Top 6 Considerations Before Buying LED Strip Lights

Before buying LED strip lights, there are many factors that you need to consider, such as led light brightness, waterproof grade, working voltage, etc. How to choose the best LED strip light? This is the main purpose of this article, to answer your doubts when you start with LED light strips.

Before buying LED strip lights, please ask yourself:   
1. Where do I want to place the LED strip lights? Indoor or outdoor? Non-waterproof or waterproof? → IP20 vs IP65 vs IP67 vs IP68
2. How much LED brightness do I need? → LED density, LED lumen, difference between SMD LEDs
3. The working voltage is available? → 5V vs 12V vs 24V, AC vs DC, led voltage drop
4. How long is the LED strip light suitable for my project? → Lighting strip length
5. Do I need an LED light controller to adjust the LED color and brightness? → LED controllor
6. How to power the LED strip lights? → LED power supply

1. Where do I want to place the LED strip lights?

The place where the led rope light is used determines the waterproof level of the led light strip. Generally speaking, IP20 and IP65 led strip lights are used indoors, IP67 and IP68 led strip lights are used outdoors.

For those who see the waterproof rating for the first time, IP20, IP65, IP67, and IP68 are a little strange. What do they mean?

IP means ingress protection. The first number in IPXX indicates the level of dustproof and foreign body intrusion prevention of the led tape light, which is represented by 0 to 6. The second number indicates the moisture-proof and air-tightness of the led strip to prevent water penetration, which is represented by 0 to 8. The higher the number level, the stronger the protection.

 Dustproofing LevelWaterproofing Level
0No ProductionNo Production
1Prevents large solids from enteringUnaffected by water droplets dripping onto the outer covering
2Prevents medium-sized solids from enteringUnaffected by water droplets dripping onto the outer covering when the outer covering tilts at 15 degrees
3Prevents small solids from enteringPrevents splashing water from seeping in
4Prevents solids larger than 1mm from enteringPrevents sprayed water from seeping in
5Prevents harmful dust from accumulatingNo damage whatsoever if you wash it with water
6Completely prevents dust from enteringPrevents big waves from seeping in
7 Can be used to resist penetration by water for short periods of time
8 Soaks for a long time under a certain amount of pressure
IP meaning for LED strip lights

1.1 IP20 Non-waterproof LED strip lights

IP20 is non-waterproof. The flexible printed circuit board of the led rope lights is naked and can not touch the water. And you need to be careful that do not to damage the led strip light parts, otherwise, it will cause a short circuit.

If you plan to install LED strip lights in the bedroom, living room, cabinet, kitchen, or stairs, you can choose IP20 led strip lights.

1.2 IP65 Waterproof LED Strip Lights

The IP65 led strip has a layer of glue to cover the LED parts. It is an upgraded version of IP20. It is splash-proof and can be used in humid environments, but cannot be immersed in water and is not suitable for outdoor use.

In places where indoor led tape lights will be splashed by water, such as kitchens or bathrooms, waterproof IP65 led light strips should be selected. 

1.3 IP67 Waterproof LED Strip Lights

IP67 waterproof led strip lighting uses a silicone sleeve or heat shrink tube to encapsulate, which is suitable for outdoor environments. Note that the IP67 led light strip cannot be soaked in water. The waterproof rating of the silicone led neon lights is also IP67.

1.4 IP68 Waterproof LED Strip Lights

IP68 is the highest waterproof grade of led strip lights, the led strip is completely sealed by silicone material, is available for outdoor use, and can be placed in hot and cold environments. If you want to make your swimming pool cooler with led strips, it must be IP68 outdoor led waterproof strip lights.

Note: The waterproof LED light strips are wider and thicker than naked IP20 PCB in width and height by 2-3mm. 

2. How much brightness do I need?

LED brightness is normally talked about with density and lumen.

2.1 LED density

The density of the led light strip refers to the total number of LED lights on the strip. An led light strip usually indicates the total number of LED lights in 5 meters/16.4ft and the number of LED lights per meter/3.28ft. The denser the density, the more uniform the light distribution of the led strip, the light-emitting angle of each SMD LED light is 120 degrees.

There are low-density(30-72 LED lights per meter), medium-density(72-120 LED lights per meter), and high-density(above 120 LED lights per meter).

Multi-row led tape lights can tolerate higher densities. If you don’t want the led tape light to be too wide or the installation environment is narrow, don’t miss the thin led strips.

If you desire the led tape light to be the main lighting source or the lighting area is large, maybe high-density led strips are suitable for you. On the contrary, the space is small and you don’t have many requirements for LED brightness, you can choose low-density or medium-density. It entirely depends on yourself.  

2.2 LED lumen

The lumen of the led light strip is closely related to the LED chip type. The LED chip name is named after the SMD LED size. Each LED chip type has its approximate lumens, but the lumens of different led strips will be slightly different.

Lumen/Meter = Lumen/LED x Density/Meter
Lumen/5M = Lumen/LED x Density/5M
Lumen/Ft = Lumen/LED x Density/Ft

SMD5050 and SMD2835 are the most commonly used chips. Among all SMD LED chips, SMD5050 and COB support color changing LED lights, such as the familiar RGB led strip lights. Other chips are single color light, including white light, dimmable white light, red, blue, green, pink, purple, yellow, etc.

If you want higher lumens, in addition to looking at the LED chip, you must also pay attention to the density of the led strip light. The denser the density, the higher the lumen. It is worth noting that high density and high lumen require high heat dissipation and high power.

How much brightness do I need? I believe you already have the answer. If you still have doubts, you can contact us and we will help you choose your best brightness. 

LEDlm/LEDDensity/mlm/5mDensity/mlm/5mWatt/LEDVoltage
SMD 21106-7lm30900-1050lm601800-2100lm0.1W24V
SMD 21167-8lm301050-1200lm602100-2400lm0.1W12V/24V
SMD 301410-12lm301500-1800lm603000-3600lm0.1W12V/24V
SMD 35287-8lm301050-1200lm602100-2400lm0.08W12V/24V
SMD 283514-16lm302100-2400lm604200-4800lm0.2W12V/24V
SMD 505020-22lm303000-3300lm606000-6600lm0.24W5V/12V/24V
SMD 563022-24lm303300-3600lm606600-7200lm0.5W12V/24V
SMD 573022-24lm303300-3600lm606600-7200lm0.5W12V/24V
COB3-4lm30450-600lm60900-1200lm0.02W5V/12V/24V
This table sheet is just for reference.

3. The working voltage is available?

LED strips are mostly low voltage strip lights, with 12V and 24V led light strips being the most common. In our low-voltage led strip lights, in addition to 12V and 24V, there are 5V, 36V, and 48V led tape lights.

36V and 48V led strip lights are constant current led strips with no voltage drop over long distances, and the color and brightness of the led light strip are always consistent. This is the biggest feature of the constant current led strip.

3.1 5V VS 12V VS 24V LED strip

As mentioned above, low-voltage led light strips have a voltage drop. Voltage drop refers to the attenuation of the voltage during transmission, which is manifested as the color and brightness of the same strip are inconsistent. The voltage drop of the white light led strip will have the following performance.

First, the brightness will decay with the strip running length, and then the color will also change from white to yellow, then to red, and finally, the LED light disappears. Different voltages have different solutions for voltage drop. But the same, it is to provide sufficient power for the led strip light.

5V led strip lights have a voltage drop of five meters, and the cutting unit is an LED light, which can be more accurately cut to the length you need. And the 5V led strip needs a power supply at both ends to resist the voltage drop.
12V led strip lights are no voltage drop in 5-7 meters and cut 3 LED lights as a cut unit. The 12V led strip is powered at one end of five meters and needs to be powered at both ends for 10 meters. 12V led light strips are also used in cars and boats.
24V led strip lights have no voltage drop in 8-10 meters, and can only cut 6 LED lights at a time. If you cut within the cut line interval, the LED lights in this area will not work. A 15m 24V led strip requires an led power supply at both ends, and a 10m led strip can be powered at one end.

The higher the voltage, the stronger the resistance to voltage drop, and the longer the operating length. However, the cutting accuracy will be reduced. The length of your project is long, 24V led strip light is selected. A constant current led strip with no voltage drop would be even better, if you like it. For cutting accuracy, choose the 5V led strip light. The 12V led strip is centered between these two points, so if you really don’t have a clue, you can try the 12V led strip light.

3.2 AC VS DC

High-voltage led strip lights are also a large category of led strips. There are single color AC 110/220V led tape lights and high voltage RGB led strips according to the led color.

Alternating current is transmitted from the power grid. The power is large and the transmission distance is long, but it is not suitable for contact with the human body and has a great safety hazard. It is recommended to install the high-voltage led strip in a place out of reach, and the high-voltage led tape light is not easy to maintain.

The direct current is stable, but the transportation distance is short. Low voltage is safe and harmless to the human body. 36V is the human body safety voltage. Many electronic devices use low voltage, which will not damage the internal electronic precision parts. The most obvious thing about low-voltage led light strips is the voltage drop. We have already mentioned the voltage drop above, so I won’t elaborate on it here.

In short, low-voltage led strip lights are recommended for household lighting or home decoration, and high-voltage led strips are recommended for professionals like the building outlet lighting.

4. How long is the LED strip light suitable for my project?

The LED strip light length is typically 5 meters/16.4 feet. Length is not a big problem actually because LED strip lights can be cut and connected. However, note that only led strips of the same specification can be connected together. If the 12V led strip light works together with the 24V led strip light, either the 12V led strip will burn out or the 24V led strip will not light up.

There are several led light strips that support short lengths such as 0.5 meters/1.64 feet, 1 meter/3.28 feet, and 2 meters/6.56 feet.

For ultra-long lengths LED projects, you can purchase multiple led strip lights for installation, or directly choose ultra-long constant current led strips, which will save a lot of wiring costs and make installation easier. Of course, which one to choose is completely up to you, and I am just providing suggestions.

The most important point is that we can provide you with customized services. Please contact us if you don’t find the right length.

5. Do I need an LED controller to adjust the color and brightness?

If you want to change the brightness and color of the LED lights, an LED dimmer or an LED controller is essential for your project.

5.1 Single color led strips and dual white led strips should be equipped with an LED dimmer.

The single color led light strip is not boring and tasteless. The brightness of the led rope light can be adjusted arbitrarily from the brightest to the darkest by installing an led dimmer. Generally, the ordinary led dimmer is a knob button, and you can get the most suitable brightness by rotating the button. Of course, mobile phones, remote controls, and panel controls can also operate the led dimmer.  

It is a huge project to fully understand all LED dimmers. Because there are so many types of LED dimmers, Triac dimming, 0/1-10V dimming, DALI dimming, DMX dimming, and PWM dimming. I believe you are stunned when you see so many types of LED dimmers. Triac dimming and 0/1-10V dimming are briefly mentioned in the article about led strip light controllers. If you are interested, you can click to learn more.

Regarding LED dimming, in fact, you only need to understand that it ultimately achieves the function of adjusting brightness through different control methods. It’s just that different dimming technologies have different precautions. Of course, if you feel that the current brightness of your led tape light does not affect you, you do not need to install an LED dimmer.

5.2 Color changing led strip lights should be controlled by a corresponding LED controller.

WIFI led controller, RF led controller, IR led controller, Bluetooth led controller, and addressable led controller such as DMX512 series and SPI controller are all mentioned in the article about led controllers.

When installing the led controller, the power of the controller and the power supply must be larger than the led strip power.

RGB led strip connection

6. How to power the LED strip light?

The led strip light needs the power supply to work. Choosing a suitable power source for your led strip is extremely important. The working voltage of the led tape light should correspond to the output voltage of the led power supply. Triac dimmer and 0/1-10V dimmer should choose the dimmable led driver.

For waterproof or outdoor use, choose the waterproof or rainproof power supply. And constant current led strips also use the constant voltage controller and the constant voltage power supply.

There is one rule that must be followed about power wattage when choosing an led power supply, that is, the 80% rule. Four simple steps to teach you to calculate the power you need, click on the article link to view. About how to connect the single color led strip to the power supply, please click here.

How to power a single color led strip light

7. In conclusion

First determine the color of your led strip, whether it is a single color, multi-color, addressable dream color, or led neon light. Click into the relevant category to select the appropriate voltage, PCB width, density, and waterproof level for your light strip. Then choose the matching led controller and led driver according to the determined led strip.

If you have other questions about the choice of led strips, please feel free to contact us.