Lighting plays an important role in your home’s decor. If you’re looking for a lighting solution that is flexible and versatile maybe you should consider LED strip lights. From creating a subtle and modern ambience in your bathroom or kitchen to adding a vibrant dash of multicolour to your bedroom and wardrobe, LED strips are limitless. However, before buying, it’s important to become more familiar with their features, power supply, installation, colour scheme and length options, so that you make an informed decision.
First things first – what are LED strip lights? They are basically a long strap or tape of small LED chips that are installed at regular intervals. The strap comes in different depths and lengths, but it’s narrow enough to be used in various ways – under cabinets, along bannisters and even around doorways. You can buy LED strips that are built in a waterproof casing and safely use them in wet areas to provide stunning accent lighting. They come in different colours, which makes them incredibly adjustable for different moods, events and occasions.
Types of LED strips
These lights have low energy consumption and can be cut-for-purpose. Generally, LED strips can be divided into two main categories: plug and play lights and mains wired. Both of them require a separate transformer and offer different benefits.
- Plug and play LED lighting strips – These are perfect for people who are looking for a quick lighting solution. They can be installed in no time without additional help from an electrician. Wondering how to install LED strip lights? Once you have measured the length you need, cut the strip appropriately, peel the adhesive backing and secure the strip in the place where you want it. The main drawback of these strips is that they are usually shorter than wired options, which means they might not be the best option if you want to light up a larger area. On the other hand, if you need lighting for a small space, like a wardrobe door or bedroom headboard, plug and play strips are your best bet.
- Wired LED strips – These lights are very versatile but are a bit challenging to install so you might need to ask for professional help. They range from 1m to 5m, which makes them perfect for permanent installations. For their installation, you will need a LED transformer to power them.
How to choose a transformer
When looking to buy a transformer, there are three main factors to consider: the strip length you need to power, the total wattage and the size of the LED chip. As we mentioned before, wired strips come in a variety of sizes ranging from 1-5 meters and either small or larger LED chips. Small chips measure 3.5mm x 2.8mm, while large ones measure 5mm x 5mm. When it comes to wattage, you need to do a few simple sums. For 60 small LED chips you need to calculate 5 watts per metre, for 120 small LED chips 10 watts per metre and for 60 large LED chips you should calculate 15 watts per metre. Add another 20% to this wattage to avoid overload of the transformer. For instance, if you have a 5m strip with 60 small LED chips that equates to 25W, you will need a 30W transformer. Most LED strip lights on the market are dimmable but in order to operate them, you will need a compatible dimmable transformer.
Waterproof and splashproof LED strip lighting
LED strips can have three different types of coatings: waterproof, non-waterproof and splashproof. If you want to install them in your bathroom or kitchen then you should opt for a waterproof model. Another important thing to look for when buying a LED strip is the “IP” rating which stands for “Ingres Protecting”. This shows how “proofed” the light is against moisture and dust. The higher the rating, the more protected the light is against the elements. The IP comes with two numbers. The first one is the rating out of six for protection against solid elements like dust, while the second one is the level of protection against moisture which is rated out of eight. Waterproof lights usually come with an IP rating of 67 while splashproof ones with a rating of IP44.
Wondering where to buy LED light strips? It’s easy – online. Although you can also find them in most specialized brick-and-mortar stores, online shopping is far more convenient. You can order from the comfort of your home and choose from a variety of brands and prices to find the best deal for you.