1.) Soldering Tools
Before attempting to solder wire to your LED Strip Lights it is important to be sure that you have the proper tools for your soldering project. We recommend using any 30W-60W soldering iron that is temperature adjustable and capable of soldering at around 500°-600°F. It is best to use a more powerful iron so that you don't need to spend a lot of time heating the joint, which can damage components. At the same time too hot of an iron can also damage the components. We also recommend using a thin rosin core solder and having a wet sponge or steal pad for cleaning the tip of your solder iron.
2.) Waterproofing Tools
It is important to have the right waterproofing accessories for the type of job that you are doing. We use industrial strength glue, heat shrink, and liquid tape when necessary; all waterproofing items can be found at your local hardware store.
3.) Cutting your LED Strip Light
To cut your Waterproof LED Strip Light it is first of all important to have a sharp pair of scissors, dull scissors can damage the PC Board. Each waterproof strip light will have a cut mark between the two pairs of copper connection pads. Once you have located this cut line you can then cut your LED Strip Light to the desired length. Be certain to make a clean straight cut without putting any additional stress on the PC Board, doing so can break the board making that 3 LED Section un-usable.
4.) Exposing Copper Pads for Soldered Connection
In order to solder wire to your Waterproof LED Strip Light you must first cut back the TPU coating to expose the copper connection pads on your LED Strip Light. Use a sharp blade to cut back the TPU coating, be very careful not to cut through the PC Board on the LED Strip light. We recommend only cutting off the top half of the TPU coating and leaving the bottom half for support of the PC board like you see in the picture to the right.
5.) Cleaning your Soldering Iron
It is important to have a clean tip on your soldering iron in order to keep your soldering joints from overlapping. Clean the tip of your solder iron regularly to keep your joints as clean and small as possible.
6.) Tin your 18-22AWG Stranded Wire
Once your soldering iron is hot enough, tin your 18-22AWG stranded wire by applying a small amount of solder directly to the stranded wire. Once you have completed this step your wire should be silver in color and no longer appear to be stranded.
7.) Tin the copper dots on the LED Strip
The next step is to tin the copper dots on your Waterproof LED Strip Light by melting a small amount of solder directly to the copper dots. Be sure that you put enough solder to cover the dots but not so much that the solder is overlapping.
8.) Mate the wire to the Strip Light
Once you have tinned both the wire and the copper dots on your LED Strip Light you can now mate the two together. Individually place the wire to the copper dots and then place the soldering iron over both in order to heat up each solder enough to melt and become one. Be sure to hold long enough to not create a "cold solder." Don't forget to put an end cap on your wire for waterproofing.
*COLD SOLDERS OCCUR WHEN ONLY ONE OF THE SOLDER JOINTS IS HEATED AND CONNECTED WHILE THE OTHER IS STILL COLD. COLD SOLDERS WILL NOT CARRY ELECTRICAL CURRENT.*
9.) Apply End Cap with Industrial Strength Adhesive
Once you have properly mated your wire to your LED Strip Light you should first test the connection. After testing, apply a small amount of industrial strength, plastic bonding adhesive to your end cap and then slide your end cap into place to let dry.
**This will give you a basic waterproof connection. If you want heavier duty waterproofing for projects exposed to severe elements continue to the following steps.**
10.) Directions for Industrial Strength Waterproofing
If your project requires a heavy duty waterproofing or you just want to be certain that your connections are 100% waterproof start by applying a few coats of liquid tape to the newly connected solder joint and let dry. Be sure to not over apply, leave room for the end cap installation. Liquid tape is available in a variety of colors at your local hardware store.
11.) Apply End Cap using Industrial Strength Adhesive
After your liquid tape has dried you can now apply an end cap using an industrial strength adhesive. Since the coating is plastic based it is best to use an adhesive that strongly adheres to plastic, we use a glue called E600, it is thick enough to stay in place while drying and dries solid for structural support. Let the glue set until firm before continuing to the next step.
12.) Heat Shrink over End Cap Using Industrial Strength Adhesive
Once the glue on your end cap has set, the last step is to use an industrial strength 1/2" heat shrink combined with more industrial strength adhesive to create your final bond over the end cap. Use enough heat shrink to cover your end cap and at least a 1/2" of your lead wire. You can apply the adhesive directly to the strip light or inside the heat shrink. Once in place use a heat gun to shrink the heat shrink and wipe away any excess adhesive.
**For Super Duty Waterproofing Repeat This Step**
13.) Test your Connection
Lastly you should always test your connections. Allow enough time for the adhesives to fully set, typically 24 hours, in order for optimal waterproofing.