LED Lighting - Where do I Start?

LED Lighting - Where do I Start?

Posted by Small Scale Lights on 18th Jun 2021

"I've been browsing your website but I don't know what I need..."  It's a question I get asked a lot.  Luckily, it's not a difficult answer.  

So, where do you start?

It's probably easiest to start with a battery box.  If it's a small model then go for a 3v option with either a 3v AAA battery box (which lasts a lot longer and can handle more LEDs) or a 3v coin cell holder.  

Whichever battery box you choose you now know what voltage the LEDs need to be.  You should always match the voltage of the battery box to the LED voltage so you don't fry the LEDs.  (You can have a lower LED voltage at the expense of brightness which is sometimes a valuable end result).

So, how do you choose the LEDs?

That really depends on your model but I can give some examples.  Usually, it comes down to a couple of things.  Are you fitting the LEDs into a model part of a specific size, say on a model car, or is it a model where you have limited space?

Model Cars - These vary dependant on scale and are the most varied from fibre optics to chip LEDs to 3mm LEDs.  Often it's down to what size the model part is you're fitting it to and whether you have space for standard LEDs with their legs sticking out the back.  If you do have space they look more realistic due to their bulb shape.  Chip LEDs can be used for tail lights, indicators etc where space is very limited due to their tiny footprint.

For 1/48th dolls houses you would use nano LEDs and I have a special 1/48th lighting kit for these.  Small, compact and easy to hide while being very bright.

Warhammer Models - here you can use on of my custom made LED lighting kits.  

Model Trains - Here you have a wide range of ready made options but I offer the option to pre-solder the resistors on for you to make it easy for you.  Model Railway Lights

For model train buildings I usually suggest 12v 3528 chip LEDs as these provide an even lighting and are economical for lighting up lots of buildings on your layout.

If you have a SciFi model plane cockpit you might want to use my SciFi fibre optic lighting kit where you can add effects to consoles and buttons.  It includes static lights and a rainbow set with a cycle of colours and flashing effects.

I hope that this has been useful and gives you some ideas of where to start.  I am always happy to help with advice but providing details of your kit or a link / photos of it and what you want to achieve / light up is very helpful so I can provide advice.  Contact me here