Rain, Rain: Water Resistant LED Applications

April showers may bring flowers, but rain is rarely something that electricians and contractors look forward to. Especially when working with LEDs.

Like any electrical system, LEDs and water don’t mix. And while low-voltage lighting may remove the danger of electrical shock, exposure to moisture can still cause shorts or rusting which can reduce the lifespan of your LEDs.

So does that mean that all damp or outdoor locations are off-limits? Not at all!

Fortunately Inspired LED has several ways to help water-proof and weather-proof your new lighting system for install just about anywhere.

The kitchen remains one of the most popular locations to install LEDs. Most under cabinet lighting, toe kick lighting, or above cabinet lighting will only receive the occasional splash or splatter. Most messes can easily be wiped away, even from bare LEDs, with a soft dry cloth or paper towel. So the decision to save money with a flexible LED strip, versus paying extra for a lensed fixture, ultimately comes down to customer preference.

Pro Tip: Strangely enough, if you notice a small section of LEDs that is suddenly producing a much yellower light than the others, this may be caused by something coating the surface of the diodes (we’ve seen everything from spaghetti sauce to paint)! Double check to be sure the area is clean, and always remember to cover your LED strips with painter’s tape before painting cabinets, or mudding backsplash.
See our Care & Maintenance Guide for more information. 

But there are certain areas of the kitchen which may receive more moisture than others. For homeowners looking to incorporate LED lighting under a vent hood or over the sink, we offer an optional conformal coating which acts as a seal over our flexible LED strips. A lensed product like our Radiant Edge panels or Angle Adjust Tubes provide an additional layer of protection against splashes and steam.

Bathrooms have become an increasingly popular location for accent lighting in home décor, especially under toe kicks, and behind floating mirrors. Once again, even a naked LED strip is tough enough to withstand the occasional steam of a hot shower, but if you’re looking to install low voltage lighting in a bathroom that doubles as a sauna, you may want to consider some water-proofing.

Oftentimes conformal coating will do the trick. If you have room to install a lensed fixture this is also an option. However due to the small space and limited features in most bathrooms, it may not always be feasible. For installations in showers or behind glass sinks, we recommend using our “weather-resistant” LED flex. This can be made to your exact specifications and sleeved in clear silicone to prevent contact with water. While Normal Bright LED flex is available as our standard website option, we can also sleeve any brightness or color for custom orders placed over the phone, or through our Design Services team.

Pro Tip: For an extra level of convenience, try incorporation a low-voltage motion sensor into LED systems around the mirror, or under cabinet toe-kicks. This will guarantee the lights are there when homeowners need them most — even in the middle of the night!

This time of year especially, as the weather begins to warm, homeowners begin to look for new ways to enjoy their outdoor spaces. Decorative lighting is a great way to not only accentuate the unique features of your yard, but to maximize the time spent enjoying this space.

Highlighting benches, planters, address plates, even mailboxes can make a home more recognizable, adding dimension and setting the mood for a landscape. For these types of applications, we recommend using our weather-resistant outdoor LEDs. A silicone tube prevents moisture from rainfall or sprinklers from coming into contact with LED components, while an additional seal on each end protects connection points.

Pro Tip: While this product is rated as “weather-resistant”, applying additional silicone during installation can help to reinforce and further weatherproof these connections for particularly damp locations.

If, however, you are looking to incorporate LEDs around an active fountain, pool, or waterfall, extra precautions will need to be taken. We recommend combining our sleeved outdoor LED flex and Radiant Edge panels to create a double-insulated fixture. This will help protect your lights from the elements, ensuring they’ll be around to enjoy for years to come.

Though most accent lights tend to be positioned out of the way, some jobs require LEDs to be installed in high traffic outdoor areas. Walkways, patios, decks, and gazebos not only have to withstand the weather, they also have to contend with being walked on, kicked, and otherwise roughed up.

So long as water-resistant LED strips are strategically placed and reinforced during installation, these are durable enough to be placed on hand rails, or overhead beams. But when it comes to placing outdoor lighting along paths, stairs, or along the base of the porch, chances are you’ll want to go with something even more durable.

Inspired LED is currently in the process of developing a NEW, long-lasting weatherproof LED strip as a part of our Infinity Outdoor product line. Where our weather-resistant flex is sleeved and sealed with a silicone tubing post-production, the new Infinity 2.0 flex will be completely coated with a thick layer of PVC during manufacturing. This completely insulates the LED components, ensuring they continue to function even after years of wear and tear.

Infinity 2.0 strips will be available in a variety of lengths, with simple two-prong connectors and accessories designed for in-field customization. Pro Tip: If you’re an electrician or contractor looking for a durable outdoor lighting solution, we are ready to help! Prototypes of Infinity 2.0 are now being sold to experienced individuals through our Design Services team. Contact us to learn more!

While at first glance, it may seem that installing LEDs in damp or outdoor locations presents a unique challenge, a little technique and some basic preparation can go a long way to get the job done.  For more outdoor lighting inspiration, be sure to check out our other outdoor blogs, or visit our project gallery.

Ready to take on your next outdoor lighting project? Take advantage of our free Design Services for guidance on creating the perfect weatherproof LED system for your application. Questions before you begin? Our award-winning Customer Service Team is ready to help! Contact us at 480-941-4286, or email orders@inspiredled.com.