The Ultimate Guide to LED Strips


LED strips are a DIYer’s dream come true. Imagine me, I’ve gotten sucked into binge watching hours of LED undertaking movies quite a lot of occasions.

Regardless that I discovered tons of actually good concepts (and wasted many hours), I struggled to discover one place the place I may get all the data I wanted to create my very own undertaking.

That’s what this information is for.

This information is supposed to take you from full newbie to completed undertaking.

I’ll educate you the way to choose and set up the suitable LED strips to your utility. I can even educate you the way to choose and set up the suitable controllers and energy provides to match your LED strips. And alongside the way in which, I’ll reply widespread questions and share what ideas I’ve discovered.

Lastly, on the finish is an inventory of my really helpful merchandise to your LED strip undertaking.

Forms of LED strip chips

For those who’re searching for LED mild strips, you’re doubtless to come throughout every kind of letter and quantity combos which can be supposed to describe the strip you’re .

What do the letters imply?

The letters within the description refer to the output coloration(s) of the LED chips on the strip.

If the letters are separated by a “+” or an area, it often signifies that they’re separate chips. If there isn’t any house, it often means they’re all built-in into one chip.

When the LEDs are on separate chips, fewer lights could be packed into the identical size strip.

RGB – Pink, Inexperienced, Blue

An RGB LED incorporates three diodes (LED stands for Mild Emitting Diode) on the identical chip: one for every coloration. Every coloration is wired to its personal channel. By adjusting the ability delivered to every coloration (utilizing a controller), any mixture of colours could be created.

W – White

Sometimes a single “W” refers to a pure white (6500Ok). There’s no set customary so make certain to double examine.

WW – Heat White

Heat white is often 2700Ok, related to the colour of an incandescent bulb.

CW – Chilly (or cool) White

Chilly white is within the 6500Ok vary, however examine to make sure.

CCT – Coloration Correlated Temperature

CCT often signifies that the strip contains two channels of white. One is a heat white and the opposite is a cool white. By adjusting the ability delivered to every white channel, the strip can produce any white mild equal to or in between the 2 LEDs. The CCT LEDs can both be each on the identical chip or on separate chips.

Examples of widespread LED chip configurations:

Label Description
RGB A single Three channel chip with RGB LEDs
RGBW A single Four channel chip with RGB and white LEDs
RGB+W One Three channel chip with RGB LEDs and a separate single channel chip with white LED
RGB+CCT One Three channel chip with RGB LEDs and a separate 2 channel chip with chilly white and heat white LEDs
RGBCCT A single 5 channel chip with RGB, CW, and WW LEDs

What do the numbers imply?

An LED strip description usually features a 4-digit quantity akin to 5050 or 2835. The quantity often describes the size of the chip.

For instance, a 5050 LED chip measures 5.Zero mm vast by 5.Zero mm tall. Equally, a 2835 chip measures 2.Eight mm vast by 3.5 mm tall.

If you’re a digitally addressable strip, you’ll doubtless see a 4 digit quantity (for instance, WS2812B or SK6812). However on this case, it has nothing to do with chip dimension. As a substitute, the quantity is the title of the built-in LED controller chip.

Widespread addressable LED controllers:
WS2812 ECO

Does dimension matter?

Though most equal sized chips have related traits, not all chip producers are created equal. Due to this fact, there’s no assure that chips of the identical dimension from totally different producers have related efficiency.

Usually a bigger chip is brighter, however not essentially. In the end, a number of elements decide the general brightness together with the chip circuit design, energy consumed, and supplies used.

For instance, beneath is a desk with primary specs for 3 totally different chips made by Epistar (a well-liked LED producer).

LED Chip Floor Space Luminous Flux Energy consumed
2835 9.Eight mm2 22-24 lm 0.2 W
5054 27 mm2 45-55 0.5 W
5630 16.Eight mm2 50-60 lm 0.5 W

Discover how the 5630 places out extra mild than the 5054 though it has much less floor space. Additionally, it manages to put out extra mild whereas nonetheless utilizing the identical quantity of energy (extra environment friendly).

Dimension does play a job in figuring out what number of LEDs could be mounted on a strip:

1. A slim chip could be mounted to the strip extra carefully collectively making a extra uniform mild.

2. A big chip can probably match a number of diodes on the identical chip. This could permit for a greater spacing for multi-purpose (color-changing) strips.

For instance, an RGBCCT chip has 5 whole diodes on one chip. The identical chip is used repeatedly all through the strip. Every chip can create colours and whites.

Evaluate that with an RGB+CCT strip. Two totally different chips are used. One creates colours and one creates whites. They’re organized alternately.

The distance between every equally coloured LED is bigger on the RGB+CCT strip in contrast to the RGBCCT strip. In follow, the larger hole could make the sunshine much less uniform.

How to select the suitable LED strip

There are seemingly infinite variations of LED strips which can be being offered in a large worth vary. What are the variations between low-cost and costly? And, what’s greatest to your undertaking?


Brightness or luminosity is often measured in lumens. For LED strips, the query you have an interest in is, how shiny is my strip per unit size? So moderately than a complete lumen quantity, try to be searching for lumens/foot or lumens/meter.

Listed here are some pointers for selecting a brightness stage relying on the scenario.

Use Instructed Lumen/foot
Accent/Temper lighting 150-350
Underneath cupboard lighting 175-525
Job lighting (shut) 275-450
Job lighting (far) 350-700
Oblique lighting 375-575
Fluorescent tube substitute 500-950

It’s a good suggestion to purchase strips with further brightness to your utility. Then, get a dimmer to cut back the brightness to the specified stage.

Utilizing a dimmer will decrease the working temperature of the LEDs which can lengthen their lifespan.

Moreover, as LEDs age, they do lose a few of their luminosity. For those who oversize your LEDs a bit from the start, you should have some further brightness to make up the distinction as they age.


Luminosity doesn’t at all times inform the total story. You may get extra brightness out of any LED in case you pump sufficient energy by means of it, however that’s not at all times an excellent factor.

An LED strip producer can improve the reported lumen output by overpowering the LEDs. This may trigger them to shine extra brightly, however can even trigger them to get hotter and run much less effectively. Since warmth is the primary purpose for an LED to fail prematurely, it’s doubtless that overpowered LEDs won’t final so long as they in any other case may.

For that purpose, it’s good to ask the query, how a lot mild does it put out in contrast to energy used? This ratio is named the luminous efficacy. It’s usually listed in a merchandise specs. If not, you possibly can calculate the efficacy by dividing the variety of lumens produced by how a lot energy it makes use of.

Do I want a excessive CRI mild?

Coloration rendering index (CRI) is a measure of how precisely a synthetic mild supply replicates pure mild. It’s reported as a quantity from 0-100.

A CRI better than 80 is appropriate for many purposes.

A CRI better than 90 is taken into account excessive CRI and is especially utilized in retail, artwork, movie, or pictures. A few of the highest quality LED strips have a CRI of 97-99.

Why is CRI essential?

Objects beneath low CRI lighting could seem boring or harsh relying on the sunshine and coloration. Colours might be much less vibrant and the general lighting impact will appear much less shiny.

However why is that?

NOTE: What follows is a technical clarification of what makes a excessive CRI mild. You’ll be able to skip it if nerdy stuff makes your eyes glaze over.

Mild that we are able to see is often not made up of a single wavelength. Moderately, it’s a set of waves that span the seen spectrum. The coloration the sunshine seems to be is a mean of the included waves.

Visible Spectrum
Seen mild spectrum Source

As proven within the picture above, totally different wavelengths correspond to what we see as totally different colours. The coloration of an object might be decided by the wavelengths of sunshine it displays.

For instance, if the solar shines on an object and we see crimson, meaning the article has absorbed all of the wavelengths of sunshine aside from the sunshine within the crimson wavelength area. That mild will get mirrored into our eyes inflicting us to see a crimson object.

Now what occurs if as a substitute of daylight, we shine an LED mild on the apple?

Effectively, if it’s a typical, low-cost LED, the consequence will doubtless be a boring, orangish and customarily unappealing apple.


Daylight at midday has a correlated coloration temperature (CCT) of 5500-6000Ok. You may assume that so as to replicate daylight, you simply want to purchase an LED with the identical CCT. However, it’s extra sophisticated than that.

Any seen mild could be damaged down into its elements by measuring the ability of the waves in a given wavelength vary. That is usually proven in graph kind utilizing a spectral energy distribution graph. Beneath is a spectral energy distribution graph of daylight.

Spectral Distribution for Daylight

A typical LED has a spectral energy distribution graph that appears one thing just like the picture on the left. Discover there are vital deficiencies across the cyan and crimson areas. This may trigger objects that embrace these colours to look “off” when seen beneath these lights.

A excessive CRI LED has a extra even spectral energy distribution just like the picture on the suitable. This specific one is made by YUJILEDS.