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What is an LED Strip?

Dorian Gray
Dorian Gray

LED strips are a type of Light Emitting Diode (LED) fixture. The light strips are typically flexible, making them easy to use for a variety of lighting needs. The LED light sources burn very cool to the touch and can save on energy costs compared to their incandescent counterparts, not to mention they can last for years. They also emit a light that is very pure and white, closer to natural sunlight than any other manufactured light source. LED strips are commonly available in a range of festive colors, including red, blue, green and orange.

Although some strips are rigid, many LED strip fixtures are flexible, allowing them to be wrapped and adapted to a variety of conditions. Many people choose to adorn their cars with LEDs for a special effect. For example, LED strips may be wrapped around the car's grill or placed in the front dash. Some drivers also wrap them around the wheel well or attach them to the underside of the car. They can easily be trimmed, or several strips may be linked together, to adapt to a particular space.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

Another application for LED strip fixtures is to illuminate and decorate a yard. They may be wrapped around the spokes of an umbrella to provide soft light for a patio table, for example. LED strips can also be wrapped between deck railings for an effect similar to holiday lights, but it's important to choose waterproof strips for outdoor applications. Non-waterproof LEDs, however, have many uses inside the house. They are commonly installed above or below kitchen cabinets to provide mood or task lighting without contributing more heat to this already warm space. LEDs can also provide even lighting for a home office space in place of a hot incandescent lamp.

Aside from the many benefits of LED strip fixtures, they have a few drawbacks. It takes many LED bulbs to create bright light, and a single strip will likely only produce a soft light. To adequately light a counter or work surface, one will most likely need to install several LED strip fixtures to achieve an even level of illumination. Some strips may be installed with dimmers so they can be adjusted, depending on the time of day or level of activity. The ease of installation of LED strips may make up for their drawbacks, however. Strips often come with adhesive pads, or may easily be screwed in place for a more permanent placement.

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Discussion Comments


@David09 - It’s the flexibility of the LED strips that gives them the added edge over light bulbs in my opinion. After all, you can get colored incandescent light bulbs if that’s the effect you want.

But you can’t get incandescent light bulbs that wrap around tightly in a spool. You can, however, get flexible LED strips that you can use to string a room in your house, like an entertainment center or family room, and the blue glow will make it look like something space age out of a science fiction movie or a theme park attraction at night.

I’m thinking of using them in our family room. You’re right that there isn’t a whole lot of practical value sometimes; however, I think it would be neat when the kids come over and crash with their friends to hang out in a family room strung out with these lights. That proves mom and dad are cool, eh?


@everetra - I love LED technology. I remember working with light emitting diodes back in my youth when I played with electronics kits. Those little diodes were usually red in color; they were so easy to handle, seldom broke, and illuminated so evenly that they seemed like the perfect alternative to miniature light bulbs.

Since then the technology has been used in a variety of settings, including LED television sets and now of course the LED strips.

I sometimes see cars drive by down the street, engines roaring, with car LED strips underneath. From what I understand they’re fairly easy to install and use the power from the cigarette lighter.

It makes the car look like the old Knight Rider vehicle from that TV show so many years back. I don’t know if the driver is trying to make a statement or just add extra illumination to the road, but it sure looks cool.


In my neighborhood I’ve seen quite a few houses with LED strip lights in the front yard. They illuminate the bushes and the walkway leading up to the house.

I think they look beautiful, almost ornamental, like Christmas lights at night, except of course that they’re all light blue with a soft glow.

I've been thinking of getting them myself, but I still have some yard work to do with my front bushes. I want that stuff done first before I illuminate them for all to see at night.

Other than ornamental value, I think it's a way to ensure that your house is kept safe. I can't imagine a burglar walking up to such a brightly illuminated walkway, assuming that they try to break in through the front door.

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