4 Special Considerations for Outdoor LED Lighting
LED strip lighting is adaptable for countless applications. These lights can brighten up any dingy corner or illuminate the busiest rooms in your house or office building. They can even be installed outside. Outdoor LED lighting can provide just the light you need almost anywhere you need it. Outdoor installation does have a few specific requirements, however, to make sure your lights are safe and long-lasting.
Considerations for Outdoor LED Lighting Installations
Temperatures and moisture vary a lot more outdoors than they do in houses and workplaces. The amount of light needed depends on how you will use the lights outside and how expansive the area is. LED lights can stand up to a broad range of conditions and work for a variety of applications when you plan ahead and install them properly.
As you make your patio, porch, parking lot, or yard plans for these awesome little strip lights, keep the following tips and specifications in mind.
1. Plan Your Project Before You Begin
The first step of any great installation is a comprehensive plan. Consider the big picture, and then work out how you will accomplish your outdoor lighting goals, step-by-step.
Define Your Lighting Space and Intensity of Light
Determine how much light you will need in your outdoor location. Do you want high-density lights that provide 300 or more lumens per foot or standard-density diodes with lower lighting? Outdoor LED lighting is dimmable just like indoor strip lighting, so if you're not sure, you can opt for the brighter strips and use a dimmer for when you prefer softer light.
If you are lighting up a large area, you will of course need more lights than you would for a small romantic nook, for example. Take in the contours of the space and decide where your lights could be mounted. Will you need to add structure to support your light strips, or can you work with what is already present?
You'll need to decide several things at this stage, including the color and intensity of your lighting as well as exactly where you will install your light strips.
Calculate Power Needs
Measure each span where you want to install your lights. Check the specifications on your chosen LED light strips and find the needed watts per foot to power them. Multiply your watts per foot by the cumulative length of all spans where outdoor LED lighting will be installed to determine your total wattage needs.
For example, if you want to run one 16-foot section of light strips and you have chosen lights that require 2.6 watts per foot, you will need a total of at least 41.6 watts of power. It's always good to err on the side of having a little extra leeway in your power source.
Select Your Power Source
Your system will operate on either 12V or 24V DC power. Select a power source that matches the voltage of the lights you've chosen. They must be the same voltage in order to operate properly and safely.
Also confirm that your power supply is capable of converting at least the amount of wattage you'll need, and preferably a little more. If you want to ensure optimal performance of every diode on your outdoor LED lighting, give yourself a little extra wattage capacity.
A 20%margin will generally prevent any dimming or flickering of your lights. If you require 41.6 watts, for example, you would have the choice of using a 96-watt or 60-watt power supply. The lower-wattage power source is adequate and will perform well in most circumstances, but the 96-watt option is preferable because it provides you with a little breathing room.
For 32 feet of outdoor LED lighting at 2.6 watts per foot, you would need a total of 83.2 watts to adequately power your lights. In this example, you would select a power supply that is capable of providing at least 120 watts of DC power. Power supplies are available in 24, 40, 60, 96, and upto 350-watt capacities.
If you provide too little power to your lights, you will experience dimming, flickering, and sometimes overheating. The wrong voltage can cause similar issues in addition to being a fire hazard.
Ensure Access to Power and Organize All Materials
If you opt to use a dimmer with your outdoor LED lighting, match the voltage and wattage of your dimmer to your power source. Be sure you can access the outlet(s) you'll need to plug in your power source(s). You may need to reconfigure your design to work with existing outlets or have an electrician add an outlet or two in an accessible location.
To make installation easy, ensure that you have all of your materials on hand before you begin. This includes the lights strips, connectors to join them, your power source, and any optional items such as a dimmer. If your outdoor area is relatively unsheltered and vulnerable to wind and direct rain, you may decide to use extra strong adhesive tape and/or support clips to ensure that your lights are mounted securely.
2. Use Only Lighting Made for Outdoor Applications
Select LED strip lights that are designed specifically for use outside. The interior versions of LED light strips are not made to keep dust and moisture out of the strip. They will fail if installed outdoors, even if they are out of the direct path of water such as rain or runoff.
Outdoor LED lighting is sealed against dust and water. Our lights have a rating of IP-67. The letters IP stand for ingress protection. The numbers are on a scale of zero to six for dust and zero to eight for moisture.
The low end (zero) indicates no protection and the high end indicates that the strip is entirely impervious. A rating of IP-67 therefore means that no dust can find its way into your light strip. The seven means that the strip is waterproof under pretty extreme conditions, including direct, strong jets of water and even temporary and shallow immersion in the lab.
Never intentionally immerse anything electrical, including outdoor LED lighting. These rating tests for immersion are performed only to ensure that the lights are safe on a marine craft, not to encourage you to place your lights where they might sit in water.
An IP-67 rating shows that the lights will hold up well even when the weather is wet. If you cut outdoor LED strips, be sure to join them with waterproof connectors or seal them with silicone to maintain the integrity of the seal. Always select UL-listed electrical appliances when available, as this ensures high-quality components and manufacturing.
3. Choose an Appropriate Mounting Area
Lights should be mounted on a smooth, sturdy surface. Adhesives will fail on rough or unstable materials. Place lights where they won't be in the way of doors, chairs, or foot traffic. If the outdoor LED lighting is vulnerable to being knocked around by people or furniture, it may not remain properly secured where it is mounted.
If you don't have a perfectly smooth material ideal for adhesives, you can use a wooden surface. You will still use the adhesive during installation, but then add support clips as needed to secure the strips in place.
These clips resemble cable staples, but they are installed with a small screw rather than being driven into place with a hammer. The clips are simple to use, and they will keep your LED lights securely in place if you have to mount them on wood or another rough material.
4. Select High-Quality Outdoor LED Lighting and Accessories
Accomplish your outdoor lighting dream with strip lights that are sturdy and well-made so they stand up over time. How can you determine which LED lighting products are of excellent quality? Look for UL-listed products, and ideally those that come with a warranty.
Lower-quality lights are made with weak, flimsy backing and thin copper components. HitLights uses top-quality materials for every aspect of our strip lights so they perform beautifully for years. All of our premium outdoor lighting strips are UL-listed and come with a six-year warranty. Our power sources are also UL-listed and offer a three-year warranty.
Exceptional Outdoor LED Lighting and Advice
LED striplights offer flexible, powerful outdoor lighting solutions for a range of applications. Strips come in lengths from 10 feet to 26.2 feet. They can be cut and joined and molded around corners and posts to bring the right amount of light just about anywhere.
With light strips made for outdoor use, you can bring this incredible variety of lighting options to your patio, dock, deck, or walkways. This cost-effective, safe, and environmentally friendly lighting option is great for commercial applications or a cozy backyard haven.Explore our site at HitLights for the highest-quality outdoor LED lighting. We can help you bring your lighting project to life with a broad range of striplights, power supplies, connectors, dimmers, along with helpful, practical advice. We can help you choose the right lights for your application and ensure that your installation process is trouble-free.