Why Aren’t My LED strips Lights Working, and How To Fix It

If you are looking for a way to improve the ambience of your house or room, LED strip lights are the best option for you. Unlike other conventional lights, LED strip lights have revolutionized the lighting world in a number of ways. From having longer life cycles to being energy efficient, these lights come with a plethora of benefits. As a result, they are considered one of the modern technologies breakthroughs.

The good news is that these lights are very flexible and can therefore be mounted on nearly any surface you can think of. Although these lights come with many benefits, they are not immune to a number of diagnostic issues. Since most homeowners ask, why aren’t my LED strip lights working, we shall take a closer look at some of the diagnostic issues that could be leading to this problem, alongside other related ideas:

Common Diagnostic Issues Why Aren’t My LED Strip Lights Working And How To Fix Them

Users of LED strip lights can attest to the many benefits offered by these lights. However, there are some issues that you might encounter at some point and can therefore make you encounter some difficulties in getting them to work. Some of the common diagnostic issues include:

1) The LED strip does not light up at all

Ideally, once you connect the LED light to a power source and switch it on, it should light up on the go. However, there are instances when this light will not light up at all. If you are a first-time owner, you may end panicking. In case you are a victim of such circumstances, you should not freak out as you can troubleshoot using the following ideas:

A) Confirm that the current rating and voltage of your power supply are compatible with your LED strip lighting

For instance, if you are using a 24 LED strip light and your power supply is 12V DC, be sure that the LED light will not work optimally. Therefore, you should take a closer look at the back of your power supply unit so that you can know its rating and voltage. Once you are done, check that of the LED strip light. Typically, you can get these details on the LED strip connection points. If they do not match, your LED light will not light up.

B) Check your power supply.

Sometimes, the current rating and voltage of your power supply and LED strip lights can match but still, the LED strip lights do not light up at all. If this happens, chances are that power supply has issues, and it needs to be checked whether it is working properly or not.

To confirm this, you can run a quick test using a multimeter and check the voltage across the two output wires. Better still, you can check the voltage differential between the outer barrel and the DC’s plug’s inner pin. In case it shows that the voltage is less than the rated voltage, then your power supply might be malfuntional. As you check this, ensure that your power supply is powered up first.

C) Check the other accessories on the same circuit

There are some accessories that make the LED strip work optimally. These include controllers and optional dimmers. When diagnosing the lighting problem, you should isolate these accessories and determine if the LED strip light will light up on its own. If the LED strip light works, then one of those accessories have issues. It could be the optional dimmers, controllers or even both of them.

D) Check for any visible loose connections

Apart from the 3 issues mentioned above, loose connections can also make your LED strip lights not to light up. To troubleshoot this issue, you should ensure that the wires and connectors are well placed and have not fallen out. If there is any loose connection issue, you should try to tighten the screws on the DC adapters and then re-insert the LED strips into solderless connectors.

Better still, try to use a multimeter and check the voltage differential between the positive and the negative terminals or wires. For optimal results, start at the power supply’s DC output and then go all the way to the LED strip.

In case you establish that the LED strip’s negative and positive copper pads do not have any voltage differential, then that is a clear sign that your LED strip is not receiving any power. Consequently, it may not light up at all.

E) Confirm whether there are any signs of short circuits

Short circuits can be imminent if you have been soldering the wires on your own. Ideally, you should try to use solderless accessories so as to keep the problem of short circuits at bay. To troubleshoot these issues, you should check and confirm that the wires are well separated. Remember that short circuits are very common with multi-channel strip lights. A good example is the 5-colour LED strip light as it has 6 connection points.

F) Establish that there is no invisible signs of short circuits

If you determined that there is no short circuits as illustrated above, the next step is to check and see if there are some invisible short circuits. The good news is that a multimeter can help you determine this problem. 

To get started, you should apply the multimeter contacts to the positive and negative copper pads on the LED strips and then check the resistance value. If your multimeter indicates infinite resistance, it shows that there is no short circuit. However, if it indicates a resistance value, it shows that there is a short circuit.

If the latter is the case, then you should first disconnect any existing accessories and then check whether there is any short circuit or not. If there is a short circuit, then the accessories might have a problem and may need to be replaced.

On the other hand, if you determine that the short circuit issue persists even after removing the additional accessories, chances are that the LED strip has an issue and might need to be replaced entirely.

As far as the short circuit location is concerned, it is most common on the cut-lines of the LED strip lights. Typically, this is where someone uses the scissors to cut the lights. Since the LED strip lights are made of 2 copper layers, which are separated by a thin layer of insulation, a pair of scissors may fail to make a clean cut, and thus insulating layer may end up failing at the cut point. Consequently, this will lead to a short circuit.

If you have established that there is a short circuit on your LED strip light but cannot spot where the short circuit is located, try to cut off the last 1 to 2 inches of the LED strip on both ends so as to remove any potentially damaged segment. As you do this, consider using a sharp pair of scissors so that you can cut the strip with precision. Using a blunt pair of scissors can make the copper and insulation layers to squash, thereby causing a short circuit.

2) The LED strip dims over time

Besides the LED strip not lighting up at all, it may start dimming over time. In the event that your LED strip loses its brightness, chances are that the problem is caused by the following issues;

A) The input voltage has dropped below the designed voltage

To troubleshoot the issues mentioned above, you should first determine the input voltage at the first pair of copper pads. Technically, this is where the LED strip is connected to the power supply. In case the input voltage is below the designed voltage, then the power supply is the issue.

Other times, there might be some corroded or loose connection between the power supply and the LED strip light, thereby making the LED strip light to dim over time. To avert this problem, you should correct the wiring or better still, replace the power supply.

B) The LED themselves are losing brightness

If the first test proves that your LED lights are being fed by the right voltage, but still the LED strip lights still lose their brightness, chances are that the LED strip lights have an issue that needs to be addressed promptly.

Typically, LED lights are designed to last for 36000 hours or even more. However, some manufacturers cut corners and produce low quality LED strip lights, which only last for a few months before they start failing. To avert this problem, you should replace the entire LED strip, and you will be good to go.

Final Words

Although your LED strip light might be working optimally at first, over time, it may develop issues, such as the one mentioned above. Before you think of investing in a new one, try to troubleshoot the existing issues as illustrated above. By doing so, you will make them to start working again and thus enjoy the incredible benefits that come with these lights.

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