Many LED Strips pose a Fire risk!

Mon, 20 May 2019

We've all done it, seen a product we like and try to find a cheaper alternative on an auction site or elsewhere, usually we can save a few pounds.

While it is fine to try and save money for products like a set of spanners or clothes, the worst that can happen is the spanners will wear out quickly, and the clothes will be of poor quality.

However it is very unwise to buy electrical goods from sources that are not backed by a physical company in the U.K or Europe. These cheap LED Strips or other electrical goods could put you or your loved ones at risk, and even invalidate your home insurance if there was to be an electrical fire.

0Cheap LED Strips are usually cheap because corners have been cut to keep production costs down.  Sometimes these cost cutting exercises or design flaws can make the product dangerous.  Sellers from the Far East can shift these electrical goods without the comebacks that a company based in the U.K would bring upon themselves for selling faulty or dangerous goods.

LED Strips can look amazing when fitted properly, unfortunately there are many Strips that don't make the grade in terms of design.  The poor quality design is inherent in the majority of LED Strips, being sold on the internet and by wholesalers.  Most are selling a product, tand usually little of how it works or if it is well designed.

The worst thing that can happen is the LED Strip can get very hot* and begin to burn whatever it is fixed to, if it is a flammable surface such as timber, the outcome can be disastrous.  At best the Strip can have LEDs fail due to poor voltage and current control.  This type of control is only at GCSE level Electronics, using resistors to control voltage to an LED is one of the basics, this is is called Constant Voltage.

*It is not usually the LEDs themselves that would cause the excess heat but the copper tracks of the Strip.  The copper tracks must be able to handle the total current being pulled through the LEDs.

At best poor quality LED Strip can have LEDs fail due to poor voltage and current control.  This results in dead LEDs or an overall fading of the LEDs.

While this may be fine for controlling a low performance LED such as a Red status LED for indicating power, it is not sufficient for high performance LED lighting intended for architectural applications and use in vehicles.

During normal use the Resistors heat up and their resistive values change allowing excess voltage to the LED, even under ideal conditions it is not the best way to power LEDs.

If the Strip only has resistors and LEDs on the board, it is not going to last anywhere near as long as our Litewave ® Pro LED Strip, which has  up to 130 Triodes per Metre to provide on-board current and voltage regulation.  This ensures a very long lifetime in excess of 50,000 hours, with a lifetime of over 100,000 hours to be expected.

The other problem is running too much LED Strip linked together, or on under-rated wire or cable, this can also post a Fire Risk.  Using Cat 5 or Cat 6 cable to power LED Strips is a big NO NO!  It is equivalent to running a cooker hob on 13 Amp cable, the excess current will cause the cable to get very hot and in the worst case scenario igniting causing a fire.

Many people think LEDs are low current, while that is true for a single LED, when you have 1000 LEDs each pulling 20ma it quickly adds up to almost 20 Amps.  Running that kind of current through LED Strips linked together and/or Cat 5/6 wires leading to it is asking for trouble.

Some retailers are promoting the dubious practice of using Foil to keep the heat of the Strips down, this suggests the Strip is not fit for purpose.  LED Strips that have been properly designed don't need foil.  If that foil is not insulated it also presents a possible risk of short-circuit.

Due to the potential risks involved we provide customers with the wiring information and support required for a safe and reliable installation of LED Strip indoors or outdoors.  We also take a lot of the work out of the installation by supplying the the LED Strips pre-wired and ready to fit.  Just contact us with the length or lengths of LED Strip you require and we will provide a quotation.