How to Choose LED Tape Light
The remarkable versatility of LED tape light lends to their popularity in a wide variety of lighting projects like decorative accent lighting over kitchen cabinets or even dramatic halo lighting around a mirror or flat screen television.
LED Tape Light: Selecting the Right One
There are several things to consider to make sure you choose the right LED tape light and the necessary components that will enable it to work as you had imagined.
- How much tape light do you need?
- If you need multiple tape lights, how will you connect them?
- What color tape light do you need?
- Should it be dimmable? Waterproof?
- How will you power the tape light?
- Do you need any additional accessories like a controller or mounting strips?
How much tape light do you need?
Depending on the size and scope of project you’re considering, you may need one continuous length of tape light, or you may need to connect several different lengths together to reach your goal. Your first step is to measure and record the length of each section in inches.
How will you connect the tape lights?
For one continuous length of tape light, you will not need any unique connectors. However, for two or more separate lengths of tape light, you will need to figure out how those separate lengths will be connected.
Here are a few possible methods:
- Connect separate lengths end-to-end by simply plugging the male end of one length to the female end of the other. If your tape light doesn’t have these connectors, use a Splice Connector.
- Connect two lengths with a Jumper Cable.
- Connect two lengths at right angles to each other with an L-Connector.
- Connect three separate lengths at right angles to each other with a T-Connector.
What color tape light do you want?
You have three basic choices: white, solid single color, or color-changing.
White Tape Light - There are four white color temperatures to choose from:
Single Color - Solid colored LED tape lights are available in Red, Blue, Green or Yellow.
Color Changing - This type of LED tape light combines all of the RGB colors on a single strip to produce one unique color OR you may program it to a vast spectrum of colors that can be changed very slowly or very quickly.
Will your tape light get wet?
Where will your LED tape light be installed: indoors in a dry location, outdoors in a wet location that has direct exposure to rain, snow, etc., or in a damp location exposed to some degree of humidity (e.g., bathroom ceiling, under an awning outdoors, under a covered porch)? If so, check the manufacturer's recommendations to make sure your tape light is wet or damp location approved, respectively.
Do you need a dimmable tape light?
If you want to control the amount of light available and/or control the mood of the space, choose a dimmable tape light.
How will you power the tape light?
Hardwired - Wired directly to the electrical power supplied by the home or building making it controllable by a wall switch or dimmer.
Plug-In - Connects to an LED driver which plugs into an electrical outlet. If your tape light requires you to purchase a separate LED Driver, make sure you get the right voltage (12 or 24V) and that you’ve correctly calculated how much wattage you need.
Do you need any additional accessories like a controller or mounting strips?
Now that you've covered your major decisions, there are still more options that will allow you to customize your LED tape light even further, like mounting and remote control options.
Mounting Options- Your application will determine what the best mounting option is for the tape light, whether simply peeling and sticking it to the surface, using plastic mounting clips or investing in channel guides for a polished look.
Controllers - Some tape light features such as dimming and color changing require an external controller to function, and you may find that an optional wireless remote is a convenient accessory. Knowing the type of tape light you choose and how you plan to use it will ultimately determine the best components to invest in.