Practical Rope Lighting


Let's look at rope lighting. Determine where you can use wich type. Tips for smart uses, installation and operation.


Features
Distinctive qualities

Determine where to put ...

Suitability based on ...

Special uses
Preparation, what next
What else you need
Operation
Distinctive qualities of all light ropesAll light ropes have very good flexibility. Can be cut, twisted or bent in practically any configuration.



Add to that that you can create various patterns of lightings from chasing to steady and in between - only the matter of your controller.

Determine where you want to use it based on ...

Most if not all rope lights are for both indoor and outdoor use. However, this is best to check before the purchase. (Also, some manufacturers developed different products based on those different uses.)


 


Determine suitability based on voltage in general

As a general rule use:

  • low voltage for indirect and accent light
  • high voltage for direct and illumination light

Determine voltage in more detail

Low voltage:

Outdoor volumes
Outlining (building, deck etc)

 


Accenting (home, boat)

Decorating (highlight edges and outlines of things, light up trees)
Task lighting (under cabinet)

Because there is a whole lot more about usage and other things on
12 volt low voltage ropes (24 Volt too) I review them
separately here
.



High voltage:

Higher voltage may be suitable for even brighter outlines or complete illuminations (including building, deck, window etc.) 120 volt high voltage ropes (240 Volt too).


Where to plug in ... ?

Low voltage
Runs off battery / alternator or transformer.
High voltage
Plugs in normal housesold household electrical outlet.
The LED version of both
Can be run off DC (and AC if there is a converter in the circuit)

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Where and how to use:


Depending on the material of the mount:

They all install well on various materials. But if you want to fix it to heat sensitive materials, such a wood for instance, definitely use a LED rope.


Smart light rope uses:

Tips:
Inefficient neon tube lights replace well with rope lights (Reason those also called neon ropes? Could be ...)
See below for more on efficiency details.

Use them as task light. As it is light and very hassle free it installs particularly easy as under cupboard.

Where you don't or can't reach regularly put LED ropes.
At LED home lighting I collected more LED tips for you.


If you want a light that is viewable from only one chosen direction, use a flat light rope.

For decorative purposes, if you want to accent the outlines of your home, emphasise vertical and horizontal lines with the crisp lights of mini LED rope lights.

These are your available choices in general:
(for specifics and types look up my separate light rope page.)


To determine you choice let's start with energy usage in this day and age:

Neon ropes are now used where neon lighting was an obvious choice before. And the energy usage of a typical (incandescent) rope should be only a fraction of your old neon light. But if you go for LED neon, your energy consumption (and your power bill) should be even lower than that.

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Preparation


Check

Check if your product is UL listed. (Underwriters Laboratories Inc. UL is the trusted source across the globe for product compliance.)


Plan (or not) for the lenght you need

Plan it before and measure the size you want or cut and connect as you go. But, observe maximum allowable lengths. (Note: Be prepared that you will connect-as-you-go in awkward hard to measure places.)


Cut and connect - but how ... ?

Standard low voltage and LED
Check cut length before cutting. Count to unit size.
Cut spools. Use connector to connect kits. (Do not cut kits.)
Standard high voltage
Cut long spools, connect short spools.
LED

Use splice connector and end caps (based on wire type)

For typical cut length units relevant to your job refer:
All low voltage
12 volt light ropes (non LED)
12 volt LED ropes
All high voltage
120 volt light ropes (non LED)
120 volt LED ropes

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What else you need ... ?


You might need to use with your rope light:



Acessories:
Cutter or utility knife. The cleanest cut comes from a designated rope cutter. Ask you retailer.


Controller
Depending on what effect you want to achieve you might need a controller also. (See below under operation.)


Power accessories
Converter, Adapter, Battery (for battery operated ropes)


Fixing accesories
Use mounting track for straight position, or clips for in a bent configuration.


Winder
Tip: This is the smartest winder I found anywhere. Recommended for all kinds of ropes and cables, (I haven't used it for a light rope. but I think they could be quite good for that.) Investigate it here:
Quickwinder, movies: http://www.quickwinder.com/video.html



Operation

Controller
As a rule the following patterns may be achievable, so check the controller you buy (patterns applies to both LED and non-LED):

Mini chasing controller: typically allows variable chasing speed, single dial operation, maximum run 24' (foot.)
High end chasing controller: variable chasing speed, multi dial, maximum run 150' (foot) and max load of 8 Amper.

Functions a good chasing controller should handle:
  • Lights in Waves
  • Sequential
  • Slow Glow
  • Chasing / Flash
  • Slow Fade
  • Twinkle / Flash
  • Steady On
  • Combination of all or some patterns above

Flickering
If you use a light rope from so called super bright LED and you need a converter, it is recommended that you use an anti-flicker converter.


Air temperature
Often overlooked, but it is fairly important. Typically, the recommended air temperature for LED ropes is the same as for incandescent rope lights: The range is between minus 4 degrees to plus 122 degrees Fahrenheit.


Rope light installation guide:
http://www.nidagroup.com/specialtylighting/RopeInstallation.html


For specifics on various rope lights, including how they compare to LED look up my separate pages on light ropes.


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