LED Strip Light Buyer’s Guide

LED Strip Lighting is quite literally the most flexible lighting solution available, not only can it bend around corners it can even be cut to length and includes adhesive backing.

Previous Beam LED customers have bought enough LED Strip Light to cover the distance of Hadrian’s Wall. It’s been used for mirrors, shelving, cabinets, decking, and even a home Cinema. Along the way we’ve been asked thousands of questions, here we’ll answer the most popular.

hadrians wall

BeamLED customers have bought enough Strip Lighting to span a distance further than Hadrian’s Wall (approx 139km)


Strip Light Kits

LED Strip Light Kits are designed to take the hassle out of your Strip Light shopping, they’re often cheaper than buying individual parts, too! Kits contain everything you need to get up and running, including any necessary plugs, connectors, and controllers.

Kits are perfect for most installations, however, often a custom kit is necessary – read on to discover how to create your own custom kit.

led strip light kit

LED Strip Light Kits provide a simple Plug & Play solution, you’ll be up and running in no time

Custom Strip Lighting Solutions

When it comes to LED Strip Lights, the options truly are endless. Pre-made kits are great for many applications, however, often the perfect solution requires more of a pick & mix approach.

When coming up with a custom kit, there are five main components to consider, each of which can vary depending on your needs.

Single Colour RGB Information
1 LED Strip Light Required Required Provided in lengths of 5 metres, but can be cut to size or extended
2 Power Supply Required Required Available with and without plugs, up to 150W
3 Controllers & Dimmers Optional Required RGB Strip Lights require a remote, this enables colour switching
4 Connector(s) Optional Optional Use connectors to extend or customise
5 Strip Light Casing Optional Optional Recommended if the Strip Lights are not hidden away

Component 1: LED Strip Light

A LED strip light consists of a narrow length of flexible printed circuit board with small but very bright surface mounted LEDs fixed to it. The current (voltage) is fed through the circuit board from one end of the strip light, lighting the LEDs. The circuit board is specially printed so that it can be cut every three LEDs and therefore customisable to any length you desire. All Biard LED strip lights are coated with a 3M adhesive on the underside so it can be fixed in place easily and quickly.

Anatomy of an LED Strip Light

Anatomy of an LED Strip Light

There are three main options when choosing a LED Strip Light:

LED Size – LEDs are available as 3.5mm x 2.8mm (regular, bright) or 5mm x 5mm (large, very bright)

The brightness of the 3528 strip lighting greatly differs to the 5050 as the LED on the 5050 strip light is almost twice the size.

Another difference between the 3528 and the 5050 is the quantity of energy (wattage) required. The 3528 strip light needs 4.8 watts per metre to run at full brightness and the 5050 needs 14.8 watts of energy per metre to run at full brightness. Consider per metre wattages when choosing a power supply, more on that below.

Lastly, the width of the Strip (the flexible printed circuit board) itself differs depending on the size of the LED:

  • 5050 LEDs sit on a 10mm Strip
  • 3528 LEDs sit on an 8mm Strip

LED Colour – Strip Lights are available in Cool White, Warm White & RGB

  • Warm White: This is a soft warm yellowish colour very similar to a traditional light bulb, ideal for living areas
  • Cool White: This is a crisp bright white colour that is ideal for kitchens and areas that need to be brightly lit
  • RGB: Red, Green and Blue
  • RGBW: Red, Green, Blue and White

Note, whilst RGB Strip Lights do have a White function, RGBW provides a true white, similar to an ordinary LED Bulb.

3528 LED Strip Lights. Note how each individual LED Chip is only capable of a single colour.

3528 LED Strip Lights. Note how each individual LED Chip is only capable of a single colour.


3528 LED Strip Lights. Note how each individual LED Chip is only capable of a single colour.

5050 LED Strip Lights. Each LED Chip is capable of thousands of colours.


Waterproof (IP) Rating – different waterproof ratings are available depending on your application

IP (Ingress Protection) ratings describe how well a product can prevent solid objects and water from entering (and potentially damaging) a product.

We provide three IP ratings, ranging from non-waterproof to submersible.

  • IP20 Strip Lights – For indoor use only, IP20 Strip Lights are not waterproof in any way
  • IP65 Strip Lights – Protected from dripping, splashing, and even water jets. IP65 rated lights are not recommended for powerful jets or submersion
  • IP67 Strip Lights – Protected up to IP65 however, IP67 lighting can also withstand powerful jets and submersion up to 1 metre

Ready to look for a LED Stip Light? Start by selecting an IP Rating here.

Component 2: Power Supply

The power supply, also known as a driver or transformer, plugs directly into the Strip Lights. The power supply is then plugged or wired into the mains electricity. It’s the power supply’s job to convert (transform) the mains voltage to 12V.

The wattage of a power supply is an indication of its range. A 100W power supply can really power up to 100W, a 100W power supply will power a 60W setup just fine.

Our 60W Power Supply comes with a plug, perfect for quick installs around desks or beds.

For a cleaner appearance, it’s common to wire a power supply directly to a switch, hiding the power supply away from plain sight. For this, we recommend power supplies without a plug, which can power Strip Lights up to 150W.

Shop Power Supplies

Component 3: Remote Controls & Dimmers

Required for RGB Strip Lights, Otherwise Optional

RGB Strip Lights require a remote control but are optional for Warm White and Cool White varieties.

Dimmers are also available for single-colour Strip Lights. The dimmer is connected inline between the power supply and strip light. The dimmer can also be used as an on/off function.

With RGB Strip Lights, the remote will determine the spectrum of colours available. A 24 key remote will allow 16 colours, whereas a more advanced touch remote allows thousands of colours. Note for a wider colour spectrum, we recommend 5050 (5mm x 5mm) RGB LED Strip Lights.

Component 4: Cables & Connectors

Every installation is unique, in order to allow as much flexibility as possible cables & connectors are also available. Cables are often used to bridge gaps or go around corners, whilst connectors do exactly that: they connect Strip Lights together.


  • LED Size – 3528 LEDs are housed on an 8mm Strip, whilst 5050 LEDs are housed on a 10mm Strip; the connector will need to match the width of the strip
  • Strip Light Colour – an RGB connector is required for RGB Strip Lighting
  • Waterproof Rating – for a fully waterproof system, any connections will also need to be waterproof
  • Connections – no soldering iron necessary. Strip Lights are connected via plugs and clips


Left to right: the 3528 X-Shaped Connector is designed for 3528 Strip Lights. The 2 to 1 connector means it's possible to power two strip lights from a single supply of power. Connect to controllers with the Strip to Controller connector.

Left to right: the 3528 X-Shaped 8mm Connector is designed for 3528 8mm Strip Lights. The 2 to 1 connector means it’s possible to power two strip lights from a single supply of power. Connect to controllers with the Strip to Controller connector.

Component 5: Strip Light Casing

Although the flexible circuit board nature of Strip Lights has many benefits, it is hardly lauded for its aesthetic appeal. This isn’t a problem when hidden behind cabinets or under shelves, but sometimes the Strip Lights need to be in plain sight.

On such an occasion, Strip Light casing (also known as Aluminium Profiles) provide a sleek, modern façade.


Strip Light Casing provides a modern, sleek look.

Strip Light Casing provides a modern, sleek look.

Installation & Safety

Basic installation is simple, just 4 steps for single colour LED Strip Lights and 5 steps for RGB varieties.

Single-colour LED Strip Light Installation

How to install single-colour LED Strip Lights

How to install single-colour LED Strip Lights


RGB LED Strip Light Installation

How to install RGB LED Strip Lights

How to install RGB LED Strip Lights


Safety Information

When dealing with electricity, safety is paramount.

We’ve written a full guide here, but ensure Power Supplies (Drivers):

  • Have all the correct certification
  • Plugs (if present) conform to BS 1363 and are three-pin

If in doubt, hire a professional.

Questions & Answers

Do LED Strip Lights require a Power Supply?

Strip Lights require a 12V input. If the input is not 12V (UK mains electricity is 230V) a 12V Power Supply is required.

Ready-made Strip Light Kits come bundled with a Power Supply but they are also sold separately.

If Strip Lights are powered by a 12V source, such as a 12V battery (common in Caravans) a Power Supply will not be required.

Can LED Strip Lights be plugged directly into the mains?

As LED Strip Lights are 12 Volt they cannot be plugged directly into the mains. They require a 12V power supply.

Are LED Strip Lights waterproof?

“Ordinary” IP20 Strip Lights are not waterproof however, waterproof Strip Lighting is available to varying degrees:

  • IP65 – Waterproof, however, avoid powerful jets of water and do not submerge
  • IP67 – As above, however, IP67 products can withstand both powerful water jets and submersion up to 1 metre

Can LED Strip Lights be used outdoors?

Yes! Strip Lights are commonly used as a flexible Outdoor Lighting solution, just ensure:

  • The Strip Lights themselves are waterproof (IP65 or above, depending on location)
  • The connections and power supply are either waterproof or in a waterproof environment

Are LED Strip Lights Dimmable?

Yes, just connect a dimmer or remote.

Please note a dimmer created for an ordinary light bulb may not work with LED Strip Lights. A Strip Light dimmer needs to function by altering voltage, whereas some dimmers function by altering wattage. All of the dimmers and remotes supplied by BeamLED are of course compatible.

What is the difference between 5050 and 3528 LEDs?

There are three differences:

  • Size – a 5050 LED is 5mm x 5mm whereas a 3528 LED is smaller, at 3.5mm x 2.8mm
  • Strip Width – 5050 LEDs sit on a 10mm Strip, 3528 LEDs sit on an 8mm Strip
  • Colour – RGB Strip Lights differ depending on LED Size. 5050 RGB LEDs can produce thousands of colours, whilst 3528 chips are limited to just three. The three colours produced by 3528 LEDs can be mixed producing different effects, but we always recommend 5050 RGB LEDs

What is the lifespan of LED Strip Lights?

LED Strip Lights will last up to 40,000 hours or around 14 years based on 8 hours’ usage per day

See product pages for exact specifications.

Are LED Strip Lights cuttable?

Yes, just be sure to cut where clearly marked.


LED Strip Lights can be cut, just ensure cuts are made where designated.

LED Strip Lights can be cut, just ensure cuts are made where designated.

How many times can LED Strip Lights be stuck to new surfaces?

We recommend sticking LED Strip Lights to a single surface, otherwise the adhesive will lose effectiveness.

Clean any surfaces with an alcohol based solution then wipe with a dry cloth before sticking LED Strip Lights.

Note it isn’t possible to stick Strip Lights to some surfaces such as untreated wood or brick.

What’s the difference between LED Tape and LED Strip?

The two terms are used interchangeably.

What are some signs of high-quality Strip Lights?

We believe reviews provide the best indication. Beam LED, for example, are rated 9.3 out of 10 or “Excellent” on Trustpilot, a 3rd party independent review service.

Equally, keep an eye out for certification.

Strip Lights, controllers and dimmers should be EMC and RoHS certified. Power Supplies should be EMC, LVD and RoHS certified.

Wrapping Up

Custom Strip Light installations can be tricky, just remember we’re always available to offer free advice. Email us here or call us on 0333 920 4062.

Ready to go? Shop LED Strip Lights Now.