LEDs for illuminated clothing

Most of our Enlighted custom clothing is illuminated by light emitting diodes (LEDs), which can create points of light or other shapes when combined with a diffusing material or fabric overlay.

LEDs are a good choice for wearable lighting because they are small, relatively durable, and can emit light efficiently (without generating heat) with a low voltage power source. We work with a variety of LED shapes, sizes, and colors, with a range of control options as described below. Pricing is based on the number of lights, as explained in detail on our pricing page.


enlighted® smart RGB LED pixels

Our most advanced option is the Enlighted smart pixel system - our own custom form of fully controllable RGB LED lighting that has been optimized for use in wearable and portable applications. These pixels provide a high level of brightness, durability, and reliability, and the ability to display complex color changing patterns on command.

The system is modular, and consists of the following parts:

• master controller

• a string of Enlighted smart pixels

• power supply

• manual control switches or wireless DMX receiver (optional)

Each of these components can be customized depending on the lighting effect and type of control that is needed. In most cases, the master is housed in a plastic enclosure (1.5" x 1.5" x 0.5"). Each pixel contains one RGB LED and the associated driver circuitry on a small rigid disk (5/8" diameter). Chains of pixels are built with flexible wire links of arbitrary length, so they can be relatively close together, or spread out to cover an entire garment.

The system is powered by a 9V rechargeable pack (NiMH), which can provide several hours of battery life between charges, depending on the number of pixels and the brightness of the patterns being displayed.

The pixels support 24 bit color (8 bits each of red, green, and blue), and a refresh rate of 30 frames per second. Pre-programmed color patterns are stored in the memory of the master controller. They can be triggered by manual switches built into the clothing, or by wireless DMX.

Pixel strings can be permanently mounted in a piece of clothing, or they can be installed in button holes and removed for washing.


individually mounted standard LEDs

For projects that require fewer colors and simpler animation effects (including a steady glow), we also offer installations of individually mounted single color LEDs. To create an exposed point of light on the outer surface of a garment, the metal leads of a 3mm or 5mm "through hole" LED are punched through the fabric and mechanically secured on the inner face. In some installations, this type of LED will be held by a grommet or other hardware mounted in the fabric. In other cases, the light will be partly disguised or diffused with fabrics, trims, or other materials.

On the inside face of the fabric, the LED is soldered to a network of thin flexible connecting wires that are concealed within the lining of the garment. The connecting wires will be joined to a battery pack and power switch. In some cases, the design will also include a small control board that has been programmed with up to 8 animated sequences, such as a chasing pattern or a random twinkling effect.

Single-color LEDs are available in red, orange, yellow, green, aqua, blue, purple/pink, ultraviolet (UV), and two colors of white: cool white (with a slight blue tint), and warm white (with a slight yellow tint, similar to the color of candle light or incandescent bulbs).

color options for standard single-color LEDs


LED strings, strips, and tape

In some designs, we use LEDs that are linked together in pre-made strings or strips. These materials can be convenient for creating stripes or outlines of closely-spaced LEDs, with a lower cost per light, but they may not be suitable for applications that require a high level of flexibility or durability.

Some types of pre-made LED strings can only be lit with a steady glowing effect, or with a pattern in which all of the lights in that channel are flashed or faded together.


close up view of an LED string on and off, color options for LED strings


high power LEDs

LEDs are also available in high power formats (such as 1W and 3W) that produce intensely bright beams of light, as might be needed for visibilty in direct sunlight or other bright environments. They will require larger battery packs and/or shorter operating times, and some degree of thermal isolation from the body, and will not be practical for many applications.


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