How to install and use LED lighting safely
LED lighting is one of the most adaptable and energy efficient solutions for brightening and decorating a range of spaces, both indoors and outdoors. The innovative technology behind these devices makes it incredibly easy to progress LED light from everyday bulbs and fixtures to use in fairground lights, festoon lighting and strip lights. However, they need to be installed and handled properly to prevent damage and avoid safety risks.
So how safe is LED lighting compared to alternative bulbs and light sources? In this article, we discuss the overall safety of LED lighting, and how to incorporate the best safety practices.
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Are LEDs safe?
An LED bulb is ultimately safer to use than alternative light sources such as a traditional bulb or an incandescent bulb. They transfer 90% of their energy into heat, whereas LED bulbs do not. LEDs can also operate on low voltage electrical systems and they don't emit infrared or UV radiation. Unlike halogen bulbs, LEDs will not burn when touched if left on for a long period of time.
Even in a colder environment, LED lighting is resistant to shocks. Unlike compact fluorescent light bulbs, LED bulbs don't contain mercury. Because they contain a low amount of substances such as lead, they can be disposed of safely with other household rubbish. LED lights are not waterproof, so if you are planning to place them outside, make sure they are weatherproof.
However, you should still take similar precautions when installing and using LEDs as you would with standard bulbs. If LED fixtures are installed incorrectly, there can be a risk of damage to the lights as well as the safety of people around the lighting.
One of the easiest LED lighting fixtures to install is Neon Flex. Our starter kits are complete with mounting clips and end caps for easy and safe installation.
LED installation best practice
Before fitting any LED light fixture, it is important to prepare. Check that your LED device is the correct size and voltage for your application. Also, ensure that the length of lights and their power cords are long enough to cover the desired area and reach the power supply comfortably. You should also read the datasheet of the product as well as any instructions provided. If you are still confused, consult an expert before installing your lights.
The first thing to do before installing your LEDs is to check for any signs of damage. These might be surface cracks, exposed wiring or broken diodes. To safely use LED lighting indoors, make sure the fixtures are away from areas children and pets can access easily to keep them safe from harm. Where possible, it is best to space lighting between furnishings, uncovered and clear of materials.
However, if you are installing outdoor lighting, you will first and foremost need to make sure you have appropriate weatherproofing in place and that the LEDs you are using have a high IP rating. The LEDs will also need to be easy to retrieve when you want to take them back down. It is best practice to install products such as festoon lighting along gutters or external pillars using either gutter hooks or light clips.
Whether indoor or outdoor, you need to make sure the power supply is appropriate for the product and easily accessible. In order to prevent a fire, check the operating temperature of the lights before placing them.
Using LED lighting safely
Before switching on your LEDs, be certain that you have placed and connected everything correctly to minimise the risk of electric shocks or short-circuiting. First, check that the voltage you are about to supply to the lighting matches the operating voltage. If you are using LED strip lights, you can cut longer strips into smaller lengths, but do not connect them with solder joints as this can cause the lights to short circuit. Instead, use connectors if you intend to attach smaller lengths together.
Outdoor LED lighting needs the most planning, as you need to protect any fixtures from weather conditions such as rain or snow. It is ideal to keep outdoor lights in an enclosed space where possible, especially with LED strip lights as the metal in the strip is electrically conductive. If this is not possible, WeLoveLEDs recommends adding silicone to the lamp holder spikes before laying the cable in. This will help increase their water resistance.
If you need to replace a light bulb at any point, always turn off the power supply to stop the electrical current. You can then remove the old bulb and replace it with the new one. This prevents you from harming yourself with an electric shock.
Frequently asked questions
How long can you safely leave an LED strip light on?
LED lights have an incredibly long life span. Most LED lighting is rated as having between 30,000 to 50,000 hours. As they emit less heat than traditional light bulbs, they can be left on much longer without causing a fire risk. They are also more energy-efficient, so it costs less to keep your space well lit, but it is always best to be conservative with use to prolong the longevity of the product.
How often will LED bulbs burn out compared to incandescent bulbs?
LED bulbs rarely burn out and are more likely to dim with age than to burn out completely. This is because incandescent bulbs rely on a filament that will eventually snap with enough thermal pressure. If an LED bulb does burn out, it is because the capacitor that converts AC to DC has chemically decayed, but this is not typical.