LED lights have become increasingly popular in recent times, with people showing off the different ways they light up their rooms with strips of these lights. Some folks even put these lights in their cars for a unique look!
However, LED light strips come in fixed lengths, so getting them at the exact length you need isn’t always possible. That can make adding these lights to your space a bit tricky unless you’re willing to cut them.
That sounds crazy, right? Cutting lights! But it’s possible, and not at all as difficult or complicated as you may think.
Of course, you need to do it right or you’ll end up with a strip of LED lights that are useless. I’ve learned this the hard way!
Can You Really Cut LED Lights?
Yes, you absolutely can! LED strips have straight or dotted black lines at regular intervals throughout the strips. Typically, the lines are located 10cm apart or after every third LED. There should be copper soldering pads on each side of the cutting lines and they form a symmetrical pattern.
When you find these copper pads, you’ll know you’ve got the right place to cut the LED lights.
The lights’ circuits are closed at these points, making them safe places to cut the lights without causing any damage.
Will Both Sides Still Work Once You Cut The Lights?
If you cut the LED strip correctly, yes, both sides will still work as they should after you’ve cut them apart. This is thanks to how the LED strips are designed and the cutting points that are placed there for our convenience.
How to Cut LED Strip Lights
As I’ve mentioned before, you have to cut the LED strip lights the right way or they won’t work and you’ll have a strip of lights you can’t use unless you fix it, which can be a bit annoying.
So, here’s how you cut LED strip lights correctly:
Before you do anything, make sure that you buy the kind of strip that can actually be cut. If you already bought the lights, double-check that they can be cut. Simply look for the dotted lines I mentioned earlier.
Okay, begin by unplugging the lights if they were plugged in, because cutting a light strip that’s connected to a power source is dangerous. Next, measure the length you want the strip to be so you don’t accidentally cut it too short.
Once you’re sure you’ve determined the correct length you want your LED light strip to be, find the cuttable parts. Locate the one closest to the length you need.
Some strips have a scissors logo on the areas where you can cut, so look out for that. Get a pair of sharp scissors.
You are now ready to cut your lights. Use the prepared scissors for this purpose, because utility knives can be a bit more difficult when used for this.
Make sure that you don’t cut diagonally because this can damage the lights and cause them to stop working. Cut as straight as possible.
How to Use LED Strip Lights After Cutting
After you’ve cut your light strips, it’s time to put them up and get them ready for use. Follow these steps for a smooth experience:
Make sure the area of the wall you want to put the lights on is dry and clean. If the wall is wet or dusty, you will have difficulty attaching the lights. In some cases, you may have to use additional adhesive.
Remove the covering of the glue on the back of the light strip and put it in the desired position on the wall.
Now, you have to connect the light strip. If you bought a light strep set, you should have a connector as well as a controller. If you don’t have a connector, you may have to buy one at a hardware shop.
You need to use the connector to connect the controller and the light strip. Make sure that you don’t have the light strip inserted backwards—it won’t work if not inserted correctly.
Finally, you have to plug in the power supply of the LED light strip. The lights will turn on automatically and you can use the controller to change them to the color of your choice.
If you find that the lights don’t work, it could be that the strip was damaged during the cutting process. You’ll have to fix the lights, which we’ll discuss in a bit.
How to Fix LED Strip Lights When Cut
If you messed up and cut your LED strip lights incorrectly and now they won’t work, don’t despair. All is not lost yet, there is a way to fix them. The following steps will guide you through the process.
You’ll have to buy the right kind of 4-pin connector or it won’t work. If you have a light strip of 10mm wide, buy a connector that is suitable for 10mm. If your strip is 8mm, buy a connector that’s suitable for 8mm. Using a connector that isn’t suitable will achieve nothing.
If the connector you bought has a cover, you have to open it on the side before you can use it.
Now, put the two cut ends of your light strip into the fastening clips of your 4-pin connector. Follow the connector’s instructions closely to ensure you do this part correctly.
Next, you have to cover the connector. Place the light strip and close the connector’s cover. Test the lights and if they don’t light up, you may have to adjust the connecting point between them and the connector.
You may have to buy and connect several connectors, depending on how many cut parts of LED lights you have.
LED Light Strip You Should Not Cut
Although many LED light strips are conveniently designed to be cut, there is one that is the exception and should not be cut at all.
Avoid cutting a light strip that has sections controlled by individual IC chips. You’ll notice that these black chips are placed after every few diodes along your light strip. They individually control a few diodes, which makes it possible for each section to be a different color.
To identify LED light strips that shouldn’t be cut, look at the copper sections. If they don’t have a scissor icon, it’s best not to cut them.
There you go—now you know everything you need to cut LED strip lights and decorate your space exactly how you want to. And if you messed up and cut the lights the wrong way, this article gave you the info you need to fix them. Now you have no excuse not to use LED lights all over your home!