Smart strip lights have changed how we approach our home lighting setups. These lights let you customize a wide range of lighting options. Whether you are setting up luxury under lighting in your living room, or you are building out a new utility lighting in the garage, there’s no project that these lights can’t illuminate.
One of the biggest advantages of smart strip lighting is that it can be cut to fit your needs. After all, if you buy a 16′ strip but only need it for a 12′ run, an uncuttable strip would be rendered pointless!
A few brands even have resources built in that allow you to reuse the cut-offs in later projects. LIFX Z light strips are one of the most popular brands of smart lights, but can they be cut?
The short answer is yes, you can cut LIFX Z light strips, but you probably don’t want to. These strip lights were not built to be cut like other brands and doing so will void your warranty. There are some workarounds, as well as other brands to consider, if you want smart strip lighting that can be cut down to size.
What are LIFX Z Light Strips?
LIFX Z light strips are a smart lighting solution that can be integrated into just about any smart home ecosystem. These lights come in at just under 80 inches per unit. The lights feature programmable zones and all the color options you’d expect from modern smart LEDs. The lights have their own built-in Wi-Fi which means no hub is needed to control these lights. If your smart home is getting a little cluttered with hubs, this might be the right choice for you.
The LIFX app lets you control your lighting options, and it’s available for Android, iOS, and Windows 10:
These are an all-around solid choice for smart lighting, but how you can cut them creates an obstacle for some users.
What You Should Know About Cutting LIFX Z Light Strips
While the LIFX Z light strips might be a great choice for most users, the inability to be reliably cut automatically tanks their viability for some.
If you’re a brave DIYer of the smart home world, and you don’t mind throwing that warranty out the window (yes, it invalidates your warranty…) then this is how you can cut a LIFX Z light strip.
How to Cut These LIFX Light Strips
So you want to cut the uncuttable light strip? Before we bust out the scissors, there are some “step 0” safety precautions to take.
Unplug the lights. This should go without saying, but when playing with electricity it’s always wise to be safer than safe. After that, you want to know where to cut. Almost all LED light strips can be cut at the solder point, which is shown below:
This cut can then be used for a DIY solution later so keep it in mind. You can also cut LIFX Z light strips:
- On the blank white spaces in between every 6 LEDs (light emitting diodes – i.e. the individual squares that emit light).
- At the solder points which are 50cm/19.8″ apart.
- Between the set of 6 LEDs where there is an empty white space.
Now we’re ready to safely make the cut, which involves:
- Turning off the power (this is worth re-iterating – it’s easy to forget!).
- Identify where you want to make your cut, as explored above.
- Make one clean cut using sharp scissors . Don’t ‘hack’ at it, or it may damage actual electrical parts of the strip too.
Now you’ve got one shorter LED light strip and some scrap. Well, it’s scrap for now, but there is a way to bring it back to life that we will discuss later.
The last thing to keep in mind about LIFX Z strip lights is that you can only cut the final strip in your series. Cutting a strip also cuts off the connector that the end that joins strips together.
Why you might not want to do this
If you haven’t made the cut yet, you might not want to. The LIFX Z brands can technically be cut, but so can almost every other brand of smart strip lighting. This brand just isn’t built with that in mind, with their support page saying:
We are not able to warranty strips that have been cut. A strip that has been cut, will need to be the last strip in the line of your strips.LIFX Z Support Page
We’ve already talked about how cutting these lights also cuts your warranty, but it just might not be worth the risk.
These strip lights aren’t designed to be cut, which means that you won’t be able to get any official support after you break the connection. Cutting these lights puts you firmly in DIY territory.
As to why LIFX don’t want you cutting them – it’s purely because it makes warranty and support claims more complicated. LED light strips are full of internal wiring and diodes, and cutting them in the wrong place will damage them. However it’s not always obvious how to properly cut them, so LIFX just set a blanket rule that “any cutting will void the warranty”. This is a pity, but it’s sort of understandable.
If you’re not comfortable scouring the internet for answers to niche project questions, you might be better off buying a strip light that comes ready out-of-the-box.
Thankfully, you don’t have to cut the LIFX Z smart strip light to solve most interior design puzzles.
Ways to Get Around Cutting These Light Strips
Cutting is mainly a solution for excess length and handling spaces you don’t need to light. If you are just looking to handle corners and turns, you can get around this with some clever thinking.
The LIFX Z can’t be bent, but you can loop the strip. Think about this like you are about to wind up the LIFX Z for storage. Just one of these little loops can round a tight corner without having to cut or bend the light.
This is a great solution for people who just need to handle those tight turns behind a TV, but what if you really need to cut your light strip? Here are some brands that can handle being cut and reconnected.
Smart Lightstrips That Can Be Cut
The world of smart home decor feels like it’s always getting better. Those little gaps that made older smart devices frustrating or harder to use get worked out with newer models. When it comes to cutting light strips, it’s no exception to the rule.
These are smart light strip brands that you can cut to your heart’s content right out of the box.
Philips Hue Lightstrips
Of course, we are going to start with the giant of the smart lighting scene. Philips Hue doesn’t cut corners when it comes to their products, they leave that up to you.
Their LED light strip features convenient “cut here” markers on their lights. This lets you know exactly where to cut each and every time without any of that risky guesswork. As you can already guess, these lights are designed to be cut down to size – albeit their cutting interval is quite at every 13″/33cm:
Philips Hue also sells the V4 version of their smart LED light strip with connectors right in the box. You can cut and reuse these lights as much as you like without the same worries that come with LIFX Z.
Feit Electric Smart LED Strip Light
Feit Electric is another brand of smart home lighting. Their LED strip lights feature the same “cut here” feature that made Philips Hue such a good choice.
This brand of smart lights actually encourages you to cut the lights where needed. There are official instructions from Feit for cutting their strip lighting. Their lights only run up to 32-feet, but that should be enough for more home projects.
Kiko Smart LED Strip Light
This smart light is designed to work with Android and iOS devices. Just like with our other two options, these lights feature “cut here” markers throughout their strips that let you know where it’s safe to make a break.
Most of the smart LED strip lights on the market are coming around to adding “cut here” markers for their customers. The reason behind this is a secret that runs through all LED strip lights.
It’s time you knew the truth about LED strip lighting.
Let DIY Illuminate Your Life
I’ll let you in on a little secret about LED strip lights smart or otherwise: Almost all of them can all be cut and reconnected.
You heard that right. LIFX Z, Philips Hue, and other brands can be cut and reconnected to lights of the same make and model. If you are ready to take up the proud mantle of the smart home DIYer, you can cut and reconnect LED light strips as you see fit.
As always, we’re working with electricity here. Make sure you are comfortable working with this potentially hazardous source of power before we get going. Unplug everything you are working with, read up on electrical safety 101, and don’t be afraid to search for help online.
Here’s how LED light strips work. At their core they are a string of diodes strung together at intervals with copper connectors. It’s these copper connectors we are looking for. Philips Hue’s kit is a good example for what we are doing with this DIY project.
We cut the lights at the copper connectors and reconnect them using a connector with the right amount of pins. This is typically a 4-pin or 5-pin connector, but you should look into your specific brand beforehand.
You can find in-depth guides for your brand of LED strip light all over the internet, but here’s the primer:
- Identify the copper connectors
- Cut at the copper connectors
- Expose the copper connections by removing the plastic that surrounds them
- Use a 4-pin connector to attach to cut segments. Make sure to connect them at the right polarity
There are more advanced techniques that involved soldering, but we’ll save those for a more hardcore DIY guide – which I also cover in a YouTube video: