The vast population knew little about LED (light emitting diode) lighting technology in 2010. Today, LED has penetrated more than 50 percent of the global lighting market.
LED lighting provides enormous energy savings to homes and businesses. According to Energy.gov, most LED products consume 75 percent less power than ordinary lights, and they last about 25 times longer.
The application areas of LED lighting are unlimited. From industrial establishments to the kitchen and from hallways to holiday lighting, you’ll find them everywhere.
One exciting development is the LED strip lights. Due to their tiny sizes and flexibility, they have brought light to areas that were hard to connect in the past.
The installation process of LED strip lights is also straightforward. If you aren’t an expert, we have some useful tips to help you out.
Keep on reading!
Electrical Circuits for LED Strips Light
Maybe you have an idea of electrical circuits, but you are not sure which one is suitable for LEDs. Possibly, you have installed LED lights successfully before, but they failed after some time.
You can connect LEDs in a series (also called loop or daisy-chained) or a parallel circuit. Most of the time, the lighting application available dictates the appropriate circuit to use. However, a series circuit with a constant current LED driver is preferable to a parallel arrangement when wiring high power LEDs.
A series circuit maintains a steady current through each LED. For this reason, all the LEDs have the same brightness.
Some LEDs in a series arrangement can experience hogging, a state of receiving more current than the others. As we shall see, it requires a driver to prevent undesirable issues like thermal runaway.
How to connect LEDs in Series
The components of a series circuit are joined end-to-end to follow one path from the start to the end. The positive output (+) of the constant current driver links with the positive end (anode) of the first LED. The negative end (cathode) of this LED connects to the positive end (anode) of the second LED.
A loop of positive and negative connections continues up to the desired or permissible number of LEDs in that circuit. The last LED terminates the channel by connecting its cathode (negative) to the negative of the driver.
Below are the characteristics of a series circuit:
- Wiring and troubleshooting is easy
- If one LED fails, the whole circuit closes down
- The same amount of electric current flows through each LED
- Adding the voltages across every LED gives you the total voltage in the circuit
- It’s acceptable to have different voltages across various LEDs
Let’s now see you should power LEDs in a loop.
LED In-Series Arrangement at Work
Wiring the circuit is the easy part. Powering is what fails most people.
Remember that the total circuit voltage is the sum of all voltages across the diodes. What does that suggest? You must supply at least the minimum voltage of the total voltage of your circuit.
Take an example of LEDs each rated 2.95V forward voltage at 1050mA. A loop circuit of three such diodes gives you a total of 8.85V. Therefore, you need to supply a minimum of 8.85V to drive the circuit.
LEDs heat up during use, and their forward voltages change. To keep the circuit healthy, you must use a constant current LED driver, which allows for the voltage to change while keeping the output current steady. Otherwise, the LEDs will suffer from current hogging and fail.
It’s essential to choose a driver that matches your LED requirements. To select the LEDs that match your needs, here is a guide where you can learn more.
Similarly, make the following considerations before buying your LED driver.
- The type and number of LEDs to use
- Whether you need a constant current or a constant voltage driver
- The kind of power available (DC or AC?)
- The goals of the installation
- Any special features
In the case of a series circuit, the critical thing is having a voltage supply equal to or more than the total circuit voltage. It’s advisable to purchase a driver with a higher output voltage than your needs. The reason is that the device itself requires some voltage for its circuitry.
However, some models have a boosting capacity that helps to cover for shortages. Your supplier can advise on that.
Connecting LEDs in Parallel
Sometimes, some circumstances make it impossible to run a series circuit with LEDs. For instance, your needs may necessitate multiple LED loops that the available voltage cannot sustain.
You may also have too many LEDs in-series or any other reasons. When you cannot work with a daisy chain, employ the parallel circuit.
Contrary to the series arrangement, each LED in a parallel circuit receives the same voltage. You calculate the total current by adding up the current flowing through each LED.
Configuring the circuit involves joining all the positive ends (anode) of the LEDs together and linking them to the positive output of the LED driver. In the same way, all negative ends (cathode) link up and eventually connect with the negative output of the driver.
For the sake of illustration, let’s consider an output driver that supplies 900mA. Each LED should receive 900mA divided by the number of LEDs. For three LEDs, for example, each one of them would receive 300mA.
We can make some noteworthy deductions from a parallel circuit:
- The voltage across every LED is the same
- The driver output current is shared through all LEDs
- The total current is the summation of all currents across various LEDs
- Each parallel string requires equal voltage to prevent hogging
The advantage of LEDs in parallel is that when one LED gets damaged, it doesn’t affect the rest of the circuit. The remaining ones will still work. However, you need to add a current limiting resistor to the circuit to prevent a burn out of the other diodes.
Series and Parallel Combinations
With an understanding of the rules of series and parallel circuits, you can create hybrid arrangements. You can do this by connecting LEDs strings in series and wiring the strings in a parallel circuit.
There are some issues to encounter by going in this direction. First off, if one LED burns out, the entire string that it belongs to gets cut out (principles of in-series connection). Therefore, the current that was flowing through the string gets shared out to the remaining ones.
It’s not something to worry about if your circuit has many LED strings. If you had three, the two that remain will now be receiving 50 percent of the current instead of 33 percent. If you had two, all the current from the LED driver would flow through the surviving one.
As observed, series-parallel combinations with few strings are delicate. The failure of one LED can cause the whole installation to burn out.
Points to Note about LED Strip Lights
A LED strip light is a circuit board containing LEDs mounted on a flexible strip to provide powerful lighting. The LEDs offer different colors and light intensity to suit your needs.
Most LED strip lights run on a 12V supply. The voltage can support several LEDs in series. In most cases, LED strip light come in sequences of three in-series diode strings.
The strips have clear lines where you can cut through without destroying the circuit to let you customize your project.
You can bend the strips up to 90 degrees without breaking. Therefore, you can install them in tightest spaces where lighting by other means is difficult.
Most LED strip lights come with adhesive tape at the back. You can peel it and stick the strip wherever you feel like in the room.
Some LED strips are dimmable, and they integrate with standard home automation systems. A remote or a dimmer gives you full control of your lighting.
Installation of LED Strip Lights
A typical installation process of LED strip lights is as follows:
- Power the strip to confirm that the lights are working
- Measure the area where you want to install it
- Cut a corresponding length of the LED strip along the marked cutting line
- Solder the power supply wires or use connectors
- Test the LED strip again by connecting it to the power unit
- Wipe the surface you intend to install the LED strip lights
- Stick the strip to the surface using the tape behind it
- Connect your system to the power supply or a dimmer
- Enjoy the illumination
As you can see, installing LED strip lights is something you can do by yourself. If you don’t have the confidence, ask an experienced person for help.
LED strip lights are an investment that can change the world. The system consumes a small fraction of the energy that other conventional lighting methods use. Without a doubt, the gains of installing these lights reflect in the user’s energy bills.
Then, the installation is easy. With the knowledge and a few tools, you can revolutionize your lighting with your favorite colors. They emit a negligible amount of heat, and they are non-toxic.
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