Read this before buying LED | HitLights

Here are ten things that are key points to consider before working with LED strips so that you don't waste your time and your money. 

Buying LED strips can be overwhelming because there's really a lot of options and choices in store, locally, online, and many more.  

There are over more than three thousand different results. 

So we’re going to help you sort that out today and what to look for to make sure you have a successful lighting project. 

Table of Contents:

The first key consideration to know is that there are better options out there. 

The first thing you're gonna see when you search for LED light strips are the packaged kits. 

You can get a hundred feet of LED lights for just under $20. And as you can imagine, they're not really very good. 

And if you've spent time on TikTok, you may have seen these, we think they're in the teenage influencer starter kit section. 

There are definitely higher quality kits and LEDs out there, but they're going to cost you three to four times as much as the cheaper one. 

And the problem with kits is if you don't like any of the units that came with it like the remote control or how they connect via wifi or Bluetooth, and especially if you need more LEDs per meter, then you're really just stuck with it. 

You kind of get what you get when going with kits.

As a professional installer or as an enthusiast, you can build your own LED lighting kit for your lighting projects or your lighting renovations. Building your own kit is not that hard. 

You will only need three basic things:

  1. The LED strips
  2. A way to control them
  3. A way to power them

Even though there's only three things to consider, there are a lot of options, especially for LEDs. 

Second, the application or what you want your LEDs to do?

Now, obviously, you're using LED lights because you want to add some light on things, whether that is just white light that you're using for under cabinet kitchen lighting or maybe you want to add a little bit of fun and add some color and go with an RGB.

Here's a quick overview of how each of these work. Now, with the single color white LEDs, pretty self explanatory. 

It is just like your light bulb. 

  • You have a positive and negative lead from your supply and when you turn it on, it will give you a white light and you can increase and decrease the brightness just like you would with a dimmer switch for a light bulb in your house. 

The simple RGBs are a bit the same, except now you're sending three signals down the path, red, green, and blue. 

That's what the RGB stands for. So every LED on the strip is going to be the same color based upon how much power you're putting into each of the red, green, and blue. 

  • So if I turn these on, when it's white, that means all of the red, green, and blue are turned all the way. 
  • But if I hit the red button, now the red is getting full power and the green and the blue are not getting any power. 
  • You can kind of think about it like that. It is like, there's three switches and depending upon how you turn them, that's what generates the color. 

Then there are what we call smart RGBs or addressable lights. Now these are very different. 

  • They do have a positive and a negative but then they have a data pin coming down the middle. 
  • The data pin basically is telling the light what to do. The cool thing is, it can tell each individual LED what to do. 
  • That's how you can get some really cool animations like this. So you can do some really cool things. 

You might be thinking, RGBs just do white anyway. You are correct, but the 

Third thing to know about RGB LED strips is that the white isn't always right. 

  • The white light that RGBs produce is not a true white but a combination of all three colors that show a white light but a bit bluish in color. 
  • So if you're thinking it'd be nice to have RGBs, but you want to go mainly do white, we would probably recommend going for the single color white if you're concerned about how that is going to look and the temperature of the light. 
  • There is one other type of LED strip that tries to get the best of both worlds, and that's an RGBW. As it sounds, it combines an RGB, plus a white all into one little LED cell. 
  • If your application requirement is white, then going with the single color white LED strip is the best choice. 
  • If you want to add fun, vibe, and color and getting a true white is not a requirement, RGB will be good enough for most applications. 

There are also a bunch of model numbers, but in general, the RGBs are gonna be referred to as an SMD5050, and the 5050 just refers to the size of the LED. The single white color LED strips would be referred to as SMD2835.

But just for the record, for a professional, elegant, and clean look, our go to will be SMD2835 for those avid fans of true white colors. 

Now that we know the color type or the application.

Fourth thing you need to think about is how many LEDs and the measurement of your application.

  • Standard Density - Different ranges but typically will be about 300 LEDs and below
  • High Density - This varies per manufacturer, however, it will be about 600 LEDs or more
  • COBs - Varies per make, typically, it will be more than 1000 LEDs per roll

But what do you really need? So the biggest thing with the density of LEDs is the more you have in a smaller space, the brighter it will be, as well as the less obvious it will be that there are individual LEDs and it will look like a constant source. The more LEDs would also mean more power output best to always check the specs.

And obviously, the more you have per meter, the more it usually costs. When we add diffusers like an aluminum channel, it helps blend things out, and the output is cleaner, smoother and professional looking.

Your output requirement will dictate the type of LED strip that you will need to use for your lighting project. 

Fifth consideration is the area of application

  • Is the location dry?
  • Are you installing the lights in a damp or wet area? 
  • What you need to consider in this situation is the IP Rating of the LED strip you will be using. Here is a quick overview of how IP Ratings work and what to use based on your requirements:

  • Indoor (IP-20) 
  • Outdoor (IP-65)
  • Waterproof (IP-67)

    Ip 20 Strips are for indoor use only. Moisture, even splashed, can cause these strips to short out and possibly fail. They're fine in almost all indoor applications, but you might be careful installing them near showers or sinks.

    IP 65 Strips for indoor or outdoor use. They're coated in a silicone material that protects the strip from water. They're not 100% waterproof, however, so we don't recommend exposing them to heavy or regular rain. They're great for installing in covered areas outside, like patios.

    IP 67 Strips are for indoor or outdoor use. They're fully encased in a rubber sleeve, meaning that they're impervious to all kinds of weather conditions. You can install these strips almost anywhere you like. They are not, however, 100% submersible - so you can't use them underwater. Even with IP68 strips enclosure, we still do not recommend them be submerged underwater for a longer period of time. 

    Here is an in depth explanation about IP Ratings

    We did see someone in the Amazon review asking if they can mount these in my pool? The answer is “No” even if the strip can manage and handle pressure and water, long duration of exposure may impact the LED strip and for safety reasons. 

    Sixth and Seventh thing is the Voltage and the Power Requirement

    And you will typically see 12V, 24V 48V and the High Voltage options. Now as you go up in voltage, it does not necessarily get brighter in the specific LEDs. However, it does have a significant impact on the output, layout, design and completion of your lighting project. 

  • First things first - Voltage Rating Compatibility 
      • 12V LED Strips are compatible with 12V Rated Power Supplies and Drivers, using a 12V LED strip with a 24V Rated Driver will be an issue
  • Second is - Power Requirement - How much power do you need?
        • There a few considerations in knowing how much power you need:
          • Length of the LED strip
          • What is the power draw of the LED strip
          • Here is a simple power calculator that you can use to compute the minimum and the maximum power that you can use depending on your project
  • Third, are you going low voltage or high voltage power? 
  • Here is a quick summary of the features, advantages, benefits, and limitation:







    Safe, Dimming, Easy Installation

    Safety, Dimming Control, Simplified Wiring

    Accent Lighting, Under-Cabinet Lighting, Decorative Lighting, and more

    Limited Brightness, Shorter LED strip Runs - can be mitigated


    Longer Runs, More Light Output, More options

    Longer LED strip Runs, Brighter Lights, Flexibility

    Larger Installations, Longer Distances

    Moderate Energy Efficiency, Compatibility concerns - can be managed


    Efficient, Compatibility

    Energy Efficiency, Professional Lighting, Control Compatibility

    Commercial Applications, Professional Setups

    Limited Fixture Options, Higher Cost, NEC considerations and professional electrician required

    High Voltage

    Standard Infrastructure

    Compatibility, Wider Fixture Range

    General Indoor/Outdoor Lighting, Standard Electrical Infrastructure

    Safety Concerns, Higher Energy Consumption,  NEC considerations and professional electrician required


    Note: In special cases, you will be using batteries or battery packs to light up your project, especially if this are for customized units or projects, you can use this battery life calculator to check out the battery capacity that you will need.

    Recommendation: If you are a professional electrician, contractor, etc the best option is using a 12V and 24V lighting system and as an integrator it can be a mixture using these with your clients existing high voltage lighting system. 

    Easy, simple, energy efficient, and right pricing are your key takeaways plus leaving less carbon footprint due to the systems less power consumption and savings that you can create for your customers. 

    Eighth is how do you control the lights?

    So there are different types of controllers, and they're basically what give the instructions to the LEDs. And like everything else, there are options. 

    Here is a quick summary of the features, benefits, and limitation:


    Control Systems





    Dimmer Switches

    Manual and Automatic brightness adjustment

    Simple, Affordable

    Limited Control Precision, No Automation

    RF Remote Controls and inline dimmers

    Wireless control, Dimming, Color-changing options

    Convenience, Remote Operation, Dimming Control

    Limited Range, Battery Replacement

    Wi-Fi Smart Controllers

    Smartphone App Control, Automation

    Remote Access, Scheduling, Integration with Smart Home Systems

    Requires Wi-Fi Network, Potential Connectivity Issues


    Dimmer switches

    Manual and Automatic brightness adjustment

    Simple, Affordable

    Limited Control Precision, No Automation

    DALI (Digital Addressable Lighting Interface)

    Individual Luminaire Control, Dimming

    Precise Control, Scalability, Addressable Control

    Installation Complexity, Higher Cost

    0-10V Dimming System

    Analog dimming control

    Compatibility, Smooth Dimming

    Limited to Dimming Control, Not Addressable

    DMX (Digital Multiplex)

    Color-changing, Dynamic Effects

    Versatile Effects, Addressable Control

    Complex Setup, Specialized Applications


    KNX (Building Automation)

    Comprehensive Building Control

    Integration with HVAC, Security, and Other Building Systems

    Professional Installation, Complexity

    Dimmer Ecosystem

    Customizable Lighting Scenes, Automation

    Scalability, Integration with Specific Ecosystem

    Requires Specific Infrastructure, Higher Cost, Professional Installation

    Smart Hubs

    Interoperability, Automation, Remote Control

    Compatibility with Various Devices, Mesh Networking

    Requires Hub, May Require Additional Devices, Professional Installation

    High Voltage

    Wall Switches and Dimmers

    Manual control, Dimming

    Traditional Control, Direct Dimming

    Limited Automation, Wiring Constraints

    Lighting Control Panels

    Centralized Control, Scene Programming

    Customizable Scenes, Centralized Management

    Professional Installation, Complexity

    DMX (Digital Multiplex)

    Color-changing, Dynamic Effects

    Versatile Effects, Addressable Control

    Complex Setup, Specialized Applications, Professional Installation


    Ninth is how do you connect the sections?

    When it comes to connections, there are several options but the best way to connect the strips with each other and to the rest of the lighting system is by soldering. This type of connection is the most stable, cost effective, and ideal, however, it somewhat needs expertise. The next best option will be to use connectors.

    Here is a quick summary of the features, benefits, and limitation:

    Connection Method






    Permanent, Reliable Connection

    Strong Bond, Durable

    Minimal Voltage Drop, Sturdy Connection

    Requires Skill, Time-Consuming


    Tool-Free, Quick Installation

    Easy, Quick, No Soldering Required

    Convenience, Reusability, Less Risk of Damage

    May Introduce Voltage Drop, Compatibility concerns

    Wire Nuts

    Simple, Removable

    Easy, Reusable, No Soldering

    Flexibility in Reconfiguration, Easy Maintenance

    Bulkier, May Introduce Voltage Drop

    Terminal Blocks

    Secure, Modular

    Structured Connection, Easy Expansion

    Neat Wiring, Compatibility with Various Wires

    Space Constraints, Manual Installation

    Crimp Connectors

    Reliable, Vibration-Resistant

    Secure, Vibration-Resistant, No Soldering

    Strong Connection, Suitable for Moving Applications

    Specialized Tools Required, One-Time Use

    Quick Connectors

    Tool-Free, Fast Connection

    Quick, Easy, No Tools Required

    Rapid Installation, Accessibility to Non-Technical Users

    Limited Current Capacity, Durability Concerns

    Snap-On Connectors

    Easy, Tool-Free

    Simple, Quick, No Tools Required

    Fast Setup, Suitable for Temporary Installations

    Limited Long-Term Durability, Lower Load Rating


    Note: Your connection can be any combination of the above, ideally, best foot forward will be soldering + connectors or terminal blocks for that professional and neat look plus ease of installation.

    Tenth is complete output and finish

    The last step is making sure that the finish of your installation is clean, neat, professional, and functional. A few reminder when completing the job:

    • Test the lights first before doing the final installation/permanent install.
    • Using mounting tapes, diffusers, and aluminum channels always have their advantage - weigh your clients option in considering these in adding a cleaner and a more professional look on the final output. 
    • CLAYGO (Clean As You Go) - there is no better way to end the installation area than to leave it clean like the first time. This sends an impression to your customers and clients of the level of professionalism you have when it comes to doing your projects. 

    Your best bet, is this summary detailing the different options in completing your project:

    Installation Finishing Method


    Advantages and Benefits


    Aluminum Channels

    Sleek, Professional

    Provides Protection, Diffuses Light, Enhances Aesthetics, Reduced glare

    May Require Additional Cost, Installation area compatibility

    Mounting Clips

    Secure, Easy Installation

    Quick and Easy  Mounting, Neat look

    May Not Support Heavy Strips, Limited Flexibility

    Adhesive Backing

    Simple, Versatile, Semi-permanent installation

    Easy installation, suitable for various surfaces, self-adhesive

    Adhesive May Weaken Over Time, Limited Reusability


    Softens Light, Protection

    Diffuses Light, Protects LED Strips from Dust and Damage, enhanced aesthetics

    May Reduce Brightness, Limited Design Variety


    Knowing these 10 Key Points will put you in a better position when it comes to choosing the things you need to consider when using LED strips for your lighting projects. 

    This is again, John, and until next time, have a bright week!

    If you need further assistance, feel free to reach out to us at or give us a call at 1 (855) 768-4135. Our team of expert engineers and electricians are here to assist you every step of the way! 

    If you are a professional installer, an integrator, or a business owner and you want to:

    Save MORE! And Do MORE! Project! 

    You can join our professional partner program RISK-FREE, NO CONTRACTS, NO HASSLE PROCES there is nothing to lose but MORE to GAIN!

    *Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only.


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