Using LED Tape Lights to Provide Backlighting: A 10 Step Guide to Installation

Both residential and commercial applications can benefit from using LED tape lights for backlighting. Although LED tape light installation may seem complicated, it is much easier than many realize. Most LED tape lights follow a similar pattern of installation and connection to a dimmer, if preferred, as well as a power source. To make your next LED tape lights’ do-it-yourself (DIY) project a success, follow these steps to install.

1. Clean the Surface and Gather Your Supplies

Successful installation begins with cleaning the surface properly and gathering the necessary supplies. Remove all dust and debris from the area where the tape lights will be installed, and pick the tools required, which include the following;

  • Staple gun
  • Staples
  • Soldering pen
  • Soldering wire
  • 2-Prong plug
  • 18 AWG wire- if using non-prewired LED strip lights

Depending on your preference for attaching LED tape lights to the backlighting surface and the type of surface, a staple gun may be inappropriate. For example, attaching LED light strips to the back of a television may require using a hot glue gun for adhesion.

2. Mount the Tape Lights with the Diodes Facing Away From the Surface

Next, as mentioned above, go ahead and mount the tape lights with the diodes facing away from the surface. In backlighting applications, the diodes should be facing the wall or mounted facing upward. This will give the appearance of light rising from behind an object.

3. Mount the Power Source in a Hidden Area, if preferred

Tape lights for backlighting may also require hiding the power source. In other words, tape lights mounted under cabinets or invisible areas can be connected to an LED driver or power source located under the cabinet and out of sight. However, you may need to connect additional wiring to the LED light strip.

4. Solder the Incoming Power Line to the TRIAC Dimmer First

The incoming power line should have two wires, a black wire, and white wire. Soldier the incoming black wire to the TRIAC dimmer.

5. Solder the Outgoing Line from the TRIAC Dimmer to the Incoming Line in the LED Driver

Some TRIAC dimmers may already have an outgoing power line attached. If not, solder a piece of wire to the outgoing soldering point on the TRIAC dimmer. Then solder this line to the appropriate incoming power line on the LED driver. For this guide, the MXLFZ010 LED Driver is used for reference. Solder the line to the top, left-hand solder point on the driver. 

led drivers

6. Solder the Incoming Neutral Line, “White Wire,” to the Proper Point on the Driver

Next, solder the other wire that did not run through the TRIAC dimmer to the appropriate solder point on the LED driver.

Looking at the driver with the MX LightForce logo facing upward, the incoming white wire is soldered to the lower, left-hand side of the driver.

7. A) For Prewired LED Tape Lights: Solder the Positive (+) Line on the LED Strip to the (+) Solder Point on the Driver

If the tape lights have been prewired, attach the positive (+) line to the positive (+) solder point on the LED driver. Using our example MX LightForce driver, this is the upper, right-hand solder point.

7. B) For Non-Prewired LED Tape Lights: Solder the Positive (+) Outgoing Line from the Other Side of the LED Driver to the Beginning of the LED Tape Light Strip

If the tape lights lack prewiring, solder the appropriate gauge wire to the LED driver. Next, solder the positive (+) wire to the positive-indicated solder point at the beginning of the LED light strip. Repeat the same process for the negative (-) solder points on the driver and light strip.

8. Solder Additional LED Tape Light Strips to the End of the Strip to Add Length

If you are adding additional strip length to the end of the strip, cut wires to the desired length and solder the strip together at solder points. However, remember to consider the total length of your strip and its impact on wattage.

9. Wire the Incoming Power Line Containing Both Black and White Wires, to an Appropriate 2-Prong Power Cord

If your incoming power line lacks a prong for use in a U.S. standard power outlet, wire the power line running to the TRIAC dimmer to the black, “hot” side of a 2-prong plug. Next, wire the neutral wire to the neutral side of the plug as well. Tape or enclose the plug and wiring to prevent the risk of shock. 

10. Alternatively, Wire the Power Line Directly to the Electrical Circuit

If you prefer, you may wire the power line directly to an electrical circuit or electrical switch. However, if you are unfamiliar with your building’s electrical wiring, please consult an electrician before cutting into your home or business wiring.

Be Safe and Smart When Installing and Using LED Tape Lights

These ten steps reflect the simplicity of installing LED tape lights for backlighting. If you need additional help selecting the right type of LED driver or LED special features, fill out the contact form online at MX LightForce.com or call 1 (714) 258-0263 today.