An in-depth look at LED strip lighting

The development of LED as a technology has grown exponentially over recent years and the installation of LED Strip for many applications is used widely, however before considering this as the solution for your project, what are the benefits and are there any issues with using LED Strip?

LED Strip is a very compact lighting solution, being only 10-15 millimetres wide and 3-5 millimetres in height and the majority of LED Strip comes with a self-adhesive tape on the rear, allowing both a quick and easy installation, as well as being very flexible in construction it can be used for many applications by providing a continuous line of light, but with being manufactured in a segment format with cut points at around 5-10 centimetres apart it can allow the LED Strip the flexibility of being cut to meet the desired length and together with its small profile, LED Strip can be installed into locations where previously it was not possible to fit lighting, making it ideal for recessing into the cornice around the room, into bookcases, under cabinets, or even on the rear of the wall mounted television to provide spill light around its perimeter, the installation opportunities are endless.

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When installed correctly it will provide a long-lasting lighting installation and requires little or no maintenance over its lifetime and in a residential situation, where the number of hours of operation are fairly low, this will mean many years of life, where upgrades and replacement will be determined by the building refurbishment rather than the failure of the lighting.

The majority of LED Strip used in residential applications is either 12Volt or 24Volt which requires the installation of an LED Driver to reduce the supply voltage from the UK mains voltage of around 230 Volts, making the actual LED light source a safe solution. As well as the two main operating voltage, LED Strip is also available in a couple of power consumptions at 7.2Watts/metre and 14.4Watts per metre allowing for different levels of illumination when switched on. LED Strip is also a fully dimmable lighting solution, when operated through the appropriate LED Drivers and can be operated through a lighting control system to provide the optimum levels of illuminance when required. Providing a qualitative lighting solution, it is available in Warm White (3000K) and Cool White (4000K) or RGB (Red/Green/Blue) allows for a lighting solution to meet the needs of the application as well as the opportunity to add colour to the installation. LED Strip is also available in two other formats, firstly as Tuneable White, which allows the user to change colour from cool white to warm white, which is beneficial in the family room, where a cool light is best for the day time and a warm light offers a relaxing atmosphere in the evening and secondly, as RGBW, which offers the added benefit of providing a white light solution as well as introducing RGB colour when required to provide that enhanced aesthetic effect. TW and RGBW is only available in 24V variants.

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Different LED Strip is available for either internal and external use, being of low voltage makes the external version safe for use in damp internal conditions such as bathrooms and for use externally in the garden environment.

LED light sources are fitted with a heatsink which removes the heat by conduction from the light source into the heat sink and then the heat transfer is by convection into the surrounding air, making it ‘cool to touch’ and resulting in it being an excellent lighting solution for areas where there are children and pets as well as for locations where there is heat sensitive equipment installed. Although consideration is required for the intended application, as it is important for the LED’s to remain cool or the risk the lifetime of the LED strip being reduced.

Where a continuous rigid lighting solution is required, the LED Strip can be installed into different aluminium profiles which allow for the light to be directed straight outwards or angled and with a fitted diffuser allow illumination without site of the individual LED’s.

The full content of information contained here provides the many benefits and in answer to the original question of any potential issues with LED Strip, firstly replacement in that the failure of a single segment of LED’s will require the replacement of the whole LED Strip length which should be at low cost, secondly, the adhesive which attaches the strip to the surface may come away over significant time if not installed correctly. Thirdly and more important, for constant voltage installations the voltage supplied by the LED Driver reduces over the length of the strip at around 2-4 Volts per 5 metres, which means also a comparable reduction in illuminance. The best way to remove this scenario is to use multiple shorter lengths connected back to the LED Driver.

For those people with an eye on the environmental concerns of sustainability, an LED Strip solution with its very small individual lights sources combined with its extensive operating life offers an ideal solution, in being an energy efficient system to operate and with a suitable control system, the lighting is only provided when and more importantly, where it is needed. The benefits of a long life and infrequent replacement means reduced wastage to landfill sites or for recycling, thus providing the benefits of sustainability.

Ansell Lighting recommends that all lighting installations, including those using LED Strip are carried out in compliance of the current wiring regulations and by an approved electrical contractor.

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