San Francisco-based company Mulholland Electric has created a pioneering tool to speed up and simplify the process of installing LED strip lights. The biggest problem facing electricians when soldering strip lights to the feed, or each other for that matter, is that it is not always possible to lay both ends on a flat surface. It’s why most avoid the issue altogether and go down the bulky connector route. Determined to solve the problem, Connlaoth Mulholland set about designing, patenting, making and testing prototypes, until he had fine-tuned a light, portable, and workable solution. What the County Antrim man came up with is ingenious. It’s SolderM8.
Following that well-worn Irish tradesman’s path Stateside, Connlaoth and his brother Ronan were forced into a radical re-think when recession hit in 2008. “My brother and I set up Mulholland Electric after we found ourselves laid-off from the large company we had been working for,” Connlaoth explained. “From those shaky beginnings we’ve developed into a well-established small contracting firm employing a handful of qualified electricians and apprentices. Like every small or large firm, it is vital to keep a close eye on those all important costs.”
It soon became clear that the installation of increasingly popular LED strip lights with connectors had the potential to be time- consuming, costly, and the source of unwanted call-backs.
“We identified this as a problem which could quickly make this particular element of the job unprofitable,” Connlaoth added. “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 and save money by eliminating the need to correct recurring faults.”
LED strip light installation is without doubt one of the most fiddly, time-consuming and very often frustrating tasks of the trim phase. On the flip side, if done correctly it enables the electrician to present a professional and robust finish that they can be confident in. But soldering? Isn’t that only something that should be attempted by a highly-experienced electrician? I mean, you couldn’t give that job to an apprentice?
“After one particularly expensive episode when our best apprentice spent two full days messing up six solder joints on an LED strip – which admittedly were particularly awkward as they had to be installed above a picture rail – we knew any solution had to be user-friendly as well as efficient.”
So how does SolderM8 work? Firstly, this amazing little gadget will stick to any surface, regardless of angle or texture. The magical underside, an element Connlaoth devoted considerable time and effort into perfecting, enables you to insert the wires and holds them firmly in place while you dab on the solder. Simple as that, then just move on to the next joint. “We are now able to finish full lengths of soldered strips in a fraction of the time and with a sleek and professional finish. Best of all we can do this without the frustration, tantrums and no more call-backs!”
Created in California by an electrician for electricians, this brainchild of Ballycastle is now ready to take on the world. Now, extensively tested and with highly-positive feedback, the first batch of Mulholland Electric’s revolutionary SolderM8 is up for sale. Go to their website for more information, to watch a demo, or order your own SolderM8 with shipping to the UK and Ireland available.