Getting started with LED strip lighting for your home

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LED strip lighting is a new type of lighting technology that has never existed before. As LEDs technologies have developed enough to be capable of emitting enough brightness and quality of light for general illumination applications, the use of LED strips for a wide range of applications has proliferated. In this article, we explain exactly what LED strip lighting is and how you can get started with using it in your own home!

Definition of LED strip lighting

An LED strip light is a linear array of LED chips mounted onto a long and narrow electrical circuit board. The printed circuit board is typically flexible, and the LED strips are typically packaged into led-strip-substratesreels.

Typically, the electrical circuit board has a width of approximately 10 mm (less than 1/2 inch) and can be as long as 5 meters (16.4 feet) or more. Most types of LED strips can be cut and trimmed using regular scissors to the particular length you need.

Double-sided adhesive backing typically comes preapplied onto the back side of an LED strip, allowing you to simply peel the paper backing and stick and mount the LED strip onto virtually any surface.

What kind of light can an LED strip emit?

The type of light that an LED strip emits is determined by the type of LED that is mounted on the LED strip. Today, a very wide variety of both white and colored LEDs are available. White LEDs can range from warm white (e.g. 2700K), which gives off a yellowish, warm and comfortable glow, to cool white (e.g. 6500K) which offers a crisper, more energizing bluish light closer to daylight.

Some LEDs have the capability to emit multiple colors, such as in an RGB LED strip, and by using a specialized electrical controller, virtually any color can be created. There are also LED strips that have both warm white and cool white mounted together, allowing users to dynamically achieve a range between warm white and cool white using just a single LED strip.

How much light can an LED strip emit?

A variety of factors influence the brightness of an LED strip, and this can vary widely depending on the design and quality. A single LED strip can emit as low as 300 lumens or as much as 2000 lumens per meter, which is approximately equivalent to the amount of light a standard 1.2 meter (4-ft) 40W fluorescent tube emits.

One thing to keep in mind with this comparison is that an LED strip generally emits light in a 120-degree angle, while a fluorescent tube emits light in all directions, so the LED strip may appear brighter despite having the same lumens rating.

What do I need to light up an LED strip?


1) Power supply unit

Like most modern electronics such as laptop computers and tablets, virtually all LED strip lights use direct current (DC) for power. Most LED strips are configured to be operated using 12V DC or 24V DC. Because the power grid operates on alternating current (AC), a power supply unit that converts the 120V or 240V AC signal into either 12V DC or 24V DC is necessary. Most LED strip power supply units will look familiar to you, as they are essentially the same (except for the voltage) as what is used to power laptop computers.

Read: How to choose a power supply

2) Wire connectors

Depending on the power supply unit and the LED strip you choose, you will need a way to connect the power supply unit to the LED strip. This is typically done with an LED strip "solderless" connector that clips on to the LED strip. You can then simply plug the power supply unit into the other end of the connector.


  • If you plan on running multiple segments of LED strip by cutting them into smaller lengths, you will need additional connectors and wire to link them together. You may also choose to use ordinary wire and solder, if you have experience and are comfortable going this route.

  • An aluminum base or extrusion, which will help with heat dissipation and rigidity, if so desired.

  • A plastic diffuser cover

  • An LED strip controller or dimmer

How much does an LED strip cost?

As LED technology continues to mature, the price continues to drop. Depending on the features and quality level, however, prices for LED strips can vary widely. Some of the lowest cost LED strips are as cheap as $8 USD per reel, while some will go for $200 USD per reel.

The primary determinant of how much an LED strip will cost is the quantity of LEDs (more brightness) and the quality of the materials used (more reliability). In short, if you are looking for brighter and more reliable, you should be prepared to pay a higher price.

Where can I use LED strip lighting?

Some of the biggest advantages of LED strip lighting are that they are flexible and use low voltage. This means that any length of it can be placed in locations or objects that are not flat or straight, and with sufficient safety precautions, can come in close contact with materials such as fabric or paper without burning.

  • Custom lighting fixtures

  • Cove lighting

  • Under cabinet lighting

  • RV & automotive

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