Last updated: August 10, 2021

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LED strips are versatile and particularly energy-saving. They can serve both as a light source and as decoration for indoors and outdoors. There is a wide range of colours and with many models these can even be changed, giving endless possibilities of colour shades. LED strips can also be used as indirect indoor lighting. Our large LED strip test 2021 will help you find an LED strip that suits your needs. For this purpose, we present different types of LED strips and their advantages and disadvantages. In addition, we name the product favourites of the editorial team.




The most important facts

  • LED strips are easy to install and are both energy-saving and long-lasting. There are types for indoor or outdoor use and they are suitable for lighting or as decorative elements.
  • Depending on the model, white or coloured light can be produced. With the latter, the colour can be changed. Some LED strips allow control by remote control or smartphone app.
  • LED strips can be shortened, extended and resealed without much effort and without special expertise.

The Best LED Stripes: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for LED strips

To help you find the LED strips that are right for you, we have compiled the important criteria that should help you in your selection. In summary, these are:

In the next sections, we will go into more detail about the criteria.

Control

Besides the conventional on/off switch on the cable, there are LED strips with motion detectors or remote control. Modern LED strips can also be controlled with a smartphone or even connected to a smart home system via W-LAN. You can install these so-called Smart LED strips in your bedroom, for example, and then set them to switch on their light automatically in the morning.

Colour

LED strips are available in white or other colours. With some LED strips, the colour can be changed using a remote control or app, or an automatic colour control can be set. When choosing a colour, you should pay attention to the different colour spectra:

Type Description
White LED strips warm or cool white light
RGB LED strips Coloured light, but only a bluish white light
RGBW LED strips Both coloured and warm white light

RGB LED strips can also produce a kind of white light, but this has a bluish undertone. Some people find this unpleasant. If you would like your LED strips to have a warmer white light in addition to the coloured light, RGBW LED strips are the products of your choice.

Power supply

Power is supplied by a mains adapter or batteries. The advantage of battery-powered LED strips is that they are portable. For example, they can be placed in a cupboard, on a costume or on a car. They also guarantee a light supply that remains even in the event of a power failure. In return, the batteries have to be changed regularly. Since LEDs last for a very long time, light strips with a mains adapter as power supply hardly need any maintenance for years.

Length and width

LED strips come in different widths. Normally, there are lengths of 5 and 10 metres. However, the length of the initial product is not so important because you can shorten or lengthen the total length of the strip light as needed. However, you cannot extend the strip indefinitely because a power supply unit can only manage a certain length. In the guide section, we explain how to shorten an LED strip and how to connect two elements together.

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying LED strips

You probably have some unanswered questions that you would like to have answered before you buy the right LED strip. In this big guide on LED strips, we have compiled the most important points and also some instructions that will help you with the selection and installation.

What is special about LED strips and what advantages do they offer?

LED strips offer many advantages, especially for light decoration. They have a longer lifespan and hardly emit any heat, which means that the temperature in the room does not increase further due to the lighting
LED strips are very energy-saving and therefore more environmentally friendly.

They are energy-saving and have a higher luminescence with lower power consumption. They are also flexible in use and available in different sizes. LED lamps also have a longer lifespan, on average they last about 50 times longer than conventional light bulbs, so you don't have to worry about maintenance.

What types of LED strips are there?

Depending on where you want to install your LED strips, you can choose between indoor LED strips and waterproof outdoor LED strips. To make your choice easier, we have listed the advantages and disadvantages of both types of products:
LED Streifen für Innen

LED strips for indoors

Indoor LED strips can be used as lighting or decorative elements for your business or living space. If you mount them under the sideboard of a TV, they are the ideal mood enhancer for TV evenings.

Advantages
  • Can be shortened and extended without any special effort
  • There are models with batteries
  • Usually cheaper
Disadvantages
  • Not waterproof, cannot be used outdoors
  • Not suitable for places with high humidity, e.g. in the bathroom

They are cheaper and can be shortened or lengthened more easily because they have no seals. On the other hand, they can only be used indoors in the dry and not in the garden.

Wasserdichte LED Streifen (für Außen)

Waterproof LED strips (for outdoors)

You can place waterproof LED strips outside without any problems. For example, to illuminate your terrace, balcony or garden.

Advantages
  • Can be used outdoors regardless of the weather
  • also suitable for indoors
Disadvantages
  • Shortening is more complicated because of the seal
  • The power supply / battery compartment is often not waterproof
  • A little more expensive

You don’t have to worry about rain or snow; besides, LEDs are equipped to withstand cold. You can also use waterproof LED strips indoors, for example in places with increased humidity, such as in a bathroom.

It turns out that both types have their own strengths and weaknesses. Decide which strengths are most important to you.

What is the light output of LED strips?

In the days of incandescent bulbs, power was still measured in watts. With LEDs, wattage is not important, because the output of LED types differs. The light output of an LED is specified in the unit lumen. The more LEDs per metre on an LED strip, the stronger the luminous intensity because the distance between the individual LEDs decreases. However, with a higher LED density, the power consumption also increases. Dimming LEDs by reducing the current voltage is not possible and can result in burnout. However, by using an on and off frequency, an effect can be created that is perceived by the human eye as dimming.

What are LED strips suitable for?

You can install LED strips in many places. For example, for lighting in the kitchen, as an indirect light source behind furniture or in a ceiling cove. You can use waterproof LED strips for light decoration in the garden.

LED Streifen-1

With an LED strip under your desk, you can create an aesthetic indirect light
(Image source: unsplash / alexacea)

If you have never tested an LED strip before and you are still unsure, we recommend that you first try out a shorter LED strip without any special additional functions. This way you can check whether you like the light before you use it to illuminate a whole room, for example.

What alternatives can I use to LED strips?

If you have not yet decided whether LED strips are right for you, you can take a look at the following products that are also equipped with LEDs:
Art Description
LED rope light Very similar to LED strip. Mostly waterproof, ideal for outdoor use, for example on trees or as Christmas lighting, are more flexible than LED strips
LED fluorescent tube This is a substitute for the neon tube, but with LEDs. It is intended more for commercial use, in areas where high brightness is needed

LED fluorescent tubes are significantly more expensive, while LED fluorescent tubes are on the same price level as LED strips.

How do I shorten LED strips?

In case you want to shorten your LED strip to adjust the length, you can cut it. To do this, you need to locate the cut lines on the strip at regular intervals between the copper pins. However, be sure to reseal waterproof LED strips to continue using them outdoors.

How do I fix LED strips?

The easiest and most common way to mount an LED strip is to glue it on. If the LED strip is not already self-adhesive, you can buy double-sided tape, available at any hardware store. Then simply stick it to the back of the strip and fix it in place.

LED Streifen-2

Most LED strips are already equipped with self-adhesive strips. This makes installation easier
(Image source: pixabay / Bent Chiang)

Make sure that you remove dust from the surface before fixing so that the adhesive does not come off again in a short time.

How do I connect LED strips?

You can connect two LED strip halves either by soldering or with a quick connector. The latter is our preferred variant for the layman:

  1. At each end of the LED strips you will find two contact points (a + and a -). The + and - of both strips should be opposite each other
  2. Now insert the LED strips into the respective sides of the connector so that the copper contact points touch.
  3. Connect both terminals of the connector

Make sure that you do not exceed the maximum length allowed by the power supply. Also, waterproof strips must be resealed to the weft.

Image source: Budnyi / 123rf.com

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