We selected the best-LED strip lights by looking at the following features — length and customization, color options, waterproof ratings, brightness, installation kits, and controls. We looked at models that ranged from 16 to 36”to give more versatility and customization for a range of DIY projects. We prioritized models that offered RGB color controls and installation kits for an easier installation experience. And finally, we looked at value-added features such as waterproof ratings, remotes, and controllers to increase the functionality and versatility of this product category.
Because of the above features, we selected the HitLights 3 Pre-Cut 12-inch/36-inch LED Light Strip Accent Kit as our Top Pick. This model offers the easiest installation process and comes complete with everything you need to quickly install the LED lights and offers the enhanced versatility of RGB-based color technology that you can control with the included remote control.
- 1 Top 4 Best LED Strip Lights
- 1.1 #1 HitLights 3 Pre-Cut 12Inch/36Inch LED Light Strip Accent Kit – Top Pick
- 1.2 #2 TBI Pro Professional Changing Multi-Color LED Light Strips with Remote – Honorable Mention
- 1.3 #3 LE 12V LED Strip Light – Best Budget
- 1.4 #4 Ruicaikun Music Bluetooth Waterproof LED Lights Strip – Best Quality
- 1.5 How We Decided
- 2 LED Strip Lights Buying Guide
Top 4 Best LED Strip Lights
#1 HitLights 3 Pre-Cut 12Inch/36Inch LED Light Strip Accent Kit – Top PickWHY WE LIKE IT: A 3-foot adjustable RGB LED light strip that includes everything you need to easily mount these colorful lights and easily switch between colors and modes with the included remote control.
For people who are intimidated by DIY home improvement projects, LED light strips can be an overwhelming prospect. But HitLights’ LED light strip accent kit comes with everything you need to easily upgrade your surroundings with ambient light. The three pre-cut 12-inch LED strip lights feature RGB LEDs that can cycle between 12 colors and 19 dynamic modes that include dimming and flashing functionality. And since each strip comes with pre-attached Blue 3M LED tape, installation is easier than ever.
You’ll like that this kit comes with a 360-degree RF controller that works at distances up to 66 feet and doesn’t rely on line of sight to function properly. But what makes this choice our Top Pick is the fact that it comes with the 12-volt DC power supply, six adhesive-backed wire clips, and three extension wires to easily configure your LED light strips wherever you want. This lighting system easily integrates into your home with your other best smart home devices.
#2 TBI Pro Professional Changing Multi-Color LED Light Strips with Remote – Honorable MentionWHY WE LIKE IT: An adjustable-length LED light strip complete with all necessary installation tools, power supply, and remote with an IP65 waterproof rating, making these lights an ideal indoor/outdoor option.
Customization is one of the biggest draws for the complete LED light strip kit. In addition to an IP65 waterproof rating and the ability to cut these strips wherever you like for a truly customizable lighting installation. These RGB lights can create up to 16 million color variations. But to achieve 16 million variation, you’ll need to purchase additional controls because the included remote isn’t capable of that level of granularity.
Still, you’ll enjoy a bright output with the 2,000-lumen rating. Best of all, you’ll like that this kit includes everything you need to install the lights — two LED light strips with a 3M adhesive that measure 16.4 feet each, a 44-key remote control, an IR controller, 12-volt DC power adapter, and additional connectors. Since they are waterproof, you can use these with the best WiFi outdoor outlet easily.
#3 LE 12V LED Strip Light – Best BudgetWHY WE LIKE IT: A straightforward white LED light strip featuring pre-attached adhesive that measures 16.4 feet with pre-marked cut lines helps you to illuminate areas in your home such as under cabinets, night lights, or even around mirrors.
Just like with anything else, there are countless reasons that someone would choose to install LED strip lights — especially around the home. The LE 12-Volt LED strip light is our Best Budget selection because we think it’s the perfect solution for illuminating strategic areas in your home or office. The 16.4-foot length LED light strip features labeled cut marks so you can accurately adjust the length to fit in any space.
Although this model lacks color variety (you only get white LEDs as opposed to all the other options) and doesn’t come with a power adapter or remote control, we think you’ll like the cool Daylight White illumination which is dimmable and ideal for makeup application in your bathroom or enhanced clarity when you’re in the kitchen cooking. Much like when you use any best smart thermostat, these LED strips are going to save you money on your electric bill.
#4 Ruicaikun Music Bluetooth Waterproof LED Lights Strip – Best QualityWHY WE LIKE IT: A Bluetooth-compatible waterproof RGB LED Light Strip that can be synced to change color or pulse with music via a downloadable smartphone app is perfect for special events or the ultimate media room in your house.
If your goal is to create the ultimate entertainment experience, we recommend the Ruicaikun Music Bluetooth Waterproof LED Light Strip is a great option. We’ve chosen it as our Best Value because it offers a longer length (32.8 feet), is customizable like our Best Budget choice, but is RGB based with a potential maximum output of 16 million colors.
This model also wowed us with an IP65 waterproof rating. But the biggest allure is that through Bluetooth, you can set these lights to animate in unison with music. To do so, you’ll need to download the free proprietary app which is available on the Google Play and Apple App Store and connect via Bluetooth. Supported animations include two jumping changes, seven gradual changes, five crossfades, eight strobe flashes, and adjustable dimming. Best of all, these LED light strips come with everything you need (minus the app) to install them — a 12-volt DC plug, four-pin connectors, and pre-backed adhesive LED light strips. If you are looking for warmer light, our best warm white LED strip lights list has some great options for the home. For outside of your living space, the best garage lighting is a great section to read.
How We Decided
LED light strips are a great way to upgrade the functionality of your home or business and are relatively easy to install as part of a DIY project. To narrow down the vast options in this category, we looked at length and customization, color options, waterproof ratings, brightness, installation kits, and controls.
In terms of length, we found that many LED light strips range in length from 16.4 to 36 feet. In some cases, brands that offer 32.8 feet sold their strips as two individual strips that are each 16.4 feet long. But something else we also considered was how easy it was to customize the length. Our #2 through #4 options allow for full customization where you have the freedom to further cut the strips to the right length for your needs. In contrast, our Top Pick features three pre-cut 12-inch LED strips that might be intimidating for beginner LED light installers to attempt to adjust the length.
Color is another big issue as one of the biggest draws of LED lights is the wide range of colors you can achieve. Only our Best Budget model was limited to simple white lights. The remaining LED light strips in our round-up are RGB color LED lights. This is ideal if you want to have the widest range of color options available as theoretically, you can create up to 16 million unique color hues with an RGB LED light strip. However, to do so, you’ll typically need a more robust controller than the simplistic remote controls that the majority of affordable all-in-one LED light strip installation kits supply.
The waterproof rating is important if you’re planning on outdoor installation. Our Honorable Mention and Best Value selections both feature an IP65 waterproof rating which is the minimum you need to safely install a light strip outside. Wherever possible, we did attempt to list the exact lumen rating for each of the products on our list. However, the Top Pick and Best Value selections failed to clarify these values.
Except for our Best Budget selection, all of the other models feature complete installation kits that included a DC power adapter, adhesive, connectors, and some type of controller. Our Top Pick and Honorable Mention come with remote controls that give you the ability to choose a static color or cycle through various animations. Our Best Value choice relies on Bluetooth technology and a free proprietary app that you need to download on your own
LED Strip Lights Buying Guide
The Most Important Features to Consider
- Product Type
The first aspect you should consider is the type of LED light strip that you’ll want to purchase. LED light strips are available in a range of styles — DC LED flex strips, AC LED flex strips, LED rope lights, and high output LED strips. DC LED flex strips must be powered by a 12-volt DC and come with an adhesive backing for mounting. AC LED flex trips can be plugged directly into an outlet. LED rope lights are omnidirectional while high output LED strips are more rigid in design and feature onboard drivers and circuitry.
Where do you plan to mount or place your LED strip lights? This question matters because if you want to mount your lights outside, you need to look for LED strip lights that offer a waterproof or water-resistant rating.
Much like if you were buying holiday decoration lights, you need to be mindful of the LED strip light length.
Brightness goes hand in hand with length. One way to measure brightness is by determining the LEDs per unit of measure (i.e. foot, meter, yard, etc.). The more LEDs per unit of measure, the brighter your lights will look. However, keep in mind that this isn’t the only factor. Some LEDs are naturally dimmer, and no matter how many of them are packed into a foot (or meter, yard, etc.) they’re not going to be especially bright.
The formal way to measure LED brightness is in lumens. The proper lumen level for your LED lights is going to depend on how you plan on using them. If you’re relying on LEDs for accent lighting, then focus on LED strip lights that are no brighter than 200 lumens per foot. However, if you want brighter illumination, you’ll need to look for a higher lumen level.
- Color and Temperature
Color is a self-explanatory feature that references whether an LED light strip is white (or clear), multi-colored, or a specific shade. But temperature refers to your ability to shift the hue when LED lights are set to white. Your options will range from cool to neutral to warm. Cool white is more of a bluish hue while warm white LEDs are going to be more yellowish.
Unless you plan on installing an LED light strip and never touching it again, you’re going to need some way to control your lighting. This can range from adjusting the brightness (dimmers) to cycling through colors, or setting your light strips to respond to motion. Many LED light strips are now sold with remote controls or are compatible with Wi-Fi relayed apps, while others may require installing a wall dimmer switch.
- If I want to use LED light strips for outdoor use, what features should I prioritize?
The most important feature to look for is an IP rating that clarifies how resistant to water the strip will be. Specifically, a quality outdoor LED light strip should feature at least an IP65 rating. At this level and above, your outdoor LED light strip should be able to withstand water exposure.
- How do I know which voltage to pick for my LED light strips?
LED light strips are usually manufactured in 12 and 24-volt variations. Depending on where you plan on installing your strips, you’ll need to pick the right supporting voltage. If you’re installing an LED light strip in your car, opt for a 12-volt variation. But if you plan on running longer light strips, 24 volts is best to avoid wiring issues. However, keep in mind that your power supply needs to match the voltage that you choose.
- What is the best way to mount LED light strips?
This is going to depend on what you find most comfortable. If you don’t want to deal with tools or drilling, then LED light strips with adhesives are the easiest option — especially in difficult to reach areas like under cabinets. For a sturdier installation, you can use mounting clips. But if you want a cleaner aesthetic, aluminum channels or profile housings will create a high-end more professional effect.
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