cutting strip light

Can You Cut LED Light Strips? Here’s What You Need To Know

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Strip lights are a great way to add a splash of color, light up your living space, or just make your room look more inviting. 

But what if you don’t want an entire strip? Can you cut it? Yes! 

Today we’ll be talking about how to cut strip lights and make them work for you.

Why would I want to cut my LED strip?

Strip lights are usually sold in pre-determined lengths, but sometimes our needs require something more specific than what is available in stores. 

That’s where cutting comes in – it allows us to customize our lighting fixtures exactly the way we want them. It also helps us save money by avoiding buying longer strips that have extra material that won’t be used.

Can you cut your LED light strips anywhere? NO!

Before you start cutting, it’s important to understand the correct points for cutting your strip. 

Some LED strip light manufacturers have manufactured their strip lights with designated cut points—usually designated by a small notch or gap on the back. 

RGB Led Light Strip Cutting Zone
RGB Led Light Strip Cutting Zone – Source: Lepro

You’ll want to make your cuts in between these locations in order to ensure a secure connection and proper lighting design. 

If you don’t find any of these pre-located markers, then you can typically make a safe cut anywhere every few inches where there is a solder joint connecting two of the individual LEDs.

Where can I cut the LED Strip Light?

Most LED strips come with ‘cut marks’ which show where it is safe to cut the strip without damaging internal components. 

White Led Light Strip Cutting Zone
White Led Light Strip Cutting Zone

However, if there are no visible markings on the strip, then you should generally avoid cutting between two LEDs as this can cause issues with power distribution and may damage the strip entirely. 

Usually, these cuts will be made at regular intervals in order to evenly distribute power from one LED to the next.

Cut the LED Lights with a Sharp Blade or Cutter

Before you attempt to cut your LED light strips, make sure you have a sharp blade or cutter handy. 

Many plastic thinning shears and box cutters will do the trick, but it’s important to use a blade that’s both thin enough and sharp enough to make a clean cut without breaking the copper wires connected to the LEDs. 

Make sure the handle of your tool is well-insulated when making cuts so as to not cause a spark! Make sure you also cut off the power during the cutting process. Personally, sharp scissors have worked for me so far.

How will I connect my newly-cut LED Light Strips together?

Depending on what type of LED strips you have, there are several ways of connecting two pieces of a light strip together after they have been cut apart. 

For flexible LED strips, there is usually a small connector that can be used after each section has been cut apart; simply slide one end into the other and press down firmly until it clicks into place. 

If your LED strips are rigid (like most commercial light fixtures), then you might need additional hardware or special connectors to link the two sections back together again safely and securely.

To reconnect your LEDs after making the cut, use a soldering iron to connect either wire from the LED strip to any wires at the end of your cut section. 

How to Solder LED Strip Lights

Strip the insulation off each wire and use some flux core solder to hold them firmly in place. Once all connections are secure, heat shrink tubing can be used over any exposed connections for added insulation and protection against shorting when re-installing the strips.

Since it is difficult for those with big hands like me to deal with such small equipment (perhaps I don’t want to admit it, but because of incompetence), they even came up with gadgets for it. It keeps slipping out of my hand!

Use Connectors to Maximize Versatility when Working with LEDs Strips.

If you need to make several cuts in your LED strips, consider using connectors instead of soldering each cut. 

These allow you to quickly swap out sections of the strip while still maintaining a solid electrical connection. 

Led Strip Lights Connectors
Led Strip Lights Connectors – Source: Lepro

Connectors are available with different plugs and sockets that fit most LED strips, so be sure to check if your model can use them as an easier alternative to soldering.

Test and Securely Adhere to Surfaces After Cutting LED Strips.

After you make the cut, be sure to test the LED strip by reconnecting it to an appropriate power source. 

You should also secure the strip after cutting it so that it doesn’t move or come undone. Most LED strips have a built-in adhesive that allows you to stick them onto any desired surface. 

If this isn’t strong enough for your needs, you can use additional adhesives for a tighter hold. Once secured, plug in and turn on the lights to make sure everything is properly connected and working well.

Basic LED Strip Light Cutting Guide
Basic LED Strip Light Cutting Guide – Source: Ellumiglow

Pro tip: Some guides recommend sticking the adhesive side first and then cutting the led light strip as needed. I personally like to cut first and then stick. 
There is no problem in cutting it first, as long as you measure the size of the led light strip you will need it well. The guide you have seen above also suggests sticking first and then cutting.

Can you cut Smart LED Strip Lights?

It is generally not recommended to cut a smart light strip, as doing so can damage the strip and render it inoperable. Most smart light strips are designed to be used in a single, continuous length and are not meant to be cut.

If you need to customize the length of your smart light strip, you may be able to purchase an extension kit or find a smart light strip that is available in the desired length. 

Alternatively, you can try using a smart light strip with multiple sections that can be connected together, allowing you to customize the overall length of the strip.

RGB Led Strip Extension Example
RGB Led Strip Extension Example – Source: Lepro

The image is not exactly the same as cutting a smart light strip, but it envisions how to use extensions for informational purposes.

If you do decide to cut a smart light strip, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and use the proper tools to minimize the risk of damaging the strip. It is also a good idea to test the strip after cutting to ensure that it is still functioning properly.

TL;DR / Conclusion

Customizing lights using LEDs is becoming increasingly popular among DIY’ers and tech enthusiasts alike because it allows them to create unique fixtures tailored specifically for their needs while still being able to benefit from all of the advantages that come with using LEDs over traditional incandescent bulbs (such as energy efficiency). 

So whether you’re looking for a simple solution or something more complex and intricate, knowing how and where to safely cut LED strip lights can open up a whole world of possibilities when it comes to customizing your home’s lighting fixtures!

Batu of CondoChance Team

BSc. Electrical Engineer & MBA
10+ years of industrial experience as an Electrical Engineer

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