How to cut LED Neon Flex
LED Neon Flex is a bendable, waterproof and versatile lighting solution that is particularly effective in creating signs and patterns. The major benefits of this high quality product is its availability in a wide range of colours as standard, and that it can be cut down to custom lengths to suit the design requirements of your project.
Cutting your Neon Flex lighting might seem daunting, but it's far simpler than you may expect. In this guide, we'll show you how to safely and successfully cut strips of LED Neon Flex to desired lengths.
Why cut LED Neon Flex?
LED Neon Flex is small and lightweight, which makes it a brilliant alternative to heavy and bulky glass tube neon. It is also more environmentally friendly, less expensive and has better energy efficiency than a traditional glass neon light. LED Neon Flex is durable and completely waterproof, which makes it a long-lasting choice for both indoor and outdoor use.
Cuttable LED Neon Flex is so versatile because it can be customised to suit a range of applications, such as:
- Border lighting
- Accent lighting
- Custom neon signs and displays
By cutting it yourself, you can achieve a completely bespoke finish at a relatively low cost.
Another advantage of LED Neon Flex is the ease of installation. Once it has been cut to size it can be fitted to a wall with mounting clips or simply glued to a suitable surface with adhesive sealant. The latter option is particularly effective when creating neon-effect signs.
Preparing to cut LED Neon Flex
Before you cut your LED Neon Flex, make sure you have all the parts and tools to hand. In order to get a clean finish and avoid damaging the internal wires, you'll want to use a sharp cutting tool that is easy for you to control, such as a utility knife or box cutter.
You'll also need a tape measure, end caps, the appropriate connectors for your project and a soldering iron to close the exposed circuit. Note, not all LED Neon Flex have connectors—only the larger profiles have this option.
Carefully measure the Neon Flex before cutting. You must only cut the Flex on the housing in between each LED segment. Lengths of Neon Flex usually have marks on the silicone housing to indicate where it is safe to cut. on We Love LEDs Neon Flex these marks are copper ovals which occur intervals from 10mm up to 500mm for RGB options – most static colours and profiles are 25mm and 50mm.
If you attempt to cut the Flex anywhere other than the markings, you will damage the internal wires which will cause that segment of LED to fail. Measure your desired length of strip and identify the closest marker to this point—this is where you will cut.
If using Flex without cut markings or with markings that aren't very clear, a good trick is to power on the length of Flex to spot the gaps between the LED segments which will be slightly less bright than the rest of the strip. Just make sure to disconnect from the power supply before cutting.
How to cut LED Neon Flex
1. Disconnect the LED strip from power.
2. Lay the strip on a firm surface then make a straight and even cut through the strip.
3. Avoid bending or pulling the Flex whilst cutting, as this could result in an uneven cut and damage the LED strip held within the Flex.
Although you should be cutting at marked points in between the LED segments, there is still a risk that your tool could make contact with internal wires so it is vital that the strip is not connected to a power source.
Try to make the cut as clean as possible. The silicone housing should be relatively easy to cut through without requiring too much pressure. If you're having difficulty, it could be that your cutting tool is not sharp enough. A sharp tool is vital to help you achieve a clean cut with minimal risk of damaging the internal wiring and LEDs.
What to do after cutting LED Neon Flex
Once your flex has been cut to the right size, you'll need to close the exposed circuit. If the cut strip already has an end connector on one side, you can close the exposed circuit with an end cap and some silicone adhesive sealant and/or glue-lined heat shrink to make it watertight. If the LED Neon Flex you have chosen doesn’t have connectors, the cable will need to be soldered directly onto the exposed end.
First, carefully use your cutting tool to trim away any excess silicone to expose the anodes. A box cutter is ideal for this. The polarities of the anodes—negative (-) and positive (+)—will be indicated. You must solder the wires of your connector with the correct polarities: the red wire connects to the positive anode, and the black wire connects to the negative anode.
Once you have soldered the exposed circuit, use a power end cap to cover the connector and waterproof it. Use a silicone adhesive to keep the end caps in place and create a waterproof seal. After this, you can connect the Flex strip to power and check that it works as expected. Do not power on the strip while any of it is still warm from soldering. As soon as it is cool, it is safe to turn the light strip on.