LED Strip Customizer
if you can see this you’re a wizard!
Having LED Strip UL Listed means that the product has been tested and meets specific requirements based on UL’s published and nationally recognized Standards for Safety.
Chip Type/ Protocol
LED chipsets each have their strengths, weaknesses, and ideal applications. With the guide below and the chipset feature matrix available here, our goal is to give you the information you need to make intelligent choices about the addressable chipset that is right for your project.
Analog LED chips behave in the same all the way down the strip. There is no individual control, what you do to one happens on all of the LED pixels. It is still possible to control the color and intensity of analog LED strips with controllers that convert DMX to a PWM signal (PWM or pulse-width modulation is how color and brightness are controlled in an LED). Useful for accent lighting or to illuminate large areas where a lot of light is needed and resolution is not the primary concern. Incredibly versatile, these LEDs come in all manner of sizes, shapes, and form factors. If one LED fails, it will not affect the other LED’s on the strip.
Based on the WS2812b (one of the most common addressable LED chips on the market) these pixels offer individual control of the RGB(W) channels of each LED. They are inexpensive and mass-produced but have a slower PWM frequency making them unsuitable for applications where smooth motion and lots of dynamic range is required in the patterns being played across them (such as dimming the strip down in brightness and still expecting to get smooth color and motion). It is one of the most versatile chipsets, available in a wide range of sizes and configurations, however, if one LED fails the remainder of the LEDs on the strip will stop functioning. Only available in 5v for individual addressability, they may be grouped for 12v and 24v operation.
A successor to the WS2812b, the 2813 features a much higher PWM frequency (2000Hz). This means that the WS2813 produces excellent display effects, with no flickering appearing in HD video cameras. It also makes use of a failover wire which allows the remainder of the LED pixels to continue to operate if a preceding LED in the chain fails. Only available in 5v for individually addressable LEDs, they may be grouped for 12v and 24v operation.
This chipset resides off of the LED pixel and is integrated into the strip before or after a group of LEDs. Like the 2813, it has a failover line however it runs natively at 12v making it particularly useful for making extra wide LED strip (with more than one LED next to each other on the flexPCB) that runs at 12v. per group of LEDs. 24v. configurations can be made by grouping 2 LEDs in series (as in double-wide LED strip).
These LED pixels use a clock line in addition to the data line allowing them to offer a much faster PWM and data rate than 3-wire LED chips. They are ideal for high-precision applications where speed and high refresh rates are paramount. They are fast, reliable, and can be used in a range of applications. If one LED fails, the remainder of the LEDs on the strip will stop functioning. Only available in 5v for individual addressability, they may be grouped for 12v and 24v operation.
One of our favorite addressable LED chips, the GS8208 is one the best performing addressable LED pixels to natively run at 12v. Practically, this means it’s possible to have an individually addressable LED strip that operates at 12v. Ideal in situations where long runs of LED strip are needed and compromising the resolution of the installation is unacceptable. It has a fast PWM rate for smooth fades and also features a failover wire which allows the remainder of the LED pixels to continue to operate if a preceding LED in the chain fails.
This chipset resides off of the LED pixel and is integrated into the strip before or after a group of LEDs. It’s a robust and fast LED chip which allows you to easily group LED’s of many different types to make addressable LED strip that operates at 5v, 12v, or 24v with RGB, RGBW, RGB-Tunable White, or Tuneable White pixels. More fragile than strip featuring pixels with chips integrated inside the LED, it allows more flexibility in terms of color channels and voltage ranges. If you need high-speed addressable RGBW then this strip’s for you.
This is a new LED chipset that comes in a tiny 2mm x 2mm (2020 package). Similar in performance characteristics to the APA102, it makes use of a data and a clock line but can be integrated into a super-thin 3mm wide LED strip. The pixel density of strip using these LED pixels can be up to 250 pixels per meter! Useful for super-detailed applications where resolution is of the highest importance. Only available in 5v for individual addressability, they may be grouped for 12v and 24v operation. If one LED fails, the remainder of the LEDs on the strip will stop functioning.
This is another new LED chipset that has a very high PWM rate (27kHz) and data speed. This makes it ideal for applications like POV (persistence of vision), automotive or roadside applications, film and TV, or any application where the viewer or pixel is moving quickly. It is only available in a 5mm x 5mm (5050) form factor, has no failover-wire, and has a native operating voltage of 5v, meaning to achieve higher operating voltage you must group them together.
LED Chip Size
The LED Chip size is the form factor of the LED diode that is integrated into the LED strip. The form factor helps to determine how tightly packed the LEDs can be (pixel density), how wide the flexPCB strip needs to be to accommodate the LED chips (the bigger the LED the wider the strip needs to be), whether the LED controller chip is integrated right into the LED itself or is located on the flexPCB in-line with the LEDs, how much light output each individual LED can provide, and other factors too involved to get into in this short description.
5050 refers to an LED which is 5mm x 5mm. It is the most common addressable LED form factor and allows for pixel density up to 140 pixels per meter (depending on chipset). Typically a 5050 LED will draw .2 watts of power but this can vary depending on the chipset.
3535 refers to an LED which is 3.5mm x 3.5mm. It is a less common form factor than the 5050, but there are several addressable chipsets available in this size. It is possible to reduce the flexPCB width to 6mm using this LED strip.
2835 refers to an LED which is 2.8mm x 3.5mm. Most commonly available in single-color LED, they generally consume about 0.06 watts per diode and output.
2040-side refers to an LED which is 2.0mm x 4.0mm and emits from the side (perpendicular to the plane of the LED strip. Only available in analog RGB and SK6812 addressable chipsets it’s the solution for situations when you need to emit light along the bend-edge of the LED strip.
Addressable LEDs are just now starting to be released in the 2020 form factor (2mm x 2mm). Ultra-small, and low power consumption allows diodes to be placed in densities up to 250 pixels per meter.
Vert Pixel Density (Per Meter)
This refers to how tightly packed the LED’s are arranged along the length of the LED strip. The density depends on the size of the LED, how much power they require, whether they require additional components to be mounted on the flexPCB outside of the LED chip, among others.
Horizontal LED Count
It is possible to create custom flexPCB which will accommodate more than one LED across the width of the strip. LEDs arranged horizontally across the width of a strip are grouped together in terms of addressability. For example, in certain circumstances, if might be beneficial to have groups of 3 LED’s doing the same thing for added brightness. Creating a wider LED strip with these 3-LED groups arranged next to each other would maintain the vertical resolution of the strip while adding additional brightness. The more LED’s which are arranged horizontally, the higher the power density (therefore heat) is produced.
*Not all arrangements are physically possible, contact to inquire about your specific needs.
Color channels refer to the number of individual emitters packed inside an LED package. An RGB LED contains 3 emitters inside. An RGBW LED contains 4. It is now possible to have 5 and more emitters inside a single 5050 LED package (an example of this would be RGB+Tuneable White). The channels don’t have to be traditional colors like RGB, they can be temperatures of white light (an example of this would be the 2-channel tuneable white). We can also produce LED strip with UVA (blacklight) LEDs and certified UVC (germicidal) LEDs. The control system you chose must be able to support the number of color channels in the LEDs.
IP Rating describes the protective rubber housing (or lack thereof) in which the LED strip is packaged. The IP levels generally correspond to the amount of protection they provide.
IP20 describes the lack of any rubber protection over the LED strip. Suitable for dry, indoor use only.
IP65 describes a half-round layer of silicone glue that covers only the top of the LED strip. This is generally not suitable for outdoor use but protects the LEDs from dirt and minor physical impact.
IP67 describes a rectangular silicone rubber tube that the flex PCB slides into. The ends of the tube are generally capped with silicone sealant to create a water-resistant package. Once cut, the seal is broken and will need to be sealed again by the user, voiding the warranty.
IP68 comes encased in the same silicone rubber tube as described above but filled with silicone glue all the way through. This creates a submersible product that is truly waterproof. It also handles physical shock better than any other IP level.
Neon-Flex is not really an IP rating, but rather a type of rubber housing that creates an even glow along the length of the strip. If you’re looking for an outdoor LED product to create clean lines of glowing light, this option is for you!
Sizes below are only applicable for standard width LED strip.
VHB is a double-sided adhesive used to stick the LED strip onto surfaces. We specify our manufacturer uses genuine 3M VHB and not the low-quality alternatives we see failing on so many other installs.
The flexible PCB that the LEDs are mounted to can be made completely black or completely white to suit the needs of your project.
Describes the width of the flexPCB that the LED’s mount to. The necessary width of the strip will hinge on which LED chipset is chosen, the form factor of those LEDs, how many LEDs are arranged horizontally, and the power requirements of the arrangement of LEDs on the board.
The operating voltage of the LED strip affects how much current (amperage) is drawn by the system, how frequently new power needs to be injected into the system, the voltage drop occurring along the wires, and the strip itself. A full tutorial of this is too long for this section but we are able to help you with these calculations.
Addressable LED chips are most commonly available in 5v. There are some chipsets that operate at 12v. To achieve higher voltage operation using 5v LED chips, the LEDs are grouped in 3s or 6s (for 12v and 24v respectively). This increases the operating voltage but decreases the vertical resolution of the strip.