As lighting is becoming a more important aspect of home decorating options, this may be time for you to consider black lights.
Black lights have unique specialties and capabilities which can be used for a lot of ornamental as well as utility purposes. Chances are you have already come across a blacklight.
In reality, a black light does not emit a literal black-colored light, as the color black is basically the absence of any kind of light. It actually emits ultraviolet (UV light).
There are two main types of UV lights out there. The first kind has a bright blue glow and naturally emits blacklight without any sort of filtering.
The second kind, which is also the cheaper and more popular, basically contains a normal light which has a filter on it which blocks most of the visible light and allows the UV light to pass.
If you’re wondering how to make black light with LED strip lights and have a few spare strips of normal LED lights lying around, the method basically entails adding a colored tint to your LED strips which would allow only UV light to pass through it, thus acting as a blacklight.
What Can You Do with A Black Light?
What a black light does is it emits long-wave ultraviolet light in addition to very small amounts of visible light. The unique factor about it is that some fluorescent substances are able to absorb these UV lights and emit them in the form of visible light, giving them the appearance of glowing.
This means that some substances will only glow under a black light, which makes these lights extremely useful.
Black lights can be used for decorations as well as investigative purposes, which we’ll discuss later.
Things to Consider Before Making a Black Light with Led Strips
There are a few things you need to think about before you follow our step-by-step guidelines on how to make black light with LED strips.
Firstly, if you’re thinking about applying the paint directly on the surface of the LED lights, know that you may not be able to remove the paint. Therefore we suggest applying the paint on a transparent surface that can be removed.
Additionally, make sure the lights you’re using are capable of emitting UV light. Otherwise, the UV light filter will be useless.
Most importantly, understand that the method you’re going to be following is nowhere near perfect. Blacklights that are available in the market will be better at emitting UV lights than these ones, however, this is definitely the cheaper option.
Required Materials to Make a Black Light with LED Strip Lights
- Visible light blocking paint (Preferably Purple)
- Adhesive or tape
- LED light strips
- Some form of transparent covers such as epoxy, cellophane, or plastic cover
- Power supply
Process: How to Make Black Light With Led Strip Lights
Step 1: Get Ready to Work with LED’s
To begin the process, prepare your LED strip that you’ll convert into black lights. Make sure these lights work properly.
If you want to shorten your LED strip, this would be the appropriate stage to cut the strips.
Also carefully inspect the strip to make sure there are no issues such as fraying, exposed wire, etc. Afterward, wipe any dust off the strip and clean it thoroughly with an alcohol-based cleaner.
Step 2: Adjust the Frame for LED Strip Lights
Similar to the strip itself, prepare the frame in which you’ll be placing the LED strip. Make sure the frame is clean. Carefully look at the area where you’ll apply adhesive to make sure it’s free of any dirt.
Step 3: Attach LED’s to the Frame
Now using your preferred form of adhesive, carefully attach the LED strip to the frame. If you’re LED strip comes with double-sided adhesive tape you can use that.
If your LED strip does not have adhesive tape that comes with it, you can use other adhesives or glue to attach the strip.
Once the strip has been placed, press firmly on the surface of the strip to make the glue has stuck properly.
Step 4: Apply Adhesive on the Back of the frame
If you’re thinking of attaching the frame to a surface, attach the frame to that surface using your preferred kind of adhesive.
Step 5: Place the Frame Under Light and Epoxy It
Place the contraption under the light so you can properly see what you’re doing.
From here on, the guide on how to make black light with LED strip lights will differ from person to person based on the kind of transparent filter you’re applying.
If you’re using epoxy, carefully apply it gently on the surface of the strip. If you’re applying cellophane, carefully place the cellophane on top and make sure there are no air bubbles.
Step 6: Connect The Frame with LED Lights
Now that you’ve placed your LED strip as well as the transparent covering on the frame, the basic structure of your frame should be ready to go.
Step 7: Paint the Frame with Blacklight Paint
Now carefully start applying the visible light absorbent paint. It is safer to apply the paint in multiple thin coats rather than paint a thick and uneven coat all at once.
Apply a thin coat, make sure it’s even all around and wait for it to dry. Once it’s dry, apply another coat. Follow this process until you’re satisfied.
Step 8: Connect The Frame With Power Supply
Once the paint has dried, connect your LED strip to the power supply. Make sure the paint has not dripped into any of the electronics.
Check to see if you’re happy with how your homemade blacklight is working
Step 9: Place Your Black Light
Once the black light is fully functional, place it in your desired location.
What Color Is a Blacklight?
Even though black lights are supposed to block all visible lights from being emitted, if you’ve come across a black light you’ll notice that these lights have a bluish-purple glow.
In terms of wavelength, UV lights sit right below visible light. The filters in these lights can’t block all the visible light, as it needs to allow the UV light to pass. As UV light passes, some visible lights with wavelengths closer to UV like purple are also able to pass.
How Does A Black Light Work?
As we said earlier, commonly used blacklights basically use a filter or a colored layer that allows only the ultraviolet light to pass.
Normally these bulbs wouldn’t be of much use to us, as we cannot see UV light. However, when these lights are absorbed by UV-reactive substances, they appear to glow.
Some Essentials Uses of A Black Light
1. Verifying Legal Tender
Most banknotes have pigments and colors present in them that would only be visible under a blacklight. These patterns can be used to separate real bank notes from counterfeit or fake ones.
2. Concerts and Parties
Black light parties or glow-in-the-dark parties are a common theme when it comes to social events. Usually, the participants of these parties decorate themselves with UV-sensitive paints.
These designs are only visible once the black lights are turned on.
Black lights are a common lighting feature that is used to illuminate aquariums. In addition to illuminating creatures and decorations that are UV sensitive, these lights can also be used to identify illnesses of the fishes.
4. Identifying Fake Documents
Similar to currency, official documents such as passports and driver’s licenses also have unique properties and characteristics that are only visible under a blacklight. This can be used to identify unoriginal documents.
5. Forensic Investigation
Bodily fluids such as blood, urine, and saliva can glow in the presence of black light. As a result, black lights are often used to analyze crime scenes and other areas during investigations.
6. Interior Decoration
Black lights are becoming more and more popular when it comes to decorating your house. Imagine having a certain design pattern and theme for the decoration of your house.
Now imagine having a completely different decoration that can only be visible once you turn all the lights off and turn a black light on. Using fluorescent paint and materials will allow you to do this.
7. Creative Arts
It is becoming common to make paintings and show pieces using UV-sensitive paints.
8. Identifying Imperfections in Structures
Cracks in metals as well as leaks in refrigeration and air conditioning systems can be identified using black lights.
9. Biological Study
Researchers have found out that certain aquatic creatures as well as insects are attracted to UV lights, as they are able to see these wavelengths.
Black lights are used to attract these organisms in order to study them.
10. Medical Research
Black lights can be used in the medical sector for the identification of certain organisms. Certain kinds of bacteria and fungi that can cause illness will glow under black lights.
This technology can be used to identify the presence of infections.
Frequently Asked Question
Why Does a Black Light Make Things Glow?
Before going into the details, let’s be clear. Blacklights only make certain kinds of paints glow. So if you’re thinking about how to make black light with LED strip lights, make sure you have the correct kind of paint to decorate the surroundings.
Without going too much into the specifics, UV light only affects fluorescent materials. UV-sensitive pigments present in fluorescent materials absorb UV light energy and slowly convert that energy into visible light.
What’s the Difference Between UV Light and Blacklight?
Black light is just a common expression that is used to describe UV lights. Therefore, most black lights are basically UV lights however, there are some differences.
UV light covers a large area of the electromagnetic spectrum. An industrial UV light may be able to emit UVA, UVB, and UVC lights whereas most black lights will only emit UVA light.
Should I Buy a Black Light or Not?
This really comes down to your intended purpose. Black lights have a very specific and niche set of uses.
These uses include making fluorescent paints glow in the dark, identifying invisible substances (that contain UV-sensitive pigments, etc.)
If you don’t have to fulfill any of these needs, black lights won’t be of much use to you.
Are Blacklights Energy-Efficient?
This is another question that really depends on how you look at it. Commonly found blacklights are just regular lights with filters or coats that block visible light. As a result, their efficiency is the same as regular light.
However, if you want your black light to glow brighter, you’ll need a light that has a high UV output, which would obviously increase energy consumption.
Moreover, as visible light is not able to pass, this energy is often converted to heat energy, causing the bulbs to get very hot.
Do Any Smart Lights Offer Black Light Capability?
Although there are a lot of LED black lights available in the market right now, to our knowledge there are no smart lights that are also capable of emitting black light.
However, using our guide on how to make black light with LED strip lights, you may be able to convert your smart light into a black light.
At the end of the day, the black lights you can purchase online will understandably be of a higher quality than the ones you make at home.
The visible light filtering coat used on manufactured black lights is a lot better at blocking visible lights than the paint we recommend using; however, they are also a lot more expensive.
In addition, if you remove the filter or the transparent covering, you can go back to using your LED strip lights for their intended purpose, which you can’t do with dedicated black lights.
Read Also: How to Restick LED Light Strips
I am a fellow LED light enthusiast who has completed his Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering and now has been doing my Master’s on the same subject. Born in 1994, I am a big fan of shiny things since I was just four years old!