LED Strip Lights – Everything You Need to Know

(Beginner to Advanced Guide)

Flexible LED strips are widely used as accent lighting in various industrial, commercial and residential lighting projects around the world. Due to its energy efficiency, colorfulness and brightness, LED strips have become the preferred choice of many architects and lighting designers, subtly adding a splash of color to a variety of spaces.

The greatest appeal of LED strip lighting is its ease of installation. Whether it's creating a cozy home atmosphere or adding a modern touch to a commercial space, LED strip lights are easy to work with. Its flexibility, low-profile nature and versatile accessories make it a favorite choice in the home DIY genre. With these LED light strips, homeowners have the creative freedom to design and install unique and personalized lighting effects as easily as a professional designer.

Whether you're a lighting novice or an experienced DIYer, this beginner-to-advanced guide will take you on an in-depth tour of the various aspects of LED light strips, from the basics to advanced applications, to help you easily master and utilize this versatile lighting tool.

Getting Started:

  • What Is LED Strip Light?

  • How Does LED Strip Light Work?

  • What Are the Common LED Strip Lights?

  • What Are the Features of LED Strip Lights?

  • What Are the Color Types of LED Strip Lights?

  • What Determines the Brightness of the LED Strip Lights?

What Is LED Strip Light?

An LED strip lights (also known as an LED tape lights or ribbon light) is assembled on a strip of FPC (flexible circuit board) or PCB hard board, named because the shape of the product is like a strip. Because of the long service life (generally normal life of 30,000 to 50,000 hours), but also very energy efficient and green and gradually in a variety of decorative industry to emerge.

How Does LED Strip Light Work?

LED strips work by integrating multiple light emitting diodes (LEDs) and current limiting resistors on a flexible circuit board (FPC) or hard circuit board (PCB). Each unit consists of a fixed number of LEDs and the resistors are used to limit the current and ensure stable operation of each LED. The light strip can be cut by unit, and the cutting of each unit will not affect the normal illumination of other parts. The light strip is connected in parallel to withstand the power supply voltage, common voltages include DC 200V, 24V, 12V, 5V and so on. Positive and negative power cables are connected to both ends of the strip to ensure the normal flow of current so that the LED strip can glow stably.

What Are the Common LED Strip Lights?

Common LED strip lights are mainly divided into two categories: flexible LED strip lights and hard LED strip lights.

1. Flexible LED strip uses flexible circuit board (FPC) to assemble the circuit with SMD LEDs, which has the advantages of thin thickness, arbitrary cutting, bending and winding, etc. It is suitable for the decoration of irregular and narrow space. Its material is soft and can move and expand freely in three-dimensional space, which is very suitable for making various patterns in advertising and decoration.

2. Hard LED strip is using hard circuit board (PCB) assembly circuit, with chip LED or direct LED, the advantage of fixing and installation is more convenient, but the disadvantage is that it can not be bent at will, suitable for the regular shape of the lighting place. Both have their own strengths in application scenarios, flexible LED strip is mostly used in places where flexible installation is required, while hard LED strip is suitable for locations where fixed installation is required.

What Are the Features of LED Strip Lights?

1. Flexible and highly DIYable

LED light strip is made of flexible material, which can be bent and folded, cut and extended freely. Suitable for application in various irregular shapes and narrow spaces.

2. Energy efficient

LED strip light uses high efficiency LED light source, which is more energy efficient than traditional light source, reduces electricity expenses and is environmentally friendly at the same time.

3. High Safety

The circuitry and luminous body of LED strip light is completely wrapped in flexible plastic, which has good insulation and partially waterproof performance.

4. Long service life

The life span of LED strip light is generally between 30,000 and 50,000 hours, reducing the frequency of replacement and maintenance costs, and allowing for longer use.

5. Variety of Color Options

Common LED strip lights can provide a variety of color choices, including single color and RGB multi-color, to meet the decorative needs of different scenes and create a rich visual effect.

6. Easy to install

LED strip light usually comes with self-adhesive backing or mounting bracket, easy to install, no need for professional tools and skills to complete.

7. Good light effect

With high brightness and uniform light output, LED strip lights can provide high-quality lighting effects, suitable for a variety of lighting needs.

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What Are the Color Types of LED Strip Lights?

Color temperature is a way to describe the color of light emitted by a light source. It is measured in degrees Kelvin, with lower color temperatures being a warm yellow-red, and higher color temperatures showing a blue tint.

· 2700K: Soft white light, suitable for indoor applications such as bedrooms where a cozy atmosphere is required.

· 3000K: Warm white light for areas that require a slightly livelier environment, such as museums, art galleries, restaurants, hotels and other high-end locations.

· 4000K: Daylight white light, suitable for most retail installations and store interiors, is the midpoint between cool white and warm white, a good compromise when you don't like the harshness of cool white but want to avoid the excessive yellow color of warm white.

· 6500K: Ultra-cool white light for applications that need to simulate natural daylight, such as film and television, photography and industrial applications.

What Determines the Brightness of the LED Strip Lights?

The brightness of LED strips is determined using metric lumens. Unlike incandescent bulbs, different LED strip light can have different efficiency levels, so power ratings are not always meaningful when determining actual light output.

LED strip light brightness is usually expressed in lumens per foot (or meter). A quality LED strip should provide at least 450 lumens/foot (1500 lumens/meter).

The brightness of LED strip light is determined by these factors:

1. Light output and efficiency of LED emitters: High quality LED chips provide 100-200 lumens per watt of power. Higher light efficiency means higher brightness at the same power.

2. Number of LEDs per meter: Common LED densities are 30LED/m, 60LED/m, 120LED/m. The higher the density, the higher the brightness and uniformity of light.

3. Power supply and driving circuit: Constant current driver ensures the LEDs work stably and provide consistent brightness, while the proper voltage (e.g. 12V, 24V) ensures the best working condition.

4. Power consumption of LED strip light: High power consumption (e.g. 14W/m, 18W/m) usually means higher brightness, but also requires effective heat dissipation.


  • Factors to Consider When Buying LED Strip Lights

  • How to install LED strips?

  • Benefits of installing LED strips in the channels

  • LED Strip Ideas:5 Cool Things To Do with LED Strips

Factors to Consider When Buying LED Strip Lights

Colors: What colors do led strip lights come in?

There are several types of LED light strips available in the market. Most will choose to go for RGB LED strips because these can be used to create a wide spectrum of colors such as red, green, blue, purple, orange, cyan and white. These LED light strips can produce a natural light sources.

Sometimes LED strips are purchased with a remote control that allows you to change the color from a distance, and of course there are regular color strips or smart adjustable strips. 

Lumens: How many lumens is a strip light?

The brightness of LED strips is usually expressed in lumens per foot (or meter). A good quality LED strip should provide at least 450 lumens per foot (1500 lumens per meter).

The brightness of LED strip light is determined by these factors:

1. Light output and efficiency of LED emitters.

2. Number of LEDs per meter.

3. Power supply and driving circuit.

4. Power consumption of LED strip light.

LED strips that do not have lumen brightness specifications are red flags. You also need to be aware of low-cost LED strips that claim high lumens because they can drive the LEDs into overdrive to the point of premature failure.

Wattage: What is the best wattage for LED strip lights?

Make sure the total wattage of your LED strip is at least 20% less than the power supply's wattage rating. For example, if you have an LED light strip that requires an 80 watt power supply to run, you need a power supply that is rated at least 96 watts.

Voltage: What is the best voltage for LED strip lights?

If you are installing a low-end wattage LED light, then a 12V would be ideal.

Price: How much do strip LED lights cost?

When purchasing LED strips individually, your costs can range from about $20 to over $50 per strip, depending on color, length, etc.

Type: What are the different types of led strip light?

1. Flexible LED Stips Light

These are LED lights mounted on flexible PCBs that allow them to bend in any direction and any shape without damaging anything inside. LED strips are the most common LED strips on the market because they are in such high demand. They are mainly used for commercial signage. At home, you will find them mounted on cabinets, stairs and walls. They are also suitable for automobiles, especially in interiors. Professional photographers also use them extensively for ring lights.

2. Rigid LED Strip Lights

These are the opposite of flexible strips. They are a series of LEDs placed on a rigid aluminum substrate PCB. They are protected by an aluminum housing, which makes them very rigid and cannot be bent around the surface. They are waterproof and work well when installed in outdoor spaces. Rigid LED strip lights can be mounted with mounting clips and can even be hung on any hanging hook. Although they are not flexible, they do work well if all you need is a strategic light source that doesn't require much movement.

3. White LED Strips

White lighting is the most common type of lighting you will encounter in many locations and homes. There are three versions of white LED strips commonly used for this purpose.

  • Warm White: This is often used in homes as accent lighting in cabinets, closets, bathrooms or under beds in bedrooms. It is best suited for these locations because they give the room a warm, cozy feeling, a soft, inviting atmosphere that permeates the entire house. The color temperature of warm white ranges from 3000K-5000K.

  • Cool white: This light has a futuristic tone between blue and white. You need this when you want to highlight a specific point in the house or premises. This is the type of light you'll find in jewelry stores because it makes gemstones shine more - cool white has a color temperature range of between 12,000K-14,000. Super high brightness accent lighting.

  • Neutral white: This is the light color closest to pure white; there are no yellow or blue tones in it. It is the ideal light to use in the home for general lighting, as it gives the room a modern color and a sophisticated and elegant look. It is almost similar to a fluorescent lamp. The color temperature neutral white range is between 8000K-9000K.

4. Silicone Neon Strip Lights

This is the type of light that is placed inside a clear silicone material that is not only flexible, but allows the glow of light to pass through a filter to produce very colored strings of light. What makes it better than a flexible tape light is that the silicone is waterproof. This allows it to be installed on any surface, you can even install it underwater in a swimming pool and turn it into a treasure trove of colorful lights. Silicone LED lights can be up to 120m long and are available in a variety of colors depending on the occasion or function you intend to use them for.

Power consumption: How much electricity does a LED light strip use?

In general, LED lights consume very little power. For a lighting level of 450 lumens, an LED bulb requires only 4-5 watts, while an incandescent bulb requires 40 watts. For LED strips, the answer depends on the length of the strip.

CRI: What is a good CRI rating for LED lights?

The color rendering index is important when choosing an LED strip. It is basically a lighting aspect that helps you determine how good the output will be when turned on. The metric used starts at 0 and goes all the way up to 100; the higher the number, the better the color rendering index, representing the higher quality of the LED strip. The closer it is to 100, the truer the natural colors will look in this light. If you like everything in high color, then choose an LED strip with a CRI score of 80 and above.

Water-Resistance: What should be the waterproof level of the light strip

Water resistance determines where LED strips are installed. LED strips are graded according to a standard called Ingress Protection, which is the industry standard for determining the waterproof rating of LEDs. Three levels are involved and they include the following.

IP33: This is the lowest rating, which means that LED strips do not have any waterproofing properties and should be used in waterproof and dust-free areas such as bedrooms and living rooms.

IP65: This is a coated strip that can handle a certain level of water, possibly a little fur and some dust. It is resistant enough to the elements that it will not become brittle too quickly.

IP67: This is the high waterproof rating. LED strips with this rating have a very nice coating and can be used outdoors in areas that may be hit by water and dust. They are perfect for bathrooms, kitchens and any other areas where water and dust are common.

Density: Are LED strip lights bright enough?

LED strips are available in two densities; standard density strips with 30 LEDs per strip and high density types with 60 LEDs per strip. This translates to 9 LEDs per foot and 18 LEDs per foot respectively. The higher the density, the brighter the strip and vice versa. Typically, standard density strips are used for accent lighting and in tight spaces where not much light is needed. High density LEDs are suitable for outdoor lighting or for rooms with more space.

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How to install LED strips?

To begin with, the following tools may be needed to install the LED strips.

· Scissors

· Tape measure

· Wet cloth, dry cloth

· Ladder (if mounting on the ceiling or outdoor eaves)

· 3M double-sided tape (strong adhesive)

Now we are ready to start.

Step 1: Determine the mounting surface

Determine where the light strips will be installed. Will it be indoors or outdoors?

Indoors: if it's a bedroom ambiance, you can install them on the edge of the bed frame, which will give you a cozy feel; if it's to enhance the color in the games room, you can press install them on the edge below the computer desktop, and on the wall behind the computer; if it's to add subtle color to the kitchen, you can add them under the countertop, or around the cabinets; if it's in the living room, you need to consider installing them on the edge of the ceiling, the around the walls can reflect the sense of ambiance of the living room space.

Outside: for a romantic look, the eaves of the house are the best place to install them; and of course, the fence of the house is the perfect place to add ambiance. When choosing, consider whether there is an outlet nearby to power the strip of light.

Step 2: Measure the mounting surface

Once you have determined the area where you want to install the LED strip, you need to measure the length of the installation. Determine the size of the length of strip you need to purchase.

Step 3: Adjust the length of the strip

If the mounting area of the strip is longer than the strip, you will need to purchase a separate strip before cutting and splicing.

If the strip is to be bent or attached at a 90-degree angle at the corner of a TV, bookcase, or wall, you can change the orientation by making a small loop or using a flexible connector.

If the installation area is shorter than the strip, trim the strip to the appropriate length along the marked line. Remember to cut according to the marked area on the strip to avoid damage to the strip. For your safety, ensure that the strip is unplugged before cutting or extending.

Step 4: Clean and dry the surface

Now that you have installed the strip, it is time to clean the mounting surface. First wipe the area with a damp cloth to remove any dust or grease from the surface, then dry it with a dry cloth or dry paper towel. It is important to note that if it is outdoors, a strong adhesive will be required for bonding as the outdoor environment is more unstable than indoors and strong adhesives are very strong and removal may damage the surface or wall. If you wish to move the strip light or reattach it to a different location after installation, we recommend that you use double-sided tape instead.

Step 5: Placing the strip light

Once the surface is prepared, installation is easy! First, peel the backing from the strip of lightweight adhesive. Then, press it onto the surface for at least 10 seconds or until the light is firmly adhered to its surface. Then, repeat the pressing and holding process every six inches along the entire length.

But, what if the mounting surface has been destroyed?

How to install LED strip lights without damaging the surface?

Step 1: Choose a suitable mounting surface 

Choose a flat and clean surface for installation, avoid installing on uneven or rough surfaces to ensure that the light strips fit closely and more firmly.

Step 2: Preparation 

Before installation, make sure the selected surface is dry and clean, wipe it with cleaner to remove dust and oil stains to improve adhesion of backing adhesive.

Step 3: Correct pasting method 

Start from one end and gradually paste the whole LED strip, make sure to apply even force to avoid pulling or squeezing during installation. Use even force to tighten the strip to ensure a tight surface fit and avoid gaps and blisters.

Step 4: Use bracket fixing 

For some surfaces that cannot be directly pasted, use brackets to fix them to ensure that the strip is firm and safe.

Step 5: Avoid frequent location changes

Avoid changing the position of the LED strip frequently within a short period of time, so as not to cause damage to the surface or adhesive decline.

Step 6: Pay attention to temperature and humidity

Avoid choosing humid or temperature extreme environment when installing LED light strips to ensure the adhesion effect of adhesive backing and mounting surface.

Step 7: Regular inspection and maintenance

Regularly check the adhesion of the LED light strip, if found problems timely repair, to ensure long-term stable installation effect.

Benefits of installing LED strips in the channels

· Provides an even surface for the adhesive of the strip to form a strong, long-lasting bond.

· Aluminium is used as a heat sink and helps dissipate heat to extend the life of the LEDs.

· The plastic cover will scatter the light. This gives a more even appearance to the light coming from the LEDs.

· The cover also helps to protect the strip from dust and damage.

· The clean lines of the channel help make the installation look better if the LED strip is in clear view.

Perhaps you will encounter a situation where the adhesive of the strip will not hold for a long time. It will usually stick initially. But sometimes the adhesive will fail after a few months. To ensure that the adhesive does not come loose, you must use hot glue regularly.

LED Strip Ideas:5 Cool Things To Do with LED Strips

Create a home theater atmosphere

Installing LED light strips behind the TV or projection screen in a home theater creates a soft backlight effect that reduces eye fatigue while enhancing the movie watching experience. Choose a strip with adjustable color temperature and brightness, and adjust the light at any time according to different movie genres and moods to create the perfect movie-watching atmosphere. In addition to RGB light strips, black light strips are also a good choice for home decor.

Illuminate kitchen and work areas

Installing LED light strips under counters, inside cabinets or around the edges of worktops in kitchens not only provides ample work lighting, but also enhances the overall aesthetics of the space. Choose high-brightness, white LED strip lights to make cooking and operating easier, while giving the kitchen a more modern and tidy look.

Creative home decoration

Use LED light strips to add creative decorative effects to areas such as living rooms and bedrooms. You can install the light strips on the ceiling edge of the ceiling, on the decorative shelf of the wall, or on the bottom of the furniture to create a unique visual experience.

Outdoor courtyard lighting

Installing waterproof LED light strips in outdoor areas such as gardens, courtyards, and terraces can provide illumination and enhance the aesthetics of the outdoor space. Wrap the light strips around trees, railings, path edges or gazebos to create a romantic and cozy outdoor environment and make the yard more charming at night.

Illuminating artwork and displays

Using LED light strips to illuminate artwork and displays can enhance the display and highlight the focal point. Installed inside bookshelves, cabinets or display cabinets, the flexibility and adjustability of LED light strips can be utilized to create unique lighting effects and make the display items more eye-catching. 

FAQs of LED Strip Lights

Q1: Are LED Strip Lights Worth the Money?

The biggest reason people like to use LED lights is their efficiency. They save considerable energy costs and last a very long time. LED strip light add a major difference to the look of a room and are very easy to install. Many people see LED lights as the future of lighting because they are so efficient. Easy to install and more energy efficient. However, when you consider how efficient LED strip lights are, the cost is worth it. They last much longer than other types of lighting. You don't have to replace them as often. Therefore, you will pay much less in the long run.

Q2: How Much Electricity Does an LED Strip Lights Use?

Compared to traditional incandescent lamps, LED strips do not require a large amount of electricity. The consumption is directly determined by the length and light density of the strip. A standard 5 meter strip costs less than $3 per year to run on average. If you use LED bulbs for 10 hours a day, they can last for more than 10 years! In contrast, incandescent bulbs last only 100 days. The amount of electricity used by a bulb is measured in kilowatt hours. LED bulbs use 127.5 KWh over their 15,000 hour lifetime. incandescent bulbs will consume 900 KWh of electricity over 15,000 hours (in theory; incandescent bulbs don't last that long).

Q3: How Long Can Leave the LED Strip Light On?

We all forget to turn off our lights from time to time, but don't make a habit of it. Leaving your LED lights on all night will eventually affect their lifespan. Installation can also affect the life of your LED strip. Any bends, creases or unusual applications can affect the diodes and circuitry. Cutting and extending the strip can also cause voltage drops and affect the quality of the strip.

Or if you do need to keep your LEDs on for an extended period of time, it's important to make sure you understand the environmental and safety risks associated with long-term use. Well-made LED lights are durable enough to be used 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That's because, unlike traditional types of lights, LEDs produce the least amount of heat, which means they're less likely to overheat or catch fire.

Most LED strip lights have a life expectancy of 30,000 to 50,000 hours. This depends on your specific installation, the products you use, and how often you use them.

Q4: What LED strip color temperature should I choose (choose the right brightness)?

There is no "best" color temperature when selecting LED strips. This is because for each type of application, a different type of light is required. The following are the most common color temperatures and their potential uses.

· 2700K: Ideal for bedrooms and other indoor applications where a warm, inviting atmosphere is needed.

· 3000K: Areas that require a slightly more vibrant environment can benefit from 3000K color temperature LED strips light. Museums, art galleries, restaurants, hotels and other high-end spaces are also excellent choices for this color temperature.

· 4000K: Most retail installations and store interiors are a good place to install 4000K. Often considered the midpoint between warm and cool whites, this is a good compromise if you don't like the harshness of cool whites but want to avoid too much yellow in warm white spaces.

· 6500K: Applications that need to simulate natural daylight should use 6500K. Film, photography and industrial applications should fall into this category.

Q5: Which LED Strip Lights Color is Best for My Eyes?

Two factors to consider when selecting LED strip colors are color temperature and color rendering indexCool LEDs have high lumens and can be stressful to the eyes, while warm white LEDs are pleasant and good for the eyes. The temperature range of LEDs is 4500k, which is the natural light range and is good for the eyes.

The color rendering index shows how clear an object is in light, and good LED strips have a high color rendering index to show how an object looks in natural light. Warm white LEDs have a CRI of over 90, while cool white LEDs are over 62. Warm white LEDs provide better results for your living room or living room, while cool white LEDs are best for kitchens and dining areas.

Q6: What Factors Will Affect the Life of LED Strip Lights?

1. LED is an electrostatic sensitive device. If you do not take anti-static measures when repairing LED strip, it will burn out the LED and cause waste. Of course, the life of the LED strip is not guaranteed.

2. If the copper wire or flexible circuit board of the LED strip is not tough enough, it will cause the LED strip to break when it is bent. This will also affect the life of the LED strip.

3. LED strips are generally powered by a constant voltage power supply (DC switching power supply). If the power supply output is unstable, or there is no surge protection, when the external network voltage fluctuations, it will output unstable voltage and current, resulting in the LED strip working at a non-standard voltage. This way will also affect its life.

4. LED is a constant current component, so the constant current effect of LED strips from different manufacturers is not the same, and the life expectancy is also different.

Q7: What is the CRI index of a qualified LED strip light?

When purchasing and installing white LED strips, we recommend a CRI of over 80, good color rendering, and most colors will render well. Suitable for most commercial uses. Lighting with a CRI below 80 will exhibit poor color rendering. In this light, items and colors may look unsaturated, monotone, and sometimes unrecognizable, making it difficult to distinguish between similar colors. Onforu LED strips all have a color rendering index over 80, with good color rendering and most colors can be rendered well.

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