In our new series of LED installation tips, we’ll touch on both well known and less well known installation tips, helping you make sure that your installation will be the best that it can be. Today’s post, the fourth in this series, discusses how to embrace the flexibility of LED light strips
in your installation process - and how to test various installation options to get the best result.
Our LED experts at HitLights deal with LED light strip installations on a daily basis, so they’ve got a pretty good feel for what kinds of installations will work best in various situations. If you’re not an expert (and that’s okay!), then they can point you in the right direction, but without being in the same physical location as you and your installation the quality of the suggestions we can provide can be a little limited. This is where testing comes in. Testing can let you see how various installations will look before making them permanent (when it might be too late).
What do we mean by testing?
Primarily, we’re talking about location and orientation of the LED light strip
itself. A well placed strip provides the right amount and quality of light in the right place. A poorly placed strip can be too bright, or too dim, can cast unwanted shadows, or cause spotting. By testing we mean setting up the strip in various locations and orientations, turning it on, and then observing it under different conditions.
As an example, let’s take a common residential application - under cabinet lighting. With these installations, you have two primary choices to make. First, how far forward or how far back on the cabinet will you install the strip? And second, will you angle your strip directly down at your counters, will you angle your strip directly at the wall, or will you angle it somewhere in between?
There is no right answer
With a strip placed too far forward, you’ll illuminate your counter, but not your wall or backsplash. Too far back and you have the opposite effect. A strip angled directly at the counter is usually fine, but if you have a reflective surface this can cause spotting, and if your cabinets are very deep or particularly low, this can mean that little light gets to the back wall. Pointing a strip directly at the wall is sure to illuminate it, but of course means that you get very little light on your counter, which is probably where you want most of it.
The greatest testing tool of all
Luckily, the ultimate in testing tools is easily found in most homes or businesses. We’re talking about a friend (though in a pinch, a colleague, family member, or random stranger will do just fine). With the help of a friend and a pair of hands, you can see what an installation would look like when the strip is placed in various locations. Unroll it, plug it in, and turn it on - then have your friend (ahem, testing tool) hold it and angle it until you find what looks the best. Note down the location and orientation, and then give your friend a beer.
While testing your strips, you might be surprised to see how much difference a few inches or a handful of degrees might make - and it can be the difference between lighting that is barely functional and lighting that truly complements your space. Even better, just a few minutes spent learning how spaces react to our LED light strips
can help you make better lighting decisions in future installations - this is the reason our certified LED experts all work on several installation projects before they ever touch a phone or email!