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The anatomy of an LED light strip

Time to read 4 min

Advice Centre > LED Strips > LED Strip Help > The anatomy of an LED light strip

LED light strips are an excellent creation. They are very flexible and offer a consistent level of light, often equivalent to or brighter than fluorescent lights of an equal length.

It's important to remember that although LED strip lighting might be discussed as one broad and simple overarching concept, LED strips are highly varied and come in many sizes and specifications. From RGB and RGBW strip lighting that adds a depth of colour to your room, to SuperSlim strips which effectively add light to profiles that would be hard to reach with incandescent bulbs, LED strips are an effective and creative way of lighting up any space.

To make these highly versatile lighting pieces, detailed and complex anatomy is required. This guide will explain the basic parts of an LED strip light and why these are important, so you can understand which type of strip is better for your lighting needs, whether that's cabinet lighting or commercial use in a warehouse or showroom. Click on one of the links below to jump to that section:

LED emitters

Surface mounted diodes (SMD) refers to the LED chips that are soldered onto a circuit board in sequential order. SMD LEDs are given a four-digit number, such as 5050. This means that this particular SMD LED chip measures 5.0mm x 5.0mm. By relying on strips of different lights, LED strips offer greater flexibility than alternative lamps.

Each individual LED chip effects the overall light colour and quality emitted by the strip. The brightness of an LED strip is usually described in lumens per metre and is determined by factors such as LED emitter output and efficiency, LED density and the power draw per metre of strip.

There’s no use in installing a dim LED strip if the intention of this light source is to illuminate a whole room. When used to add a touch of character and function as accent lighting to change the look of a room, a dim light will leave your accents looking dull and disappointing.

To find out more about lumens, power supply and LED density, read our guide to LED strip technical elements.

Circuit board

The LED chips and other components are embedded into a circuit board which provides structure for the strip but is also flexible enough to be mounted on curved or uneven surfaces without issue.

The circuit board helps to take power from the LED power supply and distribute it throughout the strip. As LED strips are long and technical products, it's important that every single section is serviced by the power supply equally, and that your connections are complete without causing a short circuit or cutting off the strip in the wrong place. However, this is ultimately more of an issue when you're mounting your LED strips and cutting them to a custom size.

Ultimately, the circuit board is a core tenet of your LED strip. Supplying power from your mains or battery through complex circuity is one thing, but without a good circuit board you might not have access to the advanced features, such as RGB, remote control from an external emitter and patterned lighting changes.

Cut points and connectors

It's all well and good having a high-quality LED strip with advanced features, but your design requirements may determine a strip needs to be a specific length which isn't the one or five metres usually provided. This is where cut points and connectors come in.

Cut points are the parts of the circuit board that you can safely cut through to create a custom length of LED strip. On WeLoveLEDs strips, these are represented by copper ovals, usually marked every three LEDs. The copper ovals are also the connector point where the DC power supply can be connected. To find out more about cutting, connecting and installing LED strips, read our guide here.

Connection points like this are the only places to cut when you're trimming your LED strip to size, as you won't be breaking the circuit and your LEDs will continue to work.

Frequently asked questions

What are the different LED strip voltage options?

WeLoveLED strips are available in 5v, 12v or 24v. Each of these options has their own set of benefits and technical considerations. For more information about the different LED strip voltage options, and to find out more about the power supply and voltage drop, read our guide here .

How do you determine the quality of an LED strip?

The quality of an LED strip is determined by a combination of the LED quantity and quality, the composition and build quality of the circuit board, and the treatment of the LED strip surface (for example, coating the surface in white can increase light output whereas doing nothing can cause quality issues).

How do you choose a transformer for an LED strip?

You'll need a transformer that will provide more than 125% of the total wattage used by your LED strip, in case of power surges. This amount increases to 200% in outdoor environments, to make sure that you get the best results possible in a difficult environment for your components.

How do you hang an LED strip?

Our LED strip lights have an adhesive backing, so can easily be mounted to any clean, grease-free surface no matter the profile. It is much better to use an adhesive primer on the surface beforehand.

Contact us today for more details of all our high-quality LED Neon Flex lighting products and accessories.