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What is an LED Rope Light?

A. Gabrenas
A. Gabrenas

An LED rope light is a type of decorative lighting fixture. It typically uses small light emitting diode, or LED, bulbs linked together inside a plastic tube to create a string of lights that can be used in many applications both indoors and outdoors. Compared to traditional rope lighting, LED roping often has several advantages, including using less energy, appearing colorless when not in use and lasting longer.

In general, an LED rope light is created by stringing LED bulbs together on a wire, then threading the wire through a clear plastic tube. The number of wires used to string the bulbs together is typically dictated by the functions the end product is supposed to have. For example, a basic rope will generally have just two wires, which usually allows the consumer to make the bulbs flash or dim. A rope with three wires allows for greater functionality such as flashing, dimming and chasing. End use is also affected by the width of the outer plastic tubing of the LED rope light, as the wider the tube, typically the less flexible it is.

Many movie theaters have LED rope lights.
Many movie theaters have LED rope lights.

The bulbs inside the roping are often available in a variety of colors. Colors are created inside the LED bulbs themselves, unlike traditional incandescent lights, which typically use a colored filter wrapped around the bulb. This means that when a colored LED rope light is off, it will appear colorless. Only with the addition of electricity will the color show up. Some consumers find this advantageous, as it often allows the LED rope light to be less conspicuous when not in use.

Many brands of these rope lights are rated for both indoor and outdoor use. Common uses indoors often include under-lighting baseboards in a movie theater, outlining the edge of a counter or bar, and uplighting the edge of a tray ceiling. Some outdoor uses may include illuminating a deck, patio or staircase, or creating artistic displays, such as using the rope to make an outline of a Christmas tree on the side of a building.

One of the biggest advantages of these lights is that they are typically much more energy efficient than traditional rope lights. They usually use less than a quarter of the energy of incandescent lights and put off much less heat. Heat is essentially a form of wasted energy when it comes to lighting, so the less heat that gets put off, the more efficient the fixture. In addition to greater energy efficiency, LED rope lights also typically last one and a half to two times longer than incandescent versions.

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Discussion Comments


I purchased multi-colored LED crystal miniature lights by GE (packaged for K-mart) and ran six sets together indoors on the Christmas tree. The light was very bright, actually too bright. I pulled them off and am returning them. I want to take advantage of the LED lights but need to have lights that are not as those I am returning. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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    • Many movie theaters have LED rope lights.
      By: Mammut Vision
      Many movie theaters have LED rope lights.