Updated June 17, 2019 by Sheila O'Neill

The 10 Best LED Strip Lights

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You can add an energy-efficient, decorative effect easily to almost anywhere in your home with one of these LED strip lights. We've included simple, single-color models as well as high-tech options that can connect to your smartphone via WiFi or Bluetooth, so you can control their brightness and color or even set a timer to turn them on and off. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best led strip light on Amazon.

10. DotStone Music

9. Pangton Villa TV Kit

8. LEDJump High Power

7. Lighting Ever Flexible

6. Philips Hue LightStrip Plus

5. Topmax Bluetooth

4. RXment Wireless

3. WenTop Safety

2. Amir USB

1. Nexlux RGB Kit

A Brief History Of The LED

The technology they developed is still in use today in an updated form in many TV remotes.

LED stands for light-emitting diode. Technically speaking, an LED is an electrical component that produces light when a current passes through it. Unlike a lightbulb, for example, which serves as a vacuum-sealed encasement for an internal filament that provides the actual illumination, the diode itself is what produces the light. This allows LEDs to be quite small. They are also characterized by low energy consumption, durability, and the fast speed with which they can turn on and off. All of these qualities combine to make LEDs ideal for a wide variety of applications, from flashlights to signage and more.

LEDs were first discovered in 1907 by a British engineer named Henry Joseph Round. He made the discovery by applying an electrical current to a silicon carbide crystal and witnessing the yellow light it produced. A Russian inventor named Oleg Losev was the first to publish anything significant about the phenomenon, in 1927. Little progress was made until many years later, in 1961, when two engineers at Texas Instruments made a similar discovery and filed a patent for it the following year. Those engineers were James R. Biard and Gary Pittman, and their LED actually emitted infrared light, which is not visible to the naked eye. The technology they developed is still in use today in an updated form in many TV remotes.

The first manufactured LED that emitted visible light was developed in 1962 by Nick Holoyak Jr., an engineer at General Electric. Over the next ten years, the technology would experience rapid adoption and development, with brighter and more powerful LEDs in a variety of colors being manufactured for commercial purposes. Soon, LEDs began to replace incandescent and neon indicator lights on a variety of devices, from laboratory equipment to televisions, radios, and more. They can still be found today on most appliances that use indicator lights.

Over the next several decades, many more advancements were made. Blue LEDs were introduced in 1972, though the first high-brightness version was not demonstrated until 1994. It was not until the 21st century that white LEDs were successfully developed for commercial use. With each passing year, the technology continues to get smaller, more flexible, and more affordable.

Contemporary LED Applications

While the first commercial LEDs may not have been bright enough to light up much more than a power button, today's LEDs are everywhere. From streetlights to lightbulbs, car headlights, flood lamps, and some of the brightest flashlights imaginable, their uses when it comes to keeping an area well-lit are many. Even many traffic lights are now LED-powered. There are many innovations, however, for which you might not realize LEDs are responsible.

This results in several advantages over LCD technology, including the ability to show much richer black tones.

Decorative lighting is a huge market for LEDs. As the strip lights in our selection demonstrate, they're ideal because you can cut them into very small shapes, they have a low power draw, and they can change colors. They work well for accenting a room or outdoor area, and countless formats are available. In addition to putting a rainbow of color at your fingertips, remote controls come with many LED strips, so you can change the ambiance of a room without getting up from your seat.

Many companies use a special kind of LED technology to replace their LCD television, computer, and smartphone screens, as well. These primarily use organic compounds for their electroluminescent layer, giving them the name OLED. Most LCD screens actually use an LED backlight, but OLED technology eliminates this need. This results in several advantages over LCD technology, including the ability to show much richer black tones. They can also achieve higher contrast and be made much thinner and lighter than LCD screens.

More niche developments in LED technology have resulted in the LED tattoo, which is still in development. While we're still a bit far-off from decorative LEDs being implanted in people's skin, the innovation has great promise for medical applications. Once fully developed, a diabetic person could, for example, check their blood sugar by simply activating the tattoo in their arm. Early clinical trials have been successful in mice.

LEDs can also control bacteria and other biological systems. Advanced grow lights have been developed with the technology, for example, to increase photosynthesis production in plants. Ultraviolet LEDs can also be used to sterilize water and other substances.

Because of the versatility of the technology and the rate at which it continues to develop, it's hard to predict where LEDs will go next. I would say the sky's the limit, but they're already in heavy use in outer space.

What To Do With Your Strip Lights

If you're interested in buying some LED strip lights, but you're not sure just what you want to do with them, fear not. You have plenty of options, and if you don't like what you come up with on the first try, they're easy to reposition or apply elsewhere.

If you're sick and tired of struggling to see what you're chopping in the kitchen, a strip of LEDs can solve that problem in one short installation.

A great area to start with is home improvement. Strip lights are ideal for applications like under-cabinet lighting. If you're sick and tired of struggling to see what you're chopping in the kitchen, a strip of LEDs can solve that problem in one short installation. Plus, if you opt for a set that can change colors, you can adjust the vibe in your kitchen once the work is done. Glowing purple countertops are the perfect setting for a late-night snack.

You can also use LED strips to trick out your bedroom or living room. Placing them behind furniture like a couch or headboard imparts a playful glow to any space, and eliminates eye strain by placing the light source out of your line of sight. This also works well for a bar area or home theater.

LED strip lighting is also ideal for illuminating areas of your home like staircases for added safety and visibility. No matter what you do, just ensure you work safely and consider the best set of strips for the task at hand.

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Sheila O'Neill
Last updated on June 17, 2019 by Sheila O'Neill

Sheila is a writer and editor living in sunny Southern California. She studied writing and film at State University of New York at Purchase, where she earned her bachelor of arts degree. After graduating, she worked as an assistant video editor at a small film company, then spent a few years doing freelance work, both as a writer and a video editor. During that time, she wrote screenplays and articles, and edited everything from short films to infomercials. An ardent lover of the English language, she can often be found listening to podcasts about etymology and correcting her friends’ grammar.

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