On the first blog of our lighting terms series we went over the common confusions between our cables and various forms of cable connectors. Part two of this blog series will be all about transformers, power supplies, dimming options and direct connectors on the strip. These key components to your LED lighting system and are what power, and allow you to dim the LED lights. Whether you are using them for under cabinet lighting, kitchen, or accent lighting these products are all key components to any system.

We can begin with one phrase that has been commonly misused: power source. It is the transformer vs. the power supply debate we frequently run into. Here at Inspired LED we have two ways to power our lights: either a hardwire setup or a plug-in system.

The hardwired system is controlled by a compatible, low-voltage wall dimmer switch and uses a dimmable transformer. The transformer is hardwired to the house electrical, 120V and converts to 12V so the low voltage LED lighting can be utilized. This system should be installed by a licensed electrician. One type of  wall dimmer switch and our dimmable transformer are pictured below.

Lutron Low Voltage Switch with Dimmable Magnetic Transformer

The plug-and-play system, on the other hand, is typically controlled by an in-line switch or dimmer, and uses a power supply to power the lights. Below is a picture of the several different sizes or Power Supplies we carry. The power supplies can be used with any of the other products below which from left to right are: an in-line switch, in-line dimmer, and a wireless remote dimmer. An easy way to remember the difference between the transformer and a power supply is that a power supply looks like a cell phone charger and plugs into an outlet. The power supply will function properly in a switched outlet, but from this outlet you will only have on and off functions, with no dimming capabilities from a wall switch.

Power Supply with switch and in line dimmer options

Another area of confusion can come when talking about flying leads because we offer several options. Flying leads are cables that are directly soldered onto the ends of our flex strips. These are great when the lights are in a tight spot and there isn’t enough room for the cable to plug into a connector on the end of the strip, or for a special installation. The flying lead can have one of four lead types, as pictured below:

  1. A female flying lead
  2. A male flying lead
  3. A flying lead cable extender
  4. A mid-connector (similar to Female)

Four DIfferent Lead Types: Female flying lead, Male flying lead, Flying lead cable extender, and a mid-connector

Female flying leads are extremely common as they fit well with the interconnect cables and power supply cables for a direct connection. Male flying leads can be used to plug into a female, such as directly into a switch or dimmer, or a distribution block. Cable extenders are used when there are two in/outputs on a single side (one side of stair case, or book shelf). Lastly, the mid-connector is useful when an LED strip is extremely long; instead of having a voltage drop from being powered at one end, the mid-connector allows for an even distribution of power across the entire strip.


Now that we have gone over a few more of the basic product terms at Inspired LED, we hope that it will help you understand the functions of each product, to help make your ordering process a little easier. For further product information please feel free to contact us at orders@inspiredled.com or give us a call (480)941-4286.