Your Ultimate Guide on Buying LED Strip Lights

LED Strip lights are becoming more and more popular for home lighting. More than likely you have heard the argument for LEDs over incandescent and even halogen bulbs: they are more efficient, brighter, longer lasting, they don’t produce much heat, they are easily controlled and programmed…the list goes on and on. LEDs come in extremely compact packages that are durable and resistant to shock, making it so they can be used in a variety of ways.

One increasingly popular way is in LED strip lighting. Linear (strip) lighting has become very popular and is becoming an affordable option for both commercial and residential lighting applications. Buying LED strip lights might seem relatively straight forward, but there are many things you need to consider in making sure you get the right type of light for your needs. Follow through this post as we walk through the important factors for LED strip lighting and run through our full line of LED light strips.

The LED Strips category is a broad category that includes all different types of LED strip lights. Depending on how you plan to use the LED strips, you may need one type over the other. For example, IP65 LED flex strips are better suited for outdoor and wet areas as they have a protective covering that make them waterproof. Below is just a brief description of each kind of LED Strip Light, this guide will go into more detail on them later as there are multiple types of strips in some of these categories.

DC LED Flex Strips – Powered from 12VDC, these flexible strip lights have an adhesive backing for easy mounting and can be cut ever two inches. They are offered in waterproof options and come in 30 LEDs/M or 60 LEDs/M.
AC LED Flex Strips – Flexible strip lights that run straight from your outlet. Just plug in and they are ready to go.
LED Rope Light – Encased, omni-directional LEDs in the standard rope light packaging.

When buying LED strip lights, it is important to look at the number of LEDs per length. For brighter output and higher light quality you should look for the strip lights that have the highest number of LEDs per Foot (Meter, Yard, etc). If LEDs are spaced too far apart across the strips they could produce spotty lighting instead of a clean, constant line of light. It can be confusing as manufacturers use different units of measurement to advertise this. My recommendation would be to stick to a certain measurement and then convert all other measurements to see what strips have the most LEDs per set unit of measurement. Take note that this is not the only factor in determining brightness and light quality. Our LED Rope Light, for instance, has more LEDs per foot than our DC LED Flex Strips but they are dim LEDs and are much spottier than the Flex Strips, so always check on brightness of the LEDs as well.

LED Strip Brightness
As LED technology continues to improve, LED strips continue to reach brighter capabilities. This does not mean all strips will be super bright, in some cases you may not even want the light to be super bright. An example of this would be accent lighting within a shelf.

Brightness of LEDs is measured in lumens. Depending on how you are using the LED strips, you will probably want a certain level of lumens. For accent lighting you will probably not want anything brighter than 200 Lumens per foot but for other applications where you want more light it just depends on your personal preference of how bright you want them. So, make sure you take note of the Lumens/length along with the LEDs/length as this will have a strong effect on light quality and the type of light the strip gives off.

LED Strip Colors
Our LED strip lights come in a wide range of single colors as well as multi-color strips (RGB). The most basic LED strip lights are our single colors that only emit one fixed light color. We offer them in: Warm White, Neutral White, Cool White, Red, Green, Blue, Yellow and Ultra Violet (UV).

The color changing strips are called RGB strips. These LED lights can display any Red-Green-Blue combination color. These strips require a controller to change colors in flashes or stay on one selected solid color. Take a look below to see how these strip lights work and look.

Color Temperature
Color temperature is how we differentiate the various white colors that an LED can produce. Temperature indicates how ‘warm’ or ‘cool’ the light appears. Temperature is measured in Kelvin with higher temps representing cool colors (blueish hue) and lower temps representing warmer colors (yellowish light you would expect from a bulb). See below for a more visual explanation.

Installation of LED Strip Lights
When buying light strips for an application you should always have an idea of how you will mount them and set them up. For some strips like the DC LED Flex Strips, it is as easy as exposing the adhesive backing and sticking them onto a clean surface. Other installations can be much more difficult for mounting, cutting and wiring strips together. Here are some factors you should always keep in mind, we will get more specific farther on in this post when we talk about each individual strip:

Know the total length of LED strips needed
Know how many breaks will be in the lights or how many separate strips you need
Know your strips power and voltage requirements
Flexibility of the LED strip lights
Durability of the LED strips: Need Waterproofing?
Decide whether other components such as connectors or extra wire are needed
Decide how you will dim, control, or program the strips you set up

LED Strip Wattage
Another key factor in setting up your LED strips is knowing the wattage. First you need to find out the wattage of the system you want to set up. Here at LEDSupply we provide you with the wattage per length of strip so it is easy to find what your total wattage will be once you know how many linear feet you have. Finding total wattage will not only help you find an adequate power supply but will also let you know how much electricity you will be using with your new setup.

Once you know total wattage you are ready to find a power supply. You will need a power supply for all our strips other than the Plug & Play options (AC5050 Strips and LED Rope Light). Plug and play strips have a power cord built onto them with a switching transformer in line so there is no need for an added power supply.

First thing when looking for a power supply is knowing what input voltage your LED Strips require. The strips found at LEDSupply can be either plug-in, 12V or 24VDC powered…just make sure you know what your strip needs and find a power supply with that output. Secondly, make sure the wattage of the power supply is at least 10% higher than the wattage your LED strips will consume. If there is no wattage listed on the power supply (there always will be on our site) it is a good thing to note that: Output Voltage x Amperage = Wattage of your power supply.