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LED lights are the best. A few strips fitted here and there, and you can transform your living room into your own personal aurora, your own walled-off section of Tokyo midnight.
With their deep customizability and vivid glow, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to call them domesticated rainbows, but as is the case with a lot of house-bound beasts, an uncontrollable fragment of the wild may still reside somewhere deep within.
As such, your LED light strips may become disobedient at times, showing all the wrong colors and ruining your painstakingly put-together light sequences.
Not to worry, though, my fellow LED lovers, I’m going to show you 3 methods of solving the issue and bringing those unruly lights back under control.
What Are LED Lights?
Before we dive into some troubleshooting and fixes, to understand why your LEDs sometimes give you grief, it helps to know a little something about what they are and how they work.
LED is an abbreviation of Light-Emitting Diodes, a technology capable of providing illumination with a fraction of the energy required to power traditional bulbs.
Each LED is made up of a reflective cavity, an epoxy lens, an anode, a cathode, a bond wire, and an LED chip. When an electrical current passes through a strip, electrons fill in the electron holes of the LED chips, transform into photons, and then, well...let there be light.
By altering the energy it takes for electrons to cross the band gap of each LED, you can reduce or increase the energy of the photons created, thereby achieving different hues, but they’re not just a lovely bit of eye candy, they’re also super energy efficient.
Traditional incandescent lights waste approximately 90% of the energy that passes through them in order to maintain filament temperature. While LEDs do give off a small amount of heat, they don’t need to create it as an intermediate part of the lighting process.
However, amazing as they are, things can and will go wrong with LED lighting.
Common Issues With LED Lighting
As a comparatively new lighting technology, there are bound to be a few issues with LEDs, but luckily, they’re almost all easily remedied.
Problems include flickering due to low wattage or poor capacitors, a buzzing or humming noise due to overvoltage, over brightness due to excess wattage, dimness due to old age or poor design, complete failure due to a short circuit, and spontaneous shutdowns due to faulty fixture drivers.
But none of these issues are quite as mysterious as our topic of focus today, the phenomenon of LED lights illuminating with the wrong color.
If this is the case for you, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many other LED enthusiasts are dealing with the exact same problem, which is why I’m writing this article.
The good news is that showing the wrong color is not a death sentence for your LED strip. It can normally be fixed using one of three simple methods.
So, without further ado, let’s get that house rainbow of yours back on the leash!
LED Lights Showing The Wrong Color
The ever-changing hues of LED lighting is one of the technology's most appealing aspects, enabling you to alter the entire aesthetic and feel of your surroundings to match or create a mood.
Got a movie night planned? Perfect. Turn off your overheads and fire up the LEDs for a super immersive and magical viewer experience.
Need to chill after a hard day at the office? No problem. Set your LEDs to a soothing cooling, roll off the brightness, kick back, and enjoy your evening.
The problem is that it only takes a minute change in energy required of electrons to jump the band gap to alter the color and ruin your good time.
This slight shift in energy can be caused by a few different things, and sometimes it’s down to the remote rather than the lighting system itself, which is why I’m covering all bases here with 3 different ways of fixing the issue.
Double Check That Everything Is Plugged In Correctly
There are a number of different connections involved with LED lighting. Each color will have its own wire - one red, one green, and one blue - then there’s the ground + and - black and white cables, and sometimes, there’ll be a typical wall outlet power supply too.
These cables all have their own little terminals, and they need to be threaded into the correct place in order to function correctly.
- Your first port of call is to make sure the + black cable of your RGB strip light is connected to the +12V terminal.
- Your next mission is to check whether the positive side of the strip lines up with the + side of the connector.
- And finally, make sure there are no loose or misplaced RGB connections.
Your RGB cables should be color-coded to match their hue, and all the terminals in your receiver should be labeled, but on occasion, people have reported that either their wires or terminals have been labeled incorrectly, which is a real pain.
If that’s the case, your best bet is to just experiment with different combinations until you stumble across one that seems to keep your strip functioning correctly.
Resetting Your LED Light Strip
You’ve probably been putting off giving the old factory reset a try in case you lose your custom sequences, but here’s the thing...if your LEDs aren’t showing the right colors, to a certain degree, you’ve already lost your custom settings.
I know, I know, it sucks, but I wouldn’t be suggesting this course of action if it wasn’t known to be one of the most effective fixes around.
Sometimes, as you customize your LED lighting over time, they can develop strange bugs that lead to strange behavior, such as your lights taking color choice into their own hands.
Triggering a factory reset makes it as if your tinkering never even happened, which means if your LEDs were showing the right colors when you first set them up, they will again after the reset.
Unfortunately, reset protocols differ from strip to strip and brand to brand, so I can’t provide a full-blown, detailed tutorial on how it’s done, but I can give you some general advice that seems to apply to the majority of LED strips.
- Most strips will have a dedicated reset switch somewhere on the receiver.
- Others may require you to push and hold the power button.
- More complex devices may require you to disconnect and reconnect the power supply.
- If the reset function isn’t obvious, it’s a good idea to try and dig up some information online from the manufacturer’s website to save you from experimenting like a mad scientist for hours on end.
Replace Your Controller
If the first two fixes have been busts for you, I’m afraid to say it may be time to get the wallet out and start throwing some money at the issue.
A lot of people don’t realize this, but it’s commonly the remote of an LED light strip that’s on the fritz rather than the lights themselves, especially if it’s a little cheap and tacky.
Many remotes simply don’t pass through a lot of quality control phases in the factory, often leading to mismatched color buttons.
Poorly built remotes can also develop problems over time, so even though it might have worked perfectly at first, it could still be the cause of your wrong color woes in the now.
My advice is to contact the manufacturer or seller and see if they can source you a replacement remote. With any luck, they’ll hook up gratis, as the malfunction isn’t your fault.
If you can’t source an identical replacement, it’s not the worst thing to ever happen, as it may just let you down all over again. Instead, why not try a universal LED remote.
Well, “universal” is a bit of a strong word, as there are no truly universal LED remotes, but this SuperNight controller seems to work with most LED strips.
The Final Word On Color-Confused LED Lights
Well, there you have it, friends; I hope one of these fixes solved your problem and your LEDs are behaving again. In the unfortunate event that the problem persists, even after trying all three solutions, it’s time to accept that you may need to completely replace your strip lights.
It’s annoying, I know, but short of making peace with the fact that you no longer have control, it’s your only remaining option.
Try and think of it as a good thing. Sure, you’re going to be a little out of pocket, but it’s an opportunity to upgrade your current LED set up with something more reliable, perhaps with even more customizability.
Think about the kind of functionality you want your LED lighting to have, and don't forget to read up on plenty of customer reviews, and your ambiance will be back and better than ever in no time at all. Enjoy!