How to Connect COB LED Strip

COB (chip on board) LED strips are a popular lighting option for DIY and commercial projects. They provide bright, energy-efficient illumination in a flexible form factor. However, installing and connecting COB LED strips requires some electrical know-how. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the complete process of how to connect COB LED strip lighting.

What is a COB LED Strip?

COB LED strips consist of small LED modules mounted on a flexible circuit board. Each module contains a chip on board LED, which integrates the individual LED components into a single unit. This allows for brighter, more concentrated light output in a compact footprint.

Here are some key advantages of COB LED strips:

  • High brightness – COB LEDs pack more light output per module than standard LED strips. They produce up to 90 lumens per watt.
  • Full spectrum lighting – Many COB LED strips provide full spectrum light that mimics natural sunlight. This makes them ideal for indoor growing applications.
  • Flexible and cuttable – COB LED strips can bend and contour to fit any space. You can cut them to your desired length without losing functionality.
  • Durable – The solid epoxy coating protects the LED chips from damage and dust. COB LED strips last up to 50,000 hours.

COB LED technology delivers superb illumination while remaining affordable and energy efficient. When installed properly, these versatile lights can transform any space.

Understanding COB LED Strip Connections

Connecting and powering a COB LED strip involves working with the following components:

LED Strip

  • The flexible circuit board with LED modules. Comes in rolls of 5 meters or longer.

Power Supply

  • Provides consistent DC voltage to the LED strip. Required to operate the lights.

Wires and Cables

  • Transmit power from the supply to the LED strip. Use 18 or 20 AWG wire for runs up to 5 meters.

Connectors

  • Attach wires to the ends of the LED strip. Screw or solder connectors provide a secure linkage.

Controllers

  • Allow for dimming and programming custom light shows. Optional for basic on/off operation.

Heat Sinks

  • Aluminum profiles that mount to the back of the LEDs to dissipate heat. Important for cooler operation.

Understanding the function of each component will make your COB LED strip installation smooth and successful. Pay special attention to wire gauges, power supply wattage, and heat sink sizing.

How to Connect Power to a COB LED Strip

Connecting power to a COB LED strip involves three main steps:

1. Determine Power Supply Requirements

  • COB LED strips require a 12V or 24V DC power supply.
  • Choose a power wattage that matches your LED strip length:
LED Strip LengthPower Supply Wattage
1 – 2 meters60W
2 – 4 meters100W
4 – 6 meters150W
  • Overloading will cause failure. Underloading reduces brightness.

2. Connect Power Supply to LED Strip

  • Start by cutting the COB LED strip to your desired length.
  • Solder or screw connector wires to the input pads on the LED strip.
  • Observe polarity – connect positive (+) to positive and negative (-) to negative.
  • Attach the opposite ends of the wires to the power supply.

3. Insulate and Mount Components

  • Use wire nuts or connectors to insulate exposed wire connections.
  • Mount the power supply in a ventilated, protected location.
  • Adhere the LED strip using mounting clips or brackets.
  • Attach heat sinks to the back of the strip if included.

Following proper polarity and providing adequate power is crucial for LED strip operation. Check all connections before turning the power supply on.

Wiring Multiple COB LED Strips Together

More complex projects may require wiring multiple COB LED strips together. Here are some tips for successful series connections:

  • Use 18 AWG or thicker wire for wire runs up to 5 meters. Longer runs may require 16 AWG.
  • Plan the layout so strips connect end-to-end. Limit wire runs between strips.
  • Connect the power supply positive (+) and negative (-) outputs to the first strip.
  • Join the end of the first strip to the beginning of the second strip. Observe polarity.
  • Connect multiple strips in this daisy chain fashion.
  • Do not exceed the amperage rating of the power supply across all LEDs.
  • Use waterproof connectors and outdoor-rated wire for exterior installations.

Proper planning of the strip layout and wiring makes installation much simpler. Having a wiring diagram mapped out beforehand streamlines the process. Limit long wire runs to avoid voltage drop issues.

Extending COB LED Strip Length

The standard length of COB LED strips is 5 meters. However, it is possible to join strips together for longer runs:

  • Use wire jumpers – Solder additional wire between the end of one strip and start of the next. Match the gauge to the strip wiring.
  • Solder strips together – Carefully solder contacts between strips. Avoid overheating the circuit board.
  • Employ screw terminal blocks – Join strips by wiring them into a terminal block. Provides easy connections.
  • Attach extension cords – Special manufacturer cords allow up to 10 meter extensions. Locking connectors provide reliable linkage.
  • Use repeaters – Amplifier modules boost voltage over long distances. Place one every 5 meters.
  • Increase power supply wattage -Extending over 5 meters may require a higher wattage power supply.

Take care when joining COB LED strips to maintain polarity and robust connections. Avoid kinks or damage to the circuit board.

Adding Dimmers and Controllers

To control brightness levels and effects, COB LED strips can connect to:

  • Wired dimmer switches – Wall-mounted knob lets you adjust brightness up/down. Use leading or trailing edge types.
  • Wireless remote controls – Handheld remotes change colors and dimming wirelessly. Good for hard to reach places.
  • Smart phone apps – Bluetooth or WiFi enabled controllers for wireless LED programming. Allow dynamic effects.
  • Voice assistants – Integration with Alexa, Google Home, etc. Allows voice activated lighting control.
  • Timers – Schedule LEDs to turn on/off automatically at set times. Helpful for wake-up lights.
  • DMX controllers – Advanced theater-grade controllers for professional light programming. Require DMX decoder.

Look for dimmers and controllers designed specifically for LED strip lights. PWM (pulse width modulation) based models typically work best.

Installation Tips and Tricks

Here are some helpful installation tips for clean and hassle-free COB LED strip lighting:

  • Plan layout to minimize exposed wires and long wire runs.
  • Use wire channels or conduits to hide and protect wires.
  • Adhere LED strip using strong double-sided tape or mounting clips.
  • Place strips at least 1 inch from surfaces for proper heat dissipation.
  • Avoid bending strips less than 2 inch radius to prevent damage.
  • Use end caps to create clean terminations down light strips.
  • Mount the power supply vertically to maximize air convection cooling.
  • Use heat shrink tubing to insulate and protect wire connections.
  • Label wires and take photos for easier troubleshooting later.

Taking extra care during the installation will enhance the lifetime and performance of your COB LED strips. Following best practices can produce professional looking results.

Troubleshooting COB LED Strip Problems

Here are some common problems and solutions for troubleshooting COB LED strip installations:

ProblemPossible CauseSolution
LEDs won’t turn onFaulty power supplyCheck/replace power supply
Loose wire connectionRe-seat all wire connections
Short circuitCheck for pinched/exposed wires
Wrong voltage usedEnsure 12/24V DC power supply
LED strip flickersLow power supply wattageReplace with higher wattage supply
Long wire runUse thicker wire gauge for longer distances
Poor wire connectionRedo connection joints
Intermittent LED operationLoose wireSecure or resolder joint
Excessive wire bendRe-route wire to reduce bend
LEDs at end of strip are dimVoltage dropShorten strip or use thicker supply wire
Use a LED repeater module
Colors appear fadedOverheatingImprove heat sinking and air flow
AC power supply usedReplace with DC type supply

Inspect all connections and components first. Check for loose wires, shorts, or polarity issues. If problems persist, test with a multimeter to isolate faults.

Safety Tips for COB LED Strips

Work safely when installing COB LED strips by following these precautions:

  • Turn off electricity before starting work. Use a contact voltage tester.
  • Review electrical safety: avoid overloads, don’t exceed wattages.
  • Use insulated tools, gloves, eyewear when wiring. Tie back hair.
  • Mount strips securely using non-conductive clips or tape.
  • Use weatherproof, outdoor rated supplies outdoors. Consider GFCI protection.
  • Allow adequate airflow around strips and power supplies.
  • Check wires for damage or exposed conductors before energizing.
  • Connect components properly to avoid short circuits.
  • Arrange wires neatly to avoid pinching, strains and trip hazards.
  • Keep children/pets away from unprotected strip installations.
  • Disconnect power fully before attempting any troubleshooting.

Exercising common sense and following basic electrical guidelines will keep you safe. COB LED strips present minimal risks when installed correctly.

Conclusion

Installing COB LED strip lighting allows limitless possibilities for DIY and commercial projects. When connected and powered properly, they provide bright, efficient, long-lasting illumination. Carefully planning the layout, selecting quality components, and adhering to electrical safety makes installation straightforward. If issues occur, most can be pinpointed and resolved with some basic troubleshooting. Employing the techniques outlined in this guide will enable you to harness the full potential of COB LED strips. Brighten any space with clean, energy-saving light by learning the ins and outs of connecting and wiring COB LED strips.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I cut COB LED strips?

Use sharp wire cutters to cut the strip along the cut marks. Cut on the copper pads – avoid cutting into the circuit board. Re-tin any exposed copper afterwards.

What gauge wire should I use for COB LED strips?

18 AWG works for runs under 5 meters. For longer runs up to 10 meters, 16 AWG is recommended. Thicker gauges handle extended distances better.

Can I touch COB LED strips?

Yes, COB LED strips only get mildly warm to the touch during operation. Avoid constant contact with skin though for optimal strip lifespan.

How waterproof are COB LED strips?

COB LED strips have an IP20 rating, meaning very minimal water protection. Use silicone sleeves or other enclosures for wet locations.

What is the difference between 12V and 24V COB LED strips?

12V strips need more current so require thicker wire over distance. 24V versions can drive longer runs with smaller wire gauges.

How far apart should I place COB LED strips?

For uniform illumination, space the strips 6 to 12 inches apart. Closer spacing creates brighter hot spots.

Can COB LED strips be controlled by Alexa or Google Home?

Yes, by pairing strips with compatible smart WiFi controllers. This allows voice control activation via virtual assistants.

How long will COB LED strips last?

COB LEDs typically have a 50,000 hour lifespan. With proper installation and cooling, strips can last 5-10 years before degrading.

What is the maximum run for a COB LED strip?

Individual strips can run a maximum of 10 meters continuously. Use multiple power injection points for longer overall runs.

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