A Guide to Classic LED Strip Lighting
LED strip lighting is a versatile and cost-effective way to enhance a room. The range of sizes and specifications available means that you should be able to find a light solution to meet any requirements. There are many types of strip lighting available at We Love LEDs, including rigid, flexible, colour-changing, water-resistant, eco and classic.
LED strip lights can be bent vertically up to a maximum of 90 degrees, which enables light to be added to places that were previously out of reach. They come with either small or large LED chips and a variety of different sizes ranging from one to five-metre lengths. Small LED strip light chips have the mark '3528' on them. These will measure 3.5mm by 2.8mm and are white in colour.
The larger LED strip light chips have the mark '5050' on them and measure 5mm by 5mm. The larger chips are brighter per metre than the smaller chips and are RGB/RGBW.
In this guide, we will explore the applications of classic LED strip lighting and the technical details you need to know before purchasing. Click on one of the links below to jump to that section:
Benefits and main uses
LED strip lights can be used for any number of lighting applications, whether in the home or office, commercial property or private space.
Classic LED strips are available in a range of colour options as standard, including pure white (popular in commercial settings for the ‘daylight’ effect), warm white (a softer light, perfect for cosy areas and wedding venues), and RGB (customisable to any colour that can be made using the red-green-blue LED combination).
One of the main benefits of strip lighting is that it can be tailored to the specific application area. If you're looking for discreet lighting, perhaps to add ambience to a room without having an obvious cone of light and shade, warm or pure white strip lights are a great way to effectively enhance or soften features. The Classic 120 in 12v is a dimmable static colour strip available in five colours. The Classic 120 in 24v is also dimmable and available in pure or warm white—ideal for discreet applications.
With an RGB strip, creativity can really come to the fore. Accentuate every step on a staircase, add ambience to a ceiling perimeter, backlight a wall-mounted TV, give the illusion of depth to shallow plinths or bookcases. The possibilities for decorative lighting are endless with the Classic RGB LED in 12v and the Classic RGBW LED strip in 24v.
Traditional tube lighting in offices has been known to cause headaches, mainly as a result of its almost-imperceptible flickering. Unlike traditional lighting which runs on an AC, LED lighting runs on DC, which eliminates the flickering. LED strip lighting is ideal for the home or workplace, and can lead to a healthier, happier environment.
As well as the design potential and health benefits, LED strip lights have a lifespan of around 50,000 hours. That's the equivalent of six years. Versatile, economical in terms of both space and money, and with low maintenance and repair costs, LED strip lighting has a lot to offer.
Key things to consider
The Ingress Protection (IP) rating tells us whether an LED strip light is suitable for indoor/dry or outdoor/wet use. It is presented as IPXX. Two scores make up the rating:
The first number states the level of protection against solids (on a scale of 0-6, where 6 is fully protected against dust particles).
The second number states the level of protection against water (on a scale of 0-8, where 8 is watertight to a depth of around four metres).
A rating of IP20, therefore, means the lighting is protected against some solids (>12mm), but provides no protection against water. Such lights are non-waterproof and should only be used in dry conditions. Our Water Resistant range of LED strip lights are rated IP65 and are suitable for kitchens and bathrooms as long as the lights are not being submerged in or used under running water. You should also pair these lights with appropriately rated fixings.
Lumens (lm) is the measurement for the amount of visible light emitted. The higher the lumens, the brighter the light.
Wattage (Watt (W)) is the measurement of energy the lights consume. The higher the wattage, the more energy used to produce the light.
LED lights are generally much more energy-efficient than traditional halogen bulbs, and tend to have a higher lumen-per-wattage output. This is because very little heat is generated in the process of powering an LED bulb, meaning the light emitted is brighter for longer, and the bulbs themselves are at less risk of over-heating or burning out.
Classic LED strip lights are relatively easy to install. Most strips are backed with strong double-sided tape, meaning they can be applied to any surface. Make sure the surface is clean and dry before applying the strip, for maximum adhesion. The surface should also be free from grease, otherwise the glue will become warm and fail.
Make sure you have the correct power supply for the lights. LEDs run on a DC rather than an AC, so check the voltage of the lights to ensure you are purchasing the correct power supply.
For the white Classic strip lights, buy plug-in connectors to easily attach one section of the strip to another and remove the job of soldering. Connectors are not available for RGB/RGBW.
Application size/length of strip needed
LED strip lights can be cut to specific lengths (along the specially-marked cutting lines). Always measure up the space first, make a note of the lengths required for each area, and buy 10% more than you need, just to be on the safe side!
Use around water (kitchen and bathroom)
Water-resistant strips must be used in areas where the lights may be in direct contact with water. Check the IP rating (as above). Whilst classic LED strips tend to have a lower IP rating, water-resistant strips are available to buy separately.
Frequently asked questions
Can you connect LED strips together?
Yes. LED strips can be connected using specialist strip connectors and clasps. We Love LEDs has a selection available here.
Can LED strips catch fire?
Whilst the LED bulbs themselves are not likely to overheat and catch fire, it is important that the strip lights are properly installed and are not completely covered. Always consult a qualified electrician if you are unsure about your lighting setup.