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Top 4 considerations before buying flexible LED strip lights

Flexible LED Strip light buying guide: How to choose LED strip Lights

LED Strip Lighting example

90% of customers found this information helpful before making the investment into energy saving LED strip Lights.

The use of flexible LED strip lights is steadily on the rise in American households. This is due to the fact that LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) have dropped in price over the past few years, even as their efficiency and quality have improved.

Naturally, you’ll want to be well informed before switching to LEDs, and it's difficult to keep up with the most efficient, cost-effective products available. That's why our learning center is here to help!

While there is no clear-cut standard for how to choose LED strip lights, there are a few basic industry terms that you should become familiar with to get the best bang for your buck.

1.  "How many LEDs am I actually getting?" LEDs per _____ (meter, foot, strip, reel).

This is the first thing you should look at. It might be listed as number of LEDs per meter, or foot, or reel (typically, one reel = 16.4ft or 5 meters). Companies often list numbers like 60, 120, 300 or 600 for their Flexible LED strip lights. What do these numbers mean, and why should I care?

If you see 3 companies selling bright white flexible strip lights, at first glance, you may just go for the cheapest one.

Let’s break down why this may not be the best choice. 

  • Company A sells a 16 foot reel with 150 LEDs per reel, for $89.
  • Company B offers the same reel but with 120 LEDs per meter at $119
  • Company C sells 60 LEDs per meter for $214.

Company B would be the best choice, because it has the most LEDs per reel.

ColorBright™ LED strip lights feature 600 LEDs per reel, UltraBright™ Architectural LED strips come with 700 LEDs on the reel, and our brightest series, the Industrial UltraBright™ (used by NASA!) has 1,020 LEDs on the reel.

2. Lumens – aka Brightness to the human eye  see Wikipedia on Lumens Here

While lumens may be more clear cut, it’s important to note that sellers sometimes have different ways of saying the same thing. The only question you should be asking is “Lumens per what? Per foot, meter, reel?” We would say this is the most important variable when choosing which LED strip light you need.

 Quick Guide with photos:

Application Lumen Required /foot of LED strip 
         Accent Lighting and here ~ 156 - 250
         Under cabinet Lighting ~ 175 - 525
         Task Lighting with low distance from light source ~ 280 - 437
         Task Lighting with higher distance from light source  ~ 344 - 687
         Indirect lighting in a bedroom/ hotel / vehicle / lobby  ~ 375 - 562
         Industrial lighting / signage / tube replacements ~ 500 - 750

 

Important: Be careful if the company does not state the lumen output. You have no idea what the brightness will be until you purchase them.  Flexfire LEDs has the brightest LED strip lights in the world.

Save these pages and compare with other LED strip lights. 

Colorbright Product Comparison SmallColorbright™ LED strip light product comparison sheet

Ultrabright Product Comparison Small Ultra Bright™ LED strip light product comparison sheet 

3. Wattage consumed per strip of LEDs

Power consumption is probably the number one reason we as a society have begun switching to LEDs. Wattage tells us how much power we are consuming while these lights are on, and in turn how much we’ll have to pay at the end of each month. Once again, be sure to verify the wattage per foot, meter, or reel before you buy.

Some may read “24 watts” on a reel and then get home and realize this is per meter or per foot, meaning the whole reel actually uses much more. Making matters worse, they have bought a power supply that covers 30 watts, thinking that would be enough. This often occurs when a seller doesn’t properly list important information in an easy to read format.

Finally, make sure you understand the voltage that your flexible LED strip lights use. An LED strip light that uses 24 volts will not work if you purchase a 12-volt power supply, and also may result in a risk of fire. You need to choose the correct power unit for your lights.

4. Cost of the LED strip

The LED market is highly saturated, with manufacturers and distributors offering various levels of quality, cost, and specifications. Flexfire LEDs strip lights have been used by NASA, Lockheed Martin, SpaceX, US airports, and major resorts. If they are good enough for NASA, they should be great in your kitchen.

You want a product you can trust, one that will produce a good clean light for years to come and save you money in the process. Consider the cost of purchasing from a random online seller – you will likely get a lower quality product, with no product support, and no real warranty.

At the same time, beware of very high priced LED lights. What is the difference between a $100 reel and a $500 reel? Sometimes nothing at all! Please compare all the variables before choosing which LED strip light you should buy.

Other Considerations when choosing your LED strip lights:

Thermal Management– Have the LED strip lights been designed for proper thermal management and heat dissipation? If not, your 50,000-hour life span just dropped to 10,000 or 20,000. 

Product material safety– What materials have the manufacturers used in the production of their LED strip lights? How was it produced, and under what conditions? Look for UL, CE and RoHS certifications at minimum. 

The color of the light is also important, and where possible you should hold lights side by side for an accurate comparison. Above all, take your time and use the information we’ve provided here to help in your buying process. If you are installing LED strips inside commercial or governmental buildings you may need UL certification. 

The BIG 4

When purchasing flexible LED strip lights there are really 4 main areas to concern yourself with and really compare before purchasing.

The color of the light is also important, but without holding the lights side by side, there is no real way to be sure you like one better than the other.

Even with a spec sheet with a light analysis you need to hold them side by side. Take your time, get the information, make an excel spread sheet if you have to and compare. With this little bit of information you are ready to buy flexible LED strip lights with confidence.

 

Need help with your project / business?

We have LED project design specialists here daily to help educate and assist you in your project. Please contact us via email or call us at 925-273-9080

Colorbright Series LED Strip Lights

Colorbright RGB LED Strip Lights

 

Ultra Bright Architectural Strip Light      

 

          Ultra Bright Industrial Strip Light