoor LED lighting - Use our specially designed IP68 external rated version which is fully water and dust resistant. This offers a bright lighting effect which is needed in large, dark outdoor spaces. It is more durable than IP65 and more flexible. This can even be submersed under water, shown in a bucket of water below:

 

  • Garage lighting - As this is an outdoor installation you could use the IP68 rated LED tape or in the example below this customer used the 60 LEDs per metre version and mounted inside one of our LED extrusion rails.

 


Which Colour Temperature or RGB Colour Change?

Choosing the right colour temperature really is a matter of taste but sometimes you need to consider matching any other lights within the room. If you've got cool white downlights you'll need cool white LED strip tape. We have a more detailed FAQ explaining colour temperatures here.

  

Or if you want something a bit more exciting than single colour, warm or cool white then why not go for RGB colour change or RGB+WW which is a combination of colour changing and warm white in one strip. With this you can either have any colour you want, or warm white or mix them together.

Input & Output Cables

If you order any of our LED tapes online; as standard the single colour versions come with a DC female connector and the RGB versions come with a 4 pin white female connector. Each is 150mm in length, the connectors can be snipped off if you want to wire directly into a controller or a hard wired LED driver. Or they can be used with plug-in power adaptors or basic IR (infra-red) RGB controllers.


Often referred to as input tails, we can supply any of our LED tapes cut and soldered with any length of input tails you need. Don't worry too much about 'volt drop' as this doesn't happen too much with cables, only with the LED tapes themselves and we can always get around those issues.

For rectangular shaped or non standard installations we can supply the strips with female connecting pins which allows you to easily connect other components or other LED strips into. This is ideal for corners and bends and provides more flexibility to the installation. We can solder the female connecting pin at the end of the strip and heat shrink it. They can then be connected using male to male pins as shown below.

 

Corners & Bends

Although LED tape is flexible if you want to create a proper 90 degree bend or corner, you'll need an accessory such as a flat L shape or flexible bend. There's a few ways of creating a corner, here are the main two:

Another way is to solder connecting cables onto each end of the strips and connect them together using strip connector blocks.


Power Supplies / LED Drivers

The rating of the LED driver is determined by the length and the wattage of the LED strip tape. At 14.4 watts per metre the SMD5050 LED tape would require an LED driver rated at a minimum of 14.4 watts. The nearest LED driver we offer is rated at 20 watts which would be perfect. The table below shows which non dimmable LED drivers we recommend. 


Controls & Dimming

Another advantage of using LED tape is that you can control it from virtually any control system. All you need is the relevant LED driver, controller or receiver. This includes mains (TRIAC) dimming, DALI dimming, 0-10V dimming, DMX and many more. This diagram shows how easy it is to wire an LED compatible dimmer switch into a TRIAC dimmable driver and then into the LED tape.


Or instead of using a rotary dimmer switch you can dim LED tape using a home automation system such as Lightwave RF, Rako or Lutron shown below:


When dimming with Lightwave RF a maximum wattage of 100.8 watt must be adhered to. This works out at 7 metres of SMD5050 60 LEDs per metre tape.

Extrusion Rails

Extrusion rails are made from aluminium and can provide the lighting installation with a better, more professional looking finish. If you're installing the tape onto wood, plaster board or any other material that doesn't conduct heat then you should fit the tape onto a rail.

We offer 4 different versions of rail including a wider version for our RGB+W and RGB+WW tapes, a recessed and a corner version.

Limitations & Guidance

The only limitation with LED strip tape is your imagination! If you've got a tricky installation please contact us for advice on: 01706 868343 or email sales@downlights.co.uk and we'll be able to offer a solution that you might not have thought of. We only list a small selection of accessories on our website but we stock everything from amplifiers, Y splitters to connecting cables sold by the metre.

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