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Friday 11 March 2016

HOW TO Dim the Blinding Glare of Your Gadgets’ LED Lights

Just because the manufacturer decided your gadget needed a blinking LED as bright as a car headlight doesn't mean you have to tolerate it. Let’s take a look at how you can dim those brilliant LEDs so your bedroom or office doesn't look like a night club.

For every device we have that features a very subtle indicator light, we have at least ten that feature LEDs so bright you can read by them. We're confident most of you are in the same boat, as more companies than not just love to put a big bright LED on their product.

While you might actually enjoy using the blazing blue LED on your USB charger as a night light, most people prefer to sleep in a darkened room. Even when you’re not trying to catch some shut eye, LEDs can still be intrusive: when you’re watching TV, for example, the glare of a bright LED on the front of your Sky box, game console, or even the TV itself can be quite an eyesore.

Although many people just tolerate the annoying glare, there’s no need to: it’s easy to deal with. How easy? If you've got the skills to put a sticker on something then you've got the skills to banish the blinding glare of your gadgets’ LEDs.

What You Need

Seriously, we aren't kidding. The best solution on the market, short of opening up your devices and attacking the LED connection with a soldering iron, is to simply cover up the offending LED with a simple plastic overlay.

The DIY route involves buying your own blackout material (like electrical tape or vinyl window cling sheets) and cutting them to size.

If your goal is to cover up a bunch of small LEDs, for example, it’s hard to beat a roll of black electrical tape and a hole punch. Lay a strip of electrical tape on a sheet of wax paper, punch your way right down the strip, and you’ll have dozens of little LED-blocking-black dots. If you don't want to completely black out the LED, just use some semi-translucent vinyl or something similar.

Light Dimming Solutions Compared

So how do these solutions work under real world conditions? To showcase how the different overlays and films fully or partially block LED light, we enlisted the help of a USB charger with a blue LED that is shockingly bright!

All photos were shot at the same exposure in the span of a few minutes illuminated only by natural light to emphasise exactly how the light emitted from the LED had changed.

First, let’s take a look at the LED without any overlay.

While the picture does actually kind of do it justice, you really can’t capture just how bright this thing is. It’s so bright that even across a darkened room it will sear your eyeballs.

Let’s take a look at the same LED under the same lighting conditions with a piece of thin vinyl applied.

We’re not gonna lie: we’re actually really impressed with how well a tiny vinyl sticker dialled down the brightness. It’s still visible and still bright enough to see, but it’s no longer bright enough to throw a matchday floodlight worth of light across the room. 

Next let’s look at applying our electrical tape dots.

The electrical tape dots completely black out the LED. Light transmission was reduced to zero. Best of all, they didn't leave any residue when removed. 

So whether you fashion your own from electrical tape or vinyl or anything else you have ling around, it only takes a minute to black out those irritating LEDs (so you can get back to the important stuff like getting a good night’s sleep or enjoying your movie without the TV power button shining in your eyes).

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