How do LED light strip work

How do LED Light Strips work?

LED light strips have become an increasingly popular lighting option due to their versatility, energy efficiency, and sleek design. But how exactly do these slim, flexible strips of light work? This comprehensive guide will explain the key components and operating principles behind LED strip lights.

How to dim 12V LED strip lights

The Basic Components of LED Light Strips

LED stands for “light emitting diode.” LED strip lights contain a series of tiny diodes lined up along a flexible circuit board. The diodes are coated in a special epoxy resin for protection. Here are the other main components:

LED Diodes

The light-emitting diodes are the light source. Different color LEDs can be used, like white, red, blue, etc. Higher-density LEDs result in brighter light output.

Conductive Copper Pads

These pads distribute electricity along the strip and power each individual LED diode.


Current-limiting resistors prevent issues from overheating and regulate voltage across each LED.

Protective Casing

The waterproof silicone or plastic covering protects the components from weather and impacts. Outdoor strips need fully waterproof casings.

Adhesive Backing

The 3M adhesive allows for direct installation onto surfaces. It can be removed and re-stuck for repositioning.

Connecting Wires

Wires at each end connect to the power supply. Some include connectors to link multiple strips together.

How LED Strips Produce Light

LED strip lights work using a very straightforward electrical process:

  • Electricity flows from the power supply into and along the copper pads printed on the flexible circuit board.
  • This power is distributed evenly across the strip, with resistors regulating the voltage to each LED diode.
  • When the diodes receive electricity, they emit photons which produce visible light.
  • The color of light depends on the semiconductor materials used inside the diode. White LEDs mix blue light with yellow phosphor to create a natural white glow.
  • More LEDs in a denser arrangement emit more light for brighter illumination.
  • The flexible circuit can be cut between modules without harming the other functioning LEDs. Each section gets direct power.
  • Waterproof casings prevent short-circuiting and current leaks that could damage the components.
  • Controllers allow adjustment of lighting effects, color, dimming, and automated schedules.

So in summary, electricity powers the series of LEDs to emit various colors of light. The modular sections allow for convenient installation in any shape.

Installation Tips for LED Strip Lights

Installing LED strip lights is generally quick and simple. Here are some tips for proper indoor and outdoor placement:

Indoor Installation

  • Thoroughly clean and dry the mounting surface. The LED strip won’t adhere as well to dirty or wet areas.
  • Remove the adhesive backing and firmly press along the strip’s entire length. Apply even pressure to maximize hold.
  • For permanent fixtures, use mounting clips or tracks to reinforce adhesive and prevent sagging.
  • To link strips, carefully line up copper pads and connectors without bending or twisting.

Outdoor Installation

  • Choose strips rated for outdoor use with waterproof casings to prevent shorts.
  • Fix firmly to surfaces using screws, tracks, or silicone adhesive caulk for the strongest hold.
  • Use watertight connectors and seal link points with silicone. Avoid exposing wiring.
  • Check local codes for any restrictions when installing outdoor lighting fixtures.

Proper placement and adhesion will keep LED strips securely mounted in any location while protecting against weather and impacts.

Powering and Operating LED Strips

LED strip lights need direct current (DC) electricity at 12 or 24 volts. Hooking them up is straightforward:

  • Use a compatible DC power supply. Select a wattage to match the strip’s rated wattage.
  • Connect the supply’s low-voltage wires to the terminals or solder pads at the strip’s end.
  • Ensure correct polarity – positive to positive, negative to negative. Reversed wires can damage the LEDs.
  • Connect multiple strips in parallel to the supply. Do not exceed its rated output capacity.
  • Limit the length to prevent voltage drop. 10-15m is ideal for most 12V strips.
  • Use a controller to adjust lighting effects, scheduling, color changes, dimming, etc.

With the right power supply and careful wiring, LED strips can produce perfect lighting effects for any space. Properly limiting length and following ratings preserves the lifespan of the LEDs.

The Benefits of LED Light Strips

There are many good reasons LED strip lighting has become a top choice for decorative and task lighting:

  • Energy Efficient – LEDs consume up to 90% less power than incandescent bulbs.
  • Long-Lasting – LED strips can last over 50,000 hours with little luminance decrease over time.
  • Cool Operation – LEDs produce very little heat compared to other lighting.
  • Flexible and Thin Design – Strips can fit almost anywhere and take up little space.
  • Durable – With no filaments or glass, LED strips are rugged and resistant to impacts.
  • Bright Output – High-density LEDs produce bright, vibrant illumination.
  • Color Options – Choose from warm, cool, or colored lighting effects.
  • Dimmable – Many LED strips can be paired with dimmer controllers.

With efficiency, versatility, and an incredibly long service life, it’s easy to see why LED strip lights are the top pick for accent lighting, display cases, cove lighting, and more.


LED strip lights provide a flexible, energy-efficient lighting solution perfect for accenting, displaying, or illuminating any residential or commercial space. Their simple modular design allows for easy shaping, linking, and installation in any location. By following proper setup and placement guidelines, LED strips can produce perfect lighting effects for many years given their extremely long lifespan. From powering options to optimal mounting, this guide covers the key factors in successfully operating LED strip lights in any lighting project.

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