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I'm installing a LED strip(2pin) lighting in our staircase. There's an 18 AWG wire coming out from each tread nosing that is attached to the LED strip a couple inches away from it.

enter image description here

The problem I'm having is with hiding this 18 AWG wire - it's quite thick, so it doesn't really stick well to the nosing (tried gluing it).

Any advice on best practices to hide the wire leading into LED strips for installations like this?

The wire coming in to LED strip itself doesn't have to be that thick, in fact standard connectors have 22AWG wire that I think would be much easier to glue and hide from view.

I was thinking perhaps the 18AWG wire coming out of the tread could be terminated right there with a connector to which a thinner wire could plug into and lead to the strip. Any advice on what type of connectors could work best for such a solution? I need to make a 90 degree turn from incoming wire there - had hard time finding a corner connector for that.

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  • try staples or thumbtacks,
    – Jasen
    Apr 2 at 0:25
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That led strip only needs a small wire - I would have a hidden connector box under the stairs and a short section of hidden thin wire to the led - even make a cover for each end.

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  • Any recommendation what type of connector to use for that?
    – sbuslovsky
    Apr 1 at 18:00
  • Well, made a led light for my son using 4 metres of led on specially channeled wood so the leds are not easily visible but the light gets out and I soldered the connections with twisted pair taken from a chopped up network cable. Works a treat.
    – Solar Mike
    Apr 1 at 18:05
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Edit: After I wrote the answer below, I realize that you are stuck with that heavy gauge wire and can't just replace it with thinner wire.

Glue will hold down that heavy wire, but you will need to clamp it in place while the glue dries. I think that is your best bet, because you actaully have a pretty slim connection - it's just that heavy wire that needs to be tamed.

Leaving my other answer in case it helps someone else...


There are a few different styles of this connector, but search for "LED strip connector" or "LED strip pigtail" and you will find something like this:

LED pigtail

These locking connectors accept something like 20AWG wire and just clip on to the end of the LED strip. You can use all black wire rather than black/red, but of course you have to be careful with polarity. I have used these connectors for strip lighting on bookcase shelves, and they make a nice, flat connection. A little double stick tape holds the connector and wire tight to the surface.

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  • thanks @JPhi1618
    – sbuslovsky
    Apr 1 at 16:15
  • I tried those connectors BTW - didn't work that great for me. I got a couple different options from Amazon - GooChan and SuperNight manufacturers. With 18AWG they wouldn't cut through wire isolation, the only way to get them in was to strip the wire. On the LED strip end they didn't hold on that great either. Nice idea - not so great implementation. Perhaps there are other brands that work better.
    – sbuslovsky
    Apr 1 at 16:19
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If you're able to move things out of the way I'd cut channels into the underside of the treads for the ends of the LED tape to drop into. A series of 1/2" bores, about 1/4" deep, made with a Forstner bit should do nicely, or an abrasive grinding wheel. You can then use any means to secure the wire and tape connection out of sight.

For that I'd consider drilling a 1/16" hole (or two) from the face of the tread, through and beyond the channel, into which you'd insert a stiff wire to support the tape and wires. Putty the hole and be happy.

SIDE VIEW
  _____________________
 /
|
|
|
|
|    _______
|   |       |   
 \__|-------|__________
       ^-- pin


FRONT VIEW
_____________________________________
                                     |
                                     |
                                     |
                                     |
                                     |
                        .............|
                       / ------------| <-- tape
______________________/__*___________|
----------------------   ^-- pin
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Electrical code requires 18 AWG, so that's that.

Yes, attaching #18 to LED strips is tough because as you see, the "tail wags the dog". That will happen even if the wire was stranded.

However, this one is straightforward: you just need a staple or screw to hold the cable in position.

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  • What part of the code deals with low voltage "decoration" like this? I thought this was beyond any purview of code.
    – JPhi1618
    Apr 1 at 17:10
  • 2
    The low-voltage section. Same section that applies to thermostats. Apr 1 at 18:37
  • 1
    See NEC Article 411 for lighting systems below 30 volts. This article refers you to Article725 fir class 1,2,3 power limited circuits. 725.49 refers to 18 and 16 awg shall be permitted to be used. I know there are some lighting systems that are being installed commercially using cat 6 network cable and basically POE power so it would be a good question to find out how these systems are allowed by the code.
    – Tinkerer
    Apr 1 at 19:31
  • Yeah, most LED tape and such is Article 725 stuff since it uses a NEC Class 2 power supply -- you could have a LED setup that was Article 411, but that'd be a pretty hefty chunk of LEDs! Apr 1 at 22:44

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