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RGB Color Changing LED Strip Lights

Multi color changing RGB LED strip light

Considerations before buying RGB and RGBW LED strip lights

RGB color changing LED strip light is the LED strip equipped with 5050 RGB LEDs that produce color changing effects. Each LED contains three chips that respectively emit three basic colors RGB (Red, Green and Blue). By mixing the three colors, millions of colors are produced. This mixing system covers almost all colors that human vision can perceive, transforming colorless spaces into a world with vivid and vibrant colors. RGB strip light together with RGB controller is the most popular color changing LED strip light with remote, suitable for any colored strip lighting applications.

The advantages of our RGB color changing LED light strips

Our multi color RGB LED strip lights are the brightest on the market, absolutely high quality products with UL certification. Equipped with quality Epistar LED chips and the carrier FPC boards with thick copper tracks, which are specially designed to well dissipate the heat generated during continuous operation. RGB, red, green, blue, pink, and UV black LED strips are all called colored strip lights.

1. Many choices available.

  • 12V
  • 24V
  • 4-in-1 RGBW
  • 5-in-1 RGB+CCT
  • Outdoor waterproof version

2. Use high-brightness RGB LEDs, maximum possible brightness with RGB LEDs. If preferable, the brightness can be easily adjusted to lower levels with the help of RGB controllers. Even when used as indirect lighting, our RGB LED strips give off plenty of light.

3. LEDs are strictly selected with Bin technology to ensure the best color consistency and high luminous efficacy.

4. High copper content in the carrier flexible printed circuit board, outstandingly effective heat dissipation through the thick copper tracks in the carrier.

5. Thanks to Epistar's high-quality chips and the advanced design of the light strips, the lifetime of our strip lights can easily exceed 50,000 hours.

6. Come with genuine 3M double-sided tape, do not fall off once it sticks to the mounting surface.

What is the best RGB LED strip?

The best RGB LED strip is made of the best components with the best circuit design and manufacturing process. What are the best components?
Recommended Reading
Quality LED strips vs inferior LED strips.
What are LED strip lights? What they can do?
LED controller basic knowledge

Why are RGB LED strip lights called multi color changing LED strip lights?

In order to generate luminous colors, RGB LED controllers are required to operate multi color RGB LED strips. These controllers, set between LED power supply and RGB LED strips, take over the color management for RGB LED strips. An RGB LED controller works basically like a 3-way dimmer, which regulates the brightness of the three basic colors through three channels.

The three channels are dimmed to different levels of brightness, whereby the relative brightness of the individual channels to each other, not the absolute brightness, is decisive for the cumulative luminous color. The sum of the intensity of the three individual colors results in many light colors. Exactly how many? The answer is that it can produce 16,777,216 (256x256x256) colors.

Additive color system of RGB LED strip lights
LEDs emit light, therefore the color mixture of multi color changing RGB LED strip lights belongs to the additive color system, which is based on the sum of the different light colors. If two primary colors are mixed, the color is light. If three primary colors (red, green, and blue) are mixed, the light color gets lighter and the white light will be emitted.

The best examples of additive color system can be found on computer monitors or on TV screens. With a strong magnifying glass, you'll see that each pixel consists of red, green, and blue sub-pixels. By changing the brightness of these sub-pixels, you can create light of any color.

The figure below shows the mixing scheme for the additive system.

RGB mixing scheme of additive system

The additive color mixing system is like this: Red + Green = Yellow, Red + Blue = Magenta, Blue + Green = Cyan, Red + Blue + Green = White.

The more colors are added and mixed, the brighter the resulting color. Because the relative brightness is critical, RGB LED strips can not only produce the desired color, but also can adjust its overall brightness. This can be simply understood like it is as for flashlights. It is different brightness for one flashlight, two flashlights, and three flashlights. The more flashlights there are, the higher the brightness.

In contrast, subtractive color mixing system is on the opposite. The more colors are added to the mixture, the darker the color produced. For example, painting is a subtractive color mixing system because the color of the painting is the result of light reflection, not light-emitting.

Most RGB multi color changing LED strip lights use 5050 LEDs

Most of the RGB LED strip lights use 5050 LEDs because of the strong performance as colored LEDs. 5050 LED is a type of SMD LED with a long history. The 5050 LED has three color chips enclosed in the same LED casing, the red, green and blue chip packages with different wavelengths.

5050 LED's size is 5.0x5.0x1.6mm, and its power can reach up to 0.2W. Its operation voltage is the same as the ordinary LEDs, only 2.7-3.3V. 5050 LED's brace bracket is thick and the LED is physically sturdy. Because of its great color change performance, it has been widely used in multi color changing LED light strips.

How do RGB LED strip lights achieve color gradients?

As mentioned earlier, RGB LED strip lights must work together with the RGB LED controller. However, in contrast to conventional dimmers, in addition to the basic ability to mix and produce different colors, the RGB controller has the advanced ability to control the dimension of time for the color change, affecting the length of time between color change sequences.

The control of temporal dimension allows RGB LED strip light to show a color gradient over time. Since most RGB LED controllers have the ability to control the temporal dimension of color changing, the multi color LED strips can produce dynamic color gradients as well as adjust the speed of the color gradient.

What can RGB LED strip lights do?

color changing LED strip lighting for bars
RGB LED strip lighting for bars

The answer is simple, basically everything, i.e. they can produce any desired colors. Due to the flexibility of generating luminescent colors, RGB LED strip lights are suitable both for residential and commercial applications in which adjustable luminous colors are required for different circumstances, and for lighting solutions in which a very specific luminous color is desired.

It is perfect for bars, casinos, stages, and parties, as color changing lighting is a basic choice for these places. At the same time, the RGB LED strips can sync with music to create the dynamic and energetic atmosphere.

Multi color changing LED strip lights can also provide a static single color at your choice. This single color selection is realized through RGB controller. For example the multi color LED strip light can stay at pink color or purple color. So you can choose one color for your store, restaurant, home theater, and bias lighting for TV and PC.

Other applications include decorative lighting for bedrooms, game rooms, cars and RVs, boats and yachts, event venues, storefront windows, and landscape lighting.

RGB LED strip controllers

RGB LED controller is the critical part of the RGB multi color changing strip lighting system. If RGB LED strips were the body of the system, RGB LED controller would be the head that controls all the multi color changing functions of the whole system. There are many types of RGB controller that manage RGB LED strip lights in different ways, which are explained below in regard to the functions and features.

Difference of RGB LED controllers explained.

For more information on RGB LED controllers, see How to choose RGB LED controller.

RGB LED controllers have the distinction of IR, RF, Bluetooth, WiFi, DMX mode and so on. Infrared(IR) LED controllers are cheaper, but a clear line of sight is required between the remote control and the receiver, which means that the receiver cannot be installed in a hidden area.

The other wireless LED controllers, such as RF, Bluetooh, and WiFi, are more advanced, and the receiver can be safely mounted in a suspended ceiling or adjacent room and can still safely receive control commands. If you are constantly annoyed of looking for the lost control panel, consider choosing a wall mount controller that does not require a separate remote.

What are multi-zone RGB controllers?

When using LED strip lights, we can easily control lighting by zones due to the technology advancement of LED controller. Multi-zone LED controllers are developed to control different zones synchronously or independently via one remote control. The so-called zone is the group of LED strips connected to the same LED controller.

If you plan an always uniformly colored light installation, your object is limited to one zone. The lighting design becomes interesting if multiple zones are to be illuminated in such a way that each zone is in different color at the same time.

For example, if you would like to set up two areas with one area in red light and the other in green light, you can create two strip lighting zones which can be realized by using two RGB LED controllers, each controller for one zone.

Multi-zone RGB LED controller for 8 zone application

WiFi RGB Controller

More and more users now choose the WiFi RGB controller, which uses WiFi signal to control the lights through the smart phone. Using a smart phone to control lights looks even cooler. RGB WiFi controller can play music through a mobile phone, and the RGB LED strip light changes color as the music changes.

The application software is easier to select and customize the colors than the general controllers, choose the color temperature of white light, and adjust the brightness of each color light.

The WiFi RGB controller is compatible with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, and can be integrated into the home intelligent control system. For more information on LED controllers, please see the LED controller article.

What components are needed for the multi color RGB LED strip lighting system?

Typically, the RGB color changing LED strip lighting system requires the following components: LED power + RGB LED controller + RGB LED strip. Each component must coordinate and match in terms of performance and functions. The LED power supplies or power adapters convert high AC voltage to 12V or 24V DC. The RGB LED controllers are suitable for 12V and 24V RGB LED strip lights.

The power supply voltage must always be the same as the voltage of the LED strip! When connecting multiple RGB LED strips, it is recommended using multiple wires to power the controller and by using terminal block connector or splicing connectors, extend 4pin wire harness from the controller to the color changing RGB LED strip lights.

What is an RGBW LED strip light?

RGBW LED strip light usually refers to the LED strips equipped with LEDs that include red, green, blue and white chips. The white chips can be one type of white light chip, or two types of white light chips.

If it is one type, the multi color changing LED strip light is what is called the 4-in-1 RGBW LED strip. 4-in-1 RGBW strips include RGBWW(RGB Warm White) and RGBCW(RGB Cool White). If the white chips on the RGBW strip are two different types of white chips (warm white and cool white), then it is a 5-in-1 LED strip, or RGB+CCT LED strip.

Differences between RGB LED strip and RGBW LED strip

RGB LED strip compared with RGBW LED strip

RGB LED light strip has three color channels. In comparison, RGBW LED strip has four color channels that include not only red, green and blue colors, but also the white color.

The RGB LED strip lights can mix three primary colors to produce light of any color, including white light. In addition to this, the RGBW LED strips can mix RGB and white light, and the four-in-one mixture makes the color bolder and richer, creating more brilliant and more vibrant colors. It can also produce higher quality white light. This is impossible for RGB LED strip lights with three-color mixing.

Multi color RGB LED strips emit white light if all 3 color channels are utilized. Please note that the white light may contain traces of other colors. The brightness of this white light is different from the brightness of true white LED diodes. This white light is different from a monochrome white LED strip in terms of light efficiency and quality, such as CRI, the ability to rendering colors of other objects.

In addition to colored light, high quality white is also important in certain applications. Therefore, a white light-emitting chips is added to the three color RGB chips. This is how the RGBW LED strip was born. Here, the white chips can be cool white or warm white.

Mixture of red, green and blue light can product the white light that is very close to neutral white or cool white LED strip, but can only produce nearly warm white. It cannot generate the true warm white light we often see. So the most often used white chips for RGBW LED strips are warm white chips, making up for RGBW LED strip's ability to produce true warm white light.

RGBW LED strip light can choose to emit white light by only using the white LED chips, so it has the function of monochromatic white light. This is why RGBW LED strip lights are used in wider range of applications than RGB LED strip lights. It can be said that RGBW LED light strip is the best among all color changing LED strip lights.

RGB colored chips plus two different types of white chips (warm white and cool white) make a 5-in-1 LED strip, which is also commonly referred to as the RGB+CCT LED light strip. In addition to all the characteristics of the RGB and RGBW LED strip lights, the RGB+CCT LED light strip also has the features of tunable white light strips, which can produce white light of 2700K, 6500K, or any color temperatures in between.

Generally speaking, the power of RGB LED strip light is smaller than the power of RGBW LED strip. Because of this, it generates less heat and manages heat more easily. Due to the higher power, RGBW LED strip lights are often installed together with heat sinks such as LED aluminum profiles for better thermal management.

What can RGBW controllers do?

Like RGB LED strip lights, RGBW LED strips require an RGBW LED controller to handle the color management. RGBW LED controller can be used to generate different colors, change brightness of various color lights, achieve dynamic color grading and adjust the color temperatures of white light.

Like RGB controllers, RGBW controllers also have different types, such as wall mount, RF remote, WiFi, Bluetooth, etc.

The difference between RGB controller and RGBW controller

The difference is that the RGBW controller has one more channel than the RGB controller, the white light channel. Because of this, the RGBW controller can be used to control multi color changing RGBW LED strip lights as well as RGB strip lights. But the reverse is not true, RGB controllers are not able to control RGBW LED strips.
Recommended Reading:How to choose RGBW LED controller?

What can RGBW LED strip lights do?

RGBW strip light commercial application
RGBW LED strip lighting for bars

RGBW LED strips have the advantage of RGB LED strip lights to adjust the color of the light. They produce colored light that is more brilliant and vibrant than RGB LED strips.

RGBW LED strips are also integrated with the advantages of monochrome LED strips in terms of light efficiency and color rendering ability, and can produce high quality white light, which is impossible for RGB LED strip light to generate. If you are designing a lighting project that requires quality colored light, and needs high quality white light at the same time, then RGBW LED strips are the right choice recommended.

Thanks to its ability to produce white and colored light, the RGBW LED strips are extremely flexible, making them ideal for spaces with various and changing lighting requirements. Wherever multi color changing RGB LED strip is suitable for, RGBW LED strip can do the same, and even more.

What are RGBWW and RGB+WW LED strips?

Differences between RGBWW and RGB+WW LED strips

Based on the ways how the white chips are arranged on the multi color LED strip, there are two versions of RGBW LED strip: RGBWW and RGB+WW.

RGB warm white light strips can be equipped with RGBW LEDs (4-in-1 LEDs, all four LED chips, red, green, blue and warm white, are in one housing), and this version is called RGBWW LED strips.

Or the light strip is alternately populated with RGB LEDs and warm white LEDs, and this version is referred to as RGB + WW LED strips.

Differences between RGBWW and RGB+WW LED strips

1. Uniform color mixing in the near range
RGBWW LED strips are better uniform color mixing in the near range, which is the biggest advantage of RGBWW LED strips. This is always important when the distance between the light source and the point of light impact is very small.

If the multi color LED strip light is mounted directly visible in an aluminum extrusion profile, it is necessary to use the RGBWW strip, not the RGB+WW strip, to achieve homogeneous linear lighting appearance, unless the depth of the aluminum profile is more than 3 cm, or the profile cover is very milky or frosted.

Also due to the alternating arrangement, RGB+WW LED strip is not the best to be used in the near range, since the color mixture only appears to be homogeneous when viewed at a bigger viewing distance. The power ratio of our RGB+WW strips is optimized, with a ratio of RGB to warm white light of 50% to 50%.

2. Cost
RGBW LEDs usually cost more than monochromatic white LEDs. As RGB+WW LED Strips are equipped with an alternating placement of RGB LEDs and warm white LEDs, they are slightly less expensive than the RGBW strip light populated with 4-in-1 LEDs..

Why are RGB warm white strip lights more popular?

The double WW means warm white. In our opinion, adding warm white chips to RGB chips makes more sense, while there are very few specific applications where adding neutral white or cool white chips makes sense.

Why? As mentioned before, the color mixing for RGB LED strip belongs to additive color mixture system. For the reason of additive color mixing principle, neutral white or cool white color is generally easy to produce by mixing RGB three colors, while true warm white light of 2700K cannot be realized by mixing RGB colors. That's why it makes more sense to add warm white light.

In addition, the warm white light makes the primary colors warmer. Pastel colors with soft chromatic content are no problem if you mix the color lights with warm white light.

Notes for installing RGB color changing LED strip lights

The installation of RGB and RGBW LED strips is basically the same. Here are some common considerations to help you avoid common installation mistakes and make your installation smooth.

  1. Each group of LEDs form a working section that can be used separately. Cut the light strip along the cutting line, so that each unit can still be a complete section and work properly.

  2. When selecting the LED connectors for strip lights, pay attention to choose the matching connectors. RGB color changing light strip needs to use 4pin connectors, while RGBW strip uses 5pin connectors, so the RGB and RGBW connectors cannot be interchangeable. Also make sure that the width of the connector matches the strip. Generally, the width of RGB LED strip is 10mm or 12mm. The width of RGBW LED strip is generally 12mm.

  3. There are positive and negative signs on the connectors. When installing the connectors, pay attention to the positive and negative polarities of the connector, and match the positive and negative of the light strip.

  4. If the color of the light strip is irregular when controlled by RGB controllers, it may be a problem with the light strip, or it may be a problem of the controller. You can check it one by one.

    Warning. A very tricky detail can also cause this problem, that is, the circuits of different colors are accidentally connected together. Therefore, remember to check if the wires are accidentally connected together when the colors display irregularly during installation.

  5. When choosing LED power supply, firstly, the voltage of the power supply should match with the voltage of the light strip, and secondly, the power of the power supply is recommended to be 20% larger than the power of the LED light strips.

  6. Start with a good setup plan before installation, lay out the light strip and controllers on the sketch and on the scene before tearing off the protective film of 3M tape for the actual mounting of LED strip. If there is no overall planning before installation, during actual installation you may need to tear off the LED strip and reinstall it. Removing and reinstalling may damage the light strip. Re-use will also reduce the viscosity of the 3M tape, and the light strip may fall off in the future.

  7. Please note that the power marked for the RGB strip and the RGBW LED strip refers to the maximum power consumption, which is only achieved when all color channels (R, G, B and white) are set to full brightness. Although the maximum power consumption of the light strip must be considered when selecting the appropriate LED power supply, the power consumption is not as large as the indicated in daily use, because not all channels are turned on and run at full brightness.

After choosing LED light strips, you will need to choose a proper power supply. Recommended reading: How to choose LED power supply, and How to choose LED strip light power supply.

For more detailed information on installation, please read How to Install LED Strip Lights?