Most people are now using LED strip lighting in their homes, but with so many options, people can often get...
Arc LED Guide to Buying LED Strips
Most people are now using LED strip lighting in their homes, but with so many options, people can often get overwhelmed with what LED tape to buy! This is why we at Arc LED have decided to put together a guide to help you along the way with choosing the right LED lighting for your home, office or commercial building to ensure you achieve desired light output.
Often you will probably come across the argument 'why LED?' - well there are plenty of benefits to using LED lighting to replace outdated halogen or incandescent lighting. LED strip lighting and lamps are far brighter than standard bulbs, produce less heat and are longer-lasting – they are also much more environmentally friendly, to name a few.
Selecting the best-LED strip lighting
It is important to consider the type of LED strip lighting needed to ensure you get the results you are looking to achieve. With multiple options on colour, brightness and voltage it can often get a little confusing if you are a novice when it comes to this type of lighting.
Step one: Selecting the correct voltage LED tape
The first thing to always consider when ordering LED tape lights is the voltage required. Typically the most common voltages are 12 and 24V. The main difference between the two is the length of the LED strip you can run. 12V should be kept for installations 5m and under, and 24V can be run up to a maximum of 10m. There are a couple of other options such as integrated circuit LED strips which you can run up to a distance of 30m – but this is something we will explain a little later on!
So, use a 12V LED strip where you can for small domestic installations such as under cabinet lighting for kitchens, or shelf lighting. 12V LED tape lights also come in very handy for camper van conversions or boat lighting where there is no 24V or mains supply.
We offer a far more comprehensive range of 24 LED tape lights as more and more of us are now using this style of lighting as a primary lighting source rather than spotlights. The benefit of this voltage is the run length which can be up to 10m distances without volt drop meaning that the LED will provide a consistent light colour and brightness across the whole strip.
Step two: Deciding the colour of your LED lighting
Once you have decided if 12V or 24V LED strip lights are best suited to your installation, you will then need to work out the colour of the strips you require. Most lighting is available typically from 2700K through to 6500K.
There is no set rule as to which colour of LED tape you should have where, but most commonly the warmer tones from 2200-3000K are using in living areas and bedrooms. 4000K considered as a natural white are then used in bathrooms and kitchens, and 6500K cool white is used in commercial spaces such as offices or business premises.
Here is a rough guide below showing the kelvin ratings available:
Step three: Choosing the IP rating
Now you have the voltage and colour temperature of your LED strip lighting, you need to ensure you are selecting the correct IP rating for your project. There are 3 main IP ratings to select from, IP20, IP65 and IP67.
IP20 – This IP rating is for indoor and dry installations only. Perfect for dining rooms, bedrooms, hallways and living rooms. The flexible LED tape is not coated, and the chips are left exposed.
IP65 – Typically used in damp areas such as under bathroom vanities and kitchen worktops. Don't get confused about using IP65 LED strips externally as they are different to standard LED fittings and are not suitable for this type of environment. The LED tapes are gel or silicone coated over the top of the diodes and PCB width to protect against splashes of water or light steam,
IP67 – These style of LED tape lights are fully encased meaning no part of the PCB or LED diodes are exposed. Being housed in a watertight plastic casing, this style of the strip can be mounted externally for your garden projects.
Step four: Deciding the LED length
The hard bit is done, now it is just a case of working out the length of LED strip lighting required and then the driver sizes needed. All LED tapes are different and therefore have different cutting intervals which you should always take notice of when selecting your lighting. Cut points on the strip lights typically range from every 20mm right the way up to 100mm so you can usually get pretty close to your true measurements on the strip lights depending on the ones you pick. 12V strips tend to have smaller cut points, and 24V RGBW strips for example are the ones you will find with the larger cut marks, this is all down to chip size and PCB design but not something you need to worry about!
All of our LED strip lighting is sold per metre but can be cut down to required sizes on site. We also offer a bespoke cutting and soldering service where we can supply your LED lighting cut to size with pre-soldered ends to ensure a simple and stress-free installation. You can find out more about that by getting in touch with our friendly and knowledgeable team on 01752 917447 or email us at email@example.com
Step 5: Calculating the size of the LED driver needed
You're almost done, just one final step! As our LED strip lights are either 12V or 24V, you will need a suitable LED driver to convert your mains 240V down to the selected voltage. This is actually far simpler than people first think, it is just a case of some simple maths. To work out the size of the power supply required all you need to know is the wattage per metre of the LED strip and how many metres you will be powering. A quick example below:
I am using – 24V 9.6W per metre LED strip x 5 metres so the calculation would be -
9.6W (wattage per metre) x 5 (total metres) = 48W
Power supplies come in wattages from 15W up to 600W and we would usually recommend allowing 10% on the driver so that you are not overworking it. So as above, instead of picking a 50W driver – we would go up to the 75W version.
There are also different types of drivers that you need to think about, whether you would like them dimmable, switched on and off, or dimmed through a receiver. The type of driver you select is completely down to you, and our LED strips will all work of any of the drivers unless you are using a colour changing or CCT adjustable strip which then needs to be put through a driver and receiver which we will explain next!
Using LED Receivers to Dim & Colour Select your LED Strips
When using RGBW colour changeable or white CCT adjustable strips, you will have another element to think about which is the LED receiver. As you will need to be able to adjust the colour, this is an essential item required in your LED strip lighting setup. There are a few options but we will keep it simple!
Option one is our standard LED receiver which works with both 12 or 24V strips. The ARC-V4-L is capable of switching up to 720W of LED lighting, so more than enough for the maximum 600W driver available. It is universal, so will work with RGB, RGBW and CCT Led strips – you just need to make sure when using it that you set it up to be able to control the correct type of strip lights that you have.
Option two is our ARC-WT5 WiFi-enabled receiver. It has all of the same features as the V4 unit, but with the added benefit of WiFi capability. This means you can now link your LED lighting to Alexa and TuyaSmart app to allow control of the lighting through your phone or by voice command. Smart lighting is forever growing in popularity, so we always recommend this receiver option if you want to future proof your lighting!
When using one of the Arc LED receivers, your driver always needs to be non-dimmable. A lot of people get confused thinking they still require dimmable drivers, but this is not the case! The receiver units handle all of the dimming and colour temperature adjustment of your LED lighting.
You can then choose to pair your receivers to a remote or wall panel – both the V4 and WT5 will link up to any of our remotes or wall panels. Find our range of remotes & wall panels by following this link here.
Additional LED strip lighting accessories
You should now be an LED strip light master, or at least a little more clued up on the process of selecting the best lighting for you! Just a final point to think about would be the type of housing you are going to mount your new LED lighting into. LEDs are designed to produce less heat than traditional lighting, but as we develop our range and introduce high output tape lights up to 25W per metre, we always advise mounting them onto a suitable aluminium heat sink.
Our aluminium channel selection ranges from your basic surface mounted profiles, to recessed and our extremely popular plaster-in LED profiles. Be sure to keep an eye on the internal widths and depths to avoid your PCB width of your strip being too large to fit!
Our Knowledgeable Team
Since we launched Arc LED we have been lucky enough to build a knowledgeable team with all things LED and are always happy to help with projects and advice. We know it can be daunting for a novice who has never fitted this style of lighting, so are happy to talk you through the process, product recommendation and produce quotations for you just so you know everything you are ordering will work together. If you require any of the above, just get in touch via email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone on 01752 917447.