Beginner’s Guide to WLED: Hardware Requirements & Setup

by Danny
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READING TIME: 8 MINUTES

In this guide, I’m going to show you how to setup an LED controller which has been pre-flashed with WLED. I will also show you the exact hardware I’m using, how to wire the LED light strip to the controller, and how to initially setup your controller.

After everything is setup, you can optionally add your controller to Home Assistant so you can turn it on or off, change colors, or create some really cool lighting automations. After this is all setup, you can optionally add your WLED controller to Home Assistant. With this setup, you can add led light strips under your kitchen cabinets, office desk, doorways, or really anywhere you’d like.

No soldering/firmware flashing needed!


What is WLED?

WLED is basically a fully-featured webserver running on an ESP8266/ESP32 microcontroller that allows you control an LED light strip.

WLED can be flashed manually to these microcontrollers, but for simplicity, there are pre-flashed devices you can purchase for only $20 – which is what I’ll be covering in this guide.

Once setup, you’ll access the controller through a web browser. This is where you can change colors, effects, brightness, speed, and a bunch more options.


What type of LED light strip should you purchase?

There are two types of LED strips you can purchase.

  • Standard LED strips: These RGB light strips change the color of all lights at once. For example, if you open the WLED interface with one of these connected and change the color to green, all lights will turn green.
  • Addressable LED strips: These light strips allow you change colors on a per-bulb basis.

In this guide, I’m using an addressable LED light strip because I want to take advantage of the different effects. Here’s an example video of an addressable light strip: https://photos.app.goo.gl/Ba5CFMHFkNaY8tri6


Hardware List

Tools Needed

Once you’ve ordered the hardware and all of it has arrived, you can continue below with the setup process.


Hardware Unboxing

Here’s the contents of each item you will need.

Athom Addressable LED Strip Light Controller (model LS-4P)

Power supply

2-wire DC adapter

Addressable LED Light strip


Athom LED Controller Wiring Diagram

Attach the 2-wire FEMALE DC adapter to the 5V power supply. (Note: There are both female and male DC adapters. You won’t need the male one since the power supply already has a male end.)

DO NOT PLUG POWER SUPPLY INTO A WALL OUTLET YET.

Flip your Athom controller over and partially unscrew all 6 screws.

On the side with 2 screws:

  • RED to VCC on Athom controller.
  • Black to GND on Athom controller.

Then, tighten those 2 screws.

On your LED strip, you’ll see that a spare 3-wire cable is included. Connect the spare to the light strip.

You won’t need to do anything with the dangling white & red cables.

Pull the 3 wires apart about 1 inch. Use wire strippers to remove about 1/4″ of sheathing. Twist the individual wires so it’s one thick wire. It should now look something like this:

Next, connect the red, green, and white wires to your Athom controller.

  • Red to VCC
  • Green to DAT
  • White to GND

Then, tighten the remaining screws.

That’s it! You have successfully wired up your LED controller to your light strip.


Plug power supply into wall outlet

Go ahead and plug the power supply into your wall outlet to give it power. You will hear a small “click” sound which means it now has power, and the LED strip will light up automatically.

The entire strip won’t light up yet; this is normal. This is because WLED by default is set to use 30 bulbs. We will change this later.

If you don’t hear the click and your LED strip doesn’t light up, you probably have a loose connection somewhere. Check the power supply connections. You can also gently tug the 5 wires connected to your Athom controller to make sure they aren’t loose (Unplug from wall before doing this).


Connect WLED controller to Wifi

Once powered on, open the wifi settings on your phone and locate WLED_XXXXX and tap it. It should automatically connect to it and bring up the WLED web interface.

Tap Wifi Settings.

Enter your:

  • wifi network name
  • wifi password.
  • mDNS address
  • AP SSID

Change the mDNS address to something descriptive & easy to identity. This is the URL that you’ll type into a browser to access it from any computer or phone on your LAN.

You should also change the AP SSID name to something easy to identify. Just in case this device ever goes offline and you need to reconnect it, you can click this name in your wifi settings to reconnect it.

There’s some more options in there, but you won’t need to configure those for now. Click Save and Continue.

After a few seconds, your Athom controller will connect to your wifi network.


Update User Interface

Next, you should click Config > User Interface > Server Description. Set this name to something easy to identity as well. This is what shows up in Home Assistant, should you decide to integrate it there.


Open WLED Web Interface

Next, type the mDNS address into a browser. This part is going to be easier if you use a computer instead of your phone. For my controller, I will be typing http://ash-desk-led-strip.local

You should immediately be brought to the the WLED web interface. Feel free to play around with some of the colors just to make sure it’s responding correctly.


Configure WLED ‘LED Preferences’

Click Config at the top, then select LED Preferences.

On the Amazon listing for my power supply, it states that it is 8A (amps), so I set the maximum current to 8000 mA (milliamps). Note: Whenever I set it to 8000, it constantly cycled the controller on and off and I was no longer able to access the webUI.

I don’t know if this is the “best” way to do it, but I set the brightness to about 75% and then set Maximum Current to 3500 (defaulted to 850), and haven’t noticed any more flickering or power cycling. I can’t imagine there will ever be a time when I’m using the strip at 100% brightness.

Like I said earlier, WLED defaults to 30 LEDS, so I also needed to set the Length to the number of LEDS on my strip. The # of LED’s can be found on the Amazon listing, or feel free to count the individual LED’s yourself.

Note: If you are using a shorter or longer LED strip, don’t enter 300 like I did.

There’s a lot more options in here, but I didn’t need to mess with those. Click Save.


Wrapping Up

That should be everything you need to do setup an addressable LED light strip! The last thing I recommend doing is saving the URL as a browser shortcut on your phone and web browser for quick access.

Also, if using from a PC, click PC mode so you can view all the options on one page.

Good luck, and I hope this tutorial helped you out! You can now setup led strips under your kitchen cabinets, bathrooms, or automate them with motion sensors using Home Assistant. Here’s my WLED Home Assistant guide.


My Favorite Home Assistant Devices

Below are some of the Home Assistant-compatible devices I personally use in my home. I highly recommend each of them.

The full list of all Home Assistant compatible & recommended devices I use can be found on my Equipment List page.

Smart Home Product Finder

What hub do you currently use?


SmartThings

Home Assistant

Hubitat

Step 1 of 3

What product are you looking to add?


Lights

Locks

Thermostats

Cameras

Garage Door Opener

Switches

Sensors

Motion, Door & Window, Leak

Smart Plugs

Buttons

Step 2 of 3

What protocol?


Z-Wave

Zigbee

Wifi

Step 3 of 3

Retake quiz? Click here!

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