Strip lights are becoming a lot more popular when lighting your home because they’re so flexible.
You can use them almost anywhere, provided there’s a power source close by, which lets you get really creative with how you choose to light different parts of the room.
And while you can attach them to almost any surface, you need to bear in mind the width of the strip.
It’s no good adding a strip to a surface if it’s going to overhang on the edges or simply won’t fit into a recessed area, especially if you’re buying a channel to hide the strip.
You need to know that it’ll fit.
Most LED strip lights are 10mm wide – around 3/8 of an inch – regardless of the size of the LED chip used. You can sometimes find wider strips up to 15mm or 9/16″ wide, while thinner strips are less common but do exist.
Let’s delve a little deeper into that. I’ll explain:
- Whether LED strips usually differ in width
- The width of a 5050 and a 2835 strip
- Whether wider strips consume more energy
- Why the width of a strip matters
Do Strip Lights Differ In Width?
LED strip lights are produced by many different manufacturers and aren’t always created to the exact same specification.
However, many of them stick to the same width for their LED strips, which is 10mm or 3/8″ wide, which is comfortably enough room to fit the various sizes of an LED chip on them and provide effective heat dissipation.
One of the most popular brands to differ from this is Philips Hue (Amazon). Their light strips measure 14-15mm wide or around 9/16″.
That doesn’t mean they’re the only brand that’s different though, and you can find strips that are as little as 5mm wide (3/16”) while 12mm width strips aren’t super uncommon either.
How Wide Is 5050 And 2835 LED Strips?
So, one question is whether the size of an LED chip affects the width of the strip.
Not all LED chips are the same size, with some being 2835, others being 5050, while 3528 is still widespread.
There are other sizes too, but these are the three most common.
These digits refer to the size of the LED chip in millimeters – a 5050 chip is 5.0mm by 5.0mm, while a 2835 strip has LED chips that are 2.8mm by 3.5mm.
So, does a 5050 light strip automatically have to be wider to accommodate the larger chip?
Many 5050 strips still measure 10mm wide – there’s plenty of space to accommodate the 5mm chip on a 10mm strip.
Some manufacturers prefer to put 5050 chips onto a wider 12mm or 14mm strip because the extra space can help with heat dissipation.
By having extra enforced space around the LED chips, the heat can better spread through the air and away from the chip, protecting it from damage which could shorten its lifespan.
Obviously, the thinnest strips on the market measuring 5mm wide can’t accommodate 5050 LED chips.
There needs to be space around the chip to keep it held in place.
So, while the size of an LED strip doesn’t necessarily dictate the width as a whole – many are still 10mm regardless of chip size.
There are some limitations on thinner strips, while wider strips can help keep those bigger 5050 chips safe.
Do Wider LED Strips Consume More Energy?
If you have a wider LED strip that does have bigger LED chips, does that mean it will use more energy than a thinner strip that uses smaller LEDs?
The answer here is that technically a larger LED chip will use more energy, but the difference is minimal.
|LED chip type||Power draw per chip||Power draw per meter (60 LED strip)|
|2835||0.2 Watts||12 Watts|
|5050||0.24 Watts||14.4 Watts|
As you can see, the difference per meter on an average LED strip is just over 2 Watts, which will have an impact on the power draw, but when it comes to calculating costs over time is barely noticeable.
What matters much more is the density of LEDs on a strip.
The chips themselves have very similar power requirements but use more of them, and you’ll really notice the difference.
LED strip lights will usually have 30 or 60 LEDs per meter, but some have much more (depending on the chip size).
And that’s the biggest difference when it comes to energy consumption.
Does The Width Of An LED Strip Matter?
Now that we know that most LED strip lights are a similar width, but there are a few differences to consider, it’s essential to look at why the width of the strip matters when you’re about to buy.
There are two considerations. Firstly, if you’re placing the LED strip on a surface, you just need to make sure that the surface is wide enough to hold the strip.
You don’t want any overhang or curl the strip to fit it into a tight gap.
If you’re attaching the strip to a wide surface, you won’t have any issues. Still, if it’s going on the underside of a kitchen cabinet or around a desk, you want to make sure the surface is wide enough to keep it secure.
The second consideration is if you’re mounting the strip in an aluminum channel.
These channels are great when you use strip lights, but you don’t want all the circuitry exposed.
They are essentially a housing for the strip with a semi-frosted cover that allows the light through and are backed with aluminum to help channel the heat away from the LEDs in an enclosed space.
So, if you’re buying an LED strip to use in an aluminum channel, just make sure you buy a strip and a channel that match in width – you absolutely should not try to force a 14mm strip into a narrow channel, as the circuitry will be damaged.
There’s a lot that can be confusing when buying strip lights for the first time.
How to connect them, the size of the LED chip, and what that means.
Thankfully, the width isn’t something you need to worry about too much unless you intend to attach the strip to a narrow surface or fit it in a channel.
Otherwise, most strips are a fairly standard size, and even those that differ are by just a few millimeters.
But let me know if you’ve had any issues buying LED strips, whether that’s to do with how wide they are or something else.