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Flexible LED strip lights


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Hi,

 I quite fancy fitting some flexible LED strip under the gunnels to get some more indirect light in the saloon. 
 

I’ve seen a few boats so equipped, and wonder if anyone on the forum has tried it, and if so are there any particular brands/suppliers they would recommend, as there are so many on the market.

Thanks

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Are you looking for just white light, or a programmable multi colour '70's disco effect?

Usual thing with electronics. The cheaper and more no-name ebay you go, the higher the risk of a dud product. Dim LED's, getting damaged by electrical spikes from other boat systems coming down the wires. Do you have mains available to run it, or want to run it from the boats 12V (or 24V) supply?

Bedazzled do them and specialise in supplying boats. I've used them for other LED lights, but not strips yet. It is on the might do list.

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I fitted some off Ebay to a curtain retainer in the saloon to aid vision for my wifes poor eyesight,, and also over the wardrobe door to light that up. 

In both cases, I used two 300mm lengths and fed them 'from the middle'. They were cheap enough, about £2 each from China, so itdidn't matter if it worked/lasted. Five years down the line isn't too bad.

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I was thinking of just white, probably “warm white” fed from the boat’s 12v. There seem to be 2 types, a strip with LEDs dotted along it and another, more expensive option, with what looks like one continuous LED. They really look good but I’m not sure if it’s worth the extra. Hmmm

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I think the main thing to ensure is that unless you have an external voltage regulator on your 12v system, whatever you buy should have voltage regulation built in otherwise the leds might fry within milliseconds. Everything from Bedazzled would be voltage regulated and customer service is good, but you pay for that. Ebay is hit & miss - you'll either get something that works or you won't. I once bought replacement led lights from Ultraleds in Manchester and one by one they fizzled out even though they had voltage reg built in. When I contacted them they said it must be my 12v system. I replaced them with the same thing from Bedazzled and 15 years later they're all still fine. So it comes down to the quality of components.

Edited by blackrose
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2 minutes ago, blackrose said:

I think the main thing to ensure is that unless you have an external voltage regulator on your 12v system, whatever you buy should have voltage regulation built in otherwise the leds might fry within milliseconds. Everything from Bedazzled would be voltage regulated and customer service is good, but you pay for that. Ebay is hit & miss - you'll either get something that works or you won't. I once bought replacement led lights from Ultraleds in Manchester and one by one they fizzled out even though they had voltage reg built in. When I contacted them they said it must be my 12v system. I replaced them with the same thing from Bedazzled and 15 years later they're all still fine. So it comes down to the quality of components.

 

Indeed it does, but buying from a local supplier doesn't guarantee that they're any better than buying off eBay or even direct from China -- good or bad, they're all made in the same factories, all some distributors do is buy them in (like you would), slap a 100% (or more) markup on, and sell them.

 

If you buy from a good supplier (e.g. Bedazzled?) -- who might even have tested them, or just bought higher-quality ones from China -- then you should get better quality, but you'll also pay more. Or they could be buying the same cheap crap and putting a bigger markup on. A supplier with good reviews is a better bet, but there are loads of fake reviews around too... 😞

 

In other words paying more from a reputable supplier increases the chance of getting better quality, but doesn't guarantee it. Buying something cheap from eBay or China increases the chance of getting low quality, but doesn't guarantee it -- you might get exactly the same thing for half the price or less. YMMV... 😉

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One thing to look at for any LED lights is the amount of light they emit. If you check their spec and compare with the individual LED spec you can tell if they are being run above or below the manufacturers recommended. The rub is that some units over run the LEDs to give a "better" light output. Unfortunately this also means they die quicker!

As to regulation, I have used cheapo ones and placed a couple of diodes in series to drop the maximum voltage by about a volt. Seems to work, as all my LEDs are about 10 years old.

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I have just replaced all the strip tubes in my lights using Flexi led strip.

This is the strip I used it comes in 5m runs.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00WQFP1LU/ref=cm_sw_r_apan_i_21YEGPG5F3FQX6WE6JVN?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

 

I fitted a low drop out 7812 regulator in each strip light to cope with excess voltage 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/362255962936?

These work reasonably down to 12v but don't regulate much below 14v so with 12v in you get 10v out which is enough to run the 50cm of strip in each fitting.

If running the full 5metres you will need to search out another regulator 

 

IMG_20220430_090422862.jpg

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1 hour ago, Floating Male said:

One thing to look at for any LED lights is the amount of light they emit. If you check their spec and compare with the individual LED spec you can tell if they are being run above or below the manufacturers recommended. The rub is that some units over run the LEDs to give a "better" light output. Unfortunately this also means they die quicker!

As to regulation, I have used cheapo ones and placed a couple of diodes in series to drop the maximum voltage by about a volt. Seems to work, as all my LEDs are about 10 years old.

Most reasonable quality LED lights don't run the diodes straight off the incoming voltage they have constant current regulation -- otherwise the current (and light output) would vary a lot with voltage and temperature, because they're diodes. In this case dropping the voltage won't affect the lifetime, or the light output -- the two are linked.

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I've bought a few of these "strips on a roll" and had varying results.

 

First point is the adhesive backing is usually feeble, and needs augmenting with something like contact adhesive from a tube for a reliable bond.

 

Second point is the concentration of light in points along the length of the strip makes a very different light smoothness than a fluorescent tube. Look at the photo on the Amazon link @Loddon gave to see what I mean. In my experience, even with a high density of light chips per metre (you'll often find this in the specs) the use such as the OP is proposing - under gunwale lighting - is easier on the eyes with a diffuser mounted separately in front of the strip. You can purchase mounting channels which you feed both the LED strip and the diffuser into.

 

My third point is that some strips come with a "waterproofing" encapsulation over the top of the entire strip. It's like a polyester jelly. My view is that this encapsulation is bad for the life of the LEDs by both reducing the cooling of the components and possibly by 'poisoning' the LED chips themselves by a migration of plasticiser to the bare diode junctions, so shortening their life. So I avoid those with the encapsulation and go for the bare strip. As so often with these things, YMMV.

Edited by Puffling
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1 hour ago, IanD said:

Most reasonable quality LED lights don't run the diodes straight off the incoming voltage they have constant current regulation -- otherwise the current (and light output) would vary a lot with voltage and temperature, because they're diodes. In this case dropping the voltage won't affect the lifetime, or the light output -- the two are linked.

If they have regulators, yes.

The cheapo ones just have resistors.

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17 minutes ago, Floating Male said:

If they have regulators, yes.

The cheapo ones just have resistors.

 

And if they do and you drop the voltage, the light output will also drop -- so it's easy to tell the difference.

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1 hour ago, Puffling said:

Second point is the concentration of light in points along the length of the strip makes a very different light smoothness than a fluorescent tube.

Except very hard to see the points of light through the diffuser on my strips, yes it's there in the photo but in real life it's not noticeable and the perceived  brightness is the same as a pair of strips.

IMG_20220513_164838941_HDR.jpg

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3 minutes ago, Loddon said:

Except very hard to see the points of light through the diffuser on my strips, yes it's there in the photo but in real life it's not noticeable and the perceived  brightness is the same as a pair of strips.

IMG_20220513_164838941_HDR.jpg

Yes a diffuser makes all the difference. Here is an example of the aluminium channel plus added diffuser for single strips I mentioned:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Aluminum-Profile-Philips-Diffuser-Channel/dp/B094W3QBLX

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10 hours ago, IanD said:

 

Indeed it does, but buying from a local supplier doesn't guarantee that they're any better than buying off eBay or even direct from China -- good or bad, they're all made in the same factories, all some distributors do is buy them in (like you would), slap a 100% (or more) markup on, and sell them.

 

If you buy from a good supplier (e.g. Bedazzled?) -- who might even have tested them, or just bought higher-quality ones from China -- then you should get better quality, but you'll also pay more. Or they could be buying the same cheap crap and putting a bigger markup on. A supplier with good reviews is a better bet, but there are loads of fake reviews around too... 😞

 

In other words paying more from a reputable supplier increases the chance of getting better quality, but doesn't guarantee it. Buying something cheap from eBay or China increases the chance of getting low quality, but doesn't guarantee it -- you might get exactly the same thing for half the price or less. YMMV... 😉

 

Well in my experience if you buy from a reputable supplier it does guarantee quality  because they source better quality in the first place and also have their own quality control. In the very unlikely event you happen to get a dud led their excellent customer service means you get a replacement, so that's what you pay the markup for as I previously mentioned.

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