A Buying Guide on Decorative LED Strips

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

Decorative LED strips are a type of self-sticking LED lights that are placed at regular intervals. The LED strips feature an adhesive backing for easy installation and silicone wrapping for protection. As for applications, LED strips can be installed indoors or outdoors for ambient, colored lights.

LED strips come in different levels of brightness so they are very versatile. They are often used as Christmas decors and can be utilized for commercial purposes too. These lights can be installed under the cabinet, in kick-panels or ceiling covering. This type of lighting solution can be used over doorways, stairs, cupboard and counters too. The lights can be applied under roof soffits, in the pathway, or on TV rear and speaker system. Essentially, you can install the lights at any dark place that needs illumination.

LED Strip Features

Voltage and Length

LED strips require 12 volts of power and a constant voltage driver. The strips are sold in reels of 5 meters. You can cut the strips according to the length that you need. However, you may only cut at special cutting points indicated on the strip. If you don’t, the wiring will be damaged. The LED strips can be cut in a number of variations such as 4 meters, 5 1 meters or 3 and 2 meters strip. You can use more than one strip on a single driver.


As mentioned above, LED strips provide different levels of illumination. The bulbs can be dimmed using the right driver and compatible dimmer switch. You can get these from your local hardware store.

Factors to Consider Before Making a Purchase

Level of Illumination

Will you use the light for task lighting, as an accent or ambient light? One of the most important factors you have to consider before getting LED strips is where to place it. From here, you will determine what level of illumination you need.

Dry Surfaces Only

Just like any types of lighting solution, LED strips will only work on clean, dry surface. Never install the lights on a wet surface to prevent accidental electrocution.

LED Sizes

Apart from the different voltage requirement and levels of illumination, LED strips also vary in size and color. The size of the LED bulb will determine the level of illumination you get from the strip. You can also manipulate the angles of the strips to boost the level of illumination. As for the colors, LED strips usually come in red, green, white and blue.

Before buying a reel of LED strips, we highly recommend testing the product out. You want the LED strip to provide a consistent color and light pattern.

Waterproof or Non-Waterproof LED Strips?

Do note that some LED strips are made from water-resistant materials and others are not. To check if the LED strips are waterproof, check the Ingress Protection or IP rating. The rating measures how waterproof or dust-proof an LED strip is.

LED strips with an IP of 33 are not waterproof. They are best used on dry, dust-free areas. LED strips with an IP of 67 are water resistant. They are ideal for indoor or outdoor use. A silicone gel protects the LED lights against temporary water immersion. However, IP67 strips must not be immersed in water continuously.


Although LED strips are extremely easy to install, we recommend letting a qualified electrician do all the installing for you. Letting a professional handle the wiring is the best way to reduce the risk of accidents including house fires and electrocution.

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