Letter Re: Low Voltage DC LED Strip Lights for Disaster House Lighting

Dear JWR:
This might have been thought of before, but I just stumbled into something called LED strip lights. Here is a sample.

They come in 15 meter rolls, are about 1/2 inch wide and have 300 individual LED lights. They can be cut into segments between every third light. They run off of 12 volts DC and are actually rather bright while using little electricity. If you purchased one of those little strips the reloading companies sell to mount inside the press so you can see what’s going on, it is probably this stuff. There are several versions. Some have 150 light and some have larger LEDs that put out more light. There are several colors available including multi-color ones for holiday lighting.

I’m seeing a lot of possibilities for emergency use. A strip with six LEDs on it will light most of the rooms in my house well enough to get around in. It will also provide enough light to read by if placed close to the book. It isn’t the most pleasant light, though I haven’t sampled the other color variants, but it beats no light. I took a battery holder that holds 8 AA cells I got at Radio Shack and made a portable light for about $4 plus the cost of batteries. It isn’t elegant, but it sure is cheap. If I’m doing the math right, a strip of six LEDs are using .02 AH, so those eight AA batteries should provide several days of run time.

You could probably improve the quality of light with lens or diffusers.

I just checked it outside and if placed about seven feet in the air, a strip of six will light about a 20 foot in diameter circle reasonably well. It’s not a floodlight, but if you are in a darkened house looking out, you will be able to see what’s out there.

It also seems to run well on NiMH rechargeable batteries . A solar charger and some rechargeable batteries should be able to keep you in light for quite a while. I’m also sure the more innovative can come up with better ideas for implementation.

Should you want to post it, I trust, of course, that you won’t use my full name.

Thanks and God Bless. – T.M.G.

JWR Replies: Although LED light strips and tubes have been mentioned before in SurvivalBlog, this topic bears repeating.

If you buy either red or blue LEDs, then they won’t spoil your eyes’ natural night vision, for when you step outdoors.

My favorite suppliers for LED lights is Creative Lighting Solutions, a small company launched in February of 2007 and based near Cleveland, Ohio.