You have some LED Strips used for Christmas decorations last year, and you are planning for another party this year. But here comes the question – can you reuse the LED strips from last year?
The answer is yes. LED strips have an average lifespan of 50,000 hours and are more energy-efficient. They last 10 – 15 times longer than their counterparts by consuming less energy for the same luminosity.
LEDs typically do not fail or “burn out.” Instead, they experience “lumen depreciation,” in which the brightness dims slowly over time. The L70 metric states that LEDs are usable until the light loses 30% of its original brightness. That is why you can reuse them over the years.
Depending on the quality and durability of the materials, your LEDs might differ in longevity. In this case, your LEDs could have a color shift over time, which is measured by the “delta UV” metric. LED strips below 0.006 are still suitable for indoor use. For numbers above 0.003, color changes are noticeable, and they might affect visibility.
In fact, LED strips are widely used for all kinds of decorations, be it interior or exterior. You can always reuse LED strips by connecting wires or using a matching connector. Though they draw lower current, they still work at the rated voltage, which is usually 12V or 24V DC. While you want to make good value of money spent, make sure you take a few precautionary steps to use them safely.
How do I reuse these LED strips?
It’s not that hard, and you can always do it on your own. Reusing LED strips doesn’t vary a lot from how you use them the first time. What’s more, you’re already more experienced now!
The first step is to check if the LED strips are still functioning well. See this article if your LED strips are not working. If your strips successfully light up and do not flicker when switched on, they are considered good in condition to be reused again.
Then, you will need to measure the area where you want to stick your LEDs. Take into consideration the distance between your LED strips and the electrical outlet supply to be connectible.
Before you finally adhere your LED strips to your desired surface, you will need to connect the LED strips and your power supplies. If the required length of strips is different from what you have, you may need to cut and connect them. Read on to learn more!
How to cut the LED Strips?
LED strip lights will still work if you cut them along the designated marking lines. They are designed to be cut, as each marking line marks the end of an individual circuit. These cutting points are different on each strip, which is generally after every 3 LEDs. It means that a strip with 30 LEDs per meter will have the marking line every 10cm. Many light strips follow a similar design and are cut in this way.
Anyhow, not all light strips follow the same pattern. You should check the design of your strip’s marking lines before cutting.
Once you’ve determined your desired length, choose the marking line nearest to your measurement. Use a pair of scissors or a sharp knife to cut exactly on the marking line. Ensure that the scissors and the light strip surface are perpendicular (90°) to each other. Beware not to cut elsewhere, for wrong cuttings can cause the particular circuit or the whole LED strip to stop working. You should also prevent using a blunt tool, so it doesn’t spoil your LEDs.
To know more about how to cut the LED strips, read our article on Can I Cut My LED Strip Lights?
Can I still connect these LED strips?
Yes, as long as the LED strips are still working. But bear in mind the number of LED strips you can connect. The recommendation is not more than two strips end to end. If you need to connect more, add additional power wires to avoid the strips getting dimmer at the end of the line. That’s the sign that they do not have enough power supply. To learn more about connecting multiple LED strip lights, read our article on How to Connect Multiple LED Strip Lights.
What should I do if the adhesive loses its adhesion?
LED strips run on low voltage DC. They need a power supply device to convert 120V or 240V AC into the voltage signal which they can use. Here are a few steps to guide you on selecting a power supply:
Step #1: Figure out the LED strip voltage
Check on the product website description or the LED strip itself to determine their voltage, usually 12V or 24V DC. Make sure that the AC input voltage coordinates with your country’s voltage.
Step #2: Figure out the LED strip power draw
Observe your strip to find the specification for either wattage (W) or amperage (A). They are typically written as W/m or A/m, some just W or A. This value determines how many watts or amps a power supply is capable of supplying. Its capacity should always be higher than the LED strip’s power draw. Take note that it’s better to remain a 10 – 20% driver surplus so that it works well.
Step #3: Figure out the connection method
Your LED strip typically comes with a DC plug, which should match the power supply plug. Simply connect the power supply to the wall and the LED strip on each end. However, some LED strip comes originally with two bare wires, usually red for positive and black for negative. You will find these wires if you cut your strips too. In this context, use an adapter to connect the LED strip to the power connector.
How to remove and re-paste the LED strips?
Disconnect them from the power supply.
Heat up the adhesives using a hairdryer to remove them easier. Remember to not overheat for more than two minutes.
Use a flat object like an expired credit card to gently pry the LED strips from one corner.
Gently lift the LED strips off the wall while wiggling the card until the strips are entirely removed.
Clean the adhesion part of LED strips and your new surface with a citrus-based cleaner and let dry.
Use a new adhesive to re-paste your LED strips to the surface, and you’re done now!
How to store LED strips?
If you want to reuse your LED strips, you will have to keep them safe after using them. Always remember to store them in a cool, dry, and dust-free place.
Additionally, here are a few tips to help you keep them nice without messy tangles.
Tangle your LED strips tightly around old hangers or small cardboard. Then, tuck in the ends to secure them.
If there are too many strips, wind them slowly over a power cord roller.
Cover the tangled strips with a soft towel to prevent damage during storage.
Keep them in a cool and dry place so they can still function well when you need them again.
How long is the lifespan of these LED strips?
LEDs have incredibly long lifespans. They last an average of 50,000 hours, summing up to approximately 17 years. Some manufacturers claim that their LED strips could light up for 80,000 to 100,000 hours.
However, you should also take precautionary steps to maximize the longevity of these strips. Consider using aluminum LED profiles to disperse the excess heat. You should also choose the proper diffuser to obtain suitable light quality for your use.
We have it ready for you if you want a more detailed study of How Long Will LED Strip Lights Last.
Why are my old LED strips discolored?
If you are using colored LED strips, the chances are that they can start to shift colors over time, besides becoming dimmer. It largely depends on the materials, as they degrade at a different speed.
These LED strips are still usable as long they still illuminate your place. However, if they shift to colors you do not want, you might want to consider changing to a new one. If you are using them for more demanding applications or business decorations, choose LEDs with more color stability over time.
You can also check this page out to learn more about LED strip discoloration.
What should I do if the adhesive loses its adhesion?
Fret not! Though these adhesives are not reusable, you can always find alternative ways to stick your LED strips.
First, remove the old adhesive. You can immerse an old cloth with acetone or a citrus-based cleaner, then vigorously rub the adhesive. Not too much water- you don’t want to damage your strips!
Leave your LED strips for a while for them to dry. Meanwhile, use alcohol to wipe clean the wall or furniture surface on which you wish to stick the strips. Then, you may then choose a new way to attach them. Choices are double-sided tape, adhesive clips, command strips, and many more. You can even use mounting putty to avoid staining your walls and furniture.
How can I make my LED lights last longer?
- Avoid buying cheap LED lights without brand.
Some manufacturers might make shoddy LED lights for a lower cost. These lights could be less stable and consistent with withstanding heat or current.
- Refrain from using them in enclosed fixtures.
Excess heat can build up if you use LED lights in enclosed fixtures. Unless they are specifically made for that intent, you may do so. Otherwise, avoid that way.
- Control your use.
Most electrical appliances have an aging process, including LEDs. Though they are energy efficient, only turn them on when needed.
- Don’t switch them on and off frequently.
If you do so, the chances are that it could affect the lifespan of your LEDs. In case you want to use them frequently for a prolonged period, keep the switch on, then off after using.
- Keep your LEDs dry, cool, and far off the dust.
After using, allow your LED lights to cool down before you switch them on again. Keep them dry and away from dust to expand their longevity.
If you have used full-length or trimmed LED strips, don’t just throw them away, thinking they are not functioning anymore. In fact, you can always reuse the old LED strips for their long lifespan. I hope my guide has equipped you with the proper knowledge to reuse them. Enjoy your darkless nights ahead!