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RGB LED strip lights are everywhere. From 3D billboard lights to the notification lights in your phone, they all use RGB LED technology. So what exactly are RGB LED lights and how do they work? Read on to find out.
RGB stands for Red, Green, and Blue. An RGB LED is actually three LEDs in one package:
This is what an RGB LED looks like:
Each RGB LED has four leads. One for each color and one common anode (+) or common cathode (-) lead. The anode lead is the longest one
An RBG LED strip contains a series of RGB LEDs joined together. You can use RGB LED light strips to create all kinds of colored lighting for your homes, offices, and more.
Each RGB LED has three LEDs inside, one blue, one green, and one red. Since LEDs are dimmable by nature, each colored LED can produce all color hues of a single color. For example, the red LED will be able to produce all the colors you see below:
In fact, each colored LED can produce 256 shades of the same color. If you combine three colored LEDs together, that gives you over 16.7 million color combinations.
So, how does an RGB LED create these color combinations? It is a simple matter of playing with the brightness of each LED. For example, if you want the color purple you will increase the brightness of the red and blue LED while turning down the brightness for the green LED. Similarly, if you want the color yellow you will turn down the blue LED and turn up the red and green one. This color wheel demonstrates this process:
An RGB LED light strip works on the same principle. You can control the brightness and color of each strip using an RGB LED controller. More on that in the next section.
You can also create white light using RGB LED light strips. Just turn all three colored LEDs to the highest power to create white light. However, the white light created this way might have a little tint or hue.
RGB LED light strips are able to produce a number of colors but they do have some limitations. For example, they can’t create the color brown or light pink.
You can learn more about how RGB LED light works here.
RGB LED light strips can be controlled using different kinds of controllers. There is a wide variety of LED controllers available in the market from single-zone RF controllers to DMX controllers that can handle up to 500 zones at the same time.
The type of controller you need depends upon a number of factors that we will discuss in the next section. First, let’s take a look at the different kinds of RGB LED controllers available in the market.
There are many RGB LED light strip controllers in the market. Here is a look at their types:
RF controllers are commonly used to control RGB LED light strips. They have a range of up to 20 meters. You can find analog and digital RF controllers as well as wired and wireless ones. We generally classify RF RGB LED controllers into two categories:
These RF controllers allow you to control all of the RGB LED strips they are connected to. However, you can only control all the LED lights together. You can’t change the colors or manage the brightness of different areas independently.
Multizone RF controllers give you the option of managing multiple LED strip zones or channels separately. This allows you to control the mood lighting in your room and under-cabinet lighting in your kitchen with one controller independently.
You can also connect multiple LED strip receivers to a single channel on your remote. This lets you dim the lights in your home office and the gallery with a single controller. This also works great if you want to set different light levels in larger rooms like hotel lobbies and restaurants.
Inline controllers are installed between the transformer and RGB LED strip. They are small in size and offer basic functionality. You can use the controller to manage the color and brightness of the RGB LED strip the controller is connected to. Inline controllers are great for smaller applications like accent lighting.
A DMX controller gives you unlimited choices to control the lighting in your space. DMX controllers used to be big, bulky things that were only used in theatre lighting. However, today’s DMX controllers can be smart touch-screen panels, wall controllers or even apps on your phone and computer.
The type of DMX controller you need depends on the area you need to cover, your budget, and your preference. A DMX controller can manage up to 512 channels at the same time.
These controllers use the Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI) dimming protocol to help you manage your RGB LED light strips. These controllers are recommended for larger spaces like office buildings or hotels. You can pre-programme lights to change color, brightness, or switch on and off.
As mentioned above, the best RGB LED light strip controller for you depends on a number of factors. Some of them are stated below:
Before choosing an RGB LED strip controller, you must ascertain the size of the space you want to cover and the purpose of the application. If your project is small, like a bedroom or a home office, you should go for an RF RGB LED controller. Installing and using the controller is easy and you can use it right away.
If you’re looking to install RGB LED light strips in your hotel, restaurant, office building or a big room, then choose DMX or DALI controllers. They will help you control the brightness and color of LED light strips over a larger area easily.
Choose inline wired wall controllers for accent lighting on tables or walls.
RGB LED light strip controllers come in all shapes and sizes. The best one for you depends on the size and type of controller you prefer. A sleek, digital multi-channel RF controller is great for home and office use while a big, sturdy DALI controller is perfect for hotels and restaurants.
The type of RGB LED light strip controller you choose also depends on your budget. Single-channel RF controllers and inline controllers are cheaper than digital, multi-channel RF controllers. Standard DMX controllers are more cost-effective than DALI controllers.
Some RGB LED light strip controllers are easier to use than others. RF controllers don’t require any setting up and can be used right away. Both analog and digital RF controllers have a simple interface. Inline controllers require some setting up but are fairly easy to use. DMX controllers can be simple or complicated depending on the system you choose. DALI controllers are the most advanced and have a slight learning curve. Choose the controller that you feel comfortable using.
RGB LED light strips look great and have many applications. You can use them for accent lighting in your house, task lighting in your office or ambient lighting in your industrial space. Using RGB LED light strips gives you the creative potential to light up your space in the most attractive way.