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How to Choose Flexible LED Strip Lights

One day Jason, one of our long-time customers, came in to buy flexible LED strip light tape for his under cabinet. We took him around and showed him a few samples and he got confused. He said, “All of them look good and feel good and is of excellent quality, but which one suits me best? “

In this article we will explain the different kinds of flexible led strip lights to help you decide on what one will be right for your application.

 Reel 5050 30 LED

 

Questions to consider when choosing the right flexible LED strip light tape:

  • What is the application?
  • Would you like significant light output or ambient lighting?
  • What colour temperature would you like?
  • Do you require waterproofing?
  • What length of flexible led strip lighting do you require?
  • Do you need any other accessories such as aluminum channels?

samples

APPLICATION
Knowing where you are planning on installing flexible LED strip lights can lend an understanding as to what type of flexible LED strip light would work best for your application.

There are three main types of flexible led strip lights:

  1. 3528’s
  2. 3014’s
  3. 5050’s

1. 3528’s (low output)

3528

  • These 3528 flexible LED strip lights are smaller in size and are less bright (except for 240 LED/M) – perfect for creating ambient lighting.
  • These LEDs also tend to be lower in wattage.
  • 3528 flexible LED strip lights can be cut every 3 LEDs.
  • Good heat dissipation – ensures the longevity of the LED chips.
  • 12 volt or 24 volt.
  • Waterproof or Non-waterproof
  • Dimmable with the use of a Magnetic Switch (see which brands are compatible) and a Low Voltage Magnetic Transformer or dimmed on the 12 volt side with a low voltage dimmer.
  • They come in:
    • 30 LEDs per Meter
    • 42 LEDS per Meter
    • 60 LEDs per Meter
    • 120 LEDs per Meter
    • 240 LEDs per Meter
  • Flexible 3528 LED strip lights are great for applications such as:
    • cove
    • accent
    • shelve
    • toe kick
    • pathways
    • landscape lighting

2. 3014’s

3014

  • These 3014 flexible LED strip lights are smaller in size and are more bright than the 3528’s but less bright than the 5050’s, perfect for creating ambient lighting.
  • These LEDs also tend to be lower in wattage that 5050’s
  • 3014 flexible LED strip lights can be cut every 3 LEDs.
  • Good heat dissipation, ensures the longevity of the LED chips.
  • 12 volt or 24 Waterproof proof or Non Waterproof
  • Dimmable with the use of a Magnetic Dimmer Switch (see which brands are compatible) with a Low Voltage Magnetic Transformer or dimmed on the 12 volt side with a low voltage dimmer.
  • They come in:
    • 60 LEDs per Meter
    • 120 LEDs per Meter
  • Flexible 3014 LED strip lights are great for applications such as:
    • cove
    • accent
    • shelve
    • toe kick
    • pathways
    • landscape lighting

3. 5050’s

5050

  • These 5050 flexible LED strip lights are larger in size and tend to put out more light compared to the 3528’s and the 3014’s.
  • These LEDs are perfect for areas where more light is desired.
  • These LED strip lights tend to be higher in wattage so will need to make sure your power supply can handle the load.
  • 5050 flexible LED strip lights can be cut every 3 LEDs.
  • Good heat dissipation, ensures the longevity of the LED chips.
  • 12 volt or 24 Waterproof proof or Non Waterproof
  • Dimmable with the use of a Magnetic Dimmer Switch (see which brands are compatible) with a Low Voltage Magnetic Transformer or dimmed on the 12 volt side with a low voltage dimmer.
  • They come in:
    • 30 LEDs per Meter
    • 60 LEDs per Meter
  • Flexible  LED strip lights are great for applications such as:
    • cove
    • accent
    • shelve
    • toe kick
    • workspace
    • outdoors Christmas lights
    • pathways
    • landscape lighting

landscape

COLOUR TEMPERATURE
There are many different kinds of colour temperatures ranging from warm white (2000K) to cool white (>6000K), with 3000K being the most popular.

colour-scheme

You can also get static colours such as blue, green, red, purple, etc.

RGB colour changing flexible led strip lights can change multiple colours with use of an appropriate RGB receiver.

Some options of RGB include:

    • 21 pre-programmed static colors, including bright and warm white
    • 4 dynamic color-changing effects
    • Brightness adjustable for static colors
    • Speed adjustable for color-changing effects
    • Built-in-memory, unit will remember last color after powered off
    • Remote control (infrared)

WATERPROOFING
There are 4 main waterproofing options:

  1. No waterproofing – perfect for indoor use and in areas without humidity and dust.
  2. Gel coating (Most popular) – for areas prone to dust and humidity such as kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and workshops. Also okay for outdoor locations and gentle exposure to water/rain.
  3. Hollow plastic sleeving – used in areas to heavy water flow.
  4. Plastic sleeving with gel filling – only necessary for submersion in water up to 1m deep.

LENGHT
For 12 volt flexible LED strip lighting this is the general rule of thumb for running long lengths and avoiding voltage drop or else your flexible LED strip lights will be dim near the end of your run.

  • 3528 30 LED per Meter, 3528 60 LED per Meter, 3528 120 LED per Meter can be run in maximum lengths of 6 meters/

Click HERE to learn about and how you can avoid voltage drop.

  • All of the flexible 3014 LED strip lights can be run in a maximum lengths of 5 meters.
  • 5050 30 LED per Meter, 5050 60 LED per Meter, 3528 240 LED per Meter can be run in maximum lengths of 4 meters.

 

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*** To run longer lengths you might want to consider 24 volt flexible LED strip lights, but this will mean you will have to match it up with a 24 volt power supply. Another option is to run lengths in parallel (check out the article on Voltage Drop to see how this is done).

POWER SUPPLIES/TRANSFORMER

Choosing the correct power supply/transformer depends mainly on the total wattage consumed by the flexible LED strip lights that will be attached to one power supply/transformer. This can be calculated by using the wattage per meter or ft information for each flexible LED Strip light. Keeping in mind too that a power supply should only be loaded to about 80% of its maximum capacity (i.e. a 60 watt power supply/transformer should only be loaded with LED strip lights with a wattage draw of 48 watts at the most).

Example
Total wattage of 3 meters of 3528 60 LED per meter is as follows:

    • 4.8 watts per meter x 3 meter = 14.4 watts so a 30 watt power supply will be sufficient.

DIMMING
12 volt and 24 volt flexible LED strip lights can be dimmed with a magnetic dimmer in conjunction with a magnetic power supply/transformer on the 110/120 volt side.

2013-07-16_1638

OR

12 volt flexible LED strip lights can be dimmed on the 12 volt side with a low voltage 12 volt LED dimmer.

ACCESSORIES
Aluminum channels are a great way to install flexible LED strip lights. They give the flexible LED strip lights a sleeker finished look while providing additional protection.

2013-07-16_1640

These are available in a variety of styles suitable for various applications.

They are available in 0.5m or 1.0m lengths, and can also be cut to custom size. For more info check out our Aluminum channels article.

Please give us a call 1-855-337-6533 or e-mail janine@feroled.com and our team at Fero LED Lighting will be happy to help you choose the right flexible LED strip light for your lighting project!

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