01Why Should You Choose LED Light Strips?
Incandescent bulbs, halogen spots, and high-pressure discharge lamps are limited in their efficiency. LED light strips are a great alternative to these light sources. The light tapes help you save energy while giving you more lighting options. Here are some other benefits of choosing LED light ribbons:
Longterm Lighting Solution
LED light strips are a one-and-done solution to your lighting needs. A general life expectancy of up to 50,000 hours means you don’t have to worry about changing your lights every few months.
Efficient Lighting System
LED uses a more efficient system to convert electrical power to visible light. This means LED lights require less energy to function, making them an efficient lighting system. Reduced energy costs do not mean you have to sacrifice lumen output. In fact, an 8W LED bulb produces the same amount of light as a 60W incandescent bulb.
Better for the Environment
LEDs produce fewer CO2 emissions than traditional sources of lighting. This helps you reduce your carbon footprint and make a positive environmental impact. They also don’t emit heat radiation the way incandescent bulbs do making them safer to use.
Easy to Maintain
LED light strips require little to no maintenance. You can install them indoor and outdoor. You can modify light tapes to be dust and waterproof. Their robust construction makes them less prone to physical glitches.
You can use LED light strips in almost any space. You can use the flexible LED tape lights to cover corners and reach tight spaces. You can also use them for
under-cabinet lighting, signage, task lighting and much more.
02What Factors Should You Consider When Buying LED Light Strips?
LED light strips are the most effective way to light your house. But how do you decide which one is the right one for your needs? We have outlined a list of factors you need to consider before you make a buying decision.
What Do You Want to Light?
The type and kind of LED strip you buy depends on your lighting task. For example, indoor mood lighting will require a different type of LED ribbon light than outdoor industrial lighting.
First, you need to decide whether you want to install the LED light strips indoor, outdoor, or both. Then decide what kind of lighting you require:
- Accent or Mood Lighting
- Under-Cabinet or Stair Lighting
- Task Lighting
- Industrial Lighting
- Customized Lighting
Having a clear purpose in mind will help you streamline the process of choosing the perfect LED light strip. It will also help focus your search so you know exactly what to look for and where to look for it.
What Size of LED Strips Do You Need?
Once you are aware of your lighting needs, measure the space/s that needs to be lighted. This will help you ascertain the size and length of the LED ribbon light you need.
Generally, LED light strips are available in a standard length of 5 meters. However, you can easily combine LED tapes together using LED light strip connectors. At Elstar, we can customize LED light strips so they are just the right length for your project.
The size of LED strip is also affected by the type of lighting need. For example, our Ultra Slim 2835 LED Strip is perfect for indirect room lighting. With a width of 5mm only, the tape light is able to fit into tight spaces and is easily camouflaged.
How Many LEDs Do You Want on Your Light Strip?
Determining the length of LED light strip is important, but it doesn’t tell you how much light the strip will produce. For that information, you need to check the LED density. LED density defines the number of LEDs per strip.
The greater the LED density, the brighter the light the LED tape will produce. LED density depends on the purpose of lighting but as a rule, an LED light strip should not have less than 30 LEDs/ meter. We give our customers the option to choose the LED density they want for their project. Our LED light strips contain 30 LEDs/meter up to 120 LEDs/meter.
Another important consideration is to check the LED pitch. This refers to the distance between two LEDs on a single strip. A larger distance will lead to dark spots and visible hotspots. This will also affect the overall brightness of the ribbon light.
Which Color Do You Want Your LED Strip to Produce?
LEDs light strips can produce almost all colors under the sun. Based on color, there are three types of LED light strips:
- White LED light strips help produce white light (warm and cool).
- RGB LED light strips help produce the colors red, green, blue, orange and any other colors on the spectrum that can be produced by combining these colors together.
- RGBW LED light strips contain a combination of white light LEDs and RGB LEDs. They can produce white light in combination with other colors.
In addition to color, there are two other factors that affect the way light will be displayed:
Color Temperature or CCT:
CCT stands for Correlated Color Temperature and it defines how warm or cool white light will look. CCT is measured in Kelvins. Warm white light has a lower Kelvin rating while cool white light has a higher Kelvin rating.
Generally, a Kelvin rating from 2000-3000 is used to define warm white light. Warm white light looks orange to yellow depending upon the Kelvin rating. A Kelvin rating of 3000 to 4000 shows a color temperature that is neither too warm nor too cool. Kelvin ratings over 4000 showcase cool white light. Cool white light can go from pure white to bluish white.
Kelvin rating helps you understand what your white light LED light strips will actually look like. Here is a table that can help you see Kelvin ratings of LED light tapes and their recommended use.
LED Light Strip CCT Recommended Application 2700K - 3000K living rooms, bedrooms, waiting areas, lobbies 3500K - 4100K kitchens, hallways, staircases, elevators 5000K - 6000K garages, bathrooms, offices, industrial spaces
Color Rendering Index or CRI:
CRI measures how colors look under a light source as compared to what they look like under sunlight. It is easier to distinguish between similar-looking colors like navy blue and black under natural sunlight. The Color Rendering Index tells you whether the light produced by your LED light strip helps you do the same.
The index is measured using the scale 0-100. The higher the CRI the better you’ll be able to see each individual color. CRI is also used to determine the hue, vividness, and color harmony of the color produced by your LED light strips.
A CRI rating of 80 and above is considered to be acceptable for most domestic lighting applications. Commercial and industrial lighting spaces require LED light strips with a CRI rating higher than 90.
How Bright Do You Want Your LED Strip Light to Be?
You can determine the brightness of a LED light strip by checking its Lumen information. LED lights use Lumens instead of Watts to measure their brightness. The greater the Lumen rating of a LED light tape, the brighter it is.
Lumen rating combined with LED density and pitch gives an accurate representation of LED light strip brightness. Though you can choose to make your space as bright as you want, here is a table relaying recommended lumens for specific lighting tasks:
|Lighting Task||Recommended Lumens|
|Accent Lighting (staircase, pool)||150-250 lm/ft|
|Nearby Task Lighting (lamps, under-cabinet)||175-550 lm/ft|
|Distant Task Lighting (ceiling)||350-1200 lm/ft|
|Indirect Lighting (backlights)||375-1200 lm/ft|
|Signage (hoardings)||500-1200 lm/ft|
How Much Power Should Your LED Strip Light Consume?
It is important to find out the power draw of a LED strip before you make a purchasing decision. The power draw of an LED strip defines how much power it needs to work. LED power draw is calculated in watts.
The wattage of LED strips lights can be presented as watts per meter, watts per foot, or watts per LED. Make sure to double check this information because it will help you calculate the total power your LED light tape project is going to consume. At Elstar, we provide wattage information for all our LED light strips as watts per meter.
To calculate the total power draw of your LED light project, simply multiply the wattage per meter to the total length of LED strip lights you’re using. It is recommended to make sure that your LED light ribbons don’t draw more than 80% of your total power supply.
LED light strip voltage is another factor you should consider when choosing the right LED light tape. LED strips are available in both 12V and 24V. Make sure to choose the one that is compatible with your power supply.
How Will You Install Your LED Strip Light?
The last factor to consider before buying a LED light strip is how you’re going to install it. Some flexible LED light strips come with adhesives on the back. You only need to stick them to a clean surface and you’re done. Some others require a little more work and you may even need a professional to step in.
Here are some questions you need to ask yourself to determine how your LED light strips will be installed:
- Do I need a single LED light strip to cover my space or multiple strips?
- If I’m using multiple LED light strips, how many breaks do I need to put in?
- Do I need flexible LED light strips or rigid LED light strips?
- How far is the power supply from my LED light strips?
- Do I need connectors or extra wire to reach the power supply?
- Do my LED light strips require any special coating?
- Do I need to programme my LED light strip?
03How to Buy LED Strips?
Once you’ve decided on what kind of LED light strip you want, the hard part’s over. The next step is to find the perfect place to buy your LED light strips. Here is a guide to help you choose the best LED strip light manufacturer.
Research the Market
Looking for the right LED strip manufacturer can be overwhelming. Make the process easier by doing an online search to find all LED manufacturers around your area. You can do this easily, by using some relevant keywords like “LED strip lights”, “LED manufacturers” or simply “LED lights.”
This search will help you jot down a list of LED lights manufacturers that look the most promising. If you want to make your list even more targeted, use product specific keywords in your search. For example, a search for “Flexible 3528 CCT LED Strip” will give you a list of manufacturers that provide this LED strip light.
Choose the Right LED Strip Light Manufacturer
Once you have a list of promising LED light manufacturers, it is time to choose the best one. The following factors will help you decide which LED light manufacturer is the right one for you:
- LED Manufacturer vs Reseller: LED light strip manufacturers usually offer a better product than resellers. Also, LED manufacturers know a lot more about the products they are selling and can help you choose the right LED tape light for your project.
- Variety of Products: Good LED light strip manufacturers house a wide variety of LED light tape products. They also offer complementary products like LED connectors, LED chargers and more. Browse the LED manufacturer’s website to see what kind of products they offer.
- Quality Control: Check what kinds of machines the LED manufacturer uses to make LED light strips. Take a look at their manufacturing process and the quality control they have in place. For example, we do quality checks after every step of our LED light strip manufacturing process to maintain the high standards of our products.
- Safety Checks and Warranties: Check the LED strip lights’ safety certifications to ensure that the strips do not contain lead or any other hazardous material. Also, browse the LED manufacturer’s warranty information to see how they ensure the quality of their products.
- Design Help and Customer Service: Check if the LED manufacturer is easy to reach out to and if they are readily available to answer your queries. We work with our customers to help them choose the best LED strip lights for them. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in our catalog, we can always custom-made the LED light strips you need.
Contact the Manufacturer
Now that you have streamlined your list of LED light strip manufacturers, reach out to each of them. This will help you compare their products, prices, customer service and more to see which is the best LED manufacturer for you. Here are some of the things you should ask each LED manufacturer:
- What will your LED light strip project cost you? Ask them to give you an estimate of per strip and of the project as a whole.
- How will they deliver the LED products to you? Also, ask them how much time shipping will take. If they don’t handle the shipping process, ask for recommendations.
- How will the LED light strips be installed? Can you install them yourself or if you’ll need professional help? Do they offer installation assistance?
- Can they design custom LED light strips for you? If so, how long will that take and what will be the cost of your project?
- Do they offer after-sale support?
You can call the LED manufacturers or email them to get this information. Afterward, compare the price quotes, customer service and ordering process of each LED manufacturer. Choose the one that meets your requirements.
04What Are the Types of LED Light Strips?
You may find many different types of LED strip lights in the market. But all these types are a variation of two basic kinds of LED strips lights, flexible LED strip lights and rigid LED strip lights.
The difference between the two can be gauged by their names. Flexible LED strip lights feature surface mounted LEDs on a flexible circuit board. Rigid LED strip lights feature LED strips that are mounted on top of a frame (usually Aluminum).
Here is a look at some of the features of flexible and rigid LED light strips and their uses.
|Flexible LED Strip Lights||Rigid LED Strip Lights|
|Flexibility||• Easily bends and goes around tight spaces
• Can be folded up to 90 degrees vertically
|• Cannot bend or be folded|
|Installation||• Come with self-adhesive on back. Can be pasted on any smooth surface easily||• Rigid LED light frames can be mounted on flat surfaces using wall connectors|
|Colors||• Available in white light, RGB, and RGBW||• Available in white light, RGB, and RGBW|
|Light Effects||• Can be dimmed
• Has a 120 degrees beam angle
|• Can be dimmed
• Has a 120 degrees beam angle
|Uses||• Accent lighting
• Mood lighting
• Task lighting
• Under-cabinet lighting
• Industrial lighting
• Event lighting
• Commercial lighting
|• Under-cabinet lighting
• Display case lighting
• Workbench lighting
• Showcase lighting
• Stage lighting
• Event lighting
• Industrial lighting
• Commercial lighting
As you can see, you can use both flexible and rigid LED strip lights interchangeably. The only difference is that flexible LED strips are a little more versatile.
Common Types LED Light Strips in the Market
Here are some common LED light strips you may find in the market and a brief description of each:
2835 LED Strip
This strip is 2.8mm x 3.5mm in size. Though it is small, it packs quite a punch when it comes to brightness. This strip is great for lighting tight spaces. Its compact size makes it perfect for residential lighting projects. Our 2835 LED strips are available in 60 and 120 LEDs per meter. You can choose our Ultra Slim 2835 LED light strips for lighting smaller spaces. We also offer 2835 Grow Lights that help you grow your plants.
3528 LED Strip
This is the most common LED strip found in the market. With a size of 3.5mm x 2.8mm, these LED tapes are very versatile. You can use them backlighting, accent lighting, under-cabinet lighting and more. They are not as bright as other LED strips on this list, but that’s what makes them great for applications like color splashing walls. 3528 LED strips at Elstar can be easily customized. Our LED strips are fully dimmable and you can also find 3528 LED strips with adjustable CCT.
5050 LED Strip
5050 LED tape lights are just behind 3528 LED strips in popularity. These tape lights are 5.0mm x 5.0mm in size and are three times as bright as 3528 strip lights. The 5050 LED chips are bigger in size and pack a greater punch. However, the bigger size means you can only fit a limited number of these chips on a single strip. These tape lights are great for applications where a lot of ambient lighting is needed.
A stand-out feature in 5050 ribbon lights is that they have 3 LED diodes in one housing. This makes them great for RGB applications. At Elstar, we provide 5050 LED strips in single color, 4-in-1, and 5-in-1 RGGW combinations.
05How to Install LED Light Strips?
You’ve chosen the perfect LED light strips for your project, decided on the best LED light manufacturer and ordered your strips. Now the strips are here and ready to be installed.
This might seem like an overwhelming process, but most LED tape lights are really easy to install. Also, t-his is where the research you did before buying your LED strips comes in handy.
If your lighting for an event or a larger project that requires professional help, you can sit back and let them take care of the installation. However, if you’ve decided to install the LED strips yourself, read on to find out how to do just that.
Connecting LED Strip Lights
Ideally, you should ask your LED manufacturer to pre-cut and connect your LED strips to the length and size you want. For example, we always ask our customers about their projects and recommend the perfect length and size of LED strips. We then cut and connect LED strip lights to those exact dimensions so all you have to do is mount them.
If your LED strips aren’t already cut, you can easily do so by locating the cut marks along the solder pads. These are present every 4 inches on standard-density LED strips and every 2 inches on high-density LED strips.
Now that you have your LED strips, it is time to connect them so you have a seamless flow of light. There are two ways to connect LED light strips to each other:
- Soldering: Soldering is how we connect LED strips together to get you the desired length and size of the strip. But you can do it yourself as well. However, there is a bit of a learning curve to this process and you will need some specialized equipment. If you don’t want to go to the hassle of learning how to solder we have an easy solution for you.
- Clipping: Our Hippo Buckle LED Strips Lights Connector allows you to connect two LED strips to each other easily. It is very simple to use and is just the right size. You can also use this connector to connect your LED strip to a power supply wire.
Connecting LED Strip Lights
Now that your LED strip lights are the right length, it is time to connect them to your power supply. There are three power supply options for your LED light strips:
- Plug-In Power Supply: You can use desktop plug-ins to connect to your wall plugs directly. This is the easiest and most convenient way to power your LED lights. Just make sure to get the plug-in that supports the right wattage.
- Hardwire Power Supply: You can connect your LED strip wires directly to the power supply wires with this option. Caged power supply cases are used for hardwiring. This method is a little more complicated and requires you to know about power supply wiring.
- Battery: You can use a 12V battery pack to power your LED light strips.
Plug-ins are generally recommended for residential LED tape use or smaller projects. You should use hardwire power supply for industrial and commercial LED lighting as well as larger events. Batteries are great for using LED light ribbons on small outdoor parties.
Mounting LED Strip Lights
Your LED light strips are now ready to go up. If you’re using flexible LED light strips then all you have to do is take off the cover on the adhesive at the back of the strip and paste the strip wherever you like. LED strip not sticking properly? Check out our troubleshooting section to find a solution.
Looking to mount your flexible LED strips on an uneven surface? Try our led aluminum profile for LED strips. It makes it super easy to mount your flexible LED strips on any surface and doesn’t affect the brightness or beam of the light.
Rigid LED strips come with an aluminum casing so they need to be mounted using wall connectors. You can easily find these connectors at any hardware store and they are very easy to install.
Once your LED light strips are installed, sit back, relax and bask in their light.
Dimming LED Strip Lights
One of the best features of LED strip lights is that you can adjust their brightness. You can do that easily with LED light controllers. There are four types of LED light controllers in the market:
- RF Controllers: These are the standard LED light strip controllers that let you adjust the brightness and color of LED lights. These controllers are available in both analog and digital forms. You can also find single-zone RF controllers that help you control LED strips in one area and multi zone RF controllers that let you manage multiple areas at the same time.
- Inline Controllers: These controllers are installed between the power supply and your LED light tape. You can control the brightness and color of the strip with these controllers. You can easily install them by using LED connectors.
- DMX Controllers: Control larger areas and multiple LED light strips with DMX controllers. They are available in a number of forms including wall panels, smart touch screen panels, and even as an app on your phone.
- DALI Controllers: Recommended for big industrial spaces, factories, and warehouses, DALI controllers let you pre-programme your LED light ribbons.
The type of controller you require depends on the size of your project, the kind of light affects you want, and your comfort level with technology.
06How to Solve Common LED Light Strips Malfunctions?
You’ve done your homework and bought and installed the perfect LED light strips. But say they don’t light up, or start flickering. What do you do then? Panic.
Just kidding, what you should do is go through this FAQ section to troubleshoot the problem.
I plugged in my LED strips but they don’t turn on or are flickering, what’s wrong?
The first thing you need to do is check the wires. Turn the power supply off and check the wire connections. If any wire is loose, tighten it.
Next check the converters. See if the red and black wires are connected to right input terminals on the converter. Is the converter in an open area that is well ventilated? Also, check to make sure your converter isn’t overloaded. Recheck your wattage calculations to see if you’ve accidentally put too much load on the converter.
My flexible LED strip lights keep coming off. What do I do?
The adhesive at the back of flexible LED strip lights is designed for smooth flat surfaces. If the surface has some texture or isn’t completely flat, there is a chance the LED strip won’t stick.
One solution is to use extra adhesive tape to double bond your LED strip to the surface. Just layer 3M tape on the surface and stick your LED strip on top of it.
Another tip is to use mounting clips to secure your LED tape lights. These clips are easily available in hardware stores. You can also use LED casings to make sure the LED strip stays in place.
The ends of my LED light strip keep flickering. Why is that?
The LEDs at the end of an LED light tape may flicker or die because of a phenomenon known as Voltage Drop. Essentially, if your LED strip is too long, the furthest end from the power supply doesn’t get enough power to light all the LEDs so they die or flicker.
The solution for this is pretty simple. Make sure the distance between the power source and the LED strip isn’t greater than 20ft. You can also use thicker wire gauges between the power source and the LED tape to remedy this problem.
Lastly, to cover a longer area, use either parallel connections between the power supply and LED strips or different connections for each LED strip.
I plugged in my RGB LED light strip but it is only displaying white light.
How did that happen?
Your RGB LED light strip might be displaying white light due to reverse polarity. Polarity defines the direction on an electric current. Since LEDs are semiconductors, they only allow the current to flow in one direction.
This means that if you’ve connected the light tape on the wrong side, the current will flow in the wrong direction. When this happens your LED light tape would either not work at all, or in case of RGB light tape, it will emit white light.
To remedy this, simply flip the RGB LED light strip to connect the opposite end to the power supply.
My LED light strips was working fine but they were hot to the touch.
Should I be worried?
LED light ribbons don’t emit heat the same way as incandescent or halogen bulbs. This means they shouldn’t feel hot to the touch. If they are, this means something is wrong with the power supply.
LED light strips come in either 12V or 24V capacity. Most 12V LED light strips are great for shorter runs, like decorative LED light strips or accent lighting. 24V LED light ribbons are better for longer running projects like staircase lighting or under-cabinet lighting. It is important to use the right driver to connect your strips to the power supply.
If you use a 12V driver with a 24V LED strip, it will cause the lights to flicker and dim because of the low power supply. Overpowering LED light ribbons will cause them to be hot to the touch. This will ultimately cause the values in your LED light strip to fray and your strip will be damaged. Check your power supply and driver to make sure you’re not under or overpowering your LED light strips.
Light up your homes by using LED light strips in trendy ways. Dazzle up your parties and events by using RGB LED light tapes and highlight your awesome creations by using LED light tapes to brighten up your retail displays. There are so many ways you can use LED light strips while still saving tons of money on power and repurchases. However, all of this will only be possible if you choose the right LED lights for your project and order them from a trusted LED manufacturer.
Use this LED light strip buying guide to find out which LED strip is right for your needs or get in touch with us and we’ll do all the heavy lifting for you.