A Hands-On Review of the 8 Best LED Light Strips of 2024 - Bob Vila

By Timothy Dale and Stacey L Nash | Updated Jan 2, 2024 2:06 PM

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A Hands-On Review of the 8 Best LED Light Strips of 2024 - Bob Vila

Photo: Stacey L. Nash for Bob Vila

LED light strips are long circuit boards with surface-mount device light-emitting diodes (SMD LEDs) that bring illumination to any room. The strips are also known as LED tape or ribbon lights and usually have an adhesive backing for easy installation. We researched important qualities in LED strip lights and put some of the top ones through a series of tests to see how well they functioned.

Some of the best LED strip lighting options can be used for many interior design projects, including recessed lighting, television backlighting, smart-home connections, and kitchen countertop illumination with under-cabinet lighting, so we looked at these considerations as well.

We tested each of the light strips on this list to see how they performed. Each one was selected based on quality, functionality, and attractive design. In addition to evaluating how well the light strips worked, we looked at the strength of adhesives, app functionality, brightness, and installation ease. Keep reading to see which lights shone above the rest and find out some of the best LED light brands.

Photo: Stacey L. Nash for Bob Vila

First, we researched LED strip light reviews to compose a list of a variety of products to try. We tested the light strips according to an established rubric that included criteria for illumination, installation, performance, and durability. After rating the lights on a scale of 0 to 4, we calculated their rating.

Based on the design, we installed the light strips in a kitchen, office, onto a TV, or in a car. We followed manufacturer installation and operation instructions. Testing took place over a 2½-week period, with individual light strips being tested for 3 to 7 days within that period, to give us a more accurate view of the light strips’ functionality and adhesive strength. We connected the lights to their accompanying apps and tested the features to find out their usefulness and functionality in everyday life.

According to each product’s features, we set lighting schedules, created lighting themes, and varied how and when the lights were used. By installing the lights in real-life situations, we were able to get an idea of how well they functioned overall as well as which individual settings worked best.

We also spoke with Dara Greaney, CEO and founder of LED Light Expert, who provided some sage advice for shoppers. “Strip lights are a fun DIY project, but they are not plug and play. You need to figure out how to secure them, where to power them and how to cut them if necessary.” With this in mind, we made sure to incorporate these ideas into our hands-on testing.

Photo: Stacey L.Nash for Bob Vila

No matter what type of LED light strip someone needs, a common goal is to find a high-quality product. To make the search easier, we tested a variety of LED light strips, and based on our testing, we chose the following options as some of the best available in terms of price, effectiveness, and reputation. Organized by type, one of these may be what you need to light up your home.

The Govee 32.8-foot smart LED light strip has almost 33 feet of bright lighting with up to 16 million color options through the Govee home app. The light strip can also connect with Amazon Alexa and Google Home to provide voice control over lighting. Turn the lights on or off while walking into an area, or even control the color settings without lifting a finger.

This smart LED light strip pack comes with two flexible 16.4-foot rolls and requires 36 watts of power for optimal functionality. Use a smartphone to set a schedule for operation or enjoy the sound-responsive microphone, which prompts the LEDs to change color with music beats, hand claps, and other sounds.

In our testing, we found that this Govee light strip had an excellent balance of qualities, including adhesive strength, color options, and scheduling. We tested these lights under kitchen cabinets and found them to be bright enough for food prep tasks.

The app had excellent connectivity, great schedule options, and lighting choices based on scenes (preset colors based on seasons, moods, holidays, or occasions) or manual preferences. Govee got extra points from us for providing support clips that adhere or screw in to hold the heavier parts of the electrical cord if needed.

Get the Govee 32.8-foot LED light strips at Amazon.

Nexillumi’s 50-foot LED light strip uses 540-LM LED lights to add attractive accent illumination to any room. These lights are 70 watts, with 80 to 90 watts being average; that lower brightness uses less energy but still illuminates enough to improve visibility. Download the “illumi home” light app for fully customizable color selection, response to music beats, and brightness optimization. A remote is also included for folks who don’t wish to use smartphone or smart-home applications.

When testing these lights in the kitchen, we found that the strips aren’t coated with resin, which made them lighter—that may have helped the adhesive keep them firmly in place under the wall cabinets. While they didn’t create enough light for food prep tasks, they improved visibility while adding accent illumination. The app worked well, but when using the remote, it had to be pretty close to the light strip to get it to work, and sometimes it failed entirely.

Get the Nexillumi LED light strips at Amazon.

Designed for TV backlighting, the Pangton Villa LED TV backlight comes in four strips with adhesive backing for simple application. The 540-LM lighting is a worthy selection for setting a mood behind a television while playing a favorite game or watching a movie.

There’s no need to worry about wattage requirements because the light strip connects directly to a television through a USB port.

If a TV does not have a USB port, plug an adapter into the power outlet. Choose from 16 colors or dim the lights with the included remote control. While these strips took our award for best TV LED light strips, remember that this light strip kit is only for televisions or computer monitors; it wasn’t designed for other situations.

The light strips are broken into sections with flexible connectors so they can be adapted to fit a TV—a feature that proved helpful during installation. The Pangton Villa LED strip lights easily adhered and never lost their grip during our testing. The remote control wasn’t hard to use, but the function of each button wasn’t always obvious.

Get the Pangton Villa LED light strips at Amazon.

Motion-activated automatic lights can be a significant safety benefit in garages, laundry rooms, hallways, and doorways. Our tests found the VyanLight motion-sensor LED Lights, which come in a 3-pack, to be a worthy option. They use passive infrared technology (PIR) to detect motion and turn on the 10 built-in LED lights.

In our tests, these LED lights turned on within 9 feet of proximity and turned off automatically after 20 seconds without additional light or any motion, saving battery life. Plus, the lights are triggered only when the space lacks adequate light. For example, they won’t turn on if daylight is illuminating the area, but they will activate at night.

Though ideal for illuminating dark areas for safety, the strips’ size—7.5 inches long by 1.2 inches wide—also makes them a good option inside wardrobes and closets as well as under cabinets, which is where we tested them. We appreciated that the lights are completely wireless and powered by four AAA batteries so we could install them anywhere. Plus, the strips are made with high-quality aluminum for durability; they seem unlikely to crack, bend, or erode over time.

We adhered the magnetic mounting strip using the adhesive backing. After installing four AAA batteries, we easily slid the light into the mounting strip. We considered it a plus that the lights simply detach for battery replacement, rather than the awkward process of removing batteries while the light is mounted. By the time testing was done 2 weeks later, the batteries were still going strong.

Get the VyanLight LED light strips at Amazon.

While a car’s interior lights offer visibility at night, extra illumination can help users find dropped items while adding a bit of ambience. The Govee RGB Smart Car LED strip lights proved just the ticket in that regard. Upon testing, we appreciated the DIY mode in the Govee Home app that lets users create custom light settings to match most any accessory or illumination currently in a car. Plus, brightness is adjustable via Bluetooth connectivity.

These light strips have a dynamic music mode with a built-in microphone that can be synced with the car stereo, creating a vibrant dance of color around the interior. We found it easy to customize the lighting via the smart color-picking feature that uses an uploaded photo to create a color scheme.

The dual-line light strips can easily be mounted under the seats, wheel, dashboard, or on the flooring via adhesive and support clips. For added reliability, rubber tubing on the outside protects the LED lights from water, moisture, and abrasions. The lights plug into the vehicle’s parallel double outlet and have short-circuit protection for longevity.

Users must be aware that there will be cords trailing through the car with these lights. While screws and zip ties are included, most cars, including the one used for testing, had no place to attach the cords to keep them out of the way.

Get the Govee Smart Car LED light strips at Amazon.

Want to make any room feel like a dance club? Consider installing the Daybetter Bluetooth LED strip lights on the ceiling. This set of two 50-foot strip lights has Bluetooth connectivity through Apollo Lighting, Daybetter’s app, for adjusting the six preset and five standard colorways (variable colorways are adjustable with a dial as well). The lights also include a remote control for adjusting color and brightness.

We recommend this set of Bluetooth smart light strips for rooms where music often plays, as the music-sync mode manipulates the lighting color and movement to the beat of the music. Plus, the smart timing setting allowed us to preset times to turn the lights on or off automatically. The disco downside? The lights sync only with music on iTunes.

In testing, these LED lights proved easy to install thanks to the adhesive on the back of the strips and the plug-in design. Follow installation instructions carefully, however, because dust can interfere with adherence. We were also disappointed that the electrical cord was a little short, requiring an extension cord for ceiling use, which detracted from the ambience. And we occasionally had issues with app connectivity when Bluetooth connection was up near the ceiling.

Get the Daybetter 100 feet of LED light strips at Amazon or Walmart.

Bring pops of brilliant light and color to a large space with the Tenmiro RGB 100-foot color-changing LED strip lights. With two rolls of 50-foot strip lights, users can install enough lighting for a medium to large room and choose from millions of customizable colorways using the 44-key remote or the brand’s app.

In testing, we enjoyed the music-sync function of these 60-watt LED strip lights. They boast a built-in sensitivity-adjustable microphone that lets the color dance to the rhythm of any song (as long as it’s on the iTunes app, however). The Tenmiro lights can be timed for automatic on/off, and the dimmable feature sets the light level based on the chosen settings. There are also scene options (preset colors based on seasons, moods, holidays, or occasions) from which to choose, including various strobe effects.

These lights can stick to any clean, dry surface with the adhesive backing. The adhesive is strong, and in testing we appreciated that the lights held firmly, even with the weight of the Bluetooth transmitter.

Get the Tenmiro LED light strips at Amazon.

Those looking to add a little ambience and extra illumination to the kitchen and other splash-prone spaces might want to check out the Daybetter waterproof IR 32.8-foot LED strip lights. Though calling them truly “waterproof” is inaccurate, these LED lights are covered in resin, which makes them durable and somewhat splash-resistant.

Although these lights are advertised as being suitable for outdoor and indoor use, the instructions specify that they are not intended for humid environments or open air. Not all elements are waterproof, so we cannot recommend them for use outside or even in the bathroom (and we were naturally a bit put off by the conflicting claims). However, we did place them above our kitchen sink, and when the light strips got splashed by a mix of water and grease, they did not fail.

Linear installation was no problem, but because the protective coating on the strips makes them stiff, it was somewhat difficult to navigate curves and corners. In fact, the strips pulled away at corners, especially 90-degree angles, in our testing.

We did find the illumination and color options to be excellent. These lights include an infrared remote that can be adjusted to 16 different colors to suit many moods with the help of 44 keys.

Get the Daybetter waterproof LED light strips at Amazon or Daybetter.

We also tested the Philips Hue Bluetooth Smart Lightstrip and the Monster 6.5-Foot Multicolor LED Light, but neither passed testing. The Philips Hue offered the brightest and highest-quality lights we tested. Unfortunately, this product had serious Bluetooth connectivity issues that made it unusable. Check out our full review here.

The Monster light strip had adhesive problems. The backing only partially came off the strip, rendering a quarter of the light strip nonsticky. When we installed the part of the light strip that did have adhesive, it fell down within 24 hours. A light strip that won’t stick cannot make the cut.

There are many features to consider when shopping for the best LED strip lights, from color and size to intended use and brightness. Before shoppers purchase an LED light strip, they will want to keep the following factors in mind to ensure their choice meets or exceeds their expectations for the intended application.

Photo: Stacey L. Nash for Bob Vila

It’s essential to determine where the LED light strip will be installed before deciding which product to purchase. Some designs meet specific purposes, such as stair lighting or television backlighting. This specialization differentiates those products from standard LED light strips. For example, a product intended for backlighting a TV may come with four precut pieces and television-specific syncing options that change color to mimic the colors on the screen.

Other location considerations are water resistance for patios, dimmer compatibility for bedrooms, or motion sensing for a hall, bathroom, or stairway. Even a more generic installation of LED strip lights for ceilings or walls warrants some consideration before purchasing so buyers don’t end up with a specialty product that isn’t meant for where they intend to place it.

Light strips are available in a variety of lengths, typically from 1 to 32 feet, though some strips run up to 50 feet long or more. The brightness and intended purpose usually correlate to their length. For example, LED light strips intended for television backlighting or use on stairs tend to be shorter for easier installation.

Low-brightness LED light strips can be up to 32 feet long with about 300 LED lights. High-brightness LED light strips may have the same number of LED modules, but they’ll usually only be about 16 feet long. However, most flexible LED strip lights can be cut using scissors to accommodate small areas. If longer LED tape is needed, pieces can often be connected to customize to the desired length.

Most light strips feature a flexible circuit board that can bend around corners or run over curved surfaces. Some LED light strips are so flexible that they can be bent up to 90 degrees without damaging the circuit board.

However, as the power of an LED light strip increases, the flexibility decreases, with some light strips being completely rigid in design. These inflexible products tend to be much shorter, sometimes only 1 foot long, and significantly brighter than the average light strip. They can also feature motion-sensing technology, making them ideal for lighting stairs.

The brightness of an LED light strip is measured in lumens and is dictated by the density of the LED lights within 1 meter.

Ideal brightness can be challenging to figure out, and some manufacturers don’t include this information. By taking note of the LED density, the average brightness of the light strip can be found. Average light strips come in two densities: standard density (SD) of 30 LEDs per meter (9.1 LEDs/foot) or high density (HD) of 60 LEDs per meter (18.3 LEDs/foot).

SD light strips produce an average of 540 lumens and need 27 watts of power. They can be up to 32.8 feet long. HD light strips provide an average of 1,080 lumens, need 40 watts of power, and come in a maximum length of 16.4 feet.

Photo: Stacey L.Nash for Bob Vila

The color of a light strip is critical to keep in mind. Some light strips come in only one color, while others can have color selections that range in the millions. The color option chosen is entirely dependent on personal preference.

Color temperature is measured in degrees Kelvin (K) and describes how warm or cool a light’s color appears; lower numbers indicate warmer color temperatures. The soft glow of an average incandescent light bulb is a warm temperature of 2,700K, while natural daylight is much cooler, averaging 6,500K.

We interviewed interior decorator Vivianne Chow, the owner of Viv and Tim Home in Chicago, on this subject. She shared some expert advice. “Make sure that the color temperature of the LED light strips matches what you currently have at home. I recommend sticking to 2700K or 3000K for a warm white look, instead of 5000K, which is a little bit too cool-toned.”

Wattage is a measure of how much energy the light strip requires to function at its optimal brightness. If a light strip requires more energy than the power source is capable of providing, it won’t work correctly, often producing a much weaker light. LED light strips operate using batteries, power adapters plugged into wall outlets, or being hardwired directly into the home’s electrical system.

LED light strips with lower brightness requirements, such as a 540-lumen strip, will also have reduced wattage requirements. As brightness demands increase, power demands also rise, with a 16.4-foot SD light strip requiring 27 watts of power and a 16.4-foot HD LED light strip requiring 40 watts.

In our interview with Dara Greaney, he also mentioned that, “LEDs are 90 percent more efficient than incandescent and 60 percent more than CFL/fluorescent, so anytime we use LEDs we are saving money and going green.” LED lights are certainly something to consider for energy-conscious consumers.

In years past, LED light strips were hardwired into the electrical system to work with a light switch or plugged into a power outlet and controlled with a button. However, LED light strips have come a long way from their original design.

Light strips are available that connect to Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, remotes, or mobile phone apps. With these controls, the brightness and color can be adjusted, the lights can be programmed to sync with music, or schedules can be set for waking up, arriving home from work, or going to sleep.

LED light strips that connect with smart-home ecosystems like Amazon Alexa or Google Home can even be controlled using voice commands, while more straightforward options with just one color may only have a remote to turn the light on or off.

LED light strips come with many pros and a few cons. Whether you’re looking for LED strip lights for bedrooms, LED strip lights for kitchen cabinets, or bedroom LED light strips, the answers to these common questions may help.

LED light strips are safe as long as they’re installed and operated according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For example, indoor lights shouldn’t be installed outside, and some lights should not be installed where they can get wet.

LED light strips can run for hours on end without being shut off. They get warm, but they’re designed to underdrive the LEDs, which means they don’t overheat.

Yes, you must plug in most LED light strips. We did test one battery-operated cordless model, but it was a short 16-inch strip.

Almost every LED strip is compatible with a dimmer switch. To make an LED light strip dimmable, you must first connect its input wire to a dimmer unit; then connect the unit to the power supply.

To create ambient light in your home with LED strip lights, the optimal locations are under or above cabinets and counters in the kitchen, behind mirrors in the bathroom, or even around large pieces of furniture like bookshelves and home entertainment units.

LED strip lights can be disposed of by taking them to a local recycling center.

Most LED light strips are built to last for up to 50,000 hours of use, which is roughly 10 to 20 years of runtime.

Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.

Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.

Stacey L. Nash is a writer and product tester with a background in home and garden products. She’s researched and tested home products for more than 5 years. That research is coupled with the practical experience that comes from living life with four kids and a DIY husband on 12 acres that require clearing and upkeep. Now she tests and writes about home appliances, kitchen tools, lighting, cleaning products, and garden tools.

Additional research provided by Timothy Dale.

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A Hands-On Review of the 8 Best LED Light Strips of 2024 - Bob Vila

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