LED tape light, often referred to as strip or ribbon lights, has become increasingly more popular for adding illumination to those hard to reach areas. Tape light can be installed almost anywhere and illuminate nearly everything. Due its functionality, efficiency and ease of installation, contractors and lighting designers are integrating LED tape into their residential and commercial projects more and more. They are able to create a professional-looking lighting effects in just a short period of time. Thanks to the unique design configurations of channels, the ways LED tape light can be used is almost endless. From under cabinets, on shelves, stair rails, or anywhere else that needs extra illumination.
LED tape light is one of the most versatile forms of lighting. There are many variants that are available, but for the most part, it has the following characteristics:
- Consist of individual LED emitters mounted on a narrow, flexible circuit board
- Operates on low-voltage DC power
- Available in a wide range of fixed and variable color temperatures
- Various brightness levels
- Comes in reels, or can be cut to length
- Features double-sided adhesive for easy mounting
An LED tape light is typically half an inch (10-12 mm) in width, and up to 16 feet (5 meters) or more in length. It can be cut to specific lengths using a pair of scissors along the designated cut-lines, located every 1-2 inches apart depending on manufacturer.
Individual LEDs are conveniently mounted along the strip, typically at densities of 18-36 LEDs per foot (60-120 per meter). The color and quality of the individual LEDs translates to the overall light color and quality of the LED tape.
The backside of LED tape light includes pre-applied double-sided adhesive. You simply peel of the liner to mount the LED tape to virtually any surface. LED tape light can even be mounted on curved and uneven surfaces since the circuit board is designed to be flexible.
How is the brightness of LED Tape Light determined?
The brightness of LED tape light is determined using metric lumens. Unlike incandescent bulbs, different types of LED tape light can have different levels of efficiency, so the wattage rating does not always determine the actual light output.
LED tape light brightness is typically described in lumens per foot (or meter). For example, a quality LED tape light should provide at least 450 lumens per foot (1500 lumens per meter), which will provide the same amount of light output per foot as a traditional T8 fluorescent lamp (E.g. 4-foot T8 fluorescent = 4-foot of LED tape light = 1800 lumens).
LED tape light brightness is typically determined by three factors:
- Light output and efficiency per LED emitter
- The number of LEDs per foot
- The power draw of the LED tape light per foot
What are the color options of LED Tape Light?
LED tape light is available in various shades of whites or colors. Typically, white light is the most used and popular option for indoor lighting applications.
There are different shades and qualities of white. Color temperature (CCT) and color rendering index (CRI) are two metric help determine how white the light output will be.
Color temperature is a measure of how warm or cool the light's color will appear. If your looking for a soft glow that resembles that of an incandescent bulb, a low color temperature (2700K) is the best choice. However, if your need a more crisp, bright white that resembles natural daylight, a high color temperature (6500K) is recommended.
Color rendering is a measure of how accurate colors will appear under the light source. Under a low CRI LED tape light, colors will appear distorted, washed out, or indistinguishable. Whereas, high CRI LED tape lights allows objects to appear the way they would under an ideal light source such as a halogen lamp, or natural daylight.
Fixed and Variable Color LED Tape Light
If you're looking for something that pops, or has a saturated color effect, colored LED tape light is ideal. Its great for accent and theatrical lighting effects. There are several colors across the visible spectrum available, such as blue, green, amber and red.
There are two types of color LED tape light, fixed single color and color changing. A fixed color LED tape light emits just one color, and operates just like the white LED tape light previously discussed. A color-changing LED tape light consists of multiple color channels on a single LED strip. The most basic type will include red, green and blue channels (RGB), which will allow you to dynamically mix the various color components to achieve virtually any color your space requires.
How to connect LED Tape Light?
Each LED tape light segment is required to be connected to a DC power supply, or another LED tape light segment that is connected to a DC power supply (daisy chain). The connection method depends on the type of wires or plugs provided with the LED tape light, as well as whether or not the DC power supply includes a plug.
How to install LED Tape Light?
LED tape light can be installed in multiple ways. If you're looking for more of a polished look than using the double-adhesive backing, we recommend using aluminum channels and diffuser covers. Mounting the LED tape light inside of an aluminum channel, along with a diffuser cover, can drastically improve the aesthetics of a lighting installation.
Aluminum channels are long pieces of extruded aluminum in a U or V shape. The LED tape light is neatly placed and secured (using the double sided adhesive) at the bottom of the channel. Then a long frosted polycarbonate plastic lens then snaps onto the top of the aluminum channel. Besides being aesthetically pleasing, aluminum channels also help to dissipate the heat away from the LED tape light as well.
How to dim and control the color of LED Tape Light?
All LED tape light is dimmable when paired with the correct hardware. There are two methods of dimming LED tape light, a traditional phase-cut wall dimmer, or a DC low-voltage dimmer. The AC phase-cut dimmer is the most ideal choice for residential and commercial lighting applications, which is where the dimming input signal comes from a traditional wall-switch dimmer.
The DC low-voltage dimmer, or (RGB) controller, is typically a manual or digital dimmer module that is placed between the DC power supply and the LED tape light. This method is most suitable for color changing applications, or less permanent lighting installation.
Where can LED Tape Light be used?
LED tape light can be used in various commercial and residential applications. Its widely popular with lighting designers and architects because of its brightness, color options and efficiency. Also, home DIYers love LED tape light due to its low-profile and flexible design, and how easy it is to install. In fact, homeowners are now able to put together a lighting design with the right supplies in just a couple of hours, and the finished result looks like it was completed by a professional.
What are the advantages of LED Tape Light?
Over the past decade, LED technology has continued to grow at an unbelievable rate. Now, LED lighting looks unbelievable with its natural-looking selection of colors and its highly-efficient light output. LED tape light is a cost-effective way to add reliable lighting in areas where you need it most. It can now be used to add extra light indoors and outdoors. Below we'll go over some of benefits you'll receive with LED tape light:
Even though the initial costs may give consumers sticker shock, LEDs help to offset that with their low-energy consumption and long lifespan when compared to similar incandescent, fluorescent and halogen options. If your replacing existing lighting you'll see a substantial reduction in your monthly power bill, since LED tape light requires very little electricity to operate. Also, because you will not be replacing bulbs as frequently, the overall value of LED will outweigh its initial costs. With less maintenance being required, lower utility costs, and a long expectancy, make LED tape one of the most cost-effective lighting solutions on the market.
Compared to other options, lighting fixtures and bulbs that have integrated LED technology are designed to last for years, so they rarely need maintenance or need to be replaced. This enables LED tape light to be used in hard-to-reach areas such as inside cabinets, along railings, around staircases, and even recessed in ceilings, floors, or walkways. It can provide a consistent source of illumination without the constant worry of having to replace bulbs or parts.
LED tape light has so many flexible installation options, allowing it to be used for applications indoors and outdoors. It requires little to no maintenance and is simple to install. There are various styles, lengths, and sizes available, so you'll be able to create that custom lighting system that suits your lighting needs. The flexibility coupled with its reliability and low cost over time, make LED tape light an excellent solution for anyone designing a new project or replacing their existing lighting.
In the last several years, more and more people have became increasingly concerned about the environment than ever before. Consumers are now looing for ways to reduce waste, electrical usage, and the harmful chemicals or other toxic substances that are constantly showing up in landfills and bodies of water. This is one of the most overlooked benefits when it comes to LED tape light. Its low electricity requirements help to keep the use of overall power at a minimum. Unlike compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) that can be dangerous to dispose of and special precautions have to be taken to do so, LED lights rarely fail and are safe to cleanup with no special handling.
There are several LED tape light options on the market today, so starting a project may seem daunting. What makes our collection of LED tape light different is the quality manufacturing, performance and longevity. We offer solutions from top industry brands such as American Lighting, ELCO Lighting and Lotus LED Lights. Also, as an added bonus all of the LED tape we carry is covered by a 5-year manufacturer warranty.
Do you still need help with your project or selecting the right LED tape light? Contact one of our LED lighting specialists today and they will help assist you with your application.
Stars and Stripes Lighting offers a constantly evolving selection of LED strip and ribbon lights. Shop our complete collection of LED tape light below!