A guide to LED controllers: Flashers
Whether you’re a wedding planner, event organiser, production company or specialist sign company, you may already use LED lighting but are unsure of what LED controllers are and how these devices differ from one another.
LED flashers are an increasingly popular type of controller that can be used to illuminate LED lights in a number of different ways. This article will cover what LED flashers are, how they work, and the benefits of using them as well as some more specific applications and practical considerations for this type of controller. Click on one of the links below to jump to that section:
What are LED flashers?
An LED flasher is a device that plugs into your electrical outlet and is used to turn LED lights on or off sequentially or in a pre-programmed pattern, creating a ‘flashing’ effect. Flashing lights have many uses, including in the entertainment industry where they are often used in clubs and theatres for a strobe effect, or at concerts when bands play their encore songs.
Flashers can be thought of as simplified versions of DMX controllers—they control the brightness but not the location, unlike DMX controllers which have 16 channels per fixture that allow them to specify where each light is positioned. LED flashers come in many different shapes and sizes, from small battery-powered models to larger ones for heavy-duty signs and displays.
What are the benefits of using an LED flasher?
An LED flasher unit is energy-efficient and reliable, has a long life span and emits very little heat. These devices allow the user to have full control over the intensity, timing and pattern/effects of the LED lights they are connected to.
The key difference between a flasher and other types of LED controllers is that the user has control over how long each light stays on, as well as when it turns off. For example, if you own a retail store and have a large LED sign in the window display, you can programme the controller to turn the lights on for a certain amount of time during the day, and turn off once the shop closes in the evening.
Which LED flasher do I need?
There are several technical and practical considerations you should bear in mind when looking for an LED flasher controller for your lighting set-up. These include:
Flash rate or average rating
This is the rate the controller can turn the LED bulbs off and on. It is usually described in terms of flashes per minute.
Lamp capacity or output current
This is the maximum current load per output/channel, measured in Amps (A).
Number of channels and head capacity
The outputs offered by your LED flasher will be referred to as channels. Head capacity refers to the number of LEDs that the flasher can drive per output/channel. Our Flasher Unit is a two-output controller which has a 5A maximum current on each channel.
Number of patterns
Different LED flashers come with a different amount of flashing patterns, and you should consider whether you only need a simple system or a more sophisticated unit with a variety of different patterns. The 311 Dimmer/Flasher with Remote, for example, has six pre-programmed effects as well as the option to create your own scene.
This is an important consideration that will inform whether an LED flasher is suitable for your lights. Many of our LED controllers are compatible with LED strips and modules of different voltages. Our Micro Dimmer/Flasher with Remote, for example, is suitable for any single-colour LED strip or module of 5v, 12v or 24v DC.
LED flashers from WeLoveLEDs
Micro Dimmer/Flasher with Remote 6A
Product Link - Micro Dimmer/Flasher with Remote 6A
This unit will work with any of our 5v/12v/24v LED modules and strips. The remote has eight modes and a one-press feature for achieving 25%, 50% or 100% brightness. It has 2.1mm DC fixings at either end for easy connection and operation.
Micro Dimmer/Flasher 12A
Product Link - Micro Dimmer/Flasher 12A
Using this ultra-slim micro unit couldn’t be simpler—just plug it straight into your LED light system and it’s ready to go. It is compatible with any 5v/12v/24v LED module or strip.
311 Dimmer/Flasher with Remote 18A
Product Link - 311 Dimmer/Flasher with Remote 18A
With a maximum 18A capability, this powerful unit is perfect for controlling large lighting displays. The controller itself has all of the buttons you could need, but these buttons are also mirrored onto the remote for ease of use. Features include six pre-programmed effects, memory, speed and brightness, as well as the option to program your own scene. It works with any of our 12v/24v LED modules and strips.
Product Link - Flasher Unit
This is a two-output flasher unit with a maximum of 5A on each output. It provides 15 flash patterns including simple flash, alternating, intermittent and hazard.
Frequently asked questions
Will an LED flasher work with a regular bulb?
No, an LED flasher will not work with a regular bulb.
What is the difference between an LED dimmer controller and a flasher?
An LED dimmer can tell the LED lights what to do and is typically used with RGB, RGBW and pixel LEDs. A flasher controller will just make the LEDs flash.
How do you connect an LED strip to a flasher controller?
All of our flashers and controllers come with wiring diagrams. There are clasp connectors available for the 8mm static colour strips which have a short length of cable that can be wired to the flasher unit. You would only need a small screw-driver to attach the cable to the flasher unit.
The clasp connectors don’t work on the RGB/RGBW. They would need to be wired into the controller as per the wiring diagram supplied. If the strip is from a part roll there is a chance the RGB/RGBW strip won’t have any cable on it, so there may be some soldering to do before it can be wired in.