Tips for Using and Wiring LED Lights
How Do LED Lights Work?
LEDs light by electroluminescence. The color of the light produced depends on the metal used. LEDs are true color and are very efficient in converting energy to light with none of the heat that incandescence relies on. If you’re wondering “How long do LEDs last?” or you need help wiring LED lights, look no further! Continue reading our top tips for using LED lights and help transform your project into a showstopper.
Lighting a project using LEDs can immediately bring your creation to life, but getting started can be a little intimidating, at least at first. If you’re unfamiliar with LEDs, you’re probably wondering, “How do LEDs work?” Luckily, you’re in the right place! Evan Designs has put together answers to the most frequently asked questions to help hobbyists like you install LEDs for models and crafts
Why Light Projects With LEDs?
There are numerous reasons why using and wiring LED lights for your project is the best choice. Below are a few answers to popular questions that will help you understand why.
Do LED Lights Get Hot?
No, LEDs do not get hot. incandescents are resistance based and only create light as a by-product, as they get hot enough to glow! If you're concerned about that — LEDs to the rescue! You will not melt delicate artwork even if you leave the LEDs on forever. You can even "dress up" your LED with a plastic or paper shade, or paint it, with no worries of damage.
How Long Do LED Lights Last?
LEDs last for an extremely long time. They can last over 10 years which is 100,000 hours! You won't ever have to take apart your mini creation to change out the lighting.
Where Do LEDs Fit?
LEDs give lots of light in a very small package, so you can fit lights into all of your projects! Even if the project is very small, we likely have the LED to fit.
Do LED Lights Burn Out?
LEDs last 25 times longer than incandescent. They just last a long time. LEDs draw very little power so they can run for a long time on a small battery without any issues. There is no need for a bulky wall transformer and a wall plug to light your project. When LEDs get toward there end of life they fail by dimming over time, rather than an abrupt failure of incandescent bulbs.
Do LEDs Have a Guarantee?
Our LEDs at Even Designs are fully guaranteed for 2 years with free replacement.
And in the many years selling these, we have had to replace very few. LEDs really do last. For years!
What Power or Battery Do I Use?
Our LEDs draw very little power, only 20 milliamps each
This means with a 3-volt coin cell type battery like the one in our mini light kit can run up to 10 lights. 6 lights will run approximately 24 hours per coin cell. The coin cell we use is about the size of a nickel.
With a 9-volt battery like a Duracell, you can run 50 LEDs for 4 hours or run 5 lights for 26 hours per battery. You can also run solids + flashing LEDs together with no carryover flicker on the solids.
Do LED Lights Get Hot After Long-Term Use?
LED lights never get hot, no matter how long you run them. That is one of the truly great things about LEDs! We all grew up with incandescent that give light by heating up. You wouldn't touch an incandescent after it runs for a while, and you wouldn’t want that incandescent anywhere near your delicate artwork or finished model either. LEDs are the perfect solution. You can leave your project lit up day and night for years if you want. The LEDs will never get hot or burn out!
How Can I Use 3-Volt Lights or 9-Volt Lights?
Below are some tips for using 3-volt and 9-volt lights to ensure proper operation.
Click any picture to go to the page with that product. Our 3-volt lights are for 3-volt batteries only. A 9-volt battery is just too strong and will destroy our 3-volt LEDs. Instead, consider using our 3-volt coin cell holder/switch with a coin cell.
The 9-volt lights are made with a resistor for use on a 9-volt battery or regulated power supply. They will not be bright with 3-volt coin cells. You can use our battery snap with a switch for the 9-volt lights.
If you already have a power supply you use in your dollhouse, get our AC/DC lights which have the extra parts to protect for AC power input.
How do I Connect My Lights to Power?
The general rule to follow is red-to-red and black-to-black. Twist the leads on your LED with the battery lead, and use shrink tube or tape on the connections.
What Do Warm White & Cool White Look Like?
The warm white is also called "soft white". Warm white is very close to what an incandescent bulb looks like. Warm white is a good choice for most interior rooms like living rooms, bedrooms and dining rooms.
Cool white is sometimes called "daylight". Cool white is a good choice for kitchens and bathrooms or diners. We also suggest using cool white when the light is shining in a window from outside.
What Do the Size Numbers Mean?
We offer a variety of LED sizes, and the choice of size can be based on how much room you expect to have in the ceiling, in a lamp, or outside a window. The largest size, 5mm, is great for 1:12 scale, or for when you have a lot of room and need a lot of nice bright light. Depending on where it is used, even 1/4 scale can use 5mm sometimes.
3mm is the middle size. It is smaller than 5mm but bigger than the 1.8mm. Use 3mm when you need a round, classic bulb shape. It's popular with 1/2 scale, 1/4 scale and 1/12 scale.
1.8mm is our most popular size light for 1/2 scale, 1/4 scale and 1/144th scale. It is the light of choice for many miniaturists! The 1.8mm gives off a nice bright light and does a great job with light coverage.
Can I Reduce the Brightness?
The easiest way we have found to reduce the brightness is with similar-color paint.
- Acrylic takes down the brightness 50%
- Enamel takes down the brightness 10-20%.
- A piece of shrink tube on the bulb can cut down side-light. Shrink tube can be applied directly to the bulb since the bulbs never get hot.
Experiment with the amount of paint since you can always remove it and try again.
How Do I Fit My LED into a Tight Space?
The stalk of the LED, up next to the bulb can be bent 90 degrees for gluing to the ceiling (to have the light shine down) or for taping in behind a shade. Use a pair of pliers to hold the bulb stable while bending the stalk.
How Can I Hide My Wire in the Ceiling?
After you bend the wire 90 degrees, make a "fake" ceiling out of stiff paper (Bristol board), punch a hole for the light. Then, glue the "fake" ceiling in place with the wiring headed in the directions you want it to go (back, side, etc.). Or, you can paint the leads and wires white like the ceiling and hide the wires with ceiling textures, like plaster, or use some tissue paper or other material.
Generally, ceilings do not get as close a look as floors do, so you can be more creative with your ceiling coating. Another benefit of gluing to the ceiling is you do not have to put a hole in the floor.
How Should I Drill Holes?
Here are some drill bits we have used for various projects:
|Drill Bit Size|
|Only tip of LED showing||5/64||7/64||3/16|
|Whole LED showing||5/32||1/8||13/64|
Also, note that the base of the LED is square, which makes it a little tricky for round holes. When we drill the 5/32 hole, we bend the stalk of the LED 90 degrees and tape it from the backside. This will keep the LED firmly in place.
How Should I Connect Wires for a Stronger Connection?
Try a bit of solder where you have the wires connected: red-to-red and black-to-black. Solder acts like strong glue in getting things to stay put permanently when wiring LED Lights. Duct-tape is also pretty good for LED connections. If you don't like or don't have solder, use duct tape on the connections
How Do I Make My Wire Connections Even?
When connecting red-to-red and black-to-black, you can cut the wires to even everything up. Then you will need to expose some newly stripped wire for the connection. We recommend using a soldering iron to strip wires when wiring LED lights.
How Do I Hide the Wires?
You could use a small channel molding (1/4 ") to attach around the base, and then tape the wires and battery underneath. Cut either plexiglass or stiff plastic to slide in the molding.
Or, just glue the battery holder to the bottom of the project and tape the wires in place.
You could also put your LED wires under a fake rock, or curl wires up as a hose after painting the wires green. You could also consider putting wires under a bush or potted plant.
Remember to locate the switch in a convenient place. You can disguise the switch with a bit of something that matches the overall theme of your project. The switch can be put in a mushroom cap, a small trash bin, or even under a plant. Check out this switch disguised as a mushroom!
Do the Smaller Lights Bend Like the Others?
Yes, they can bend in any way that is convenient for your project. Go easy on the leads, bending repeatedly will break them. Any metal can fatigue with repeated bending.
How Do I Tell If My Lights are the Right Voltage?
The 3-volt lights usually do not have a resistor under the shrink tube (cool/warm white, blue and green do not. Yellow/orange/red will).
The 9-volt lights will always have a resistor under the shrink tube. If you look closely, you will see the little bump.
What Color LEDs Can I Get?
We have white (warm or cool), red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. We also have a fire kit and haunting kit. Try some other colors for interesting effects!
What If My Light Doesn’t Work?
We will replace all failed or broken lights for free! Contact us with any issues you may have.
How Do I Wire the New Chip LEDs?
The chip LEDs have a green wire and a red wire. The green wire goes to the black on the coin holder or battery holder, and red still goes to red.
You will also need to protect your connections with shrink tube or tape, to prevent a short circuit.
How Does Sanding Down an LED Change the Light?
With Bulb Style LEDs, (1.8mm, 3mm, and 5mm) the light emitting diode is encased in epoxy. The epoxy is globe shaped. This shape provides directional lighting similar to a flashlight. You can sand the globe shaped tip of the LED flat. This will disperse the light over a wider angle. When sanding the light, just sand it until it is flat. Do not go near the metal you can see inside the bulb.
Have Other Questions About Wiring LED Lights?
Reach out to Evan Designs and we can help answer any questions you may have.
How Do LED Lights Work? Great with Evan Designs!
After learning all the top tips for using LEDs and getting answers to common questions, you should no longer wonder “How do LEDs work?” We now hope that you can confidently add light to your project to make it stand out. Now that you have the right tools and knowledge for wiring LED lights, it’s time to choose the right ones for your project! With nearly 15 years of experience working with LED lights, you can expect nothing but the best from our products. Purchase today!