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Expert Guide In LED Strip Lights

Mitchell Elworthy

The Lighting Outlet loves LED strip lights, as it is so versatile with unlimited designs and applications. You are able to let your imagination go free and create your dream space. In this blog we will run through how to choose the best LED strip lights for your application, as it can be quite overwhelming and confusing.

One of the best things about shopping for strip lighting online with The Lighting Outlet, is that we can do all the hard work for you. Simply supply us with some information on the application, if available, a line drawing of the measurements, and we will select all the components you require to do the job correctly. For strip lighting, there is no job that is too small or too large.

With an array of different brands that supply quality strip lighting, The Lighting Outlet can confidently say, especially when it comes to strip lighting, you get what you pay for. We have been supplying strip lighting for 5 years now, and know the field inside and out. We only use the best brands that will last the distance, and highly recommend our customers to do the same.   If you feel you want to take on the project yourself, then this is a perfect option for you. Strip lights are low voltage and safe to install yourself; so no electrician is required, saving you on a hefty bill. 

Here I will break down all of the strip lighting specifications to look for before buying.

  • Voltage -  Most LED strips are 12v or 24v. Choosing 12v is usually a better option as you have more options to choose for the strip itself and components. 24v should be used when you are running longer lengths of 10 meters +.

  • Wattage - Choosing the correct wattage is crucial to get the right brightness for the application. Most strip lighting applications are used to create an ambient, subtle touch. To achieve this you will need to use a low wattage; we would recommend nothing over 5 watts. If the application needs to be more of a practical light such applications like, under a kitchen cabinet, behind a vanity mirror or bed head, then you should look to use an LED strip around 10 watts. If your application needs even more light, for example a work environment, or even using it as the main source of light, then you will look to use around 15 watts per meter. 15 watts of LED strip is around 1250 lumens per meter, which in comparison, would be the same as a 15w bright LED downlight. Strip lighting technologies have come along way in the past couple of years, as we now have models up to 50 watts per meter, equivalent to a 50 watt LED floodlight..per meter! If you ever find it the application too bright, use a dimmer and dim it down to your desired brightness. Strip lighting is so incredibly versatile it can suit just about every application when done right. 

  • IP Rating - If your LED strip lighting has no chance of getting in contact with water or dust then an IP rating of 20 will be fine. If your application may have some splashes of water then look to choose an IP54. If your application needs to be submersed or will be in contact with water often, IP67 or IP68 is the rating you will need. All LED strips are the same, however what makes it have a higher IP rating is the silicone coating. The higher the IP, the more durable the silicone is. With high IP ratings the LED strip lights have less room to breath, which can cause them to overheat and burn out. So it is crucial choose the best IP rating for your LED strip application.

  •  Colour Temperature - Choosing the right colour temperature (kelvin) is the most important choice you will have to make. Ideally you want to match the lighting surrounding your strip lighting, otherwise it will a noticeable difference that we can say confidently, will not look good. If you want to create a soft, warm atmosphere, use an LED strip with a 2700k - 3000k colour temperature. This will create a calming effect and is hands down the most popular colour for strip lighting. If you don't like the warm colour then 4000k is a great option for you. This is because it has a slight tinge of warm white and cool white, giving off a very natural colour and look. If you are ever unsure with choosing colour temperatures, going with 4000k is your safest choice as it will suit almost every application. If your application is a work environment, or you want the most possible clear light, then a 5000k + will achieve this. This daylight colour is so white it's almost blue. It can be very harsh when looking directly at it.

  • Amount of LED's - Different LED strips have different amounts of LED's per meter. Some strips can have as low as 30 leds per mete, whilst some can have as high as 252 per meter. As you can see in the image below, the amount of LED's affect the atheistic of the application. The top strip on the image is 30 LED's per meter, which as you can see, the dots are very predominant and obvious through the diffuser. Majority of our customers don't like this look, and prefer the flush look. The middle strip is 120 LED's per meter, showing the dots slightly whilst still being diffused. The bottom strip is 240 LED's per meter, which looks fully diffused and customised, our customers love this look the most. If you are putting the strip on an application where it won't be seen, it doesn't really matter if you can see the dots through the diffuser. However, if the strip can be seen, we definitely recommend the flush diffused look.LED Strip Lighting

  •  LED Profile - When purchasing LED strip, you should always look to using an aluminium channel. This will make the application look fully customised and high end. Profile, or channel, is very similar to strip lighting, in that it can be cut to the exact millimetre to match your job. There are hundreds of different profiles, some small and minimal, whilst others can be quite large, used predominantly for commercial applications. Our best selling profiles are the corner aluminium profile (pictured below). This profile is at a 90 degree angle, great for slotting into right angles. Corner Aluminium ProfileThe model below is our next best seller. It is a recessed winged profile that has a metal outline flush to the wall. This model is perfect for under kitchen benches, or wherever you are able to recess your LED strip lighting. We highly recommend doing this, as the look gives a great clean look. There are 2 different profiles with the wing, one shallow and one deep. The image below is the deep led profile model using 120 LED's per metergiving off that perfect consistent glow. Click here to view all of our aluminium profile range. Again, if you can get in touch with our team we will help choose the perfect profile for you application. 

LED Strip Warm White Bright 

  • Heat Sinks - When installing LED strip lighting, you should always use a heat sinks. Most manufacturers will not warrant the strip if it has not been installed onto a heat sink. So you can use a plain bar heat sink to mount to, or most commonly used, aluminium profiles also act as a heat sink.

  • Brands - This one I express strongly in every blog, it is crucial to use quality brands of strip lighting. The Lighting Outlet constantly gets asked, "why is strip lighting so expensive? I can buy it for $10 on Ebay?" The answer is simple, it's all about quality. We have had customers go down this path and one of two things happen, either the driver burns out or the LED's burn out. When the LED's burn out the chips go out one by one, leaving unattractive dark spots. LED strip is for a long term use, so do it properly and buy from brands with the strictest quality control, our favourite brands for strip lighting are Havit, SALDomus and Azoogi.

  • LED Voltage for Strip Drivers - Drivers are the same as transformers in that they bring the voltage down to a low voltage. The only difference is that LED drivers are DC and transformers are AC, so you can't use an AC transformer on a DC product and vice-versa. As discussed most LED strips will be either 12v or 24v, so check before buying your driver. 

  • LED Wattage for Strip Drivers - To work out which driver you will need, work out the total wattage of the strip you are running, so let's say we are running below.

Example = 3 x 3 meters ( 9 meters ) of strip @ 14.4w per meter

9 x 14.4 = 129.6 watts

In this example, a minimum of driver of 150 watts will be required. It is always recommend to have a driver with a larger wattage that's necessary. This is so that if you are needing to add anything extra later on you will have room to do so. Most drivers do not hold the exact wattage stated. They typically round their number up, which is why it is always recommended to add an additional 10% on your needed driver.

  • DIY LED Strip Lighting - All strip lighting is low voltage, so you can actually install yourself, however if you want professionally done for long term use or big applications or if you want it wired up to an actual wall switch you will need an electrician. A lot of companies sell DIY Strip Kits which include all the components to install, plug and play. Again only stick to the high quality brands the best strip kits are from Havit and SAL

  • Voltage Drop - Because LED strips are low voltage, when you run long lengths of strip lights the voltage drops throughout the length. This means the end with the power in it maybe brighter than the other end of LED strip. Each strip light is different but most will say 5 meters is maximum lengths without seeing voltage drop, however there are ways around this, if you were to run 10 meters you could power from both ends of the strip or power from the center of the LED strip. 

  • Controller Gear - There are loads of different LED strip controllers. Some of the following are just some of the types of LED control gear available, colour changing, dimming, temperature colour changing, zone controlling, mobile - wifi controlled, amplifiers, timers, speed tempo, strobing and chasing LED's. I will run through our most common sold.

     

1. Wall LED Strip Controller Plates - These plates are very neat with them being recessed into the wall to sit flush, there are models which can control all types of strip applications like dimming, zoning and colour changing. 

LED Strip Controller2.  Wifi Controllers - Our customers just love our wifi LED strip controllers, they are very simple to set up and you can control from anywhere in the world. With these wifi controllers you have the ability to programme times of the day when on, change the colour, change the sequence to have fading, strobing or soft chaning. This is one of them items which you buy and instantly fall in love. 

     3. LED Remote Strip Controllers - LED controllers with a remote are the most common sold as they are versatile. There are all types of models which can do all the features previously touched on, this model below has the capability of having all the colours plus having a warm or cool white. 

     LED strip lighting is still very undersused, it has the ability to light up an area better with more coverage but at the same time giving it a fully customised architectural look, all this is fairly cost effective also. For a standard kitchen under cupboard strip light, you could have all this cut to size for around the $100 mark. LED strip is so versatile, you can use it just about anywhere and bend and even step on and will still go and go, we have strip lighting in our warehouse which has been running for over 10 years without 1 failed chip. LED strip also uses low power, so it will also cut down your power bill. 

    If you want help with your LED strip lighting project today, come into our lighting store and view the biggest LED strip display in Sydney or email design@thelightingoutlet.com.au 

     


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