Working with rope light may seem like an overwhelming project but with just a few simple tools and a little know how you can easily and beautifully install rope lighting at your home or business. Rope lighting is a very versatile product that our customers love. You can use rope lights as an inexpensive under cabinet light, put it up on plant shelves overhead, in your crown molding, make signs with it or outline walkways for a nice consistent look. Whatever your purpose is in using rope light here are some tips to make cutting and connecting plugs easier for you the consumer.
These instructions are for field cuttable rope light so make sure the rope light you purchase comes from a reliable source with the option to cut the rope light. The rope light you buy at Home Depot, Lowes, or other big box stores will not be field cuttable. If you cut their rope light it will no longer work so be careful and mindful of where you bought your rope light and its capabilities. You don’t want to find out after you’ve cut your lights they weren’t cuttable!
All the rope light we sell, whether LED or incandescent, comes in 150FT spools. Each spool will come with 3 power cord connectors and end caps, 3 splice connectors, and a small bag of clips. Keep these additional items handy as they are necessary to powering up and installing your rope light! If you lose them you will not be able to power your rope light. If you ever need more than the 3 connectors we do sell these items individually on our website.
Depending on the type of rope light you order will depend on where you can cut the rope light in case you want a smaller piece than 150FT! Check product specifications for details on where cutting is possible on the rope light. Most LED rope light can be cut every 3FT or 5FT depending on the color and 2 wire incandescent rope light can be cut every 1.5FT. Our 3 Wire rope light has an extra wire and is made to twinkle and flash so it can be cut every 3FT.
On the rope light you will see usually a date and a dotted line where you can cut the rope light. Only cut rope light on this dashed line. If you cut the rope light anywhere else you can ruin a section of the rope light and you will have to cut that section off and start over to get a workable piece.
You can cut rope light with PVC Pipe Cutter tools from a hardware store, scissors will do in a pinch or a box cutter if you must. The RIGID brand PVC pipe cutter tool we use is made for up to 1” cutting so it is perfect for ½” rope light and will give you the best clean cut possible. The cost on these cutters is less than $10 at most hardware stores.
Once you have your rope light cut to length the next thing to do is install your power cord or splice connector. First, unscrew the outer connecting ring and put it on the rope light to tighten the connector on after you’ve attached the plug connector.
Next, look for the two wire holes in the rope light. This is where you will want to insert the prongs from the connector piece. It is not all that difficult but keep in mind if you don’t line up the holes and the prongs your rope light won’t light up. Also, with LED the rope light is polarized so if you insert the prongs correctly and still nothing happens try flipping the prongs over and inserting again.
If your rope light does not light up the first thing to check is to make sure the prongs are inserted and making contact with the wires inside the rope light. It is easy to miss the wires and not make new holes so keep trying and be patient your first time working with rope light. It does get easier and once you have done it the next time you’ll get it much faster.
After the prongs are matched up and you have pushed the connector on as far as you can then you will want to screw on the rope light connector ring to tighten the connection.
And last but not least (this is a very important step in working with your rope light) put the end cap on the other end of the rope light. This keeps your rope light from getting wet or from anyone touching the end of the rope light and getting a jolt! This too can be a little difficult (especially in cold weather) but it is intended to keep water out and you safe so you want the tight connection. We do this by putting the end cap on a table with the opening up and then inserting the rope light into the opening and pushing down until the rope light gets to the end of the cap. You may need to wiggle it back and forth a bit to get it all the way in. This is much easier to do when your rope light is warm so if it’s been sitting in a cold area, bring it in overnight before working with the rope light and it will be a lot easier.
Finally, you’re ready to plug in your rope light and test the connection. If it comes on you did it correctly! If not your prongs probably aren’t making a good connection and you will want to try reinserting the prong connection into the correct holes on the rope light. When you’re done you will have a fantastic bright piece of rope light to install wherever you’ve planned.