Jul 11 2019
If you plan on using your LED strips in a kitchen, bathroom or outside then the answer to this question is almost certainly yes. In most other locations waterproof LED Tape is not essential.
Waterproof LED Tape has a special plastic coating called an IP rated coating. This coating is designed to stop moisture from reaching the internal components on the Tape. The degree of protection offered by an IP coating varies considerably and ranges anywhere from no protection to complete protection.
The standard for waterproof Tape is IP65, which features a coating of silicone gel. IP65 light can withstand partial exposure to water, including splashes, jets and condensation. This makes it suitable for use in kitchens and bathrooms where the presence of plumbing and water outlets places a restriction on the location of lighting fittings. It is also advisable to use waterproof lights around the edge of windows where there is a tendency for moisture to form on cold days. Submerging this type of tape is not recommended as water will still be able to seep in and damage the internal components.
One of the main advantages of IP65 rating is that even when it is cut it still remains waterproof. Other types of LED Tape cannot be cut, as doing so will compromise their waterproof coating. An example of this is IP68 tape, which features a hollow plastic 'sleeve' into which the tape is inserted. While it does offer better protection, it cannot be cut, as the tape will be exposed and water will be able to pass into the sleeve.
When selecting waterproof LED Tape it is also very important to consider the peripheral units. Conventional power supplies/driver and, in the case of RGB LED Tape, control units and amplifiers are not waterproof. If you can keep these units away from moisture all the better, but if it is unavoidable there are IP rated versions available. Never submerge these units!
For most other applications normal LED Tape should be sufficient. However, it is worth noting that an IP rated coating isn't just designed to waterproof the tape, it also designed to prolong the life as it protects the tape against physical contact and trauma. This is particular important if you plan on using the tape as a floor feature, such as along the lips of a stair well.
Always seek the advice of a professional electrician as dealing with electricity and water is potentially very dangerous. Even though LED Tape uses a low voltage direct current, exposure to water is still enough to short circuit the delicate components.
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