When installing the LED strip one of the issues that need to be addressed is how to connect the wires to it. One method – soldering. Despite the complexity of this method compared to the connection connectors, it is more reliable and is the most common way to connect.
The Device LED Strip
LED Strip is a printed circuit board in the form of a flexible strip. It has two (in colored strips RGB – four) conductive strips between which the LEDs are, and can be sealed (covered with a layer of silicone to protect against moisture).
The strip can be cut into sections of three LEDs each. The places of incision are marked with a dotted line or a pattern of scissors. These areas have contact pads on the conductive strips for soldering.
These strips use 12 volt power and are used for dashboard lighting, system unit modding, LCD repair, and other purposes.
You can use a voltage boost converter to connect them to a battery or the USB output of a computer.
What You Need to Solder
In order to solder the conductors to the LED strip you need:
- soldering iron;
- tin-lead solder (POS) with a melting point of 183 – 265 degrees;
- heat-shrinkable tubing 12 mm in diameter;
- rosin or other neutral flux.
Wires should be soft. Stiff stranded wires can pull away from the solder pad and damage the pad. This will cause you to have to cut off the damaged area and start soldering all over again. Therefore, the cross section should not be more than 0.35 – 0.5mm2. If a thick conductor is needed, it is connected to a thin one, 10 – 15 cm long, by twisting or soldering.
The soldering iron must have a power of 15 – 25W. A powerful soldering iron can overheat the soldering point and the contact pad will stick from the base.
Heat shrink tubing is needed to hold the conductors in place. After it cools, it presses the wires to the base, becomes rigid, and reinforces the connection site.
The rosin can be in the form of a piece or an alcohol solution. The rosin solution is applied with a brush.
Before you solder the wires to the LED strip, you need to:
- cut a piece of LED strip of the required length;
- if the conductors are too large cross-section or are already laid, then you need additional pieces of smaller cross-section;
- cut off pieces of shrink tubing 1.5 to 2 cm long;
- if the LED strip is covered with a layer of silicone, it must be removed over the contact pads. This can be done with a sharp knife.
Soldering the wires to the strip with LEDs is done in several steps:
- clean the contact pads;
- tin them;
- cut the wires to the required length;
- strip the ends to a length of 5 mm and tin them;
- solder each conductor in series to the current-carrying strips;
- put on a piece of heat shrink tubing so as to cover the soldering point, but leave open the LED closest to it;
- heat the tube with a hair dryer.
Soldering a Silicone-Covered Strip
If the strip with the LEDs is covered with a layer of silicone, it must be removed with a sharp knife.
Care must be taken not to damage the conductive strips.
Soldering Wires at an Angle
If you want to connect the conductors to the LED strip on the side, at right angles, you need to bend the tinned ends. One of the wires can not be bent, and solder the side.
Caution! Do not bend the soldered wires – they can become stiff because of the rosin and solder impregnation and damage the strip when bent.
Connecting the two segments of the strip to each other at an angle is done similarly, but the conductors must be taken at different lengths – 1 and 3 cm.
Ways to Connect the Two Segments of the LED Strip
There are three ways to connect the two sections of the strip with LEDs.
Connecting tapes without wires with a soldering iron
In this case it is necessary:
- if necessary, strip the contact pads of those ends that need to be soldered together;
- tin the stripped pads;
- fix the tinned ends so that the strip looks like a whole;
- use the soldering iron to apply a sufficient amount of solder and connect the live strips to one another;
- cut a piece of heat shrink tubing long enough to cover the connection area but leave the LEDs exposed;
- place a piece of heat-shrinkable tubing over the solder joint and heat it with a hair dryer.
Joining with wires
Connecting the two sections is done in the same way as connecting to the strip, only the wires are cut to a length of 2 – 3 cm.
Soldering at the wrong cut
If the strip has been cut incorrectly, it can be re-soldered. This is done in the same way as when soldering two separate pieces of tape together.
Repair of LED Strip
In the strip LEDs are collected in groups of three. If one of the LEDs failed, then this section must also be replaced. To do this, the damaged piece is cut out, and in its place is inserted another, from the same strip.
If these sections are difficult to solder, then connection connectors are used.
Connection Methods: Solder and Connector
There are two types of connection of LED strips with each other and with the cable:
- by soldering;
Connecting by Soldering
When you connect the wires by soldering, they are soldered tin-lead solder. In this case, conductors of a cross-section of up to 0.5 mm2 are used.
Connection With Connectors
In addition to soldering, connections are made using connectors. It is a modern connection method.
Connecting connectors are available in different types, for all types of installation:
- with wires. Such devices attach wires to the LED strip;
- junction connectors. With their help connect two segments of the LED strip to each other;
- angular and “T” shaped. Designed for connection angle or in the form of the letter “T”, respectively.
All types of connectors are available for monochrome strips, with two contacts, and for RGB strips, with four.
Each method has advantages and disadvantages.
Pros and Cons of Soldering
Provides a reliable contact that does not oxidize or heat up.
However, the soldered connection has less mechanical strength. This problem is partly solved by using heat shrink tubing.
Soldering is a more time-consuming process than connecting with connectors, and with many operations, it will take a long time.
In addition, soldering is convenient on the table, but it may not be possible if you need to make a connection or repair tape under a cabinet or in a ceiling plinth.
Pros and Cons of the Connector Connection
Connector connection has advantages – fast, convenient, such connections have mechanical strength.
There is only one disadvantage – the place of connection can oxidize, especially in damp rooms, or overheat. In this case, the contact will disappear and the LEDs will go out. Therefore, the soldered contact is more reliable than the connector contact.
During the soldering process it is possible that mistakes can occur which influence the result:
- using acid instead of rosin – can lead to destruction of conductors, current-carrying strips or short circuits;
- soldering iron with more than 25W power – overheating of the contact pads and sticking from the base with the following breakage is possible;
- wires with a cross-section greater than 0.5 mm2 or rigid (or single-core) wires – may tear from the solder or break the current-carrying strips.