LEDs for stair feature-lights and highlighting

LED recommendations for step lights:

LED step lighting is traditionally thought of as feature-lighting.

So for most stairway installations, like most feature-light applications, low-power LED strips drawing 5 watts per metre are the right choice. Choose either 5W white LEDs or 5W single-colour LEDs. (If you prefer a colour-change option, we recommend 7.5-watt RGB strips or 10-watt RGBW strips.)

LED step lighting can be installed internally or externally. (For outdoor locations, we strongly recommend using IP67-equivalent water-resistant LED strips, with a heatshrink coating.)

Step-lights are not just for houses and residential properties – they can enhance exhibitions, hotels, bars, clubs, restaurants and all kinds of other business and commercial locations too.

Stepped stage with blue LED feature lights

Most LED step-light projects don’t need to be dimmable. This is because they typically provide either highlighting effects or main lighting for stairs in dark locations. For these purposes, a simple on-off switch and a non-dimmable power supply is more suitable and practical than a dimmer.

Fitting & wiring LED step lights:

LED step-lights can be installed with or without aluminium extrusion housings.

Option 1 – with extrusions

InStyle offer three LED extrusion profiles specifically designed for step-lighting projects.

i. Stair Downlight extrusion

This type of LED profile is installed on the edge of the stair’s tread.

Stair Downlight LED Extrusion

The lens directs the LED strip’s light downwards, to wash the stair riser below.

The resulting effect displays the LED’s light, without drawing attention to the light-source.

ii. Stair Uplight extrusion

Like the Downlight extrusion, the Uplight extrusion is installed on the edge of the stair’s tread. But as the name suggests, the lens is positioned to direct the light from your LED strip upwards.

This produces a stronger lightbar effect, rather than a more subtle light-wash.

The light-source itself is in full view.

Stair Uplight LED Extrusion

iii. Stair Tread extrusion

Sturdily constructed to protect your LED tapes against footsteps, Stair Tread extrusions are designed to be fitted on the tread of a step.

Stair Tread LED Extrusion

Raised just 11mm, they’re not only useful for step-lighting; they’re an ideal way to create lightbar effects on floors and platforms too.

Alternatively, you can also use a Thin Surface extrusion to protect the LED tape from kicks and footsteps.

Thin surface extrusion for LED tapes

Option 2 – without extrusions

When installing exposed step-lights (without aluminium extrusions), the best approach is usually to stick your LED strip to the underside of the stair-tread’s overhang.

The LED light will then shine downward, creating a glow effect while hiding the light-source.

4.8w Red LED Tape used on stairs

Wiring your LED step-lights

The wiring required to drive step-light LEDs is very similar to the wiring required for shelving and bookcase LEDs.
Staircase LEDs wired in parallel
You can connect your power supply to the LED strips on each step either serially (end to end) or in parallel, as shown above.

Exterior step-light LEDs mounted in aluminium extrusions

See our ‘Watch Your Steps’ blog-post for more LED staircases and step-lighting examples.

These recommendations apply to InStyle’s commercial-grade Epistar-branded LED strip lights. For lower-grade strip lights from elsewhere, adjust accordingly.

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