LED lighting has long held the promise of being able to integrate light into places that were impractical or impossible using traditional lighting technologies. With the advances in flexible linear LED lighting, it has never been easier to deliver on that promise.
Anatomy of a Flexible LED Module
Flexible linear LED modules consist of surface-mounted LEDs on long, thin, flexible circuit boards that usually have self-adhesive backings and are packaged in reels. These linear modules can be installed in a straight line or they can be flexed around curves and can be easily field-cut at regular intervals along the length of the module. They can be mounted directly into most applications without the need for additional fixtures. The adjustability and flexibility of the modules enable them to blend harmoniously into the architecture of the space—creating an inviting atmosphere in a building, setting decorative accents in a restaurant or highlighting products in a retail space.
These flexible linear modules are available in versions that are designed for indoor applications or IP67-protected versions for outdoor applications. They are made in a variety of color temperatures as well as RGB variations. There are different light levels that can be selected to match the application—and most products are dimmable with the use of the proper power supply. This wide section of options means that the right module is available to match the needs of almost any application.
Compact and Versatile
Their compact size, as narrow as 0.31” wide, means they can deliver light that creates a focal point while never directing the focus to the lights themselves. They may draw attention to the bar, highlight a pathway or guide customers to the right products in a shelf. When integrated into the architecture, they can highlight the façade, create decorative light lines or provide indirect cove lighting.
The size of the flexible modules enables them to be integrated into very compact locations. As an example, the underside of handrails are a popular application. Handrails come in elegant curves, in straight lines or with fantastic angles. Depending on their function and architectural style, stairways and handrails can open up a multitude of creative lighting designs. Once integrated, flexible LED modules smoothly follow the shape of a handrail, creating homogeneous bands of shadow-free light that add a sophisticated look to any stairway.
In outdoor applications the light can increase the illumination level of defined areas on the stairways and become an integral and elegant orientation and wayfinding feature. When installing handrail lighting solutions, for example, the LED modules can be situated and angled in such a way that the required luminance is available at every section of the rail without creating glare for passersby. When it is planned ahead to integrate these flexible modules into new walkways and rails, the lighting can become the focal point of the project.
Enabling the perfect combination of pleasant ambience and decorative functionality, indirect cove lighting can provide a sophisticated, harmonious room atmosphere in a wide variety of settings. Homogeneous lines of light can delicately accentuate a room’s geometry, highlight certain features, provide soft and uniform general lighting, or become a decorative design element.
In these applications, flexible LED strips can be concealed in recesses or behind ledges so that they cannot be seen from any point of view. Whether the cove is a simple exposed shelf or a sophisticated architectural element, the advantages of the flexible LED modules in these applications are their size and the variety of color temperatures and light levels that can be chosen.
Gone are the days when coves would need to be large enough to mount and hide bulky fluorescent lamps. Also gone is the need to deal with the shadows caused by the spaces between fluorescent lamps. Now, state-of-the-art rooms can be designed with light coves that have extremely small dimensions to elegantly and discreetly blend into the overall design.
The slim dimensions of flexible LED modules enable them to be integrated into these spaces without compromise. Light appears to emerge from the ceiling or walls to create an unobtrusive and harmonious atmosphere. The ability to integrate the flexible modules into these tight space means freedom of design is virtually unlimited.
Outdoor versions of the flexible LED linear modules that are encapsulated in a weather and UV resistant jacket, such as silicone, can be applied to highlight or emphasize a wide variety of architectural elements on building façades and in landscaping. The installation can be as simple as lines of light to emphasize architectural structures and highlight a building’s overall appearance or as bold as color changing modules that bring a building to life.
Integrating the flexible modules into specific locations of the face of a building is simplified because there is no need to install the modules into lighting fixtures – typical installations use just an accessory mounting track. Highlighting targeted features or structures of the building eliminates the need to flood the entire face of the building with high wattage traditional lighting. The result is a unique and professional lighting design with significant energy savings.
More Application Possibilities
Other applications for these versatile, flexible modules include retail spaces where products can be effectively highlighted with targeted cabinet and shelf lighting. In these same spaces the use of RGB modules can be used to enhance the shopping experience while strengthening the company’s brand. Offices can add unique and outstanding character to their front lobbies and find options for orientation lighting in corridors or general illumination in conference rooms. Hotel and hospitality businesses can add their corporate colors to the exterior highlights of their building, illuminate corridors and conference rooms, create the right atmosphere in ballrooms, provide soft indirect cove lighting in the guest rooms or simply shape a lasting colorful guest experience in restaurant and bar areas.
These linear modules are flexible not only because they consist of a bendable circuit board, but because they can be easily cut to fit each unique installation. Adding to this flexibility are the accessories that are available to simplify the installation process. Typical accessories include mounting tracks, diffusing lenses, solder-less input power and board-to-board connectors (modules can be easily connected to both the power supply and to each other without the need for soldering or tools) and end-caps to seal the ends of outdoor modules.
Many systems operate on Class 2 constant voltage power supplies and are designed and UL approved to be plug and play (ensure the system that is being used is UL approved for the application before it is installed).
Almost Any Space
The ability to add light, either functional or decorative, to almost any space by simply rolling out the proper length of a product with the desired color and light level and connecting it to a power supply generates a wide array of creative possibilities. Brilliant architecture, soft highlights, comfortable atmospheres, inspiring scenes; flexible linear lighting lets you quickly and easily tap the full potential of light in all its facets.