Patent number 8641229 is assigned to
The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention relates to lighting strips and more particularly to flexible or rigid lighting systems and devices, which are waterproof. The lighting strips are modular and are capable of being physically and electrically connected with one another to provide lighting systems that are waterproof and adaptable to many situations.
"Waterproof modular strip lighting is highly desirable for numerous applications, including as decorative lighting in exterior settings or interior setting where moisture is common, such as bathrooms, bars, and kitchens. In exterior settings, it is common for installed lighting devices to be exposed to the elements, such as rain, condensation, humidity, or other moisture, as well as extreme temperatures. Lighting devices exposed to moisture and/or extreme temperatures, however, is often at risk for failure. If moisture, especially water droplets, is allowed to contact non-waterproof lighting devices, the water can cause a short circuit or other electrical failure of the device, requiring repair and/or replacement of the failed components.
"Waterproofing materials of existing lighting devices typically include as a waterproof colloid layer an epoxy resin for covering the LEDs, electrical circuits and connections, and the substrate. In some cases in existing devices, the epoxy resin or colloid layer does not cover the surface of the LEDs to avoid compromising the light output. By not covering the LEDs, however, there is an increased chance of moisture being introduced into the system where the colloid layer meets the LEDs. This is especially applicable in flexible designs where adherence between the colloid layer and the side of an LED may come loose enough to allow moisture into the system if the strip is flexed repeatedly. Further, in some situations, epoxy resin as colloid layer has been found to be inadequate, such as in extreme temperature situations, including in external weather or environmental conditions or due to the use of high brightness LEDs, which typically have a high heat output during operating of such devices. Under extreme low or high temperatures epoxy resin can craze or become discolored or cloudy, leading to cracks in the waterproof barrier and a decrease in the amount of light output from the device. Better waterproofing materials and techniques are thus desired.
"Further, strip lighting that is easy and convenient to install is also highly desirable, especially lighting devices that can be adaptable to various situations. For example, lighting strips that are waterproof, are configured to be cut to a desired length during installation, minimize the number of electrical junctures for a lighting strip system, can be cut and re-connected by way of a waterproof connector, and/or are adaptable to remain waterproof after cutting would be highly desirable, however, existing lighting strip devices and assemblies do not satisfy this need.
"What are needed are modular, waterproof lighting systems that are easy and quick to install and repair, and/or provide less opportunity for lighting system failures by providing fewer electrical and physical breaks in the circuit of the lighting system, and/or provide for high brightness output of the LEDs, and/or provide for custom fitting of a lighting system to a particular situation while remaining waterproof."
In addition to the background information obtained for this patent, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent: "In light of the problems described above, embodiments of the present invention provide waterproof flexible and rigid strip lighting devices that can be combined and conveniently interconnected to form waterproof modular lighting systems. Waterproof, as used in this application, includes devices and systems which may be less than completely waterproof, such as moisture resistant.
"Embodiments of the invention include waterproof flexible and rigid lighting strips that are additionally readily adaptable at the time of installation for various applications and can be repaired quickly and easily when light source failures occur or changes to the lighting system are desired. Such devices and systems can be re-configured for particular situations without compromising the integrity of the waterproof or moisture resistant characteristics.
"Portions of the waterproof lighting systems can be replaced should one or more LEDs fail. Simply, a portion of the lighting strip can be cut at predetermined segments and replaced with a new segment having waterproof connectors for inter-connecting with the installed lighting strip. Thus, repairs to portions of the installed devices can be made quickly and easily without replacing the entire lighting system and without jeopardizing the waterproof nature of the strips. Similarly, such modifications can be made when necessitated by relocation of a lighting system from one location to another more desirable location.
"Included in embodiments of the invention are flexible or rigid modular lighting strips comprising: a non-conductive substrate strip comprising an electrical circuit; a plurality of high brightness LEDs operably connected to the electrical circuit; a colloid coating covering exposed surfaces of the substrate and circuit, and partially or completely covering exposed surfaces of the LEDs; and a plug at one end and a socket at an opposing end of the substrate which is integrally formed, or otherwise operably connected, with the strip to provide for waterproof electrical interconnection of two or more circuits or to a power supply.
"Embodiments of the invention can comprise latch-type securing mechanisms, preferably releasable, for securing the connection between lighting strips when installed, allowing for convenient disengagement of the components for repairs, and/or allowing for a waterproof or water resistant system.
"Included in embodiments of the invention are modular lighting strips comprising: a non-conductive substrate strip comprising an electrical circuit; a plurality of high brightness LEDs operably connected to the electrical circuit; a colloid layer comprising polyurethane resin providing a waterproof coating over the substrate, the circuit, and the LEDs; and a plug at one end and a socket at an opposing end of the substrate which is integrally formed with the strip to provide for waterproof electrical interconnection of two or more circuits or to a power supply. Embodiments of the invention can comprise a latch-type securing mechanism, preferably releasable, for securing the connection between lighting strips when installed but also allowing for convenient disengagement of the components for repairs.
"Embodiments of the flexible and rigid lighting systems and devices can comprise a colloid waterproofing layer covering all, most, or some of the device or system. For example, when waterproof LEDs are used the colloid layer need only be applied on the substrate and circuit and contacting or completely covering one or more, all, or less than all surfaces of the waterproof LEDs. A preferred embodiment includes applying the colloid layer to cover the substrate and circuit and a portion of the sides of the LEDs that are typically perpendicular to the substrate, rather than also covering the top of the LED with the colloid layer as well, or only so much of the top of the LED as may be needed to render the lighting device or system waterproof. This may minimize materials costs as well as manufacturing time needed for ensuring a thinner layer of colloid material has set. Waterproofing or making water resistant as much of the devices and systems as possible is preferred.
"The modular lighting strips of embodiments of the invention can comprise a printed circuit board, such as a flexible printed circuit board, as the substrate strip and electrical circuit. The overall lighting strip can be flexible or inflexible depending on the materials used for construction. For example, the lighting strips can comprise a printed circuit board (PCB) on an inflexible or flexible material, wherein the PCB is supported or not supported by a rigid material, such as a support with heat sink capabilities. Preferably, the waterproof lighting strips are flexible.
"Further included in the invention are modular lighting strips having a low profile appearance, for example, with a height of less than about 3 mm, or having LEDs that have a height of about 3 mm or less.
"It is also possible to cut the modular lighting strips of embodiments of the invention. For example, if desired, it is possible to cut a strip at the time of installation, to provide a length of strip lighting that is less than the length of the modular segment provided in whole. Likewise, the strips can be cut to provide for fewer LEDs than are installed on the entire strip. Cutting can be readily performed, such as at the time of installation of the device(s) and a terminal can be installed at the cut end to maintain the waterproof nature of the strip. Such adaptability and modularity is especially applicable to the flexible lighting devices and systems of the invention but these features are equally applicable to rigid lighting systems and devices as well.
"The lighting strips according to embodiments of the invention can be configured so as to provide plug-type ends to the strip at the point of cutting, for example, by providing intermediate electrical contacts at one or more positions along the length of the strip which can be cut to provide two ends each having plug-type electrical contacts which can be operably connected to a socket, upon exposing the electrical contacts at the cut end of the substrate by removing a portion of the colloid layer. The lighting strips can also be cut at any point along the strip where there is no intermediate electrical contact to provide a terminal end of the circuit and waterproofed.
"Preferred are modular lighting strips described herein which are about 1 foot in length, and/or comprise up to about 18 LEDs, such as 6, 9, or 18 LEDs, and/or are capable of being operably interconnected with one another to provide up to about 540 light sources from one electrical power supply. The flexible lighting strips can further be interconnected and provided on reels to increase the convenience of installation. Exemplary hard or rigid lighting strips of the invention can be of any length, such as 1 foot, or 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 feet in length and each can comprise, for example, 10 LEDs and can be interconnected with other strips, such as 4 strips, for providing a modular lighting system having up to 10 LEDs, 20 LEDs, 30 LEDs, 40 LEDs and so forth for example up to about 240 LEDs.
"Modular lighting system embodiments are also included in the invention. Such lighting systems can comprise: a plurality of modular lighting strips each comprising: a non-conductive substrate strip comprising an electrical circuit; a plurality of high brightness LEDs operably connected to the electrical circuit; a colloid layer comprising polyurethane resin providing a waterproof coating over at least part of each of the substrate, the circuit, and the LEDs; and a plug at one end and a socket at an opposing end of the substrate which operably connected or integrally formed with the strip to provide for waterproof electrical interconnection of two or more circuits.
"Means for operably connecting a modular lighting strip to an electrical power supply can be provided by the plug or socket of the lighting strip, wire leads irremovably and operably connected to the lighting strip, or a non-conductive substrate strip comprising an electrical circuit and no light sources which is capable of operably connecting to a lighting strip by way of an integrally formed plug or socket. DC jack adapters can be used, and in the case of multi-color light displays for example the red, green, blue LED lighting strips can comprise an RGB-controller for controlling the timing, duration, and changes in color of the display.
"Each modular lighting strip can be configured to be any length, with 1-foot lengths being especially desired. Further, the lighting strips can comprise any number of light sources, such as 6, 9, 10, or 18 LEDs. Such strips are operably interconnectable to provide up to about 30 feet, for example, from about 15-30 feet, of strip lighting capable of being powered by one electrical power supply.
"The modular lighting systems can be constructed so that the first PCB is capable of being connected to a power supply by way of a plug, socket, or wire leads irremovably and operably connected to the first PCB.
"Further, the modular lighting systems according to embodiments of the invention can comprise about 1-foot long PCBs with LEDs, and/or from about 6-18 LEDs, and/or are operably interconnectable to provide from about 15-30 feet of strip lighting capable of being powered by one electrical power supply.
"Any of the modular lighting systems of the invention can be low profile, for example, having a height of less than about 3 mm."
URL and more information on this patent, see: Li, Qing. Waterproof Flexible and Rigid LED Lighting Systems and Devices. U.S. Patent Number 8641229, filed
Keywords for this news article include: Circuit Board,
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