Choosing LED Waterproof Strip Lighting For The Home

When purchasing an LED strip light, there are several factors that you should consider. In this guide, you will find information on the types of LED strip lights, the locations they can be used, fitting methods, power options and more.

In this guide:

  • What are LED strip lights?
  • Where can LED strip lights be placed?
  • What are the different power options for LED strip lights?
  • What are the technical considerations for LED strip lights?
  • What are the features of LED strip lights?
  • How to mount and connect LED lighting strips?

What are LED strip lights?

An LED strip light is long, flexible circuit board that has small LEDs mounted on its surface at regular intervals. LED strips are also called LED ribbons or LED tape as well due to the addition of adhesive backing in certain models. These tapes tend to be quite narrow and varies in depth and length which grants them versatility and flexibility.

The versatility and flexibility of LED strip lights allow them to emit their light in tight quarters of the house that other forms of lighting devices would fail to illuminate, such as under cabinets or inside wardrobes. Not only do LED strips offer ample illumination, but they can also provide stylish aesthetics too.

The use of LED strip lighting isn’t only limited to indoor use. Some models are equipped with waterproof casing, allowing you to use them in the outdoors as well without having to worry about harsh weather conditions rendering them useless. LED strips come in a super wide range of colour options, allowing them to integrate perfectly with certain moods and events.

LED strip lights: analogue vs digital

There are two types of LED strip lights available to purchase: analogue and digital. Analogue strip lights are designed to be used in the home as they are cost effective, easy to install and do not require driver chips.

Digital LED strip lights are generally used for more complicated designs. They are often used during showcases or retail spaces. However, if you have some technical knowledge and are looking for a more versatile LED strip light range.

The table below showcases the difference between the two types:

Analogue Digital
Minimum voltage
  • 12v or more
  • The diodes in each segment are connected in series meaning they stack up on voltage
  • The more segments, the more voltage required
  • Can run on 3.3 volts but will be dim
  • 5v is optimum
  • No additional voltage
Cuttable reels?
  • Yes
  • Yes
Diodes per metre
  • 30
  • 60
  • 120
  • 30
  • 60
  • 120
Cut segment
  • 3 – 6 LEDs per segment
  • 1 LED per segment
Designed for
  • Home decorations
  • Garden/outdoor areas
  • More complicated designs
  • Retail areas
  • May require trained professional for installation
Colour behaviour
  • Non-addressable meaning they act as one
  • Uniform RGB colours available
  • Each diode can be controlled individually via a controller
  • One diode can be red, the other blue etc.
  • Patterns can be created
  • Can be controlled via software

Where can LED strip lights be placed?

LED strip lights can be used almost anywhere. However, you will need to consider the IP rating before installation. The IP rating determines the suitability of a light based on two factors – solids and water.

LED strips that are rated below IP65 are only meant to be used indoors and in dry areas such as:

  • underneath shelving units,
  • cabinets
  • cupboards
  • under stairs
  • walls

You can also install LED strips in the bathroom but you will need waterproof (IP65) lights.

Outdoor LED strips need to be rated IP65 and above. IP65 rated strip lights can be used anywhere outside such as:

  • gardens
  • railings
  • walkways
  • patios
  • ponds

You can also install LED strips in the bathroom but you will need waterproof (IP65) lights.

Outdoor LED strips need to be rated IP65 and above. IP65 rated strip lights can be used anywhere outside such as:

  • gardens
  • railings
  • walkways
  • patios
  • ponds

What are the different power options for LED Strips?

The most common type of strip lighting is 12V ribbon lights because of their low power input and use of 5050 LEDs which are safe to use in tight places. The number “5050” indicates the type/size of LEDs, which is the most common type/size of LED strips. They’re big and bright enough to provide great illumination without creating additional heat. You can find LEDs that re larger than 5050, but they can run hotter and cost more.

There are other common LED types such as 3528. 3528 LEDs are much smaller than 5050 LEDs and not as bright. LED strips come in varying densities, based on how intense you prefer the light to be. For white-light LED strips, you can choose between two different densities:

  • standard strips
  • high-density strips

Standard strips

  • provides 30 LEDs per meter
  • brightness level of about 540 lumens per meter
  • better for accent lighting as they provide a softer glow
  • more affordable than high-density

High density strips

  • offers more brightness than standard strips
  • provides 60 LEDs per meter and emits
  • 1080 lumens per meter

12V LED strips are available in 1-5m reels but they can be cut down to size. Most lighting strips come with cut marks for easier cutting. They also come with solder pads, which are connections attached to the board of the circuit with adhesive. This instructional video will demonstrate how to cut and connect LED strip lights.

Most 12V LED lighting strips feature adhesive backing which allows for ease of mounting. They can easily stick to most surfaces, whether flat or rounded. In addition, 12V lighting strips tend to have a protective coating made of silicone that helps prevent water from rendering them useless. Overall, 12V LED strips are highly convenient and very affordable. 5V and 24V strips are also available, but they aren’t as common.

Alternative Powering Options

Whilst mains electricity is the most common type of power, alternatives are available, such as:

  • battery
  • solar powered


While batteries are convenient and off the grid, you need to consider their lifespan. The life of a battery is dependent on the draw of current, which fluctuates from one strip type to another. For example, RGB models provide different colors and patterns of illumination, and each of these colors and patterns has its own current draw. Multimeters can help estimate the current draw

Solar panels

LED lighting strips can also be connected to solar panels. However, you must keep in mind that the consistency of their performance will be dependent on the consistency of the energy supply provided by the panel. You can also use a hardwire power supply where you can wire between your LED strips and your line voltage wiring. You can also power them using a dimmable power supply

What are the technical aspects that should be considered?

You should consider these technical aspects to ensure you purchase the right LED strip light and get the best value for your money.

Ingress Protection Ratings

IP ratings stand for ingress protection. The higher the rating, the more durable your LED light strips will be.

The IP rating system begins with the letters IP and followed by two digits. For example IP65. The first digit refers to the protection against solid objects from fingers to dusts. The second digit refers to the leve lof liquid protection, ranging from dripping water to continuous immersion.

Below is the list of available IP ratings and what they mean:

  • IP20 - Resistant against solid objects larger than 12mm but offers no resistance to water.LED light strips that feature this IP rating are often used for general backlighting. They’re ideal for above and under cabinet lighting.
  • IP44 - Protected against solid objects that are larger than 1mm. In terms of waterproofing, omni-directional water splashes will not cause damage. IP44-rated LED lighting strips are ideal for almost all indoor and outdoor applications
  • IP65 - Completely splash-proof, meaning that it is suitable for bathroom and shower installations. Can be used for all indoor and almost all outdoor applications.
  • IP67 - IP67-rated LED strip lights are ideal for outdoor installations. They feature dust-tight capabilities and they can be submerged in water of 1-meter depth for 30 minutes without being damaged. You can utilize such strips in your patio, garden, or walkway.
  • IP68 - suitable for aquariums, swimming pools and ponds. IP68-rated strips are recommended for permanent water immersions at 1.5 meters.

Energy Efficiency

All LED lights are energy efficient, requiring around 10% of the energy required to light up a traditional incandescent light bulb. This efficiency will save you money and minimise your carbon footprint.


LED strip lighting are safe for adults, children, and pets. They generate a minimal amount of heat whilst still providing adequate illumination. LED strip light installation is relatively simple and safe so long as you follow the relevant instructions


As mentioned previously, you will need an IP rating of IP65 or higher to ensure that the light offers some waterproof capabilities. IP65 is suitable for outdoor and bathroom applications. If you are planning on immersing your LED strip light in water, you will need to use an IP68 rated light.


All LED lights have long life expectancies compared to fluorescent and incandescent lights. LED strips have a lifespan of around 50,000 hours, which equates to approximately 5-6 years. We highly recommend installing LED lights with aluminium LED profiles to maximize their potential and ensure their longevity.

What are the features to consider in LED strip lights?


If you are looking for colour-changing strip lights, you should look out for RGB models. 12V RGB strips are available in 2W and 14.4W models. There’s also RGBW models, which create the same effects as RGB models, but in addition to warm or cool white colour options.


With mains wired LED strip lights, you will find lengths that range between 1-5 meters. However, you need to keep in mind that if you’re going to go with wired LED strips, you’re going to need a transformer for power. If you’re seeking more length out of your strip, you can easily grab two 5-meter strips and connect them. Use this video as your reference.

Remote Control

Remote controls can be used to make switching your strip lights on/off. Modern strip lights can even be controlled via a smartphone app. These are only necessary if you aren’t planning on using standard switches like standard lights.


There are plenty of colour options available when it comes to LED strip lighting. You can go with a mono strip that only produces a red, yellow, blue, or green color, or you can go with an RGB unit that offers programmable lights. Alternatively, you can go with simple, white-colour options of vary colour temperatures.

12V LED strips come in a few white color options such as 6500K (Cool White), 4000K (Neutral White), and 3000K (Warm White). When it comes to color options, these strips come in yellow, red, blue, green, and RGB. We recommend going with RGB strips if you seek a wide display of colors.


LED light strips tend to have great life expectancies, it’s still vital to purchase a product that’s backed by a warranty from the manufacturer so that you can return it if it’s not functional.

How to mount and connect LED lighting strips

Mounting LED light strips is easy, especially with models that feature adhesive backs. Simply peel the adhesive backing and stick it to a surface. Ensure that the surface is clean from dust and debris beforehand to ensure the adhesive’s longevity.

If the units you have don’t feature adhesive backing, you can use an adhesion promoter or mounting clips to help attach the strips to the installation surface. Even if your strips do feature adhesive backing, you can use mounting clips to add more security. You can also use aluminum channel housing to add a clean, finished look to your lighting strips.

Connecting strip lights requires some technical knowledge. There are many different types of connectors that you can use to join strips together such as angle connectors, pigtail connectors, CPS connectors, splitter cables, and interconnect cables. This video offers advice and tips on how you can connect strip lights.

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