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I was using this tape above my computer for ambient illumination. Over time it imperceivably changed from warm white light to a dull orange glow.
When it got the point that I couldn't identify component colour bands I decided to take a closer look.
The gel they use to make it waterproof (more like splash-proof) has degraded through exposure to the blue/violet wavelength of the light. Directly above the LED chips it had gone so brown that it was blocking and colouring the light. Initially I thought it was the phosphor that had degraded, but when the coating is cleaned off the LED it is as bright as when new.
The LED strip was being under-run for long life, but it shows that the LEDs themselves aren't the only factor in optical degradation. This is a good reminder that you should always treat LED tape as a consumable, and ensure it can be replaced easily in the future.
Here's the original video where I hacked the LED into an old strip light:-
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About three years ago, the tube, in the light above where i used my laptop started flickering, it was a fluorescent tube and i was struggling to get replacements. So i thought well i'll. Just stick an led. Instead, so i got a warm white led strip, which is what i had here: 50.

50 leds. I basically stuck it on where the troop had been and took out. The original electronic ballast and put in a current regulated, led driver so actually deliberately under run the leds. So they were a nice low level of light and it was just enough to work by and see what i was doing and as time went on it changed color.

The intensity went down quite dramatically and it went really orangey color to the point that i was thinking. I can't actually read stuff when i'm looking at this and then the color changed to the point that i'd be looking at like resistors and things like that with the color bands, and i just couldn't differentiate components because it was orange light. So let me show you what it looks like if i turn this on and i turn the light off and i zoom down on this. The strip at the top here is brand new from the same batch.

The strip at the bottom is the stuff. That's been up for a while. That's gone a bit more, it's very random. It's got orange iron bits this led's a lot brighter because i've actually uncovered it because i it's interesting the way it failed watch your eyes.

The light is coming back. So the light is back. I shall turn that off. I shall bring in some exhibits when you looked at the led tape.

This is the new stuff. The leds had developed, this really strong dark dot on them and it was basically blocking the light. I initially thought it was: the phosphorus had been degraded, but when i actually picked the surface gel off the led was absolutely fine underneath and if you actually compare the two of them it looks just as bright as brand new. Basically, it's actually pretty good, but this one was really cussing the light down and if i show you what it looked like lit, you can see here's a new stuff lit nice and bright, pretty much matching intensity here, but this is just a complete mess.

It's blacked out above the leds and what's actually happened, is that gel coating has degraded it's been affected by the blue or maybe even close to the ultraviolet light from the led and it's discolored and blackened um. I think it's just basically changed state. It's not burnt because these leds were not being pushed hard, and certainly when you pick the stuff off uh, it actually is just that when you scrap scrape it right down to surface led here this, the phosphor layer, it's absolutely fine. So that was odd.

I have since replaced it with new led tape, but the stuff i put in was cold white just for a difference, but also not with this protective layer, because i get the feeling that this protective gel is causing a lot of problems with some of the early Led tapes because it's not stable under that exposure to the blue light and it does degrade so i just thought: i'd uh mention this because um it's interesting in the early days, it used to be the leds themselves that failed in this case. It's not it's. The actual coating above them that's degraded, but that's quite interesting. However, it is now fixed and i'll know what to look for in the future.

When i see similar effects.

15 thoughts on “Ip65 led tape coating fail”
  1. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Frank says:

    I believe that the silicone coating releases acetic acid as it slowly cures. In my case, This made the adhesive backing ineffective, and I had to remove and replace it all.

  2. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars BRUXXUS says:

    That's VERY useful info. Have been considering using the silicone coated strips for a project, but was concerned about discoloration and overheating. I'll find a different way to waterproof the basic strips. Thanks!

  3. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Markus Strangl says:

    I'm not so sure it's actually the light.. I've got a few meters of similar silicone-covered LED strip spare (various colors, no white ones), and that also developed yellowish-brown spots all over to the point it's not actually usable anymore, but it was never powered on. I wouldn't be surprised if something weird with the plasticizers in the LED casing actually reacted with the silicone.

  4. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Henry Becker says:

    I purchased 50' of LED tape from Adafruit, who I consider a trusted seller, and and used portions of the tape for the same under-shelf lighting and had the same the same exact experience. The covering of the roll of unused tape has over time turned yellow.

  5. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars John McFerren says:

    This is another reason I guess I will keep with Fluorescent tubes, Incandescent/halogen lamps, or screw in LED lamps when working on certain things. In fact I actually like the fluorescent tube lights I use with electronics work even though red is a bit off in colour it is still identifiable.

  6. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Caggius says:

    Wish I had seen this before I replaced all my Kitchen Led Tape like for like after it degraded in a similar manner after just 3 years.ย 
    Looks like I can look forward to replacing it again in 2 years time – but this time without the Gel….

    A word of caution I bought an LED power supply off eBay to drive these, when I received it – it was rattling. Opened it up to check and found two cut off component legs floating around inside the casing, each big enough to bridge the primary/secondary gap……

  7. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Peter Stimpel says:

    OT: No matter which light I am using, I cannot distinguish the colorbands on resistors at all. The blue resistors make it even harder. I wish the guy who invented the colorbands <censored>, what's wrong with numbers …

  8. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars devttyUSB0 says:

    Heh. You dug it out of the bin then! Thanks! A lot of those gel-covered water resistant LED tape turns yellow over time is my experience. This failure mode is new to me though. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars youtubkeeper says:

    I've seen LED tapes used outdoors whose waterproof coating has also degraded in a similar way. I just assumed it was sun and weather that did it, but maybe it was the LEDs itself.

  10. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Barrie Shepherd says:

    I had about 3 meters of the gel tape under my kitchen cupboards and, like Clive, began to notice that things were dimmer than I remembered. The same had happened – tape coating was yellow, some LEDS almost out others very dim.

    I decided to replace them and went to get the remaining tape that had been left on the reel, in it's protective (silvered) bag. It to had yellowed and while the LEDS were brighter the tape was so brittle that the tape was useless.

    I concluded that the gel coating was either generally deteriorating, on it's own, or interacting with something in the tape construction. Either way I shall not be buying gel coated LED tape again.

    This may be recognised as the latest LED tapes I have bought are encased, but loose, in a more silicone type sleeve to give them protection.

  11. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars ross1701 says:

    I had a section of similar gel coated 5050 tape sat unused in the top of a box that was open to daylight and the general room light. When I went to actually use it, like several years after I actually bought it, the whole gel coating was brown like I'd already used it and grilled the LEDs for months. Definitely some sort of reaction between the gel and perhaps the UV in the ambient light?

  12. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Hola! TailSaber says:

    This happened quite quickly to a strand I bought to use camping. It was outdoors cumulatively for maybe a week or two. I'm guessing the sunlight during the day caused the browning.

  13. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Gregory Thomas says:

    Quite unexpected!
    I have never need to to use coated LED strips so I haven't run into this issue…thank you for posting this…I will keep it in mind for the future ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Cameradoctor says:

    The biggest issue I have with those gel coated strips, is getting the double sided tape to stick to them ! The stuff they supply, although often branded 3M, is useless, and nothing else seems to work either – I often end up using liquid silicon type glue / bond

  15. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Wolfie RARAR says:

    I had the same, they were so degraded they literally crumbled and broke when I tried to remove them, they looked very brown but they still lit but very dim and warm, but they should have been cold white. Interesting video Clive, thankyou โค

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