How to Order LED Tape
LED strip tape is one of the greatest products to derive from the LED lighting revolution. It offers the most flexibility and versatility of any lighting product. Used primarily in homes as under cabinet lighting and businesses as background or display lighting, it can be cut down to almost any length you need, as small as 50mm! Or it can be installed in limitless lengths by adding other accessories like amplifiers and additional power supplies.
Some retailers offer LED strip tape in kits that includes a 5M pack of tape, a power supply and a controller. As we offer many variations and are able to cut to the exact lengths you require we don't offer kits. This can sometimes make ordering difficult as you have to create your own kit from the components we offer. On ther other hand, this ensures you don't get any wastage, have the right components you need and each run of LED strip tape is cut to the exact lengths you need - ready to be installed.
What is LED Strip Tape?
LED strip tape is a series of small LED (Light Emitting Diode) chips and resisters that are soldered onto a PCB (Printed Circuit Board) with a self adhesive backing.
The type of LED chips that are used are called SMD (Solder Mount Device). SMD LED chips are available in various sizes, for many years the most popular version has been SMD5050. This design has LEDs that are 5mm wide by 5mm in length, hence the name SMD5050. In more recent years we have adopted a new LED chip type which is SMD2835 that is 2.8mm by 3.5mm.
With bigger and more advanced LED chips you get a brighter light output, but this consumes more wattage requiring bigger LED drivers to power them and causes them to generate more heat.
There are many different types of strips on the market such as SMD2835, SMD3528, SMD3014, SMD5060 and SMD5630. Each containing different sizes of chip types and varying quantities of LED chips per metre. The SMD5050 with 60 LEDs per metre in an IP65 water resistant rating has been our most popular version for many years. As technology moves on, we are upgrading the majority of our range to a new SMD2835 version, which has a high CRI rating (CRI90), is brighter (by around 15%) and most importantly doesn't cost you anymore.
Pack Lengths & Cut Points
LED tape has specific cut points which are different for each version depending on the LED type, quantity of LEDs per metre and the voltage. The cut points range from 50mm to 167mm. Although we offer a cutting and soldering service, the pack lengths are either 5, 10 metres and also some 20 metre packs. You can easy install longer runs, it just takes a bit more thought and we recommend discussing this with one our lighting experts, just email us at [email protected] with any questions you have and we get back to you for all the information you need.
Which LED Tape?
It's important to select the right LED tape for your application otherwise it might be too dim, or it may even be too bright. The selection process mainly depends on where it's going and what type of lighting effect you want to achieve. Here are some recommendations of which type to use in certain circumstances:
- Under cabinet lighting - Use 60 LED per metre SMD2835. This offers a bright seamless lighting effect allowing you to see clearly and accurately what you're doing. Or better still...Go for the RGB+WW LED tape which is a combination of colour changing and warm white, Or RGBW which is colour changing and cool white. This offers the perfect mix for modern kitchen lighting with the added warm white or cool white effect for chopping.
- Plinth lighting - Use 30 LED per metre SMD5050. This offers a more subtle background lighting effect.
- Overhead lighting - This is a judgment call and depends if you plan to use this as your main light or if you only want a background effect. For a main light, the 60 LED per metre version possibly with a TRIAC dimmable LED driver which will allow you to dim the light with a conventional dimmer switch. Or for a more subdued effect go for the 30 LED per metre version.
The colour changing version used in this kitchen example was created using the 60 LEDs per metre version:
- Pelmet lighting - this dining room pelmet lighting example shown below was created using warm white 60 LEDs per metre tape. It was installed with a dimmable driver to allow the user to easily adjust the lighting levels to their desired settings. For reading or playing board games it can be set to full brightness but for romantic meals it can be dimmed to create or more intimate setting.
- Home office space - This would be a definite for the 60 LED version as you'll need a brighter light to be able to see what you're doing more accurately. The cool white 4000K would also be our recommendation as this is the same colour temperature you'd get in traditional office. The 4000K colour is clearer and 5-10% brighter than warm white. The LED tape in this installation was mounted into an LED extrusion rail to provide better heat dissipation as it was being mounted onto wood. The opal diffuser improves the optics by reducing glare and spreading the light out more evenly for a truly professional finish.
- Outdoor LED lighting - Use our specially designed IP68 external rated version which is fully water and dust resistant. This offers a bright, continuous lighting effect which is recommended in large, dark outdoor spaces. It is more durable than IP65 and more flexible. This can even be submersed under water, shown in a bucket of water below:
- Garage lighting - As this is an outdoor installation you could use the IP68 rated LED tape or in the example below this customer opted for the IP65 rated 60 LEDs per metre version and mounted inside one of our LED extrusion rails.
Which Colour Temperature or RGB Colour Change?
Choosing the right colour temperature really is a matter of taste but sometimes you need to consider matching any other lights within the room. If you've got cool white downlights you'll need cool white LED strip tape. We have a more detailed FAQ explaining colour temperatures here.
Or if you want something a bit more exciting than single colour, warm or cool white then why not go for RGB colour change or RGB+WW which is a combination of colour changing and warm white in one strip. With this you can either have any colour you want like green, blue or red, or true warm white 3000K, or mix them altogether to create some really unique tones.
Input & Output Cables
If you order any of our LED tapes online; as standard the single colour versions come with a DC female connector and the RGB versions come with a 4 pin white female connector. Each is 150mm in length, the connectors can be snipped off if you want to wire directly into a controller or a hard wired LED driver. Or they can be used with plug-in power adaptors or basic IR (Infra-Red) RGB controller.
Often referred to as input tails, we can supply any of our LED tapes cut and soldered with any length of input tails you need. Don't worry too much about 'volt drop' as this doesn't happen too much with cables, 'volt drop' mainly happens within the LED tapes themselves and we can always get around those issues by limiting the lengths of strips to 5M or 10M depending on the version. Usually a maximum of 5M for 12V and 10M for 24V but each LED strip varies.
For rectangular shaped or non standard installations we can supply the strips with female connecting pins which allows you to easily connect other components or other LED strips into. This is ideal for corners and bends and provides more flexibility to the installation. We can solder the female connecting pin at the end of the strip and heat shrink it. They can then be connected using male to male pins as shown in the image above.
Corners & Bends
Although LED tape is flexible if you want to create a proper 90 degree bend or corner, you'll need an accessory such as a flat L shape or flexible bend. There's a few ways of creating a corner, here are the main two:
Another way is to solder connecting cables onto each end of the strips and connect them together using strip connector blocks.
Power Supplies / LED Drivers
The rating of the LED driver is determined by the length and the wattage of the LED strip tape. At 14.4 watts per metre, 1 metre of the SMD2835 LED tape would require an LED driver rated at a minimum of 14.4 watts. The nearest LED driver we offer is rated at 20 watts which would be ideal.
Controls & Dimming
Another advantage of using LED tape is that you can control it from virtually any control system. All you need is the relevant LED driver, controller or receiver. This includes mains (TRIAC) dimming, DALI dimming, 0-10V dimming and DMX. This diagram shows how easy it is to wire an LED compatible dimmer switch into a TRIAC dimmable driver and then into the LED tape:
Or instead of using a rotary dimmer switch you can dim LED tape using a home automation system such as Lightwave RF, Rako or Lutron shown below:
When dimming with Lightwave RF a maximum wattage of 100.8 watt must be adhered to. This works out at 7 metres of SMD5050 or SMD2835 60 LEDs per metre tape. If you want to dim using a smartphone then you can use a receiver instead of the home automation system. It will output 230V to the dimmable driver and the driver will output the 12V or 24V to the LED tape.
Extrusion rails are made from aluminium and can provide the lighting installation with a better, more professional looking finish. If you're installing the tape onto wood, plaster board or any other material that doesn't conduct heat then you should fit the tape onto a rail. The opal cover also diffuses the light and reduces dots, providing a more proffesional finish for your application.
We offer a variety of different rails for LED tapes including a wider version for our RGB+W and RGB+WW tapes, a recessed a corner version, trimless and a flexible version.
Limitations & Guidance
The only limitation with LED strip tape is your imagination! If you've got a tricky installation please email us for advice: [email protected] and we'll be able to offer a solution that you might not have thought of. We only list a small selection of accessories on our website but we stock everything from amplifiers, Y splitters to connecting cables sold by the metre. We'll be able to send you an official quotation that includes everything you need!