LED Strip Lights
Dear user if you're taken with the effect that LED Strip lights can have we are here to shed some light on fitting them effortlessly. First off just like other forms of LED lighting and LED bulbs LED light strips are a low energy lighting option that have a long life-time and produce very little heat. This means they are a very cost effective option when it comes to accent lighting (for instance under cabinet lighting in a kitchen or bathroom). Again though like other LED lighting technology there are a bunch of factors that need to be considered before making a purchase.
Well what factors are these? Some of the standard decisions apply to LED strip lights such as colour temperature. It might come as a bit of surprise but LED light strips have many different types so its not just as simple as making a decision to use LED strip lights at home. So what types are available?
- Non-encased flexible LED light strips or Ribbons
- Encased flexible LED light strips also known as LED rope
- LED light strips that are self adhesive
- LED light strips encased in Aluminium
- Rigid LED light bars like the Sunpower range
The length of the strip is important because this will determine the number of drivers required to power the strip of LED light. It is also important (and often overlooked) to know how many LED lights are actually in the strip itself. For the best effect we believe you should opt for the highest number of LED lights per foot, yard, or metre. This is really important if your looking for a nice clean and continuous strip of light. LED lights spaced far apart within the strip can lead to a more spotlight like effect and disappointment. This information is often not shared by the manufacturers of these products.
Brightness is another tricky factor when it comes to LED lighting strips. So we all know the more lumens the brighter the light but LED strip lighting can have a sting in the tail here. There are no regulatory set standards so some manufacturers may list per foot where as others list per metre.
Make sure you know the wattage of the strip you are considering because this in combination with length will dictate the driver that is required.
Voltage and Drivers
Most strip lights are 12V meaning that a constant voltage driver is required. The driver will convert the mains 240V electricity down to 12V meaning your strip lights can be powered safely by the mains electricity. Picking a driver is important because the total wattage of strip lighting will be limited by the capability of the driver. The strip can be split into multiple strips but the summed wattage of the strips controlled by the driver should be below 90% of the wattage rating of the driver.
LED strip lights can dim but you need to make sure you are picking dimmable LED strip lights, have a compatible driver, which functions with the dimmer switch.
Colour is also important when picking a strip light and we are not talking colour temperature, which remains to be covered. LED strip lights can have a single solid colour and are known as non-addressable LED strips. They are cheap to buy and easy to fit. This type of LED strip is Ideal for some easy accent lighting in that kitchen or bathroom.
You can also find non addressable RGB LED strips which can output any red, blue, or green colour. These lights are typically a little more expensive and need a controller.
There are also addressable LED light strips too. These are a premium product because each LED has a controller meaning you can really go to town with customisation. For most households addressable LED strip lights are not required and are more suited to commercial uses.
We know its confusing (and its not our fault!) but colour temperature is not the same as LED strip light colour. The short and simple version is warmer colour temperatures (around 2700k) are better suited to rooms where a warm feel is required such as living rooms; whereas cooler colour temperatures (4500k -6500k) are better suited for cleaner lighting effects e.g. kitchens and bathrooms. We have a whole section devoted to the wonderful world of colour temperature if you need more detail.
Indoor or Outdoor
IP33 rated strips are standard strip lighting and are not safe around water so these are a no-no for the bathroom. IP67 will give protection against temporary immersion in water ideal for lighting up kitchens and bathrooms safely with LED strip lighting. You might also consider this for outdoor areas. The IP68 rating takes water safety up a notch: IP68 rated LED strip lights are suitable for continuous immersion in water.
Fitting LED Strip lights
Lets get the take home out of the way here do not buy LED strip lights until you know how you will fit them. Its not as simple as LED light retrofitting something like a traditional light bulb. To break it down into a checklist:
- What is the length of strip/strips that you require?
- What are your power/voltage requirements (related to brightness)?
- Colour and colour temperature choices?
- Direction and flexibility required for the area to fit the strip to?
- Does the strip need any form of connectors?
- Do you need to programme the strip light?
- Are they for outdoor use?
As always if you have a specific question just get in touch and we are always happy to help!