LED Glossary / Terminology Guide

HitLights LED Lighting Glossary / Dictionary / Terminology Guide

jar·gon1 /ˈjärɡən/

Special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand.


Here at HitLights, we fully understand that becoming an LED expert is hard work. To help you on your path to LED expertise, we created this handy LED lighting terminology guide to take some of the confusion out of talking about LEDs and Strip Lighting in general.

Let's make jargon jar-gone.



- See SMD


- See SMD


- See SMD


AC (or Alternating Current)

The type of current that comes from your wall outlet. Uses a line, neutral, and ground wire, and usually requires conversion to lower voltage direct current (DC) for use with LEDs. Electricity flows in alternating directions (forwards, then backwards, then forwards again).

- Learn more : Wikipedia
- See also : DC, Power Supply

Accent lighting

Subtle lighting effect usually achieved with indirect lighting around edges of rooms or cabinets. Puts out just enough light to be noticed, rarely enough light to sufficiently illuminate the entire space.

- See also : Indirect lighting

Addressable strip.

Special LED strip lighting that has individual LEDs, or groups of LEDs, controllable independently.

- See also : Light Strip, Controller

Amp (or Ampere or (A))

A measure of electrical current. Related to power (watts) and voltage (volts) by the formula Amps = Watts / Volts.

- Learn more : Wikipedia
- See also : Watts, Volts


Battery (or Power Pack)

A portable power source that can power LEDs or other devices. Capacity is measured in amp-hours (aH). To calculate how long a battery will last, divide its capacity (amp-hours) by the total current draw (amps). Rechargeable batteries can be used over and over again, saving you money with every use.

- Learn more : Wikipedia

Beam angle

A measure of how wire or narrow the beam of light emitted by a light source is. A low beam angle puts light in small space (directional, like a flashlight) while a high beam angle puts light in a large space (omnidirectional, like a light bulb).

Business account

A special business account for qualified customers that offers quantity pricing, expanded shipping options, and more.

- Learn more : HitLights Blog


CCR (or Constant Current Reduction Dimming)

Dimming achieved on the high voltage side by restricting the available current output of a dimmable driver using a compatible dimmer switch.

- Learn more : Lutron
- See also : Dimmable Driver, Dimmer

CCT (or Color Temperature or Correlated Color Temperature)

A measure of the 'color' of a white light. Lower values are 'warmer' (more yellow), while higher values are 'cooler' (more blue). HitLights refers to certain CCT ranges in descriptive terms : 3,000K is Warm White, 4,100K is Neutral White, and 5,000K to 6,500K is Cool White. While other manufacturers use these same descriptors, they may not refer to the same color temperature ranges.

- Learn more : HitLights Blog
- Learn more : Wikipedia

CRI (or Color Rendering Index)

A measure of light 'quality', with a maximum of 100. Used to determine how accurately a light source reproduces colors across the entire visible spectrum.

- Learn more : HitLights Blog
- Learn more : Wikipedia


A device which is used to control what color, functions, or intensities an LED strip or LED product produces. Usually consists of a remote (sometimes referred to as the controller) that contains the buttons or keys for control and a receiver that is physically connected between the strip and the power source. Generally refers to multicolor applications only.

- See also : PWM, Dimmer
- Product link : Controllers and Dimmers

Cool White

- See CCT


DC (or Direct Current)

The type of current that LEDs require. Uses a positive and negative wire. Electricity flows in one direction only.

- Learn more : Wikipedia
- See also : AC, Power Supply


Density refers to the amount of LEDs on a given length of LED strip. A higher density strip would have more LEDs per unit length (eg per foot) than a lower density strip. The distance between the LEDs is referred to as the 'pitch'.

Dimmable driver

A special kind of power supply that is compatible with high voltage wall dimmers.

- Learn more : HitLights Blog
- See also : Dimmer, Power Supply
- Product link : Dimmable Drivers


Any device that allows you to control the intensity of light. Available in two kinds - low voltage dimmers which install AFTER the power supply, and high voltage dimmers which install before the power supply. Generally refers to single color applications only.

- Learn more : HitLights Blog
- See also : PWM, CCR, Controller
- Product link : Dimmers


An electrical device that allows current to flow in one direction only. A light emitting diode (LED) is a special kind of diode that also emits light when a current is passed through it.

- Learn more : HitLights Blog
- See also : LED

Direct lighting

The practice of illuminating a space or area with a light source shining directly on it.

- See also : Indirect lighting


See beam angle


See power supply



Subtle strobing or flashing of LEDs due to unreliable connections, incorrect voltage, or incompatible power supplies. Preventable with good installation and system design.

See also : System design


A type of light source that emits light by using electricity to excite a material that emits invisible light (usually UV) which is then converted to visible light by a fluorescent material. Most commonly found in tube lighting.

- Learn more : Wikipedia



A type of light source that emits light by using electricity to heat a metal filament. This high heat causes the filament to 'glow', or incandescence.

- Learn more : Wikipedia

Indirect lighting

The practice of illuminating a space or area with a light source shining on it 'indirectly' by being reflected off another surface first.

- See also : Direct Lighting


See lumen

IP rating (or Ingress Protection rating)

A measure of the 'durability' of a strip, IP-rating also measures how 'waterproof' a strip is. IP-20 is indoor only, IP-65 is water resistant, and IP-67 is waterproof.

- Learn more : HitLights blog
- Learn more : Wikipedia


LED (or LED Chip or Light Emitting Diode)

A special kind of diode that emits light when an electrical current is passed through it. LEDs are more efficient than most other light sources, and are available in a range of colors, outputs, and sizes. While LEDs naturally output just one wavelength (color) of light, methods to convert single wavelengths to white (all visible wavelengths) were developed in the 

- Learn more : HitLights blog
- Learn more : Wikipedia

LED Module

A small and durable module featuring a handful of LEDs. Usually comes on a 'string' of several (~20) modules attached by wire for easy installation.

Light Bar

A rigid bar with directional LEDs designed to put a large amount of light into a specific direction area. Generally used for signage and lightboxes. Similar to LED modules, but both larger and less durable.

- Learn more : HitLights Blog
- Product link : Bar Light

Light Strip (or Strip Light)

A strip of LED chips and other components attached to a flexible printed circuit board (PCB). Often also known as tape light, and rarely (but sometimes) referred to as rope light or string light.

- Learn more : HitLights eBook
- Product link : LED Light Strips


HitLights' internal designation for LED chips of certain outputs. Luma5 refers to chips that put out around 5 lumens, Luma10 refers to chips that put out around 10 lumens, and Luma20 refers to chips that put out around 20 lumens.

- Learn more : HitLights Blog
- See also : SMD, Light Strip, Lumen


A measure of light output or intensity. A traditional 60 watt incandescent light bulb puts out around 800 lumens.

- Learn more : HitLights blog
- Learn more : Wikipedia

Luminous Efficacy

The measure of how efficiently a given light source converts power (watts) to visible light (lumens). LEDs have a higher luminous efficacy than most other light sources.

- Learn more : Wikipedia
- See also : Lumen



A special kind of LED product that has multiple independently controllable 'channels' for different colors. When operated at different intensities, these lights can mix to create almost any color.

- Product link : Multicolor LED Light Strips


Neutral White

- See CCT



See beam angle


See lumen


Power supply

An electrical device that converts high voltage AC current from a wall outlet or house wiring to low voltage DC current suitable for use in LEDs.

- Learn more : HitLights Blog
- Learn more : Wikipedia
- See also : AC, DC
- Product link : Power supplies

PWM (or Pulse Width Modulation Dimming)

Dimming achieved on the low voltage side by a dimmer that turns the lights on and off faster than the eye can see.

- Learn more : Lutron
- See also : Dimmer



A multicolor LED with three channels - one for red, one for green, and one for blue.


A multicolor LED with four channels - one for red, one for green, one for blue, and one for white. Generally produces a higher quality white than and RGB LED.

- Product link : RGBW


SMD (or Surface Mounted Device)

In the LED world, refers to a device (LED chip) that is mounted directly to a surface, usually a flexible LED light strip. Various sizes, connection types, and output exist. See this blog for some common ones including 2835, 3528, and 5050 types.

- Learn more : HitLights Blog
- Learn more : Wikipedia
- See also : LED, Light Strip

Solderless connector

A 'clip on' connector that allows you to make connections to cut sections of LED strip without soldering.

- Learn more : HitLights Blog
- Product link : Connectors and Wiring

Strip Light

- See Light Strip

System Design

The practice of designing an LED lighting system to be as efficient, practical, and reliable as possible through careful consideration of components, connections, and installation requirements.

- Learn more : HitLights Blog


Tape Light

- See Light Strip

Task Lighting

A direct lighting source intended to provide enough light at close range to help with the completion of a task - such as lighting underneath kitchen cabinets or above work spaces.

- See also : Direct lighting


See power supply


UL-Listed product

A product that has been tested by and conforms to the specifications of the Underwriters Laboratories, and independent testing and standards organization. UL-Listing requires products to meet specific safety standards and for their manufacturing facilities to be inspected.

- Learn more : HitLights Blog
- Learn more : Wikipedia


Volt (or (V))

A measure of electrical potential. Related to current (amps) and power (watts) by the formula Volts = Watts / Amps

- Learn more : HitLights Blog
- Learn more : Wikipedia
- See also : Amps, Watts

Voltage drop

The natural decrease of voltage along the path of current in an electrical circuit such as an LED light strip or light strip system. Voltage drop results in inconsistencies in light, such as bright light at the beginning and dim light at the end of a strip. The impact of voltage drop can be decreased in several ways.

- Learn more : HitLights Blog
- Learn more : Wikipedia


Warm White

- See CCT

Watt (or (W))

A measure of electrical power. Related to current (amps) and voltage (volts) by the formula Watts = Amps * Volts.

- Learn more : Wikipedia
- See also : Amps, Volts


Zone Control

In controller terms, zone control is when you have multiple areas, or 'zones', that you wish to control independently. For example, you might want white on the ceiling but blue around a window area - all from one remote.

- Learn more : HitLights Blog
- See also : Controller

Anything missing? Let us know at customerservice@hitlights.com


Got your LED terminology down? Need a light strip for your project? Our free eBook, titled '
How to Choose LED Strip Lights' is an ideal guide in the next stage of your LED lighting journey.

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