LED Strip Lights, sometimes referred to as LED Tape or LED Ribbon, are a versatile lighting solution that allow users to create professional lighting results with minimum effort.
These flexible, self-adhesive strips of LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) run at 12-volts and can be cut every 5 or 10 cm depending on the type of strip purchased. As they use LEDs, they also consume much less electricity than the old fluorescent strip lights and last many times longer, making them far more cost effective.
LED Lights come in two main varieties; single colour and colour changing. Single Colour strips are available in warm and cool white, and are ideal for creating subtle or hidden lighting. Most customers attach them to the underside of kitchen cabinets and kickboards, where they create an aesthetically pleasing and practical light, but they can also be used to accent, highlight or for extra ambience around the home.
Colour changing strip lights use a special type of LED which blends red, green and blue (RGB) light at its source to create a wide spectrum of colour. These can be used in many of the same applications as a single colour, but allow the user to switch between static and dynamic colour options with a range of different control units.
When choosing LED Strips, there are few things that need to be considered, including the brightness, chip size, driver, length and IP rating.
The power/brightness of a strip varies depending on the number and size of the LEDs it uses. The LEDs used by strip lights are actually a compact version called SMDs (Surface Mounted Devices), which come in two main sizes; small (3528) and large (5050). The number of LEDs per metre will vary, and, as a rule of thumb, the greater the number of LEDs, the more powerful the strip.
As these Strips run at 12V DC (Direct Current), they require a unit called an LED Driver, which "steps down" the mains voltage (240V AC). These can usually be purchased as part of a strip light kit or sold separately. All drivers have a maximum load, which must be large enough to manage the power consumption of the lights.
While strip lights can be bought by the metre, it is also possible to shorten their length if required. This can be done by cutting through one of the marked "cutting points."
Finally, a splashproof or waterproof coating also makes led strip lights a suitable option for lighting kitchens, bathrooms and even outdoor areas. Before you choose a waterproof option, it is worth familiarising yourself with the concept of IPs or Ingress Protection Ratings.
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