Flexible LED strips are the perfect solution for task and accent lighting in almost any residential or commercial application. Inspired LED’s wide variety of brightness and color options guarantees for a unique lighting experience in any space. For most LED strip lighting applications, like under cabinet kitchen lighting, the runs of light are generally shorter lengths that are either wired in series (daisy-chained), or in parallel from a single power source.
But when your project shifts to accent lighting, specifically areas like toe-kicks or coves, longer lengths of flexible LED strips are required, and this can lead to a dissipation of power known as voltage drop. Without breaking out the electrician’s handbook, voltage drop can be explained by thinking about your LED system as a garden hose. Voltage, in this example, is represented by water pressure- the longer the hose, the less pressure the water will have at the end. The same is true of the electrons flowing though your LED lights, at the beginning, nearest to the power source, your lights will be very bright, but by the end of a very long run, they will have become much dimmer by comparison.
So what does this mean for your LED system? Well, the good news is that there are several tips and techniques which can be used to help avoid the dreaded voltage drop. Let’s explore some ways to identify when a system is at risk of dimming out, and how the simple addition of a mid-connector can help!
When to use a Mid-Connector
A mid-connector can take a variety of shapes, but it can be identified as a component which allows power to be supplied from the middle of an LED strip, rather than the end. This essentially doubles the length of light which can be run before voltage drop will occur. The length of the flexible strip which will requires a mid-connector will depend on the brightness level of the strip itself. Please make sure you are referring to our power chart for accurate lengths:
Below the chart you can see we have specified the maximum lengths for individual strips based on their brightness levels. For example, Normal Bright Flexible Strips, which are perfect for accenting coves or above cabinets can be run in a single strip of 200″ when powered from one end, or up to a 400″ strip when powered from the center (that is over 30 feet)! As you increase brightness levels through Super, Ultra, and Mega Bright, the maximum length will decrease as stated above.
There are two different type of mid-connectors you can use when powering a flexible led strip from the center. Pictured to the right is our standard female “pigtail” mid-connector. This is a similar connector to the female end-connector that is typically soldered onto our flexible LED strips. The female connector will allow you to plug your interconnect cable or power supply directly into the middle of your strip. This connector will come directly soldered to the center of the strip if requested, or required by a design team member. If you purchase and LED strip from our website, and notice that it will need a mid-connector, be sure to mention this in your order comments before checking out!
If you are a contractor, electrician, or a DIYer who is more familiar with our easy-to-use Tiger Paw connectors, you can also utilize our blue screw terminal mid-connector. This unique Tiger Paw attaches to the flexible strip just like a standard Tiger Paw, but because of its shape it can be connected to two strips, one on either side. It also provides a screw terminal to allow direct wire connections from a power supply, or a length of bulk cable. This item is perfect for contractor’s working in the field to keep on hand in case of emergencies!
To learn more about LED lighting and accessories, be sure to follow the Inspired LED’s blog, and look for other installments of Inspired LED 101. If you have specific questions about our products and services, you can visit our website, contact us directly through email at email@example.com, or give us a call at 480-941-4286.