So you’ve decided to install LED tape – or maybe you’re just considering using LED tape strips to light your home or business. There’s a huge range of different InStyle LED tape products to choose from – with a choice of brightness levels, dimensions to fit your project, and even non-IP to IP67-rated (waterproof) LED tape. There’s a nearly infinite number of applications in which LED tape can be installed, including bars, restaurants, hotels and domestic settings; from covings and plinths through external locations and signage, you’ll find that LED tape can be fitted almost anywhere.
On this page, we’ll go over a few hints on how to install LED tape… and offer some useful tips and advice.
Fixing your LED tape
3m self-adhesive backing
All of InStyle’s LED tapes are supplied with strong 3M self-adhesive backing tape as standard.
As our LED tapes are very small and light, this 3M backing will usually be sufficient to hold the LED tape in position.
When you’re ready to stick the LED tape into place, decide exactly where you are going to fit the tape strip, clean the surface and make sure it is fully dry afterwards then peel off the 3M backing and press the LED tape into place.
When pushing down make sure you are pushing on an empty area of the LED tape, especially where there are no resistors.
Hot glue gun
If the LED tape is being stuck on a flat surface (with the LEDs facing the ceiling) then the 3M self-adhesive tape should be strong enough. But if the LED tape is being stuck on its side (vertically) or with the LEDs facing downwards (under a cabinet, for example) then the 3M adhesive may not last as long as you would like.
In such cases, we recommend using small amounts of hot glue every 300mm, making sure you only use small amounts so that the glue doesn’t ooze onto the front of the LED tape and affect the LEDs.
You’ll find hot glue is also helpful next to the starter lead cable, or any link cables that go round corners and are hard to hold into place.
Foam backing tape
InStyle offer the option to upgrade to a higher grade self-adhesive tape, which we call our ‘foam backing tape’.
Although our standard 3M self-adhesive tape is strong, the foam backing tape is even stronger – and will fix the LED tape in place for longer. The foam backing tape is recommended for applications where your LED tape lights are to be stuck on its side (vertically) or upside down.
This foam backing tape can be very useful on areas that are uneven or not the standard. It can also be used with our IP-rated (waterproof) LED tapes.
Fixing clips are small clear rubber clips that can be simply screwed either side of your LED tape to hold it into place.
You can use as many fixing clips as you require to get the desired results. Fixing clips would be used when the LED tape is being fitted on its side or upside down – or if the LED tape is being fitted externally, as self-adhesive backing will not withstand rain and extreme weather conditions.
LED Tape Extrusions
All of the LED extrusions can be simply cut to your required length using a hack saw. They can also be cut at angles if necessary.
This is equally effective for the frosted covers that slot into the extrusion.
Cutting and soldering your LED tape
Cutting the LED Tape
Each type of LED tape has different cut points. The cut points vary from 25mm to 50mm to 100mm to 166mm, depending on which sort of LED tape you’ve purchased. Each cut point has a line right in the middle of either 4, 8 or 10 solder pads. (4 for single colour, 8 for RGB and 10 for RGBW).
If the LED tape is too long for your requirements, you can simply cut the strip to the correct length along the cut point line using a pair of scissors. You will not have to do anything else as the LED tape circuit will terminate itself.
Soldering the LED Tape
In the same place as the LED tape cut points, you will find 4 solder pads (or 8 solder pads for RGB LED tape, or 10 pads for RGBW tape). These will be marked + and – for single-colour, or +, R, G, B for RGB LED tape.
You can simply solder cable to these pads to create a starter lead to wire back to a transformer or a controller. This can be of any length you require. Or to solder two pieces of LED tape together, you should cut half way through the solder pads on both strips (using a pair of scissors), leaving half a semi-circle on all the pads.
Once that’s done, you can ‘butt’ the pads together to create full circles again, and then solder them together.
If you need to extend the starter lead cable, you can do this by using a standard connector block purchased from any electrical wholesaler. Simply strip the cable and screw it into either side of the connector block.
What thickness cable should you use?
InStyle recommends using 0.5mm cable when you install LED tape lengths up to 5m. Use 1mm cable for lengths of up to 10m, 1.5mm cable up to 15m, and 2mm cable up to 20m.
How to go round corners with LED strip lights?
To install LED tape round corners, you can simply cut the LED tape and solder a link cable to connect the two pieces. This link cable is standard 2-core or 4-core cable (use the thicknesses discussed above).
The cable can be any length you require, just so long as as long as you have the correct thickness cable to carry the current and avoid voltage drop.
Install LED tape using connector clips
A tape-to-tape connector is used to join two pieces of cut LED tape together, making a good working connection.
There are various types in different sizes to fit both single-colour and RGB LED tape lights, preventing the need for soldering the LED tape lengths together.
Simply cut the LED tape at the cut points, open the connector and then slide both sides of your LED tape into the connector’s slots. Finally, snap the connector closed, and your strip lights are ready to use.
Starter lead connector
A starter lead connector is a connector that fits to the LED tape, and has a starter cable on the other side. This is to save the need for soldering.
Again, there are various types of connector for both single colour and RGB tapes.
To fit the starter lead connector, you simply open the tape connector, slide the LED tape into place, then close the connector.
How to reinstate your LED tape’s IP rating after it’s been cut
Cutting and soldering your waterproof (IP-rated) will mean it’s no longer waterproof. But you can easily bring it back up to waterproof standards by following these steps. You will require a hot glue gun, a heat gun, and some clear heatshrink.
Begin by putting an amount of hot glue on the cut end of the LED tape or at the cut point which needs waterproofing, and then slide the heatshrink over this. You can then heat up the heatshrink with a heat gun to tighten/contract the glue.
This will reseal your LED tape back to its original IP67 rating.