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How to Replace an LED Light Strip

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Do you have a problem with your LED light strips that need fixing or replacing? Well, you don’t necessarily need an electrician to do that for you. This straightforward DIY guide on how to replace an LED light strip will guide you through exactly what you need to do. 

How To Replace an LED Light Strip

LED light strips have become part of our households over the past few years. If you do not have them in your car, you have them under your kitchen cabinets or somewhere else to give you a fancy touch of lighting. We even have them on our LED TVs.

It is, therefore, important that you master a few tricks on how to replace these lighting systems so that you do not have to call a technician every time they malfunction. Below is a step by step guide on how to replace your faulty LED light strip.

Car LED light strip due for replacement

Step One: Access The LED Strip

The time and technique you need for this step will depend on where your LED strip is. If you have the light under your kitchen cabinets, you have to clear the area of any furniture or equipment that may block your way.

If you installed your LEDs in your car, you would need to get the right tools and remove any parts that might hinder your access to the LED.

Step Two: Uninstall The Fixture

Depending on how you had the LED strips attached to the wall or the parts, you will need to remove them carefully.

For example, if you had the lights screwed through the wall, you will need to unscrew them. If you used tapes to hang them, you can always use a sharp razor blade and cut the tape to detach it. Be careful not to inflict further damage than it is already.

Step Three: Identify The Faulty Areas

LED light strips have sections that join together to make the long thread. Do a random check to find the faulty section first. If you are dealing with an RGB LED light strip, you need to plug in the system and run a cycle through the thread’s available colors.

For example, you can decide to begin with a red color. If it’s light across the thread without a missing section, skip to the next color until you find where the problem is. You will find that a particular color does not light in a given section.

Step Four: Mark The Identified Areas

Use a masking tape or a marker pen to mark the faulty sections to ensure that you do not miss them or forget where the faulty LED strips are located.

Step Five: Cut The Faulty Sections

We recommend that you switch your LED lights off before doing this. Leaving them on might not harm you since the voltage is only 12V to 24V. However, it might damage your LED. Use a sharp pair of scissors to cut the marked sections at the joining points.

The number of pieces you come with after the cutting will depend on the number of faulty sections you identified. The same applies to the number of parts you need to replace.

Step Six: Rejoin The Remaining Suitable Strips With The New Ones

Pick one end of the remaining LED strip and slide into one side of the RGB tape to tape the connector. Then take one side of the loose (new) strip and do the same with the other side of the connector. 

Repeat this step with all the loose parts of the LED strip until you get your desired length. 

Instead of an RGB tape to tape connector, you can solder the LEDs on every end to make the connection. 

Step Seven: Test Your Connection And Reinstall Them

After joining, plug the strip back to the power source and test if it works well. If lighting has no further issues, you can use the initial step you had used to install them earlier.

Do I Need To Replace My LED Strip Light Every Time It Malfunctions?

Not necessarily. There are instances when the fault on your LED light strip needs simple adjustments to fix. Removing all the strips when the problem is with only a few of them will not only be time-consuming, it’ll also be expensive over time. 

LED light strips

Below we discuss some instances that might cause your LED light strips to malfunction and how to fix without replacing the whole set. 

What Should I Do If My LED Strip Keeps Tripping My Circuit Breaker?

This can be due to two things:

  •  A faulty power supply 
  • The inrush current might be too high for your breaker

How to Fix

You can test the first cause by removing all the power supplies on your breaker and begin to reconnect them one after the other. When you add the faulty one, the breaker will trip, and you will have identified the problem.

The second problem comes when you have done the power supply test, yet everything looks OK. If you have several power supplies loaded on the breaker, it might mean that the inrush current is overloading your breaker. You should, therefore, increase or upgrade to a bigger size.

If the tripping problem persists, then consider splitting the power supplies across multiple breakers.

How Do I Fix My RGB or RGBW LED Light Strips When They Are Showing A Different Color?

This is the same problem as when the full-color of your RGB is not working. If the entire strip color is working correctly except one, it always affects the color as a whole along the strip.

For example, suppose you find that the whole thread of red color is not working. In that case, the problem might be due to three things: 

  • The soldering of the respective color negative wire onto the strip might have come off
  • The individual color cable might be faulty from the thread to the receiver
  • The separate color wire onto the receiver might be disconnected

How to Fix

To solve this problem, first, check the wires between the controller and your LED lighting strip. A practical test is to skip the extension cables and control gears by wiring the power supply directly to the light strip.

Begin by wiring the positive (black if you are dealing with RGB or RGBW) wire to the strip and then the negative from the power supply to the wrong color. If the blue cable was previously not working, you can assume the problem is with the connection.

Fix this by reconnecting the cables step by step, replacing the old and faulty controllers and extension cables with new ones. Check which components make the previously false lights work again.

If the above repair measure does not work, check whether the cables have come off the soldered areas.

What Happens When My LED Strips Become Too Hot To Touch?

This problem has two causes:

  • You have an overvoltage power supply to the LED strip (mostly a 24V power supply serving a 12 V LED strip) 
  • There is a short circuit along the LED strip (a bare positive wire touching the negative wire).

If the problem is due to the first option, the strip will still work. It will light brighter than with a standard power supply. The only problem is that the LED will not serve you for long and can be a fire hazard.  

Car LED lights

The same applies to the second cause. Your system will fail in a matter of a few hours, and you will notice the smell of burning wires. It is also a fire hazard that you need to correct as soon as possible.

How to Fix

If you have an overvoltage, you can solve the problem by getting the power supply that matches your LED strip’s specs requirements. For example, if you supplied your 12V LED with a 24 V power supply, it can cause overheating and subsequent malfunctioning.

If the system has a short circuit, you will need to examine every section of your wiring system to determine where the source is. When you get it, split the wires and insulate them using a masking tape.

What Should I do When My LED Lights Become Dull or Show Uneven Brightness on One End?

The cause of this problem is mostly under voltage supply. For example, this might happen when you connect a 24-volt spec LED strip to a 12 V power source. Also, you may have a voltage drop across the LED strip.

How to Fix

A standard adequately powered LED strip should be 5 meters long. If given enough current according to the manufacture or industry requirements, such length will not show any voltage drops that are notable to the human eye.

For example, if you have two five-meter LED light strips joined together to come up with a ten-meter long thread, the strip will be less bright towards the end. 

You can correct it by either splitting the strip into two 5 meters each or introduce a starter lead, and exit lead on the full length LED strip. After that, you should connect both cables to a single power source. 

Why Is My RGB LED Strip Showing Inconsistent Colors?

This phenomenon is very common with LEDs. For example, you may have a cool white color on a section of the LED strip and then a warm white lamination at a random area within the same strip.

The problem comes when you apply paint on the LED either knowingly or unknowingly.

How to Fix

If the paint is still wet, you can use a soft cloth or tissue to wipe it away. We advise that you do not use water-based products on the strips as they may damage your LEDs. 

If the paint is already dried up, you can use a knife to scrape it off. Ensure that you switch the LEDs off when doing this.

Bottom Line

Some LED light strip malfunctions might require you to replace either a section or the entire LED strip. However, not every situation needs you to overhaul the system, some of them only require simple troubleshooting as shown above. So, it’s important to understand the source of the problem before trying to replace your LED light strips.