How to control LED lighting with DMX

For absolute control of all aspects of LED lighting, there is no substitute for DMX. This week’s blog will discuss what DMX is, how it controls LED lighting, and how you can incorporate LED lighting into existing DMX systems.

DMX Control

All of our LED controllers do a pretty good job with the basics. All of them let you select a color. All of them let you choose between a handful of pre-programmed animations. Some of them even let you choose and program custom colors! If you have very specific control requirements - such as a (very) specific, a custom animation pattern, or animation that require multiple zones or areas, then DMX might be what you need.

DMX is a control ‘language’ for lighting. If you’ve been to a large musical performance or show with with intricate lighting (most of them, really) - then that lighting has been controlled by DMX. DMX allows you to control, among other things, multiple lighting fixtures, zones, or areas, the color and intensity of those lights, when and how those colors turn on or off - and even (though not applicable for LED strip lighting) which direction that light is pointing.

In those high end musical performances, DMX is likely also controlling stage smoke, pyrotechnics, and anything that moves (screens, curtains, and the like). DMX is serious business - but it doesn’t have to be complicated.

DMX is a signal, not a power source your DMX controller won’t work with LEDs without a DMX decoder. These DMX decoders take the DMX signal and convert it to a pulse width modulated (PWM) power source for LEDs. You can hook up multiple DMX decoders to one DMX controller as in the diagram below.


Our products

DMX is a standard signal - all DMX controllers use the same language, so if you already have a DMX controller, it will work with our DMX decoders and our LED light strips. If you don’t, then our SLESA-U9 DMX controller is a good place to start.


The U9 has 256 channels of DMX (each color is one channel per zone - so a single zone of RGB strip requires 3 channels, and four zones requires 12), and is an ‘Easy Stand Alone’ (ESA) model, which means that once you program it, you can transfer those programs to the U9 for use anywhere in the field. It’s USB powered, so you can plug it in to any USB power source (or even power it with a USB battery pack).

The 4 Channel DMX Decoder is compatible with any single color, RGB, or RGBW LED strips. It has a maximum power output of 24 amps, and both DMX and ethernet input / output ports (we use the DMX ports, as per the output on the U9 controller). The decoder is NOT a power supply, so you’ll have to purchase one separately here.

Assuming you have a DMX controller to go with it, a DMX decoder is interchangeable with other low voltage LED controllers. This means that if you have an existing LED strip installation, you can easily substitute the existing controller for a DMX decoder if you wish to convert to DMX control.

DMX doesn't have to be complicated, but it can be if you want it to - that's the beauty of it. For any help with your DMX LED lighting projects, get in touch with our expert customer service team at