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LED Strip Lights

LED light strips provide a unique way to add lighting elements to nearly any environment. Several variations are available, including a few exceptions, but you'll typically find these characteristics when investing in this product.

 

  • Multiple individual LED emitters mounted on narrow and flexible circuit boards.
  • Operations based on low-voltage direct current power sources.
  • Variable or fixed color and brightness choices.
  • Shipped on reels that can be cut to length with double-sided adhesive for mounting ease.

 

Common LED types on strips include the 2835 and 505 SMD. The quality and color of each one depend on the assigned emitter.

 

By keeping the circuit boards flexible, LED light strips can install on uneven or curved surfaces successfully. Once you reach the desired length, use scissors to trim at the indicated points to ensure the results are what you expect.

 

When everything is ready, peel the back off the adhesive liner and mount the strip to the desired surface.

 

How Do LED Light Strips Work?

 

LED light strips use lumens as a metric to determine the expected brightness of the installation. Since each product can come with different efficiency ratings per strip, you'll want to look at this rating by its footage.

 

A standard LED light bulb might offer 500 lumens from a single fixture. With an LED light strip, you might see 450 lumens per foot.

 

Some products measure lumens by the meter. In that circumstance, you'd want something in the 1,500 lumens range to reach an appropriate level of brightness for your room.

 

The rating provided by the manufacturer is based on the emitter's light output and efficiency, the number of diodes per foot, and the power draw for each rated segment.

 

If you see an LED strip light that doesn't provide a lumens rating, that product should be avoided. You'll also want to avoid products that overdrive the diodes to achieve more brightness at the expense of longevity.

 

What LED Density Should I Look for on New Light Strips?

When you want to get the most brightness from LED light strips, you'll want to purchase a high-density product. These items have 36 LEDs per foot, typically generating 450 lumens. That's the equivalent of a 40-watt incandescent bulb.

 

A high-density LED light strip could also be measured at 120 LEDs per meter.

 

With a medium-density LED light strip, you'd receive 22 LEDs per foot or 72 LEDs per meter. A low-density product offers nine LEDs per foot or 30 per meter.

 

The actual LED emitter name doesn't matter as much as the number of diodes placed on the strip.

 

A goal of even lighting effect distribution is met with a high-density strip. Simple visuals or aesthetic updates are satisfied with low-density products. If you want something between those two options, a medium-density LED strip would work well.

 

Different Types of LED Strip Lights

 

You can find five different types of LED light strips to consider using.

 

  • AC LED Flex Strips. This option provides a flexible product that runs straight from a standard 120v receptacle. All you need to do is plug it in after finishing the installation work to receive your desired illumination.
  • DC LED Flex Strips. With this choice, you'll receive a flexible strip that mounts easily. Some products can even be cut every two inches to maximize your installation space. A few have waterproof ratings, with high-quality designs coming with 60 LEDs per meter.
  • LED Rope Lights. This omnidirectional option uses a standard rope that encases the diodes for fast installation. You typically need hooks to hang this strip.
  • Plug and Play Strips. You can find AC and DC choices in this category. They work right away after receiving power, even if you don't install them on walls or ceilings first.
  • High Output Strips. High-power LEDs from different manufacturers deliver the highest lumens ratings available today. These products are typically mounted on circuit boards with drivers and rigid circuitry.

 

Each light strip option provides specific advantages and disadvantages to consider. In general, high-output designs have more rigidity to deliver a higher lumens rating. You can get more flexibility with other styles, but you might have less brightness or fewer color options to select.

 

The best choice from those categories depends on what you hope to accomplish with the LED lights in your space.

 

What If I Need Waterproof LED Light Strips?

When you need a waterproof LED light strip, you'll need to look at the IP rating it's been assigned.

 

The Ingress Protection (IP) Code consists of those letters with two digits and an optional letter. It's currently defined under international standard IEC 60529.

 

Each number indicates the LED light strip's conformity with the conditions summarized in the information below.

 

First IP Digit: Solids

The first digit in an IP rating indicates the product's enclosure protection rating against potentially hazardous components and solid foreign objects.

 

LevelObject Size ProtectedEffective Against the Following Issues
0Not ProtectedProducts assigned with this IP digit do not provide any protection against the ingress or contact of objects.
1Under 50 mmLarge surfaces are protected against intrusion, but it will not provide any benefit against deliberate contact made with any body part.
2Under 12.5 mmThis rating indicates that the item is effective against fingers or any similar objects.
3Under 2.5 mmWith this ingress rating, the LED light strip would be effective against thick wires, tools, and other items in those categories.
4Under 1 mmThis rating shows that the product is effective against most screws, nails, wires, and such.
5Dust ProtectedAlthough dust might get into the light strip, it doesn't enter with a sufficient quantity to interfere with the production's operation. It also indicates that complete protection against contacts is available.
6Dust TightYou receive complete protection against dust and contacts.

 

Second IP Digit: Liquids

The second digit of the IP rating indicates how well the equipment inside the LED light strips is protected against liquid ingress.

 

LevelObject Size ProtectedEffective Against the Following Issues
0Not ProtectedThis product has zero protection against any liquids. Even a drip could be harmful to it.
1Dripping WaterWhen water falls vertically on this product, it won't interfere with its operations.
2Vertically Dripping Water with AngleIf the LED light strip is titled at an angle of up to 15 degrees from its normal installation position, vertical water drips continue to have no effect. This IP digit is not typically assigned.
3Spraying WaterWater falling as a spray from any angle up to 60 degrees from vertical doesn't have a harmful effect on the item.
4Splashing WaterWater that splashes against the LED light strip would not have a harmful effect, but it would not withstand constant liquid exposure.
5Nozzle-Projected WaterThis LED light strip would be protected against a 6.3 mm nozzle projecting a stream of water at it from any direction without harmful outcomes.
6Powerful Water JetsProducts with this rating can withstand water directed at them from a 12.5 mm nozzle from any direction without displaying ill effects.
7Immersion Up to 1mIt is impossible for water to enter this product if it stays submerged in 1m of water or less. If it goes deeper than that level, it is possible for liquids to enter the light strip and interfere with its operations.
8Immersion Over 1mA product with this rating is suitable for continuous immersion in liquids under conditions the LED light strip manufacturer describes. It often means that the equipment is hermetically sealed, or water enters in ways that produce zero harmful effects.

 

If you don't see an IP rating assigned to an LED light strip, you should assume it does not provide any meaningful protection.

 

The best IP rating for LED light strips is IP68. You typically see products assigned with an IP66 or IP67, although IP56, IP57, and IP58 are suitable for most installations.

 

How to Put Up LED Light Strips Successfully

 

When you're ready to install LED light strips, you'll need to consider the type you're using. The following information is intended for products that have an adhesive back.

 

If you have a different product at home, you'll want to refer to the installation instructions that came with your product.

 

1. Clean and Dry the Installation Surface

Before placing the light strip in its intended position, clean the surface area thoroughly to remove dirt or grime. If any debris remains on the wall, cabinet, ceiling, or another structure, it may not remain mounted.

 

LED light strips should not be placed on a textured or rough surface. Although flexible options are available, the placement area should not have movement.

 

2. Unroll the Light Strip

Most LED light strips come on a spool. You'll need to unroll the length you want for the installation area.

 

It might help to measure the installation area before unspooling the light strip. If the item needs to be cut to the correct length, it's helpful to do that step on a flat, firm surface instead of trying to hold the product up against where it will be.

 

Each light strip comes with specific instructions on how to cut it. You'll see designated sections where a symbol, color, or line is present. These are the areas where a straight slice through the strip ensures the product will continue working.

 

If you cut the LED light strip in any other place than the designated area, it will not continue working as expected.

 

Once you have the length you want, remove the adhesive backing that protects the glue on the LED light strip.

 

3. Install Corners and Turns

Did you know that some light strips are designed to work with connectors that allow for turns, corners, and even twists? If you have connectors and clips to install, you'll need to include them in the measurement process.

 

Use the connector clip to join two light strips. Push the open end of each strip into the assembly, close it, and then lock things up. Corners might require two clips for a successful installation.

 

If you need an LED light strip to go over an uneven surface, a flexible strip connector might help with that installation step.

 

When LED light strips do not come with connectors for corners and turns, they might not be compatible with this technology. Always refer to your instructions for what to do.

 

4. Press the Light Strip Firmly to the Surface

Once the adhesive is exposed, you'll want to move quickly to ensure no dirt or dust gets into the glue. Press down on each part firmly to make sure it firmly sticks to the surface.

 

You'll need to put your hands on each spot to ensure no air bubbles remain between the wall and the light strip.

 

If you use rope lights, it helps to use fixing clips to strengthen the installation. These items usually adhere by using a similar process.

 

5. Connect the LED Light Strip to Power

Once you have the product successfully adhered to the wall and secured for use, you can connect it to the included power source. Some products need batteries, but it is more likely that you'll have an AC or DC power cord to use.

 

Follow the product's instructions for a successful result. If you have a 120v model, it will plug into a standard electrical outlet.

 

If your LED light strip comes with a remote control, you might need to unpack it and add batteries before it will work.

 

Are LED Blue Light Strips Available?

 

LED strip lights come in several different colors. For most installations, white is the most useful option, which is why it is the most popular.

 

When describing the different qualities and shades of white LED color, it is crucial to look at color temperature qualities.

 

 2,200K3,000K5,000K
Lighting Appearance (Visual Shading)Warm White (Yellowish-Red)Bright White (Yellowish-White)

Daylight

(Whitish-Blue)

Ambiance GeneratedCozy, Inviting, and RelaxingWarm and Welcoming, but With Extra EnergyEnergetic and Invigorating, Like Stepping Outside on a Sunny Day
Best RoomsBedrooms, Kitchens, and Living RoomEntertainment Areas, Entryways, Covered Outdoor Spaces, and BathroomsGarages, Basement, Workshop Areas, Sheds, Task Lighting, Commercial Spaces
Best FixturesFloor Lamps, Table Lamps, Chandeliers, and PendantsOverhead Lighting, Vanities, and Accent LampsSecurity Lighting, Task Lighting, and Shop Lighting
Benefits OfferedCreates Aura of Calm, Quiet, and Supportive SpacingEncourages Productivity Without Overwhelming ExperiencesProduces Higher Focus and Concentration Levels Without Discomfort

 

Color temperatures measure how cool or warm the illumination appears after installation. If you turn on a lamp outfitted with an incandescent bulb, the soft white result would be similar to an LED light strip with a 2,700 Kelvin (K) rating.

 

When looking at LED light strips, anything with a 4,000K or higher rating will have blue tones to the white light. This attribute continues as it gets even higher. Anything above 6,000K will look like a cloudy sky, while you get a true blue between 7,000K to 10,000K.

 

Color rendering is another attribute to consider. If you use a low CRI light strip, the colors won't appear in the room naturally. Some shades can even seem washed out or distorted.


With a high CRI LED light strip, you'll see items appear as they would under natural illumination.

 

Bedroom LED Strip Lighting Choices

 

A popular trend is to install LED light strips in bedrooms. It's an easy way to improve the illumination conditions in this space while adding ambiance.

 

One of the best ways to add LED strip lights to a bedroom is to place them behind your headboard. This action provides a refracted result that offers a three-dimensional look for your décor.

 

Another option is around the bottom of the bed frame. This installation idea delivers enough illumination if you need to get up at night without interfering with your sleeping patterns. With this light strip, you'd want to ensure the color temperature rating is below 4,000 K.

 

LED light strips work well around the ceiling, behind a television, and around other bedroom furniture choices.

 

Do LED Strip Lights Use a Lot of Electricity?

 

Once you know what kind of LED light strip you want to install, it's time to consider how much power it draws per foot or meter. This information tells you how much energy the product uses, which some people like to have because they'll know the power supply requirements and electricity costs.

 

If you have an above-average LED strip light, it should provide at least four watts per foot. That's between 12 to 15 watts when measured as meters.

 

That amount is comparable to any other LED light bulb you'd install in a fixture. The difference is that the strip mount ensures that you receive extended illumination across a specific space.

 

As a final step, look at the wattage per foot or meter by dividing the density for each strip with the power draw. It's usually a good sign to have the LEDs driven at 0.2 watts or less.

 

With this information, you can successfully install and use LED strip lights that make sense for your space. It takes a little work to complete the installation, but it's worth the effort!