LED strip lights can be an excellent option for lighting a space in your home.
Because of their nature, they are fantastic for areas where you might not usually place a light – such as an accent lighting a shelf or coving around the ceiling.
But this always presents one issue – how do you then power it? Because they do need a power source – they don’t work by magic, unfortunately!
Do they always have to be plugged in, or do you have other options?
You can power LED strips without plugging them in. Some are designed to be battery-powered, while others can work from a USB power bank. You can also convert a strip light to work with batteries if you own one with a plug. The lifespan will depend on the battery.
In this guide, I’ll explain to you:
- How LED strips can work without a plug
- Strip lights that are designed to work with batteries
- Converting plug-in lights to work with batteries
Can LED Strip Lights Work Without Plug?
Most LED strip lights sold are designed to be used with a plug. Indeed many will already have a plug attached or at least come with a plug and an adapter designed to fit together.
But the good news is that LED strip lights can work without a plug.
Some come designed that way and already have a battery pack included, while others can be converted.
That’s because LED strips don’t require a huge power voltage.
Strip lights tend to either need 12 volts or 24 volts or even lower when designed to be powered by batteries.
They would be absolutely fried if they ran on the mains power.
Instead, they use a transformer to remove the power from the mains when plugged in.
So if you replace the plug and transformer with a suitable battery pack, then the lights will work fine.
But why would you use batteries when the mains is an option?
It generally comes down to lifespan vs. location.
If you are installing your light strip somewhere with a plug socket close by, it makes sense to plug them in because you get constant power whenever you want the lights on.
But there are many places where you may not be able to plug in a strip light or where you’d need to do some serious work to wire them into the mains – potentially drilling through furniture (for lights in a recessed shelf, for example) or even running power cables behind walls.
That amount of work might not be practical, so you may prefer to use battery-powered strip lights instead.
You can place them anywhere with battery-powered strips because the battery pack is easier to hide than running a cable to the wall.
The sacrifice you make is with lifespan because batteries only last so long.
Of course, you’ll use rechargeable batteries, so you don’t have to keep buying new ones, but it does mean there will be times you can only use your lights if you have charged the batteries.
Strip Lights That Don’t Require To Be Plugged In
The easiest way to enjoy batteries-powered strip lights is to buy them already designed for batteries – sounds obvious.
While most LED strips you’ll find in stores are meant to be used with a plug, there are still plenty of good options to choose from if you want battery-powered ones.
If you want white LED lights on your strip, consider this white strip light from JUNWEN.
Powered by three AA batteries, they state that the battery life is up to 50 hours. But, of course, that’ll depend on the quality of the battery you use.
Many people prefer colored LED strips, and those are equally common.
This Dervacle light strip two-pack (Amazon) provides 20 feet of lights with each set powered by 4 AA batteries.
They consume 3 watt-hours and run on 5 volts, which means we can calculate that they use 0.6 amp hours. So with 4 alkaline AA batteries providing 10 amps of power, you could expect around 16-17 hours of lifespan.
Just because you want battery-powered strip lights doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice some of the cool perks, such as controlling the lights from your smartphone.
This RUISHINE strip light lets you do just that.
It’s another strip that uses 3-watt hours and requires 5 volts. With only 3 AA batteries fitting the battery pack, expect a lower lifespan of around 12-13 hours.
To offer something different, while these aren’t strip lights, you can also get LED string lights powered by batteries.
This RTGS twin-pack of fairy lights (Amazon) are powered by cheaper CR2032 batteries.
The downside is that they’re not rechargeable, but two batteries provide 24 hours of life.
One thing that is really, really important to reiterate. I mentioned that strip lights are designed for lower voltages, and battery-powered ones especially are even lower than those requiring a plug – the examples above include some 5-volt strips.
They often come with a USB cable, which is meant to be plugged into the included battery pack or power bank. Do not directly plug this USB cable into an outlet on the wall or use a USB plug.
Your mains voltage is much higher than 5 volts, and you’ll destroy the strip. Because LED strips powered by batteries are often cheaply-made, they could be a fire hazard.
How To Power Plug-In Strip Lights With Batteries?
It is possible to convert light strips to work with batteries, but you’ll likely have to do some re-wiring.
The most important thing is to ensure you match the voltage of the batteries you use to the light strip.
Any AA or AAA battery provides 1.5 volts, so if you’re powering a 12-volt light strip, you’ll need 8 batteries.
You can also use a USB powerpack, but you’ll still need to wire a connector to your strip lights so that they can plug into the power bank.
How you connect your strip lights to the batteries or powerpack depends on the strip – if you have a DC power receptacle, you can buy a battery holder that plugs into that.
Otherwise, you may need to sell a new connector onto the lights, carefully cutting away the old cable.
Read my complete guide on powering LED strip lights with batteries if you’re interested in learning more.
Nobody wants to drill into walls or through furniture if they don’t have to, nor do you want power cables trailing long distances from your strip lights to an outlet.
So do consider battery-powered ones if you can.
Be aware that strips designed to be powered by batteries might be dimmer – if you want the full brightness, you’re best buying a plug-powered strip and then re-wiring to work on batteries.
Just be careful with those voltages again! Never plug a strip light into a power source with too many volts.
Have you had any creative solutions for powering strip lights in awkward locations?