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Guidelines for Choosing LED Strip Lights

 

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One of the most popular LED lighting products of today's market are the LED strip lights, string, ribbon or tape in other words. Its popularity is due to their easy and wide range of application, replacing fluorescent ribbons, rigid tubes for illuminating worktops, and its highly decorative look with a large variety of colours and performances available. Recently developed strips are suitable not only for decorative purposes, but also for task and main lighting, therefore they are used both in homes and commercially. Below we made a short list of one should consider when choosing strip lights, and hope we will be able to give some aid for all those who wish to exploit the endless opportunities provided by this product.

-         The LED included, its size and type

-         the number of LEDs within a metre of the strip

-         the colours or colour temperature of the LEDs

-         the flexibility of the strip

-         the direction of LEDs on the strip

-         carrying capacity - heavy duty

-         IP rating

-         Voltage

-         dimmers and controllers

No doubt, the most significant factor of all is the LED included in the strip. Its size and type both determine the performance of the entire ribbon, as well as their position on the strip. We have already discussed the basic types of LEDs in one of our previous articles. The LED technology used can be low power, SMD power or high power, and the LED's size is either measured with Wattage or, in the case of SMD technology, it is usually a four digit number (3528 or 5050 to mention the most common ones).

The number of LEDs within a metre of the strip hugely determines its brightness. The higher the number, the brighter the strip is, however, we do have to be careful with extremely high numbers, like 120. If too many diodes are placed within a metre of a strip and in a single row, they might eventually damage each other, radically shortening the otherwise long lifespan of the product. If we want to look for extreme brightness, or large number of LEDs within a metre, look for the technologies which solve this problem with double or triple width of strips, and place LEDs rather next to each other than in one single row.

 

The colour temperature of white LEDs is measured in Kelvin, and they are usually available with three different temperatures: cold / bright, warm or natural white colours. Low Kelvin whites are the warmest ones (2700 - 3000), emitting a yellowish, sunlight-like colour; high Kelvin numbers (5000 K or above) are the bluish cold whites; while natural white is usually a combination of the two: combining warm white and cold white diodes in a row.

Coloured LEDs, which actually appeared sooner on the market as whites did, have an endless range of colours now, both in single colour strips, or in the RGB strips. RGB ribbons need a controller to operate, with which you can set them to one single colour, or changing colours, adjust the pace of change and - depending on the knowledge of the controller - the order of colours as well. The effects you can create with RGB strips largely depend on the controller, however there are special purpose strips as well, like the pixel RGB strip, which changes the colour of its LEDs in a row one after the other, creating a run-down effect.

 

Flexible and rigid strips are both available on the market. Their advantages depend on the place and mode of application. Flexible strips can be used anywhere, however on flat surfaces rigid strips are sometimes easier to fix. Strips are always flexible in one dimension only, so besides the common strip emitting light upwards, side-view or side-mounted strips are used too for round shapes, like wheels.

 

The carrying capacity of strips is generally very low. Heavy-duty strip lights are not usually sold for home use, but much rather for commercial use on ships or in factories for instance. In home use, where carrying capacity matters - on an edge of a stair for instance - the use of profiles is the common solution.

 

All electric products have an IP rating, which indicates the degree of protection against the intrusion of solid objects (like body parts, hand, fingers), dust, accidental contact and water. The rating you will need certainly depends on the place of application. If you intend to use LED strip lights outdoors, the strip, as well as the accessories (controller, dimmer, transformer) will need to be fully waterproof - that is the grade of IP68. If your LED strips are not in direct contact with water, but are at a humid place (like a kitchen for instance), a lower IP grade is adequate for you.

More about IP grades, read here.

 

Most LED strips work at low voltage, though strips running at mains are also available. In case you choose a low voltage light, you will need a special LED power supply that transforms 230V to 12V or 24V, depending on what you need. Unregulated electric transformers usually ruin LED lights, so make sure that you use the proper ones. It is generally advisable to buy the transformer and the product from the same distributor, to validate warranty for the provided time.

 

Some LED strips require the use of various accessories to operate. In the case of low voltage strips, they all in a transformer or power supply - as mentioned above. Dimming is always an option with strips; however, they require dimmers specifically manufactured for LED strips. RGB tapes require controllers to operate, and can set the strip to a single colour, as well as multiple, changing colours in various paces. Complex controllers, like the DMX, allow setting this change to the rhythm of music, or determining the order of colours following each other.

 


LED strip lights offer a bright and decorative solution for replacing your energy-hungry halogens or short lifespan and still hot fluorescent tubes. Use LED strips to light up your life with various colours, or change the atmosphere of your room every day with the RGB LED strip. Our 12V LED lights are safe and easy to install.