The Most Complete Guide to Addressable LED Strip

Addressable led strip is the most special category in LED strip lights classification. It is distinguished from common color-changing led strip lights due to their more dynamic nature.

If you want to use the dynamic effects of the led light strip flexibly, you need to understand the working principle of the addressable led lights. What exactly is an addressable led strip, and how is it different from other LED lights strip? Now, let's see.

What is an addressable LED strip?

The addressable led strip is unique. It has one more IC chip (microcontroller) than other ordinary led tape lights. 

This allows each LED on the strip to be controlled individually or in groups to display a wider range of color possibilities.

How do addressable LEDs work?

The microcontroller receives the digital signal data from the addressable led controller, then delivers the control command to each LED diode.

One IC can control one or more LED lights. You can send different control commands to each IC. The LED lights in the adjacent IC control area can have different colors and different brightness. 

Therefore, it enables us to develop complex illumination effects.

Addressable LED strip VS Non-addressable LED strip, What's the difference?

Addressable led strips can be regarded as an upgraded version of non-addressable led strips. 

Ordinary led rope lights can only realize the color jump of the whole led strip and the brightness adjustment of a single color. The entire rope light can only appear in one color at a time, and two different colors cannot exist at the same time.

Instead, addressable led strip lights can achieve various color changes through the control system, including color chasing, multi-color cycling, single color walking, and so on. 

These color change modes are often programmed by the addressable controller engineer and implanted in the controller integrated circuit board.

We only need to supply power to the addressable light strip, connect to the addressable led controller, and play the programmed mode.

Simple addressable LED strip classification introduction

Working Voltage: 5V, 12V, 24V
Color: White, Warm white + Daylight (WWA), RGB, RGBW, RGBCCT
Signal: Single signal, Dual signal, Breakpoint resume series, DMX512
IC Structure: Built-in (IC in diode), External (IC on PCB)
IC Chip:WS2811, WS2812B, SK6812(RGB/RGBW), UCS1903, TM1812, TM1814(RGBW), TM1936(RGBCCT), WS2814(RGBW), SK9822, APA102, APA107/HD107S, HD108, WS2801, LPD8806, LPD6803, WS2813, WS2815, WS2818, TM1914(RGB), GS8206, GS8208, DMX512
Luminous Way: Top-emitting, Side-emitting

Why do addressable led strips have so many IC types?

Different ICs lead to differences in the functions of the addressable led strip lights. It may be the LED size, LED color, the working voltage, or other aspects like the longest running length.

The larger the LED size, the brighter the brightness and the more energy it consumes.

For example, SMD5050 LED is 5.0mm*5.0mm with 0.24W power consumption, while SMD2835 LED is 2.8mm*3.5mm and it consumes 0.2W/LED.

How do I know if my LED strip is addressable?

The connection point of the addressable led strip is different from the ordinary 12V or 24V led strip light. You can judge whether your light strip is an addressable led strip according to the connection point.

Addressable led strip lights can be divided into single signal led strips, dual signal led strips, breakpoint resume series, and DMX512 led strips according to the signal. And these four types are different. 

1. Single Signal LED Strips

From the name, a single signal addressable led strip can only pass through one type of signal. 

An IC control area is called a pixel. When one of the pixels is broken, the other pixels will stop working. 

So its connection point is a positive wire, a negative wire, and a signal wire. Take the following figure as an example.

  • 12V represents the positive line.
  • Din represents the data signal line.
  • GND represents the negative line.
3pin Single Signal LED StripsColorIC structure LED sizeVoltageIC control unit
WS2811White /RGBExternal IC5050 /3535 /
3838 /020
5V /12V /24V1 /3/ 4/ 6/ 9
WS2812BRGBBuilt-in IC5050 / 20205V1 /3/ 12
SK6812White /RGB / RGBWBuilt-in IC5050 /3535 / 40205V /12V /24V1 /3/ 6
UCS1903RGBExternal IC5050 /35355V /12V /24V1 /3/ 6
TM1812White /RGB / RGBCCTExternal IC505012V /24V3/ 6/ 12
TM1814RGBWExternal IC505012V /24V6
TM1936RGBCCTExternal IC505024V6
WS2814RGBWExternal IC505024V6

2. Dual Signal LED Strips

In addition to the data signal passing through the dual signal addressable led strip, it adds a clock function. You can set the time for the LED light to turn on.

  • 5V---Positive line
  • CKL/CKO---Clock line
  • SDI/SDO---Digital signal line
  • GND---Negative line
4pin Dual Signal LED StripsColorIC structureLED sizeVoltageIC control unit
SK9822RGBBuilt-in IC5050 /3535 /3838/0205V/12V/24V1
APA102White/RGBBuilt-in & external IC5050/ 20205V1/ 3
APA102 /HD107SWhite/RGBBuilt-in IC5050 /3535 /40205V/12V/24V1
WS2801RGBBuilt-in & external IC5050 /35355V/12V/24V1/ 3
LPD8806RGBExternal IC505012V /24V2
LPD6803RGBExternal IC505012V /24V3

3. Breakpoint Resume Series

Breakpoint resume series is an upgraded version of a single signal addressable LED strip which is a 4-channel dual data line LED driver control circuit with a data line and a backup data line.

After a single data line fails, the backup data line will automatically start and ensure that the signal is not interrupted.

  • 12V---Positive line
  • DO1---Digital signal line
  • DO2---Backup line
  • GND---Negative line
4pin Breakpoint Resume SeriesColorIC structureLED sizeVoltageIC control unit
WS2813RGB/ RGBWBuilt-in IC50505V1
WS2815RGBBuilt-in IC505012V1
WS2818RGB/ RGBWExternal IC505012V3/ 6
TM1914White/ RGB /RGBCCTExternal IC505012V/ 24V3 /6 /7
GS8206RGBExternal IC505012V/ 24V3 /5 /6
Yellow /Golden yellow /W
External IC505012V1
WS2814RGBWExternal IC505012V3

4. DMX512 LED Strips Series

The difference between the DMX512 led strip and other addressable led light strips is that it is more intelligent and can be connected to the DMX system. 

Control various tricks such as horse racing, running water, chasing, animation, etc. Patterns can be combined at will, and any color can be displayed. 

If a pixel is broken, the signal transmission will not be affected, and other pixels can be used normally.

  • GND---Negative line
  • 12V---Positive line
  • B---Digital line
  • A---Digital line
  • DI/DO---Programming address

If you find the above mark on the light strip, it means that your light strip is addressable, and you can control your light strip with different colors and different brightness, and different modes.

Can you cut addressable LED strips?

The cutting unit is closely related to the control of several LED lights by one IC. One IC controls one LED, so a single LED can be cut.

The addressable led strip cutting unit is generally 1, 3, or 6 LED lights. Addressable light strips with a cutting unit of 1 LED are called individually addressable led strips.

5V addressable led strip ⇒ 1 cutting unit/1 LED ⇒ voltage drop in 5 meters
12V addressable led strip ⇒ 3 cutting unit/3 LEDs ⇒ 5 meters without voltage drop, 10 meters with voltage drop
24V addressable led strip ⇒ 6 cutting unit/6 LEDs ⇒ 10 meters without voltage drop/longest running length is 10m

A voltage drop is manifested as the same color inconsistency or brightness attenuation from the beginning to the end of the led tape light.

If there is a voltage drop, separate power supply at both ends of the addressable led strip to ensure that the LED color and brightness are the same, or power the addressable led strip light every five meters in the long lighting project.

How do you connect addressable LED strips?

There are two ways to connect two addressable led strip lights together, one is to use a solderless addressable led connector, and the other is to connect two addressable led strips by welding.

To make the addressable led light strip work, connect the addressable led light to the addressable led controller, and then connect the controller to the led power supply.

The output terminal of the addressable led controller is connected to the addressable light strip wire one by one, and the input terminal of the controller is connected to the led power supply.

How do you control addressable LED strips?

An addressable led strip controller is required to control an addressable led strip. 

Single signal, dual signal, and breakpoint resume series addressable led strips choose the SPI controller, and DMX512 led strips use the DMX controller. The two controllers are not compatible.

The addressable led controller that supports WIFI or RF function can use the mobile phone or the remote to control the change of the addressable led light strip. It makes the control method more convenient and fast while getting a variety of addressable led light changes.

For specific control methods, please refer to the product details page in this link.

Read more: How to choose led strip light controllers?

How to install addressable led strips?

The addressable led strips are installed in the same way as ordinary led tape lights. 

The indoor IP20 addressable led light strip is installed with adhesive, and the outdoor IP67 waterproof addressable led strip is installed with buckles. 

More led strip installation details are in: How to install led strip lights?

Hope that this article can help you choose your best addressable led strip. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us