Below we present a detailed guidance of how to choose the right light strip connector to help you achieve professional installation of LED light strip.
1. Quality LED strip connectors for fast installation
The LED strip light connectors talked here are solderless connectors. LED strip light solderless connectors, also called solder-free connectors, are the LED accessories that, without soldering work, help achieve connections between LED strip and strip, controller, power supply, LED wires and other components.
LED light strips are used by a wide range of people, professionals, and DIY users. Soldering is not possible for all users. Solderless connectors do not require professional soldering equipment and skills. They are easy to use and can be easily and quickly installed. It is suitable for ordinary users. Therefore, these solderless connectors have emerged, and their birth and development is also a factor in the popularity and wide application of strip lights.
Due to the rapid development and application of LED strips, the research and development of LED quick solderless connectors are also changing with each passing day. A good quality connector can establish a firm connection without worrying about falling off. A good connector has a large connection point and good electrical conductivity.
Different connection interfaces have been developed for different connections to make your installation more convenient. Currently, LED solderless connectors have been able to help finish most LED strip installation projects.
Importance of good quality connectors
Remember, it is important to select good quality connectors. Good quality connectors are mechanically more durable and will not be loose in years, and the pressure provided at the copper pads of the LED strips is large enough to ensure a sufficiently large contact area.
Some low quality connectors on the market have low electrical conductivity and poor mechanical properties. They do not guarantee truly good contact. Therefore, it can cause a very high electric resistance, resulting in a decrease in the brightness of the LED strip.
In the worst case, the low quality connector is completely detached and part of the light strip will fail to work. Sometimes the weak contact points will also corrode after a while, which will quickly lead to complete failure of the connection.
Advantages and disadvantages of soldering.
Soldering requires professional equipment and skills. Failure to properly master the soldering skills may damage the light strip. Soldering also takes longer time. This is a big disadvantage.
But soldering has its own advantages. The connection built with soldering is firm and permanent. The contact point of the solder connection is large, so it ensures a smooth current flow, and can withstand a larger current.
Some installation spaces are very limited and soldering is a good option because the solder connection is smaller in size than quick connectors.
2. Solderless connectors for different types of LED strip lights
Select LED strip connectors according to the type and width of 12V LED strip and 24V LED strip.
Due to the different types of light strips, the number of electrical channels is different, so the connectors are also of different types to meet the different connection needs. Our common light strips are usually divided into monochrome (2 pin), tunable white (3 pin), RGB (4 pin), and RGBW (5 pin).
Common LED models for LED strip lights are 3528, 2835, 2216, and 5050. Although the LED models are different, the connection method is the same.
The same LED strip connector works for both 12V LED strip and 24V LED strip. LED strip connectors also have power and current parameters. The material for LED strip connectors includes: wire, copper, and fireproof PC.
Common connectors have widths of 8mm, 10mm, and 12mm. Select the appropriate width to match the width of the light strip to achieve a straight or 90-degree connection of the light strip to light strip, light strip to controller, and light strip to power supply.
2-1 Monochrome strip light: 2 pin LED strip light connector
Monochrome LED light strips include white and colored LED strips such as red, green, or blue LED strips. There are two copper pads, positive and negative, on the monochromatic light strip. The two copper pads are the two connection points, so the connectors for monochrome LED strips are 2 pin LED strip connectors. The two pins are connected with the two pads of the light strip, and the connection is accomplished.
2-2 Tunable white light strip: 3 pin LED strip connector
The tunable white light strip has three copper pads, one positive and two negatives. Therefore, the tunable white LED strip connector has a three-pin connection points, which we call 3 pin LED strip connector, including a positive connection and two negative connections for warm white and cool white light.
2-3 RGB LED strip: 4 pin RGB LED strip connector
The RGB color changing LED strip has four copper pads, one positive, and three negatives for colors of R, G, and B. The RGB connector therefore has a four-wire connection cable, including a positive connection and red, green and blue solder points of negative polarity. So we usually say that the RGB LED strip connector is 4 pin LED strip connector.
When connecting with RGB strip lights, you need to pay attention to the two ends of the connection and make sure each pin is matched correctly, that is, positive to positive, R (red) to R (red), G (green) to G (green), and B (blue) to B (blue).
2-4 RGBW LED strip: 5 pin LED strip connector
The RGBW LED strip has five copper pads, one positive, and four negatives for R, G, B, and W. The connector has a five wire connection cable, also known as the 5 pin LED strip connector, which includes a positive connection and red, green, blue, and white solder points of negative polarity.
3. Waterproof LED strip light connector
The waterproof light strip can be connected using a special waterproof LED strip light connector. Due to the silicone or rubber cover or sheath (IP 44, IP 65, IP67, etc.), the waterproof LED light strip connector is generally bigger than the non-waterproof light strip connector. This should be noted where the installation space is limited.
The waterproof light strip connector has the strip to strip connector, used to connect two pieces of waterproof light strips. It also has the strip to wire connector, used to connect the waterproof light strip to the power supply or controller after cutting.
The waterproof light strip connector varies depending on the width of the light strip, for example, suitable for waterproof light strip with 8mm or 10mm width. It should be noted here that the width of the waterproof light strip generally refers to the width of the FPC board of the waterproof light strip.
The waterproof light strip connector also varies depending on the type of LED strip. For example, the LED strip connector for a monochrome waterproof light strip is different from that for an RGB waterproof light strip. 2 pin LED strip connectors are suitable for the monochrome LED strips, and 4 pin LED strip connectors for the RGB LED strips.
4. LED solderless wire connectors
LED wire connectors are used to build fast, secure, and safe connections between two wires. The clip-on connectors in the following figure enable a strip-free connection. LED wires don't need to be stripped. The design of the connection interface ensures to create a permanent and secure connection.
LED wire connectors have different types, such as single wire straight connection, single wire T type, double-wire straight connection, double-wire T type, etc. They are suitable for different gauges of LED wires, 18-22AWG.
LED wire connectors also have specifications regard to the maximum current they can tolerate for continuous operation. The connectors shown above have an amperage capacity of 0-10A continuous current.
There is also a common terminal block connector for LED wire connections. It is also known as LED wire splicing connectors. This type of wire terminal connector can be used to connect 2, 3, 4, and 5 wires, which are also suitable for wires of different gauges.
The terminal block connector is now available in a new design with a smaller size. For example, the 5-conductor compact splicing connector is perfect for installation with very limited spaces.
5. LED wire
LED wires are usually stranded wires, also known as multi-core wires. The most important part of an LED wire is the conductor inside. The LED wires we supply are made of high-purity copper with great electrical conductivity as conductor material.
The diameter, or more accurately the cross-sectional area of the wire strand, is an important factor to determine its current load capacity.
American wire gauge (AWG), also known as the Brown & Sharpe wire gauge, is a logarithmic stepped standardized wire gauge system used since 1857, predominantly in North America, for the diameters of round, solid, nonferrous, electrically conducting wire. The AWG gauge of a stranded wire represents the sum of the cross-sectional areas of the individual strands; the gaps between strands are not counted.
The LED wires we usually use are 22AWG, 20AWG, 18AWG, and 16AWG. The smaller the AWG number is, the higher current carrying ampacity. Ampacity is defined as the maximum current, in amperes, that a conductor can carry continuously under the conditions of use without exceeding its temperature rating. 22AWG wire has the ampacity of 2.1A, 20AWG wire 3.5A.
The insulation material of the LED wire should be well aging-resistant, heat-resistant and flame retardant.
Current specification for the LED wire
Calculate the current of the strip light to be connected and select the connector with sufficient current load. The basic rule is that the current load of the connector should be larger than the current of the strip light. Since the circuit design of the strip light is a parallel circuit for each cuttable unit, the longer the strip is, the greater the current.
Calculate the current load capacity required for the LED wire by the following formula:
Amp = power of the strip lights/ voltage
The purchased LED light strips have the specification of power per meter. The power of the light strip = the power per meter x the length of the light strip.
For example, we need to install a 3-meter light strip, with a power of 24W, under the operation voltage of 12V. If we use an LED wire as extension cable to connect the light strip, the current capacity for the LED wire should be: 24W/12V=2A.
Wire splitter connector
Wire splicing connectors have 2 way, 3 way, 4 way, etc. They are also called electrical wire splitter, or power splitter. Pay attention to the current overload problem when using the wire splitter connector.
The splitter is equivalent to a parallel circuit because the currents on the splitter cables converge at the main cable. If it is running over a long distance, make sure that the sum of the currents of the splitter cables does not exceed the current limit of the main cable.
For example, if we use a Y-shaped splitter to connect two pieces of light strips to one controller, and the two bifurcations are respectively connected to one light strip. The current of each strip is 2A, then the current of the main cable connected to the controller is 2A+2A=4A. Here, the wire gauge (cross section) of the main cable needs to have a current load capacity of at least 4A.
Use 3 prong power cord to connect power supply to mains
The connection between the power supply and the main power can utilize a 3-conductor AC power cord SJT jacket, which is usually 16AWG or 18AWG. The three wires are black, white and green, and they are connected to the three input terminals of the power supply, L, N, and G. L is live, N is Neutral, G is ground.
This power cord usually has a sheath that is flame retardant and protects the wire inside. Many DIY users choose this power cord for fast power supply connection.
6. How to connect LED strip properly using LED strip connectors?
6-1 LED strip connectors for connecting LED strips or power supplies are generally marked with positive and negative polarities. When using this kind of connector, need to pay attention and connect positive to positive, negative to negative. For RGB strip lights, need to create the correct connection of each color channel.
6-2 Connectors and LED wires have a limit of electric current load, and care must be taken not to exceed this limit during installations. Some signs of current overload can be detected by the naked eye or by hand.
For example, if the wire is overheated, it will become too soft. If the current is too large, the wire is overheated and there are traces of burnt at the connection points. Once such an abnormality is found, need to cut off the power supply immediately. Examine the overload problem, and replace with connectors or LED wires of sufficient current.
6-3 Consider the size of the connectors. The internal dimensions of the connectors need to match the size of the light strip. The external dimensions of the connectors are also a factor to be considered.
After connection, the external dimensions should be fit the installation space. For example, the thickness of the connector can be an issue. Some aluminum profiles are very shallow, it requires to choose the connectors with a thin body.
6-4 How to cut LED strip right? Many times, it is necessary to cut the light strip when using LED strip connectors, for example, when it is necessary to adjust the strip's length, or the installation route needs to make a turn. The correct cutting of light strip is important.
LED strip should be cut according to the marked cutting line. Cutting straight, not skewed, leaves enough copper pads on both sides of the cutting, which is important for a proper and safe connection. If not enough copper pads are left at the end, it may be impossible to make a correct connection for the light strip.
7. How to connect LED strip lights to power supply
It is sometimes simple to connect the light strip to the power supply, like directly plug into the power supply; sometimes additional connectors are required, or sometimes the light strips need to be connected to LED controllers first. The following is a detailed introduction.
Step 1: Choose the right power supply.
The first important thing about choosing the right power supply is that the voltage of the power supply is the same as that of the LED strip. For example, a 12V LED strip requires a 12V power supply, and a 24V power supply would burn out a 12V LED strip.
Second, the output power of the power supply should be at least 1.2 times the power consumption of the light strip. Calculate the power consumption of the LED strips, multiplying the watts per meter by the length of the LED strip being installed to the power supply.
For example, if you have a 4 meters 12V LED strip with 6 watts per meter, you will need a power supply with a capacity of at least 30 watts. Why 30 watts? 4 meters x 6 watts/meter is actually 24 watts. It is because that a power supply should not be running at full capacity. As a buffer, it should have at least 20% of more power than the light strip's wattage.
Warning. When buying LED power supplies and adapters, you need to be careful to avoid a price trap. Some sellers of power supplies and adapters compete for price in the market, and the actual power of the power supply is not as large as it is marked or advertised. Such a power supply will not be durable, and the light strip will not work at its full performance.
Good adapters and power supplies are UL listed. But be aware that some ULs are fake, so it's best to buy them from a trusted seller.
Step 2: Connect the LED strip to the power supply.
Connecting the LED strip to the power supply is by connecting the positive and negative wires on the LED strip to the corresponding V + and V- of the power supply. Be sure to pay attention to the correct polarities or the LED strip will not light up.
Connect monochrome light strip to power supply
Generally, the monochromatic light strips have a soldered plug-in connector, which can be directly connected to a power adapter.
Some other light strips have a pigtail wire that is to be used to connect to the power supply. If you connect a power supply that comes with screw terminals, no extra accessories are required. If you need to connect the pigtail wire to the power adapter, you can use a DC female coaxial barrel connector with screw terminal to connect the pigtail wire.
The monochromatic strips optionally can have a dimmer mounted between the power supply and the strip to adjust the brightness and to turn the strip on and off.
Connect RGB LED strip to power supply
The RGB strip is connected to the power supply by connecting to the controller first, and then the controller is connected to the power source. RGB LED controller is the required part that manages colors for the RGB light strip. The controller can control the color-changing modes, turn on/off the light strip, and adjust the brightness.
Generally, the RGB light strip comes with a 4 pin LED connector or 4 pin pigtail wires. Depending on the LED controllers, the 4 pin connector or pigtail wires can be connected to the controller directly or using extra connectors.
If you cut an RGB LED strip, you will use a strip to controller connector to connect to the LED controller.
Light strip installation accessories also include aluminum profiles, which can help with heat dissipation, strip mounting, etc. For more details, please see our aluminum profile category.