How do I install LED strips longer than 5 metres?
Many suppliers of LED strip lights sell their products in standard 5m reels only. Very often, these companies don’t have real in-depth knowledge or experience of LED tape projects, and they can’t give their customers installation advice.
Here at InStyle, we can help you through your project from start to finish – we’ll even draw you personally tailored sketches of the wiring you’ll need to power and control your LED tape!
One of the questions we get asked most often is, “how do I install more than 5m of LED tape?”
So… let’s take a look at the solution for these larger installations:
LED strips are typically manufactured in 5m reels, as this is roughly the maximum length you can install in one continuous length without getting a voltage drop towards the end of the reel. Any longer, and the LEDs at the end of the reel appear less bright than those close to the power supply.
(In reality, our experience is that it’s actually possible to install around six metres of single-colour LED tape in one continuous length before your eye will notice a voltage drop and a consequent loss of brightness. This can depend on the type of LED tape you are using; 24v LED strips carry the current better, so longer lengths are less likely to suffer any voltage drop.
For RGB installations, there’s an even easier option. InStyle can supply 24v RGB LED strip lights in double-length reels – which means you can fit up to 10m lengths with no voltage drop!)
(If you are looking for guidance explaining how to wire up LED transformers, receivers and controllers, then why not take a look at our support page on connecting LED strip lights as well?)
How to wire LED strip lights in parallel
The key to installing LED tape in lengths longer than 5m is to wire your LED strips to your transformer in parallel. Are you wondering if you’ll need a transformer for every 5m LED strip that you plan to install? Well, you don’t! You can wire multiple strips back to one single transformer – just as long as the total wattage of your LED tape doesn’t exceed the transformer’s output.
Here is some basic advice for wiring 3 x 5m reels of single-colour LED strip lights. (Just an example – you would use the same general approach for any installation larger than a 5m reel.)
As we’ve already said, you can’t simply join the reels together in series with a single starter-lead (end-to-end) – as that would certainly produce a significant voltage drop along the tape’s length. Instead connect the three reels to your transformer separately, using three starter-leads, then install them in position with the ends butted close together, without gaps, so the light would be continuous and the three strips of LED tape appear to be a single reel.
You should use 2-core cable, 1.5mm thickness, for your starter-leads. This will allow you to position your LED strips up to 15m away from the transformer.
How would I install LED strip lights in a rectangle?
Are you planning to install LED strip lights all around your living room, in a rectangle? Are you wondering how best to do this, and how many cables you’ll need? Well, here’s a wiring diagram that will help.
Don’t forget that InStyle can pre-cut and pre-solder your LED tape. Tell us the lengths you need when you place your order. We can also add linking cables and label everything up for you, for ease of installation.
Two LED strips doesn’t always mean two cables back to a transformer and receiver – as you can see on this wiring diagram.
Can you wire LED tape in a ring main?
Yes you can.
If you wire your LED strip lights in a ring main, you’ll be able to connect approximately 10 metres of tape in a single run. (So that’s twice the normal 5m length).
This is because the ring main will power your LED strip from both ends; it’s just as if you are powering 2 x 5m lengths independently.
How to wire a LED tape project with multiple zones/areas
Here is a wiring diagram showing how to wire a multiple-area project. It uses RGB 15w 24v LED tape (up to 5m reels) and a multizone controller.
As you can see the areas don’t need to be linked in order to be controlled from a single controller. The controller can set different shades of colours, colour scrolls or other programs for each zone independently. Or it can synchronise all zones together at the touch of a wireless button.
This approach is very common in locations where there are several areas that can’t be wired together. Restaurants, hotels, night clubs, and even large homes often use a design like this.
Your LED strips can all be in different lengths if that’s what you require. Just make sure you have a transformer of sufficient power for each area, and you will be fine.