There is nothing like a crisp, cool-white LED strip light bringing illumination to a kitchen counter, helping chefs and cooks with food preparation, making it look glorious, and the colors well rendered.
But after a few months of use, the sharp blue-white of the LED strip is either turning yellow or fading away. Well, it’s time to get to the bottom of that!
LED strip lights can lose their color temperature or vibrancy due to several reasons. Still, the most common culprit is a combination of overheating and subpar quality lights.
Common Issues That Break LED Strip Lights
LED strips are quite bright and draw a significant amount of power to run each diode. For example, a short strip with just 10 LED diodes, draws the power of about 600mA, if each diode is drawing 60 mA, and that is high.
For this reason, power supplies need to be big and powerful enough to run multiple strips.
All of this current has the potential to significantly heat the strips ups if proper care is not taken.
LED Strips Are Overheating
LED strips to require proper heat dissipation elements along with the various components it is made up of.
The first is the adhesive tape that is included with the LED strip. Quality manufacturers tend to include an adhesive that has cooling properties.
The tape has ceramic particles that can wick away heat from the strip and dissipate it away from the sensitive diodes.
Following that are casings and conduits that house LED strips and are optional features but which can significantly decrease overheating.
The aluminum casings or channels act as a heat sink and aid in cooling the strip due to the metal’s conductive properties.
If you are serious about making your LED strip setup last in a professional setting, installing aluminum channels will prevent overheating and make your LEDs last a long time.
Finally, the surface and position you mount your strips will make a big difference.
Our first choice is usually under cabinets, beds, or other furniture. Wood is quite insulating and retains the heat from the strip, leading to overheating.
If you have an option, mounting the strip lights on metallic or ceramic surfaces will greatly help heat dissipation.
Placing them in tight or heated places in the house, such as next to the stoves or other electronics like the TV or consoles, will raise the ambient temperature in which the LED has to function.
This again, will lead to a shorter lifespan of your LED light strips.
Paint In Circuits
One of the more uncommonly heard of yet commonly occurring reasons that LEDs are not working is very simply that you have accidentally got paint over them!
Lighting professionals have seen this time and time again:
Once people have installed their LED strip light setups around the house or office, they may paint it then or later.
Here is a video showing what an LED strip looks like with different colored lights.
Even if the tiniest speck of paint falls on the diode, it will emit light that looks dull, faded, or even a completely different color.
Keep your strips protected when you start a paint job and clean any existing paint off of them with paint removers to ensure full illumination.
One of the worst effects of getting paint over your strip light is that some could actually go inside the circuitry or wiring.
In this case, it could completely short or damage the strip, making it flicker, or have unexpected color changes, or simply stop working.
Not Enough Air Ventilation
As established above, when LED strip lights don’t get enough cooling, they get overheated, and the diodes can change color.
One of the biggest ways this can happen is poor air ventilation around the lighting setup. There is not enough space to carry away warm air and allow cooler air to circulate.
One usually has to make the right decision on where to place them that prevents this.
Spots behind sofas and beds, between a cabinet back panel and wall or around the frame of a small shelf with tighter corners, are not really suitable. All spaces would not allow proper air ventilation to occur.
Why Do LED Strip Lights Turn Yellow
Higher quality manufacturers consider all points of weaknesses that will bring down the long term functionality of their lights. Others, however, may design strips that will work only for a few months.
Unfortunately, people end up buying mid-range LED products, which quickly deteriorate for one reason or another. Then they are irritated by the ‘incorrect’ claims of supposedly long-lasting LEDs and give up on the technology.
Coming back to the weak points of an LED strip light, the epoxy coating of the LED starts to go bad from the heat and UV radiation from the blue light of the diode.
Specifically, the encapsulant starts to turn yellow with use and age, and eventually brown! It is usually the cheaper 5mm LED plastic packages that have this issue.
Surface-mounted LEDs encapsulated in silicone or glass do not usually have this yellowing problem.
Another common mistake that causes overheating and significant yellowing of LEDs that are supposed to be bright blue-white, is when they set up the connections a little wrong.
It is smarter to hook up LED strips in parallel than series so that all the current does not have to go through the first part of the strip.
It is for this reason that the LEDs closest to the power supply start getting damaged first.
This could also result in uneven lighting, flickering, or some diodes not working at all.
Half Of LEDs Are Not Working At All
Like flickering and yellowing, a telltale sign of overheating is also non-working LEDs in the same strip.
Sometimes the voltage or current from one power supply is not to power the entire length of a long LED strip. In that case, it is better to supply power from two opposite ends of the strip.
In case your LEDs were working fine, and half have stopped working recently, you might have other issues.
There might be a damaged or broken connection in the strip that you need to locate. One damaged chip can cause an entire section of the light to malfunction.
This damage can be caused by the previously discussed overheating, as it is the most common issue.
Another reason is that sometimes, even if one diode is not working, the section doesn’t light up even though other diodes work fine.
In that case you can look for the damaged or dime diode, replace that diode, and ta-da!
Your entire section should light right back up again.
With these tips and tricks under your belt, you can tackle yellowing or unlit LED strip lights around your home or office.
Have your LED strip lights stopped working unexpectedly?
Have you installed them in tight or unventilated areas?