California-based entrepreneur Connlaoth Mulholland has invented SolderM8 which allows electricians to “finish full lengths of soldered strips in a fraction of the time”.
Connlaoth, who runs Mulholland Electric in San Francisco but is originally from Northern Ireland, has a utility patent pending and design patent status on the product, which he says he designed to help out fellow tradespeople with the struggle of soldering LED tape lights.
He explains how he came up with the idea, what the benefits are – and when you can get your hands on one.
About 10 years ago LED strip lighting was thought of as a luxury choice, a passing fashion.
However, there are no signs of any decline in demand for this look.
LED strip lighting has become a part of the mandatory code here in California and it is now more or less a standard element in the majority of residential and commercial projects. But this brings one of an electrician’s most fiddly, time-consuming and often, frustrating tasks of the trim phase.
Having spent a lot of time installing the strips I have noted that most electricians have tried the easy option of using connectors. These little gadgets are great in the unskilled DIY job and, yes, they are a handy option for some electricians – but they are most often the culprit for costly callbacks due to LED strip lights that have stopped working after a relatively short period of time.
When we began installing LED strip lights, we used connectors which were bulky, added to costs and we found that they were often the reason for being called back to a project some months later.
We identified this as a problem which could quickly make that particular element of any job unprofitable. We found that when called back, the problems were mainly due either to the connector becoming faulty or the connection within it becoming unstuck.
We concluded that these faults were going to be inevitable because the heat generated by the lights being turned on and off eventually breaks down the plastic connector.
So we had to face facts and admit that soldering was the only real answer which would provide the home or business owner with a mechanically sound connection, a professional-looking finish and, more importantly, one that is going to stand the test of time and not eat into profits by having to return to correct recurring faults.
The biggest problem we as electricians face when soldering strip lights to each other or to the feed is that it is not always possible to lay both ends on a flat surface. This is the reason most people avoid it and go down the connector route.
Determined to solve this, I set about creating a tool which had to be easy-to-use, light and portable for the toolbox and something that could be used in any location where you find yourself installing LED strip lights.
Using these criteria and spending a lot of time trying out various designs, learning about patenting, getting prototypes made and tested we have now finally arrived at a simple solution which we are really excited about sharing with our colleagues in the trade.
We decided to name the tool ‘SolderM8’ because, put simply, this compact, economical little gadget will be a great mate for any professional electrician to carry with them.
A bonus too is that it is so easy to use even our least experienced apprentice was soldering well in a very short space of time.
So how does ‘SolderM8’ work?
It will stick to any finished surface regardless of the texture or angle you are working at. It has an almost magical underside – which I spent a long time researching so I could get it right – it even works upside-down! You then insert both ends of the tape or wire and it holds firmly while you dab on your solder.
We are now able to finish full lengths of soldered strips in a fraction of the time it used to take and which look sleek and professional.
SolderM8 is expected to hit the market at the end of January (RRP $24.99) and will be available for international shipping from the US.