LED strip lights have become increasingly popular in recent years for both home and commercial lighting applications. With their energy efficiency, long lifespan, and the ability to produce a vast array of colours, LED strips open up many new and exciting possibilities for interior and exterior lighting designs.
The Basics of LED Strip Lights
LED strip lights, also known as ribbon or tape lights, are composed of small LED bulbs mounted onto a flexible circuit board with adhesive backing. This allows the strip to be cut to desired lengths and bent or curved around surfaces. LED strips do not give off much heat, making them safer than other types of lighting around flammable materials or in enclosed spaces. They require very little power and can last 50,000 hours or more.
While most people think of white LED strips, the technology allows for the production of virtually any colour by using red, green, and blue LEDs. By varying the intensity of each underlying colour, strips can be made to emit any hue on the visible spectrum. Controls allow users to choose from a range of pre-set colours or customise their own.
Common Colours and Uses
Here are some of the most popular LED strip light colours and how they are commonly used:
White LED strips provide clean, bright, natural-looking light for general illumination. They often range from cool whites with a bluish tone to warm whites with yellow/amber hues. White strips work well for task lighting, decorative accents, and replacements for fluorescent tubes.
Red LED strips create vibrant ambiance and excitement. They are often used to accent nightlife venues, theatrical stages, Christmas displays, and other performances. Red also serves functional purposes like emergency vehicle lighting and exit signs. Darker burgundy reds can provide softer, elegantmood lighting.
Green LED strips bring a natural feel, used in accenting displays featuring plants, aquariums, photographs, and art. Brighter greens provide a springtime energy while olive/forest greens are more relaxing. Green is also useful for exit signs and functional lighting.
Blue LED lighting evokes a cool, calming effect. Pale sky blues are clean and refreshing while deeper shades feel more mystical. Blue strips illuminate underwater scenes in aquarium tanks and swimming pools. Blue LEDs also have medical and sanitizationapplications.
Amber and yellow LED strip lights provide warm, welcoming illumination reminiscent of candlelight, sunsets, and hearth fires. They give an antique elegance to chandeliers, wall sconces, architectural details, and vignettes. Amber is often used for outdoor lighting and custom signage as well.
Purple LED strips combine the excitements of red and the tranquility of blue for unique effects. Soft lavenders and lilacs are perfect for bedrooms. Violets, magentas, and fuchsias make lively accent lighting. And there are also Halloween-friendly blacklight purple LEDs.
RGB and RGBW
RGB LED strips contain red, green, and blue lights that can be combined to produce a spectrum of colours when controlled with a remote or app. This allows dynamic colour-changing effects. RGBW strips add white LEDs to allow better colour rendition at lower intensities.
Benefits of Coloured LED Lighting
LED strip lights offer many advantages over traditional lighting:
- Energy efficiency – Use 80% less power than incandescent bulbs.
- Long life – Last for years without replacement.
- Cool operation – Emit little heat making them safer and more versatile.
- Compact size – Thin strips fit nearly anywhere.
- Flexibility – Can curve around objects and bend into forms.
- Appearance – Sleek, modern, high-tech look.
- Atmosphere – Colours create exciting or relaxing ambiance.
- Control – Dimmable, color-changing, timers, music syncing.
- 24V operation – Low voltage for safety.
In addition, coloured LED strips provide benefits beyond general white lighting:
- Accent lighting – Highlight architectural or decorative details.
- Mood lighting – Establish relaxing, romantic, or lively environments.
- Cue lighting – Guide traffic in theaters, transportation hubs, events.
- Task lighting – Illuminate work areas, machinery controls, hazards.
- Effect lighting – Produce excitement and interest for entertainment.
- Signage – Convey information with coloured text and symbols.
- Undercabinet lighting – Provide task lighting with any colour.
- Backlighting – Silhouette objects and create glowing effects.
RGB Strip Light Colour Options
RGB LED strip lights can generate any colour by mixing intensities of the red, green, and blue elements. This table shows some of the possible colours and their RGB values:
By mixing the primary colours and varying RGB values, any hue can be created. Common controller modes include solid colours, dynamically changing colours, colour fading, colour sequences, sound-activated, and simulated white. RGBW strips with added white LEDs allow better colour mixing at lower brightness levels.
Choosing Your LED Strip Light Colours
With so many colour options for LED strip lights, choosing the right ones for your purpose requires some consideration:
- Location: Consider the room, architectural elements, furnishings that the lights will accent and complement.
- Activities: How will the space be used? Relaxing, entertaining, functional lighting?
- Mood: Do you want lively, tranquil, romantic, avant-garde ambiance?
- Time of day: Cooler whites/blues for daytime or warmer glows for evenings?
- Control options: Will colour-changing be useful or solid colours?
- Brightness: Do you need subtle accent lighting or brightly illuminated spaces?
Test different coloured strips in the space when possible. And remember, with RGB you are not limited to one static colour.
Top Colour Combinations
Some examples of pleasing LED strip light colour combinations include:
- Crisp white task lighting accented by pops of green, blue or red.
- Yellow backlighting behind bar areas with blue illuminating glassware.
- Blue and green washes over acuariums and water features.
- Soothing lavender and pale yellows in bedrooms and spas.
- Deep blue and vibrant green/orange signage and architectural outlines.
- Subtle color-changing in sync to music for parties and performances.
Go bold and dramatic or soft and understated. The possibilities are nearly endless with coloured LED strip lights!
How to Install and Power LED Strip Lights
Installing LED strip lights is a relatively straightforward DIY project. Here are the basic steps:
- Determine mounting locations and required length of strip.
- Clean and prepare mounting surface. Tape or clip strips in place.
- Connect LED strips using provided connectors if longer than 16 feet.
- Run low voltage power wires to strips and connect.
- Connect controller/driver and test LEDs.
- Conceal wires and controllers for clean appearance.
LED strip lighting runs on 12V or 24V DC power. Small installations can be powered by plug-in AC adapters. Larger lighting projects require DC power supplies. RGB and RGBW strips require controllers to operate the different colour channels.
Today’s LED strip lights offer an amazing spectrum of colour options for both form and function. Whether you desire relaxing pastels, bold primaries, color-changing effects, or simple white task lighting, the right coloured LED strips can be chosen to suit any space or activity. Combine colours and lighting zones to create one-of-a-kind lighting designs. Let coloured LED strips add beauty, atmosphere, and energy to your environment.