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How To Install LEDs

Kinda Like A Tutorial

Playing with electronics is fun. A person can be very creative if they just learn some of the basics. Basics like Soldering and Desoldering. Or the difference between an Anode and a Cathode.

Electronics? Not That Scary
I have been in the electronics field for over 30 years, and I have learned a lot from just jumping in with both feet and doing it. One of the best ways to get good at anything is to jump in and give it a try, so follow me and let's see how creative we can be.

Picture of an Under Cabinet LED Light.Let's Get Started
I purchased this Lights Of America Under Cabinet LED Light Set to test on my Product Review web page. It came with four, 24 LED lights. Once I had all of the review information I needed, I was going to just put them under my kitchen cabinets.
But before I had a chance to put them up, I decided to do the
LED Garden Project and these lights were exactly what I needed. Well two of them anyway.

Picture of a Under Cabinet Puck light.

I figured, with 24 LEDs, they should give off plenty of light for growing plants. Problem was, I needed to install LEDs that were Red and Blue in one of the lights. Well for me, that was no problem. And it really shouldn't be a problem for you either, if you learn some of the basics.



Soldering and Desoldering are the two main skills you should learn in order to install LEDs, and many other projects. So if you are inexperienced with these two skills, go to my Soldering and Desoldering tutorials.
If you know your way around a solder sucker or solder wick, and a soldering iron, please continue reading.

In order to do this right, unless you already have these supplies, you'll need to head to your local Radio Shack or electronics supply store to gather up a few things. You can also get them online at any number of websites. Just search for "Electronic Supplies" on Google. You'll find a bunch.

I assume, if you are experienced or have already gone to my Soldering and Desoldering tutorials, then you have what you need. But I'll just mention a few things anyway.
  Picture of two hand held soldering irons. Picture of a soldering iron, solder and a wire brush.

WES51 Electronic Soldering 					Station

WES51 Electronic Soldering Station

A good soldering station or iron with stand is important to install LEDs. I purchased the one, (above on the left) a while back and love it. Click on the picture and check it out.

You'll also need Solder, Solder Wick or a Solder Sucker (Which ever you prefer), some flux-off or flux cleaner spray, a old clean toothbrush, a sharp pair of side cutters (Diagonals, Dykes, Picture of various tools for soldering.whatever you want to call them), a helping hand vise (Or anything to hold the circuit board), and, now that I'm 50+, I require a magnifying lamp (Eyesight isn't what it used to be), and eye protection. I have seen what happens when hot solder went into someone's eye, they went to the hospital.

That's about all you need to install LEDs. If any of these things don't sound familiar, go to my
Soldering and Desoldering tutorials, the answers should be there.

Wait, Don't Forget The LEDs
I should also mention here, if you are going to go get some supplies to install LEDs, you will also need to get the LEDs to complete this Install LEDs project. I went online and purchased mine from Amazon. I purchased 20 Clear White LEDs and 5 Clear Blue LEDs . They were moderately priced and seem to be of good quality. picture of a disassambled puck light.

De-Solder The Original LEDs
As I mentioned earlier, the set came with four lights, but I only need two for my LED Garden Project. One will stay white but the other will need to be a combination of 19 red and 5 blue LEDs. Why 19 and 5? Well, from what I've been reading, plants like 70% red light and 30% blue.

First we need to disassemble the light. Once it's all apart, we'll put the circuit board into the vice so that we can use two hands to De-Solder the LEDs. I prefer solder-wick for De-soldering. It's just a personal preference.

Clean The Circuit Board  Picture of a clean solder joint.
Picture of a dirty solder joint.Once you have removed all of the original LEDs, and before you can install LEDs, you need to clean the circuit board. This is where the Flux-off and a chem-brush come in. Start at one end and spray a small amount on the solder side of the circuit board where the old rosin has built up. It will probably be brown. Lightly scrub the areas where the LEDs were until it is clean. Continue until the whole board is clean and then give it one more spray to rinse it off.

Install LEDs
Picture of an LED with it's parts labeled. Flip the circuit board over and start installing the LEDs. It is very important to make sure you put them in with the proper polarity. LEDs have a positive lead (Anode), and a negative lead (Cathode). The circuit board should have a plus sign marking where the positive lead goes. There are usually three ways to determine the polarity of an LED. The cathode of an LED is the short lead, there is also a flat side on the flange at the base of the LED that tells you it's the cathode. The last way is to look inside the epoxy. The cathode is the larger cup-like object (I know, real technical, huh?). Anyway, install the five blue LEDs in a pattern towards the middle of the circuit board, and then install the remaining 19 red LEDs.

Picture of LED's in a circuit board. Get The Bases Flat
It is very important when you install LEDs that you make sure the bases of all the LEDs are flat against the circuit board. I actually flipped the circuit board over, once I filled it with the LEDs, and lightly pushed and wiggled the circuit board until they were all flat. You can slightly bend the leads of the LEDs while holding the top flush, it's up to you.

Picture of LED leads being cut.

Start Soldering
Now it's time to solder all of the LEDs into place. Once they are all soldered and cool, you will need to cut off all of the leads. Use the cutters and cut right at the top of the solder where it ends and the lead starts. This is what it should look like.

 Picture of a good solder joint.

Now just one more good cleaning of the circuit board and a thorough inspection to look for poor solder joints or leftover flux and it's time to reassemble and test.

Does It Work?
Well? How does it look? Are all the LEDs lit? If not then the first thing I would check is the polarity of the LED. I've put them in backwards before myself so, check it out.

In Conclusion
If you have purchased this same Lights Of America Under Cabinet LED Light Set then this tutorial should be very helpful. If you have some other type then use the information here as a guideline. But remember, this project requires 110VAC to operate and that kind of voltage can kill you, so be very careful.



Wait, One Last Thing


Soldering Disclaimer: All of the information on this and any other page on this website is to be done at your own risk. Soldering irons are very hot and can cause severe burns. Melted solder can easily fly and get into places you don't want it, so be careful. ALWAYS USE EYE PROTECTION. It's just a good idea. If you get hurt or damage anything, IT'S NOT MY FAULT. Please use good judgment when performing these tasks. BE SAFE AND SMART. Thank you.




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