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LED light strips are a great option if you’re looking for an affordable way to transform your living space, turn a drab deck into the perfect entertainment spot, or even light up your closet. We examined dozens of LED light strips from all the top manufacturers, looking at important factors like brightness and LED density, style and type of LEDs, features, and control methods to find the best option for various scenarios.
The Govee Smart Wi-Fi RGBWW LED Strip Light is our top overall recommendation because of its tightly packed LEDs, use of both colored and white LEDs, and easy integration into many smart home systems.
Here are the best LED light strips for your home, deck, and car.
Best Overall: Govee Smart WiFi RGBWW LED Strip Lights
Bright and colorful
White and warm-white LEDs
Lots of control options
Can’t set white or warm-white with voice controls
Finicky LED color settings when using white LEDs
Govee is well known for feature-packed LED lighting at affordable prices. The Govee Smart Wi-Fi RGBWW LED Strip Lights is our top pick overall for the best LED light strip because it has all the features needed to work just about anywhere in your home. These strips are bright enough to use in the kitchen or living room, but the built-in dimmer and RGB (red, green, and blue) lighting effect options make them a decent choice for bedrooms.
These light strips come in a 9.8-foot length and put out more than enough brightness for mood lighting while being right on the edge for functional lighting. That means you’ll probably still have to rely on your traditional lighting in some situations, but you might be surprised at how little you reach for the light switch.
Aside from the great value, the best thing about Govee Smart Wi-Fi RGBWW LED Strip Lights is the flexibility you get with RGBWW LEDs. Strips with this configuration include alternating RGB, white, and warm-white LEDs. So if you’re looking for some colorful mood lighting, the RGB LEDs do the heavy lifting, but if you want more natural, warm light, the white LEDs switch on.
These strips also offer versatile controls, including Wi-Fi connectivity, a smartphone app, and the option to control them with your Amazon Echo or Google Home speaker. Smart home integration also allows you to set the strips to come on or switch color at specific times of the day or based on other triggers. The white and warm white LEDs can be difficult to manipulate using smart home voice controls, but you can always fall back on using the app if you experience any issues.
Best Budget: TJOY LED Strip Lights with 44 Key Remote
Uses bright, colorful 5050 LEDs
Great price for basic functionality
Built-in tape doesn’t adhere well
No lumen rating
No app or smart home control
TJOY LED Strip Lights provide the best value if you’re working on a tight budget. When you look at the cost per foot for these strip lights, many of our top recommendations are as much as ten times more expensive. The stripped-down TJOY lights are a little light on features, such as app control, but you can’t beat the value.
These strips use super bright 5050 LEDs, come with a power adapter, and include a remote that lets you set a specific color or access a handful of programs like flashing or gradually changing colors. You can’t control the strips with a phone app or your smart home speaker, and TJOY doesn’t provide some key information, like exactly how bright the strips are, but you have to expect some cut corners to get a value this good.
Best Splurge: Philips Hue Bluetooth Gradient Ambiance Smart Lightstrip
Quick and easy setup
Bluetooth app control
Plug in additional strips without cutting or splicing
Works with smart home systems
Multiple versions on the market that aren’t compatible
Cutting and splicing is difficult
The Philips Hue Bluetooth Gradient Lightstrip is expensive, but it’s well worth the splurge if you have room in your budget and don’t want to deal with any hassles. These strips are easy to install, and they have plug-and-play electrical connectors that allow you to attach additional strips. You can technically cut and splice just like any other LED strip, but there’s no need. The base kit starts at 6 feet, and then you can add additional strips in 3-feet increments.
These strips are a little dim to replace all the lights in your living room or bedroom, but they can get close when set to a bright white color temperature. You can also set a wide variety of colors, and the gradient feature allows you to set two colors at once that gradually meet in the middle. The only downside of this product is that Philips sells two different versions that aren’t compatible. When you buy the base kit, check whether you have version three or version four, and then buy expansion strips that match that same version.
Best Outdoor: HitLights Outdoor LED Strip Lights
Even light distribution
Doesn’t include a power adapter
No built-in controls
Included tape doesn’t stick to all surfaces
Installing LED light strips outside isn’t that different from installing them inside, but you need to worry about the elements. HighLights Outdoor LED Strip Lights have an IP67 water-resistance rating, the second-highest rating for protection against liquids. That means these light strips are perfectly safe to use in the rain. You can even submerge them in water to a depth of up to 1 meter.
These lights are bright enough to provide a comfortable lighting level at night, with about 165 to 195 lumens per foot. The package includes a 16.4-foot reel of LED lights, and you can cut that to size or splice in more if necessary. If you do so, it’s important to seal up the tube that encases the light strip, or it will no longer be waterproof. This kit doesn’t come with built-in controls or a power supply either, which means you need to buy, wire, and install one yourself or consult with a professional installer.
Best for TVs: HitLights 4 Pre-Cut LED Light Strips
Works for any size television
Bright and colorful
No app control
No option to buy just additional strips to expand your project
If you want to add some accent lights to the back of your TV, a Pre-Cut LED Light Strip kit from HitLights takes all the guesswork out of the process. The kit includes four pre-cut strips, four flexible connectors with clips, and a power source. There’s no need to do any measuring, cutting, or splicing, as all you have to do is snap the pre-cut strips together with the connectors.
One of HitLights’ pre-cut light strip kits is all you need for smaller and medium-sized televisions, but you can easily connect a second kit if you have a larger TV. These kits are also perfect for shelf and cabinet lighting, and anywhere you need short light strips that can be snapped together quickly by flexible connectors. The kit includes a remote, but there’s no option for app control or integration with your smart home.
Best for Bedrooms: Sengled Smart Zigbee Multicolor Light Strip
Separate white LEDs
Requires a base station
The Sengled Smart Zigbee Multicolor Light Strip is an excellent lighting choice for bedrooms and other rooms where you’d like to have multicolor mood lighting with the option for true white lighting as well. These are RGBW light strips, which means they have color-changing LEDs to provide colorful mood lighting and dedicated white LEDs for white light. Pure RGB lights have trouble producing white light that isn’t noticeably shifted to one part of the spectrum, so the dedicated white LEDs in RGBW strips address that problem.
Unlike many other light strips, the Sengled Smart Zigbee Multicolor Light Strip requires a base station if you want to connect it to your smart home. That does result in a mark against this light strip since it represents an extra expense, but it also comes with a hidden benefit. If you want to add LED light strips to a bedroom that’s a little far away from your wireless router, where a standard light strip wouldn’t be able to connect, you can place the base station somewhere between the two and not have to worry about how weak the Wi-Fi network is in your bedroom.
Best for Closets: SENSKY Motion Activated LED Strip Lights
Choice of warm or cool white
Battery doesn’t stand up to heavy use
Included adhesive velcro may damage surfaces
Sensky’s Motion Activated LED Strip Lights are perfect for closets and other applications where you don’t have easy access to a power outlet. You can pull off and charge the rechargeable battery unit that supplies power to these light strips whenever it runs down. The battery unit has a switch you can use to turn the lights on manually or set it to auto, and the light will turn on whenever it detects motion.
These lights are great for closets because you don’t need to worry about wiring them to a power source, and they switch on automatically whenever you open the closet. They’re also great for use in cabinets and other similar spaces for the same reason. The battery tends to drain quickly when used in high traffic areas, but it has a standard Micro USB connection that allows you to connect to a USB power bank to extend the time between charges.
Best for Car Interiors: Govee RGBIC Smart Car LED Strip Lights
High density RGBIC LEDs
Built-in microphone for music sync
Limited ability to connect multiple kits together
Govee doesn’t disclose lumens
Govee’s Smart Car LED Strip Lights include four high-density light strips that use RGBIC LEDs, which means you can set separate colors for each strip or even each LED. Each strip in this kit can be placed under the dash or seats of your car, and they’re powered by a 12-volt barrel connector that you can plug into your cigarette lighter socket. They can be switched on and off manually or controlled via Bluetooth by an app on your phone.
Each of the nearly foot-long light strips has 18 LEDs. Govee doesn’t disclose the lumen output of the strip, which would be a concern, but that high density is sure to impress in a small enclosed area like a car. Thanks to a built-in microphone, the lights can even pulse and change in time with your music. The only real issue is that you can’t string together multiple strips if you have a larger vehicle. If you need more lights, you need to plug a second kit into a different cigarette lighter or accessory socket, or solder directly into your car’s electrical system.
The Govee Smart Wi-Fi RGBWW LED Strip Light is a feature-packed, flexible option that’s well-suited for use in bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens, and a variety of other spaces. They integrate well into smart home systems, and you can control as many additional strips with the same Govee app as you need. If you have more room in the budget and want a light strip that’s as gorgeous as it is easy to install, you can’t beat the Philips Hue Bluetooth Gradient Lightstrip.
What to Look for in LED Light Strips
Measure your wall, shelf, cabinet, television, or wherever you plan on installing the LED strip and try to find a product that matches your project as closely as possible. While many LED strips can be cut and spliced, it’s faster, easier, and safer to use the correct length from the start. If you want to be able to add more lights to the end of your strip later on, consider a product that allows that. Some LED light strips and tube lights have connectors specifically meant to expand in the future. You can splice others to increase the length but check first to see if the included power supply can handle additional strips.
When considering the brightness of an LED light strip, the important figure to look for is lumens per foot. Unlike a traditional light bulb, where you can just look at the bulb's lumens to see how bright it will be, the overall brightness of an LED light strip depends on both the brightness of the individual LEDs and how closely packed they are on the strip. “When shopping for LED light strips, definitely look at LEDs per foot,” says David Walter, Master Electrician of Electrician Mentor. “Basically, you want the highest. And in my opinion, it pays to invest in this aspect even if it costs more money because you'll have a higher quality result.”
Different applications call for different levels of brightness as well. Bedrooms and living rooms call for about 250 to 500 lumens per foot, while cabinet and closet lighting strips can go as low as 175 lumens. If your LED light strips are meant solely for mood lighting, 100 lumens might even do the trick.
When selecting a brightness, brighter is typically better. There’s clearly no reason to buy a 500+ lumens per foot strip just for mood lighting, but what if you change your mind and want something brighter in the future? If you end up with a light strip that’s too bright, you can always install a dimmer, and some even have a dim function built right in.
There are many ways to operate an LED light strip after installation, so it’s good to give that some thought ahead of time. The most common options include strips with a physical switch, strips that operate via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, motion-controlled strips, and physically wiring your LED light strips to a wall switch or dimmer.
Stick with wireless strips if you’re looking for the simplest do-it-yourself option. Look for an LED light strip with a phone app or one that works with your smart home. Several of our recommendations work with Amazon Echo and Google Home, and some even work with Apple HomeKit.
How long do LED light strips last?
You may have heard that LED light strips can last up to 50,000 hours, and that’s technically true. The main issue is that LEDs slowly lose brightness over time. After running for 50,000 hours, LEDs are typically about 70 percent as bright as they were originally. In practice, LED light strips usually don’t last quite that long. The adhesive may fail and need patching, and the power supply may fail before the actual LEDs. Most LED light strips offer a one- or two-year warranty.
What’s the best way to install LED light strips?
Most LED light strips come with an adhesive or double-sided tape already applied, so that’s the easiest installation method. However, Master Electrician Dan Belanger cautions to stay away from lower-quality “LED ‘tape’ because it never sticks properly and will come loose eventually.”
For the best installation experience, you can use LED light strip clips or look for strips that use 3M double-sided tape. If you’re installing a light strip that uses an inferior adhesive, you may consider applying 3M tape right on top of the existing adhesive. Then you can use the 3M tape to adhere your light strips to the mounting surface.
Can LED light strips be hardwired to a light switch?
You can hardwire LED light strips to a light switch, but it usually isn’t necessary. Most LED light strips run on 12 or 24 volts and use a power adapter that you plug into your wall outlet. “I suggest finding something either 12V or 24V, which is considered extra-low voltage,” says Belanger.
To wire that kind of LED light strip to a light switch, you need to obtain a separate transformer and wire the transformer to the light switch. In that case, you’re usually better off consulting with a professional electrician. “It's my recommendation that you use a qualified electrician for the installation,” says Walter. “That way you'll ensure the job is done right.”
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Jeremy Laukkonen, a freelance writer and product tester for The Spruce. He’s had firsthand installing and using LED strip lights in his own home and has over a decade of experience reviewing electronics for outlets like Lifewire and Digital Trends, in addition to The Spruce.
To evaluate and choose the best LED light strips, Jeremy looked at factors like LED density, lumens, strip length, ease of modification, controls, and connectivity. Other factors, like IP67 certification, were given heavy consideration for specific categories, like the best outdoor LED light strips and the best LED strip lights for your car.
To gain a deeper understanding of LED light strips, what to look for, and insight on home installation, Jeremy spoke with David Walter, Master Electrician and CEO of Electrician Mentor, and Dan Belanger, Master Electrician and co-owner of 4Wire Electrical. Using their expert insights, he looked for low-voltage LED light strips that had the right brightness, LED density, features, and connectivity for various rooms and settings.