The Most Complete Guide to Addressable LED Strip

Welcome to the ultimate guide for addressable LED strips! If you’re getting familiar with addressable LED lighting or just looking for a comprehensive resource to help you choose and set up your own addressable LED project, you’ve come to the right place.

Addressable LED strip lights are a great way to add vibrant and customizable lighting to any space. With the ability to flexibly control individual LEDs, you can create impressively complex and dynamic lighting effects.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about addressable LED strips, from the basics of how they work to the different types available on the market. Read on to learn more about this exciting LED strip type.

What Is An Addressable LED Strip?

An addressable LED strip is a digital strip that contains LEDs and driver chips that allows each LED light to be controlled independently. This means that each LED can be autonomous and intelligent in its own right. In other words, each light can have its hue and brightness.

Below is a picture of an individually addressable led strip, which features one IC (Integrated circuit chip) per LED and each LED can be cut. The placement of addressable LED ICs is divided into two main types, miniature ICs built inside the LED structure and ICs placed outside the LED.

A Built-in Individually Addressable LED Strip Light

Built-in IC vs. External IC

Built-in ICs integrate the circuitry inside the LED, reducing circuit design, external components, and production costs. Built-in ICs allow one IC to control one LED to change multiple colors.

An external IC controls multiple LEDs, typically 3 or 6. This design reduces color diversity to some extent.

· Built-in ICs: WS2812B, WS2813, WS2815, SK9822, APA107, HD108, etc.
· External IC: WS2811, WS2814, WS2818, UCS1903, TM1812, TM1814, LPD8806, LPD6803, TM1914, TM1934, GS8206, FW1906, SM16703, SM16704, etc.
· Available Both Built-in & External ICs: SK6812, APA102, WS2801, GS8208, DMX512, etc.

How Do Addressable LED Strips Work?

The microcontroller IC chip 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

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.

Types of Addressable LED Strip Lights

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 Addressable 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 (LEDs)
WS2811White/RGB/RGB+W/RGB+CCTExternal IC5050/3535/3838/0205V/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 Addressable 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 Addressable LED Strips

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 (LEDs)
WS2813RGB/ RGBWBuilt-in IC50505V1
WS2815RGBBuilt-in IC505012V1
WS2818RGB/ RGBWExternal IC505012V3/ 6
TM1914White/ RGBExternal IC505012V/24V3 /6 /7
GS8206RGBExternal IC505012V/24V3 /5 /6
GS8208RGB/R/G/B/Yellow /Golden yellow /WExternal IC505012V1
WS2814RGBWExternal IC505012V3

4. DMX512 LED Strips

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.

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