Whether you are lighting a home or office, LEDs have become the way to go. It’s hard to ignore their minimal electricity usage. After all, who does not want to cut back on utility costs? Moreover, they feature a long lifespan (up to 25,000 hours!) and are easy to program. With LED strip lights, you get even another advantage- aesthetic appeal! These versatile lights are the easiest way to adorn your home or other space and make it pop.
But before you get an LED strip light (which you should), let’s cover some basics to help you make the best choice.
What are the benefits of LED strip lights?
First of all, they look great and are an easy way to enhance your space without breaking the bank. A few lights hanging off your porch as the Christmas carolers come your way will be enough to make the holidays even brighter. But why else would people opt to use these lights?
- Energy efficiency: It’s not possible to talk about LED lights without bringing up their energy efficiency. It may seem like this point has been drummed in enough, but it’s a hard fact. When you invest in 12v smart LED strip lights, you spend as little as 10% on utility bills on them. That means that if you were earlier spending about $100 to keep the lights on, you’ll now spend about $10! Imagine that.
- Long life span: Buying traditional lights at low prices may seem like a great deal right now. After all, they come cheap. However, they do not last long. A few days or weeks into using them and you end up at the store again. With the best LED light bulb, this is not the case. These bulbs can burn for up to 25,000 hours. Some can even serve you for 50,000 hours! That means the bulbs can work for more than a decade. By this time, traditional bulb users will have used and replaced their bulbs a couple of times.
Additionally, these lights are easy to install, come in various styles and colors, and require minimal professional guidance.
How do LED strip lights work?
Let’s start with what these lights are. They are LED emitters mounted on circuit boards that operate on low DC power. They come in a reel which is often about five meters. You can cut them to the length you want, and mounting them should be a breeze.
A strip light, in itself, is pretty narrow. It measures about half an inch along its width but can be as long as five meters. Their structure makes it easy to cut them. All you need is to find the cutline, which should be present every one or two inches. On the strip, you will see individual lights. Manufacturers decide how many lights should be on the strips as there is no standard. Often, you will find most manufacturers ranging from 60 to 120 lights per meter. The number of lights is not the only thing you should look for when choosing an LED strip light, though. You should also look at the quality of each LED and the light color.
To mount the strip, you rely on the adhesive on its back. It’s pretty easy to do this. Once you have peeled off the liner, you can stick the strip on any surface. The good thing is the strip can work on both even and uneven surfaces. It’s this flexibility that adds to its versatility.
How can you measure the brightness of an LED strip light?
More often than not, people use these lights to enhance their space. However, if you get a dim strip light, you will not achieve this effect. You probably already know that watts are not an indication of brightness. But if you did not, now you do. Instead, you should look at the lumens, which manufacturers state per foot or meter. It’s important to choose one standard of measure to avoid confusion. For example, did you know that 1500 lumens per meter equals around 450 lumens per foot? Looking at the two without considering metrics, you would think that the 1500 lumens were brighter. To avoid this, choose one measurement and stick with it.
Generally, find a strip that boasts at least 1500 lumens per meter if you want adequate brightness. You can choose to go higher for more brightness or lower for a relaxed ambiance. Also, look at the number of LEDs per meter. The more spaced the individual LEDs are, the spottier the resultant light may be. Where you want a lot of overlay for uniform light distribution, go with close-packed lights. That should be about 120 LEDs per meter. If you want dispersed light, go with wider spacing. The lights will still be bright, but the gaps will be evident. Again, this depends on what you hope to achieve.
Finally, you need to look at the power draw of the LED strip per meter. You may have noticed that we have used meter as our standard of measure. You are free to use feet, inches, or any other measure. We do this to avoid confusion. Some manufacturers want to provide a high brightness level at the expense of energy efficiency. For example, an LED strip boasting 15 watts per meter has a decent power draw. After all, you do not want to use so much electricity that it beats the logic of using energy-efficient lighting. You also need to look at how much the individual lights will use from the wattage. In this case, we will use the foot as our standard of measure. The lights should not be driven by more than 0.2 watts each. Otherwise, they might not last as long as they should.
How long will your LED strip lights last?
LED lights do not burn out or flicker like traditional bulbs as their due date draws close. Instead, they reduce their light output and grow dimmer to a point where they need replacement. However, with power surges and other electrical failures, your lights could stop working way before their life span is over. Most manufacturers give timeline estimates between 25,000 and 50,000 hours which is more than any traditional bulb can offer. Your lights should be up for a long time!