Comparison of 12V DC LED light strips in shop light conversions (3528 vs 5050 vs 5630)

January 21, 2015 in around the house repairs and DIY fixes, Tool builds improvements and repairs

Shop light using 12V DC LEDs using 3528/5050/5630 Flexible Light Strips   In an earlier post I shared how I converted shop lights to low cost LED lighting using readily available 12V DC LED light strips with 3528, 5630, and 5050 SMD LEDs as pictured above.  These lighting strips are very low cost ($5-8/ 5M roll shipped)  and provide an easy way to add light to any place you need it, not just for a shop light conversion.  You can run them off an AC to 12V DC power supply or a 12V battery, which makes them extremely handy in the case of a power outage.   In this post I compare the differences between each LED strip and share which one makes for the best shop light conversion.

SMD LED light strip comparison

Theoretically the 5630 LED is one and half times brighter than the 5050 LED which is three times brighter than a 3528 LED.  However, this does little to tell you which one is really the best light.  Interesting is that the part number actually refers to the size of the individual device, with 3528’s being 3.5 x 2.8 mm and so on.  All have approximate 120 degree emitting angles, the angle at which the light radiates outward from the chip.  You have to be a bit careful with the whole lumens or candela rating on LEDs. These are measured  via standards and tell you nothing about the color/quality of the light produced.

12V DC LED Light strip Comparison

Above shows one of my shop lights converted with 3528 LEDs light strip.  I used three lengths of light strip on this lamp. It produces an amount of light that is considerably less then two 48″  T32 bulbs, but is still more then adequate for some shop spaces.   The power rate of 0.08W/led for 3528’s makes it the lowest power per LED device of the three.  It also has the lowest rated light output.  The light output by these strips is a good color.  By this I mean observed quality.  I am not talking about measured wavelengths.  It has a very very slight cool or  purple tinge to it, but it is almost unnoticeable. Not noticeable at all without a grey card Kodak photo scale reference handy. For lower power less used areas I think these strips are good. I would not use these in an area I was using all the time as they do not emit enough light.  I used these 3528 LED light strips inside my 3d printer enclosure and they work wonderfully for this application.  If there’s not enough light you can simply use more of the strips.

12V DC LED Light strip Comparison    Rated at 0.5W device on strip, the 5640 LED’s are theoretically the “brightest” of the three I’m comparing for shop light use in this post.  I find the light emitted from these to be very purple and harsh.  I strongly suspect, that the LEDs used in these strips are a low cost clone of the Samsung 5640 OEM chips and thus the poor light quality. This is my least favorite of the lighting strips. I would not recommend the 5640 light strips for any applicaton, the light generated irritates me.  Additionally, even with 3 rows (instead of 2 of the 5050 strips)  it has less apparent light generated then the 5050 lamp with 2 rows.  The real drawback is the color on this one,  Have I mentioned that I find it highly irritating?  I only converted one lamp to these and I will put it in a location I almost never use because of my dislike of the output lighting.  I may even change it over to 5050 strips eventually.

12V DC LED Light strip ComparisonThe clear winner of these three and my favorite is the 5050 LED strips.  With a power consumption of  0.24W per device, they have a  good balance between color output, and total light intensity.  Two strips seems more then adequate, vs three of the other strips.  I really like the quality of the  light produced by these strips.  It is a bright white without any weird or subtle tint.  It almost feels like natural lighting.  These strips are so good I ordered several more rolls of this light strip for the remainder of my shop light conversions as the bulb or ballasts continue to fail.

One last thing to note, the angle of light produced by led strips is 120 degrees. This is different then fluorescent tubes that generate light in 360 degrees.  I find these LED conversion shop lights work better in high bay applications then in lower ceiling spaces.  the 10 ft ceilings give the light plenty of room to spread out, at 8ft you get a lot less square footage covered by the direct light.  I suppose some sort of plastic diffusion panel would help with this somewhat.

As they say, your mileage may vary, but this post aims to share my experience. It may be that the strips I purchased on ebay are to blame for my opinions.  If you want to order the same strips I did, here is a link to the ebay listing for strip lights.  If the link no longer works, the sellers name is  cnredceo.  If you search you should find them easily enough.  His shipping is very fast, and the packaging is excellent.

** If something should change in 6 months or a year, I will return and edit this post to include any noticed issues or failings.

Upgrading shop lights with 12V DC LEDs using 3528/5050/5630 Flexible Light Strips

January 20, 2015 in around the house repairs and DIY fixes, Tool builds improvements and repairs

 

Shop light using 12V DC LEDs using 3528/5050/5630 Flexible Light Strips   We all have them in our workshops, the cheap dual 48″ fluorescent tube shop lamps or “shop-lite”.  The negatives of these low cost lamps being winter temperatures making them either not start, or flicker like crazy.   I decided to try an upgrade using 12V DC LEDs using 3528/5050/5630 Flexible Light Strips.  LED’s start instantly, don’t flicker even at very low temps, and my shop light conversion to LED’s decreases the energy consumed to about 20% that of the fluorescent tubes making it an environmentally beneficial green upgrade.

12V DC LEDs using 3528/5050/5630 Flexible Light Strips    12V DC LEDs using 3528/5050/5630 Flexible Light Strips

   Originally inspired by the number of dead tubes and starting ballasts in many of my shop lights I went to my local Home Depot and Lowes to look at replacing and repairing these lights.  However the price of both the tubes and shop lights has increased greatly since I last purchased some.  Additionally there’s a buck a tube fee to dispose of the tubes now.  I decided I could do it cheaper and better with LED lighting, but once again the ones I could purchase were quite pricey at ~$40 a piece.   I had used some of the 3528 led light strip (about $6 for 5 meters) inside my 3D printer enclosure in the past and it worked amazingly well.  I also have a plethora of free 12V dc power supplies in my parts bins making a light conversion to LED cost me about $3.  Seemed like a win win situation, I’d use up some parts on my shelves, save money, and make a lamp that was considerably greener then the fluorescentversion making me feel better about my lowered impact on the environment.

12V DC LEDs using 3528/5050/5630 Flexible Light Strips     12V DC LEDs using 3528/5050/5630 Flexible Light Strips

   A pretty easy project, it starts with disassembling the old light and removing the internal electronics.  Open up the light, pull out the parts, and remove them from the lamp.  This is one of the better shop lites I have. It has an actual electronic ballast unit, and it still worked so I removed it carefully and am saving it for a future project or repair.  Some of these lights have really bad, poorly made ballast set ups that are scary when you see how unsafe the design is inside.

Shop light with 12V DC LEDs using 3528/5050/5630 Flexible Light Strips     Shop light using 12V DC LEDs using 3528/5050/5630 Flexible Light Strips

  We are just using the body or sheet metal “shell” for our light conversion.  I like the shop light look, and the sheet metal has angles that will help spread out the LED lighting, which radiates out at a fixed angle from a point source rather then in a full 360 degrees like the tube.   Make sure you clean the metal well. Even after using some Lysol scrubbing wipes to clean them, I found an alcohol wipe still removed some grease from the surfaces.  We want the 3M adhesive to have an oil free clean surface with which to bond when we apply our light strips to the frame.

Shop light using 12V DC LEDs using 3528/5050/5630 Flexible Light Strips

   There are three common varieties of these LED light strips available at low cost on Ebay and other supply websites.  They come in adhesive strip using 3528/5050/5630 LEDS.  Additionally you can buy them in waterproof sealed strips for additional cost but I did not need them to be sealed.  Above you see one 5 meter roll of each strip. They are very easy to work with. you cut them to length where you see the two copper tabs.  Then you can easily solder strips together by connecting the end copper solder tabs.  The different numbers refer to the actual dimensions of the LEDs. I’ll do a second post on  what the differences are, as well as an evaluation of which one makes for the best shop light.

Shop light using 12V DC LEDs using 3528/5050/5630 Flexible Light Strips

Application of the LED light strips to the shop lamp is very easy.  Simply cut to length, being careful to cut in the middle of the small copper solder tab space.  They have a cutting line for you to follow (you can see it on the left side of the right image below).  Remove the adhesive backing strip and carefully place it onto your lamp.  Be careful, the LED’s themselves are sharp, I use a bit of cloth folded up to apply pressure to the strip as I stick it down to save my fingers. Start on one end and kinda roll it down onto the metal of the shop light.  Sometimes the copper tape gets kinked a bit from being on the roll.  You want to maximize your adhesion by pulling and rolling out any bubbles or kinks as you work along the length sticking it down from one end to the other.

Shop light using 12V DC LEDs using 3528/5050/5630 Flexible Light Strips    Shop light using 12V DC LEDs using 3528/5050/5630 Flexible Light Strips

The strips are manufactured in shorter lengths and then soldered together connecting into long lengths.  When I turned this particular section on, as you can see above, it did not light up all everywhere.  The solder joint from manufacture had cracked and broken during the rolling or unrolling.  If this happens, a quick touch up from a hot solder iron to the soldered tab (above right) will reflow the solder restoring a good electrical connection.

LED Light Strip Shop Light-1960

Connect up your 12V power supply.  I’m using the 12V DC 2A kind that come with many electronics. I have a dozen or so in my parts bin.  I pick these up for project use whenever I can.   I did two different methods on my light conversion.  One where I used the original shop light’s power cord. The other where I just directly soldered in the power supply cord to the light.  Both are functionally identical.  I can’t advise you as to which is better.  For my purposes the decision was based on the shape/size of whichever power supply I was using.  If it fit in the shop light body I kept the original cord.  If not, I soldered the power supply wires directly to the strips.

LED Light Strip Shop Light-1959

When soldering the ends together, make sure you keep the + to the + and the negative to the negative.  LED’s are diodes, and as such only flow current in one direction.  If a whole strip isn’t working, likely you have the positive and negative backwards.  I also put some Kapton (polyimide) tape underneath where the strips ended and I soldered. This was to ensure no electrical shorting to the light frame.  You could just as easily use a piece of electrical tape but you want to make sure to add this safety feature to prevent any risk of electrical shock or shorting.

Shop light using 12V DC LEDs using 3528/5050/5630 Flexible Light Strips

Testing the completed light is easy, plug it in.  These lights are  up in my shop now and working great. I’ll write a second post soon comparing the different LED’s  ie 3528 vs 5050 vs 5630 in this application.  I will share which one I feel is makes the best shop light, as there is a clear and away winner out of these three.  Hope you enjoyed this quick post, learned something, and as always don’t follow online projects verbatim blindly, think, be safe, and be smart when working on your own projects.