New Video – DIY Smart LED Light Strips: How I Built My Own (Low Cost) ZigBee Lightstrips

After working out that using Philips Hue’s Lightstrips for my kitchen would cost £170+, I set out to build my own smart light strips that cost me less than £40. Plus it’s still fully controllable in the Philips Hue app!

This video covers all the steps required to do this yourself, including:

  • 0:00 Intro
  • 4:54 Soldering my light strip extension wides
  • 8:25 Wiring up the GLEDOPTO ZigBee controller
  • 11:35 Plugging it in
  • 12:24 Importing into the Philips Hue app
  • 15:38 Ending

DIYing your own smart LED light strip doesn’t have to be difficult, and will probably be the best overall option if you need to have a custom run (such as – in my case – having an object in the way, requiring a break in the light strips).

Video Transcript

Hey YouTube, I’m Tristan from Smart Home Point. In my previous video, I spoke through a few different options, that are open to us to actually have smart LED light strips. And for my particular use case, which is that I’ve got a run along my kitchen cabinets, which is broken by a dishwasher, I decided that none of the off-the-shelf solutions are really suitable for me, and as a result I decided to build my own LED light strip. So this video just talks through how you can actually do that.

So in general, it’s actually fairly easy. You buy an LED light strip, it probably comes with some sort of end connector of some sort, and all you need to do, in this case, I need to cut the wires and strip them. You just put them into your GLEDOPTO controller, where it says white, the white cable goes into that. Where it says blue, the blue cable goes into that et cetera. And then actually just power on the device. You can either plug it in, or you can hardwire it. So, it’s completely up to you, and that works really well. It’s really easy to do, but obviously my case is slightly more complicated, because I got that gap in the middle for my dishwasher, so what I have to do is, I’ve got an LED light strip on the right-hand side, and an LED light strip on the left-hand side. I then want to actually run two sets of cables down behind my dishwasher, and then I will connect the two cables up, in the back of my dishwasher, to my GLEDOPTO controller and then power it on. And that’s how I’ll actually link my two LED light strips.

So it’s slightly more effort than just having a single long run, where you plug it in, but not match, all you’re doing is linking… extending some cables down behind something, via soldering or another method, which I’ll talk about now, and then you actually join them up at the other end, and you’ve got quite a lot of space here, to actually put multiple cables in, and it’s really thin sort of strand type cable, so it’s really easy to fit multiple, LED light strip cables into this. Okay, so for my particular purpose, I’ll have a LED light strip, and they’ve already come pre-wired with this end connector, but if they don’t have that, if your LED light strip doesn’t have an end connector like this, you might just have a bare end, then what you can actually do, is use what’s called a hippo cable [connector!], and a hippo cable is really easy to do. You literally put one end of the LED strip, into the hippo connector and you bite down, and then you get your wire, you put in there, and you bite down again, and you actually end up with…

(mumbles) I’ve got too much here… but you end up with, this is a LED strip, which has something like that. So you’ve got your hippo connector there that’s bit down into the LED light strip, and it creates a connection from the back, from the cut end, and then you’ve got your wires coming out. And from there, you know, I could do that on both. Obviously this could be really long length of wire, I do that on my other LED strip as well, and I just need to connect them in the back as needed. So it’s quite easy to do hippo connectors, and certainly if your LED light strip, doesn’t come with any end connectors, then hippo connectors are really worth using. But in my case, the LED light strips that I’ve bought, do have some sort of cut end, ah sorry they do have some sort of end connector, they don’t just have a cut end. Okay, so in terms of using this end connector, obviously this isn’t long enough to go behind my dishwasher on both sides, obviously. So on eBay I bought a five core LED light strip cable, it was really cheap, I think it was like five meters for five pound, which around $6, it’s really cheap. What I’ll actually be doing, is cutting this particular wire, the end connector wire, I’ll be joining them up, and then running this down on each side of the dishwasher, and then at the other side behind my dishwasher, I’ll be stripping this cable back, on both sides for both LED strips essentially, going into the GLEDOPTO controller, and then powering it on. There’s a lot of space in the actual GLEDOPTO controller, and the strands core in there are really thin, so it’s really easy to get two sets of core cable, going into each particular bit here, so that’ll work really well. In terms of how I actually connect this cable to this cable, you got two main options. You can obviously cut them both, splice them and solder, or you can use some sorts of connector block, whether that’s a traditional terminal block, or something like a Wago connector.

However you do it it’s completely up to you. But once it’s spliced on both ends, it will be a case of wiring them up into the GLEDOPTO controller, and I’ll show you all this in this video. So the way I’ll actually be connecting, these two cables together is by soldering. It’s not much more effort really, than use in Wago connectors, and is gonna be a lot more streamlined, it’s gonna use a lot less space, so let’s take a look at that now.

Okay, so once my soldering iron warms up, I’ll just make sure that I’ve stripped the relevant ends, of my particularly cable. So this is for my LED light strip, and this is the cable I’ll be running behind my dishwasher. (metal clicks) Okay, yeah that’s a good length, I’ve taken off, and I wanna do the same with this, but I’ll cut off the end first. (metal clicks) That’s all cut off, and then I wanna cut the end off as well, like I just done… cut the end off the cable. (mumbles) let’s get rid of that. Okay, so that’s still heating up, right so, I wanna actually separate, the individual bits of this cable, make sure I’m gonna have space to work with, when I’m actually soldering, and everything comes part quite easy. And then I’ll do the same thing with this as well. It’s the cable, this is gonna be going behind my dishwasher.

Okay, so the main thing you want to do, is splice the actual individual cables together. I must admit I’m not amazing at… I just twist them together, and make sure I just rest them here, just wanna make sure they’ve got a nice connection, and that all the parts have actually run together. You wanna make sure these aren’t pulling apart, so I wanna rest them on the tables, sufficiently. Okay, so it’s got a nice connection, and it’s not pulling apart, you can see it’s all sort of run together. Get those cables out the way, just make sure they’re nowhere near, right? Okay, so the next thing to do, is actually just run this solder onto the cable, to make sure there’s a good connection. I’m not the best in soldering. Okay. Okay, and now that’s done, I’ll just need to repeat the exact same process with the other cables as well, so I’ll just do that now. Once you’re done, you’ll have something like this, but you don’t want to just leave the bare wires exposed, you want to actually use electrical tape, or heat shrink wrap to actually protect them further.

Okay, so at this point now, I’ve got my two different LED light strips, with a soldered connection on both, and then a run that can go behind my dishwasher, and then I need to actually connect them, to a GLEDOPTO controller. Now, you might notice at this stage, I’ve actually got two GLEDOPTO controllers, and that’s because I was originally waving around this one, the RGB CCT one, but actually that requires six different pins going into it, and actually I only bought five-pin, five wire or five-pin LED wire cable. What that means is if I was to wire it up, whilst it would come on, as I shown in a previous video, I don’t actually have a connection for C, which is cool white. So what that means is, I wouldn’t really be able to change between the two different color temperatures, white and cool white. So I probably will still use this, for a different LED light strip, but I’ve gone out and actually bought the correct GLEDOPTO controller for my LED light strips, which is a five-pin controller, which you can see here, and in terms of wiring up, it’s really easy, you’ve got the white, which is white. Blue, which goes into blue, green, which goes into green red, which goes into red, it’s just the other way round at that point, and then V plus is black. So this is just positive connection, and obviously, I’ll be wiring both up.

I’ll be actually wiring both up into the GLEDOPTO controller, soon in essence I’ll splice these cables, connect them together, wire them in and then plug this on. Okay, so that’s my plan, let’s get to it. So first and I’ll make sure I just create strands here, just to make it easier for me, to separate everything for now. Okay, now everything’s nicely separated out, I’d probably just do one cable at a time, one wire at a time, it’ll just make it easier. So let’s just spin it round. The easiest way for me to do this is actually just to connect these two cables together, before I put in the GLEDOPTO controller, it doesn’t need to be a great sort of connection, and I could put both in separately, but in my case I’m just connecting them physically. It’s gonna be an easier connection, because the individual strands are fairly thin, so I just thought I wanted to connect them both together first.

Okay, so I’ll put them into the actual connection here, and the main thing I need to do, is press in on this white section, so I’ll just get a flathead screwdriver, push it in and do it on the floor actually, okay. So at that point now, this is a solid connection, they’re not pulling out, and now you simply need to repeat the process, with the other cables as well. Okay. That’s all done, all finalized, you’ve got individual cables, coming in as you can see, and then you’ve just got the two LED light strips, so they will connect it together. Okay, so with that all wired up, the next thing to do, is literally to get my power cable and put in here. I could also splice this cable, and hardwire it if I want, but this hardwiring option in my opinion’s better. If you’ve actually got cables, running from your electrical grid… house. Obviously in my case, I’ve got a power adopter which works fine, so I’m just gonna use that instead. So I’ll plug it in, it’s already on the wall, and there you have it.

The actual LED light strips all light up, there you have it. So they all light up, which is brilliant. So you can see all the individual cables have wired up here, and then you can see the actual individual diodes have come on here, and they’ve also come on here as well. You can actually see individual color diodes on there, so that’s really good

So now I’ll switch over to the Hue app, and I actually import this in, okay. So let’s launch the Hue app. Let’s go into my settings and then light setup, I want to say, add a new light up here, That’s not a very good arrow. Let’s click on add new light, search. and because this is a GLEDOPTO ZigBee controller, it should find it, sometimes it can take up to a minute. Brilliant there we are, so it’s actually now worked. As you can see, because this is not a CCT device, in other words, it doesn’t merge the two profiles together, it actually comes as two separate lights. So extended color light and dimmable light, in other words, the first one is for the RGB for the color, and then the second one is for the white, okay. So I’m gonna give them names, kitchen light strip color, and you can see also it’s coming up as the manufacturer, and the model number. So that’s gonna be that… type is a Hue light strip. I’m gonna call it that, obviously it’s not Hue, but that’ll work. Let’s go back… color kitchen light strip, obviously, as I click on the names, of the devices is actually changing accordingly, which is really good to see, showing that it’s working kitchen light strip, white.

And to be honest though I would have preferred a CCT, for the reasons I outlined in my previous video, this will actually worked fairly well for me as well, because sometimes I just wanna be dimming whites, and sometimes I wanna actually be going into full RGB, so actually the reality is, it’s rare that I’m actually gonna want to merge both together. So this will work fairly well. Okay, so I’ve got those as light strips, now what I’ll probably do, essentially I’ll add them up here, to a particular room, so rooms and zones. I’ve got my kitchen, and I’m gonna select those there, and again you can see things flashing. Brilliant. Okay, let’s go into kitchen, so you can see first is RGB, what you can actually see is, I’ve got my white color wheel, and I’ve got my RGB one. So for example, I can switch them to different colors, and you can see that actually things change accordingly, and then separately, I can actually come in and change the type of white. That’s more of a pink and a color, small bluey, and then you can see that sort of changeing accordingly, which is really good to see.

Okay, that’s awesome. I’m really glad to see it working. As you can tell from my soldering, I’m not exactly the best at soldering, and working with different cables, even though I have some experience with it, I’m not sort of ultra experienced. So I wanted to do this video, and just show you all the different steps, that you need to do to actually connect one or more LED light strips to a controller, and actually to build your own LED light strip. It works out a lot cheaper doing it this way. I’ve actually got a customized, run of around four meters worth, of ZigBee based light strips, and it’s worked out a lot cheaper, than anything on the market, and obviously it’s a lot more suitable to my actual install.

So I’m really glad how it’s turned out, I hope you found this video useful. If you did, please click the thumbs up button, and don’t forget to subscribe. Thank you.

About Tristan Perry

Tristan Perry is a software developer who is passionate about tech gadgets, DIY and housing. He has therefore loved seeing smart homes hit the mainstream. Tristan also has an academic background (in Math & Computer Science), and so he enjoys digging into the technical ways that smart home devices work.

Tristan owns close to a dozen Amazon Echo devices, way too many Philips Hue bulbs and lightstrips, a boat-load of Ring Cameras and Doorbells... and a bunch of other smart home devices too (from Reolink, Google Nest, GLEDOPTO and others).

If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions about this article, please leave a comment below. Please note that all comments go into a moderation queue (to prevent blog spam). Your comment will be manually reviewed and approved by Tristan in less than a week. Thanks!

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