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How To: Soldering LED Strip Lights

Regardless of bends, twists, or turns, LED light strips can be modified to fit any application. Soldering LED strip lights allows for extended length, multi-strip connection, and secure bonding. This tutorial features instructions for soldering standard RGB, color-chasing RGB, and weatherproof RGB LED light strips but can be used as a model for any type of strip.

 

Soldering LED Strip Lights: Non-Weatherproof Standard RGB

The following steps demonstrate how to split and solder a run of LEDs, but the same process can be used for joining two separate LED strips.

1. After you have determined where you want your LED strip light to be cut, use scissors or side cutters to cut cleanly across the strip. Make sure to cut only on printed points that have a scissors graphic.

cutting a light strip - Soldering LED strip lights
Example of a cut line on LED strip lights

2. You will now have two LED strip lights. Carefully peel back the end portion of the paper strip covering the strip’s adhesive backing, and then remove the 3M VHB adhesive from the solder pads on the bottom side of one of the strips. The strip with its adhesive peeled back will be the top strip when soldered.

RGB LED strip lights removing adhesive - soldering LED strip lights

3. Properly heat your soldering iron. For best results, clean and tin the tip of the iron immediately before soldering. To tin the iron, touch solder to both sides of the iron’s tip.

4. Next you will need to tin the solder pads on the strip segment that will be placed beneath the other. When soldering, always apply heat to the target area on the strip and not directly to the solder. Once sufficient heat has been applied to the area, start introducing solder.

RGB LED strip lights step 1 - soldering LED strip lights

5. Align the non-tinned strip segment (strip with adhesive removed) directly over the newly tinned pads, and apply heat. Hold the soldering iron in place until the solder remelts and begins to flow. To strengthen the bond and improve visual appeal, a small portion of solder can be added to the top pad.

RGB LED strip lights step 2 - soldering LED strip lightsRGB LED strip lights step 3 - soldering LED strip lights
RGB LED strip lights step 4 - soldering LED strip lightsRGB LED strip lights step 5 - soldering LED strip lights

The LED strip lights are now connected, and power should flow through the entire length of the strip.

RGB LED strip lights step 6 - soldering LED strip lights

 

Splitting and Soldering LED Strip Lights Using Connection Wire: Non-Weatherproof Color-Chasing RGB

The following steps demonstrate how to split and solder a run of non-weatherproof color-chasing RGB LEDs with connecting wire, but the same process can be used for single-color and standard RGB LED strip lights with two-conductor or four-conductor connecting wire.

1. Use wire strippers to expose the contacts on both ends of your connecting wires. Peel away the blue wire so that only the positive (red), negative (black), and control (green) wires are left.

*No wires should be peeled away if you’re joining single-color or standard RGB light strips.

color chasing LED strip lights step 1 - soldering LED strip lights

2. Cut the LED light strip between its contacts. Make sure to center your cut and leave enough pad on both sides to solder.

*For single-color and standard RGB strip lights, use scissors or side cutters to cut cleanly across the strip. Make sure to cut only on printed points that have a scissors graphic.

color chasing LED strip lights step 2 - soldering LED strip lights

3. Properly heat your soldering iron. For best results, clean and tin the tip of the iron immediately before soldering. To tin the iron, touch solder to both sides of the iron’s tip.

4. Next you will need to tin the solder pads on both ends of the split strip light. When soldering, always apply heat to the target area on the strip and not directly to the solder. Once sufficient heat has been applied to the area, start introducing solder.

color chasing LED strip lights step 3 - soldering LED strip lights

5. Make sure the connecting wires are aligned with the proper contacts before soldering them onto the strip light. Strips will be labeled with a wiring diagram for connection to other strips or wire. Also make sure to match the direction of any arrows printed on the strips.

6. Solder the connecting wire onto the solder points that are on both ends of the LED strip lights.

color chasing LED strip lights step 4 - soldering LED strip lights

The LED strip lights are now connected, and power should flow through the entire length of the strip.

color chasing LED strip lights step 5 - soldering LED strip lights

 

Soldering and Sealing LED Strip Lights: Weatherproof RGB

The following steps demonstrate how to split, solder, and reseal a weatherproof RGB light strip, but the same process can be used for any style of weatherproof LED strip lights.

1. After you have determined where you want your LED strip light to be cut, use scissors or side cutters to cut cleanly across the strip. Make sure to cut only on printed points that have a scissors graphic.

weatherproof RGB LED strip lights step 1 - soldering LED strip lights

2. Using a sharp blade, carefully remove a small portion of the epoxy sealant on the top side of both strips. To prevent damage, avoid cutting the conductive traces within the strip.

weatherproof RGB LED strip lights step 2 - soldering LED strip lights

3. Follow steps two through five located at the top of this post for soldering a standard RGB strip light.

4. To reseal the strip light, apply silicone sealant directly to the strip. Be sure to cover all of the exposed conductive traces to ensure water resistance. Allow a minimum of two to three hours for the sealant to cure.

weatherproof RGB LED strip lights step 6 - soldering LED strip lights

The LED strip lights are now connected, and power should flow through the entire length of the weatherproof strip.

weatherproof RGB LED strip lights step 8 - soldering LED strip lights

 

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