This guide goes over some info and techniques for using LED strips as accent lighting.  LED strips are relatively cheap, the RGB strips can make any color, and they're small and easy to hide.  They also run off 12v which makes them easy to install in cars or boats as well.

We will cover picking out lights, controlling, powering, and different techniques for hanging them. 

Step 1: Ordering your LEDs

If you search for RGB LED strips you'll see there are a TON of options.  Luckily there's a very specific thing you want; just search for 5050 RGB 5M 300.  Here's a breakdown of the individual parts:
5050 - This is the type of LED.  This is a standard part, it's big and bright but still runs cool.  It's common to see 3528's in LED strips, avoid these, they're a lot smaller and dimmer.  To go bigger than 5050 you're going to get a lot more expensive and a lot hotter.
RGB - Red Green Blue.  This means it's a tri color strip.   By mixing the different colors tri-color strips can do any color in the rainbow.
5M - 5 meters.  This is the longest length I've found.  You can use it pretty fast, go any shorter and you'll pay extra.
300 - The count of LEDs. The most common setups are a 5M strip with 150 LEDs or 5M with 300 LEDs.  I recommend the 300 count ones because the price difference isn't that much and they're a lot brighter.  

If you don't want to search around this set should get you started, it comes with a power supply and controller.

So, to recap:
Search Amazon or eBay for 5050 RGB 5M 300 and pick one.  I've never ordered from the same place twice (I always forget) but I haven't had any issues with any of them.  All of them have been about the same.  The only thing I would recommend is if you're doing a large room, order all the LEDs at once because the whites can be slightly off.  In my living room one set of strips has a warm, pinkish white and the other set is a light cool blue and it drives me crazy because I'm picky about those things.  Order your LEDs all at once and they'll all match.

Other options:
For large areas like a porch it might make more financial sense to order a single color.  White is a good for general lighting.  Red and blue are very dull, don't count on them to provide more than an accent lighting.

I like the waterproof LEDs simply because it makes the strands easier to work with.  They have a nice weight and flex more easily, plus the coating helps prevent shorts when mounting the strips with staples or other metal fasteners.  The weight can be a problem if you're hanging them off the bottom of something and you want to rely on the built in tape, but other than that I don't see any downside to the waterproof strips.  
<p>Great info! Can you recommend a battery powered light string? I want to illuminate the inside of a storage box and I won't always have access to a wall outlet. </p>
<p>I'm confused.<br><br>Above you said, &quot;I recommend the 300 count ones because the price difference isn't that much and they're a lot brighter.&quot; Then (unless I'm missing something) you link to lights on Amazon that are 150, not 300.<br><br>When I looked on Amazon for TaoTronics lights that were 300s, I found these: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006K0JYD8<br><br>... But the price difference between these 300s and the 150s are $43 for the 300s compared to $23 for the 150s.<br><br>When I looked at different lights on Amazon (as you said you've bought from different places with no problems) I see other brands and people mention issues like them not working and in one case, catching on fire.<br><br>Any help or suggestions??<br><br>Thanks</p>
<p>Well, it's been ten month so you've probably moved on, but hey, other people have questions...</p><p>When you say &quot;the price difference between these 300s and the 150s are $43 for the 300s compared to $23 for the 150s,&quot; do you mean the 300s cost $43 and the 140s cost $23? That would be a price DIFFERENCE of twenty dollars, which is more than the above advice implies, but that' likely the fact. Check a few other sellers to compare.</p><p>To avoid catching on fire, never apply too high of a voltage to them. Be sure the power supply can provide the needed amperage. If they are high temperature lights (I've seen tri-color theater curtain wash lights that were 180 degrees F on their faces!), be sure they're mounted so the heat can radiate away from them. That makes the entire thing warm while making sure no single spot is too hot.</p>
<p>can I connect 4 x 5 meter 3528 end to end and power it from 1 end or do the 4 strips need to be powered separately by running a power cable to each strip</p>
<p>If you're mounting these in one long straight line, there are a couple of issues. First, the strips probably come in five meter lengths because the voltage at each LED ( = brightness) starts to drop off when the strips are much longer. If you want to make one twenty meter strip, you should run separate power to each strip using at least 18 gauge wire. Second, you can overcome this voltage drop that happens if you string a bunch of these together by lowering their brightness. There is less voltage drop if the LEDs draw less current.</p>
Yes but after 4 strands of lighting your going to begin to get Dimming from lack of power after the 4th strand of lights.
<p>20m is pushing it. Running additional wires to points along the strip (from the controller) generates less heat. The conductors on the strips are quite small.<br><br>Note that the power use by strips varies by 10*...</p>
<p>Hi I have a 12V 5 meter length of RGB 5050 LED strip (72w). I have an 8A power supply(96w) and a 6A controller. I have a &quot;1 to 4&quot;connector as I intend to cut the strip into 4 peices. I want to be able to switch off/on the 4 smaller strips independently. I have 4 switches which I had assumed I could just solder to the black(negative) wire in my 4 wire connection strip but I have been warned that this could cause a backfeed ?? and maybe dangerous as there will always be a current being drawn. Please comment. </p>
<p>It's always helpful to add as much detail as possible when asking technical questions. I guess you have single color LEDs. That must be known to address the issue.</p><p>Also, please, what are you using to control them?</p>
<p>I would like to point out if you adapter isn't rated to supply enough amps, but you try to pull those amps anyways, the adapter probably will not last long, and may catch fire. Similar to running to many volts to the leds. You can overshoot the amps as much as you want though and it won't bother the leds, it's just unnecessary.</p>
<p>i bought a roll of red led lights but it doesnt have the end on it like this roll above. its in 2 strips. \how do i get it to work? it came wth no instructions..can anyone help </p>
<p>Treat the ends as what they are: cut strip. You can purchase (Amazon &amp;tc.) connectors for either single or rgb color strips or solder directly.</p>
<p>Would 4 strand 18AWG still ok for this application? Looking at the volts used it seems so.</p>
<p>Depends upon the wattage, not voltage. 18awg is rated at 16amps @ 12v and should work for most small applications.</p>
<p>There are ways to let your LED's be out in the open while still being secured in place while also being diffused. Rather than electrical taping down the LED flexible strips, you simply house them in an LED aluminum channel/extrusion with a white diffuser cover. That way your LED light is more uniform (rather than spotty looking), and gives your DIY project a professional finish. </p><p>We happen to have them on eBay: <a href="http://www.ebay.com/itm/281766280685" rel="nofollow">http://www.ebay.com/itm/281766280685</a> </p>
<p>Hi, for using a PC PSU for LED strips, after some <br>searching around I'm noticing no one is stating how long of a LED strip <br>be used for a given PSU. PSU's come in so many different sizes and varieties! Most 5M 5050 strips with 300 LEDs I see use about 6 amps and I plan to run 30 meters single color which is a total of 36 amps. How big of a PC PSU would I need? I have an old 500W PSU that has a Max output current of 29A on the +12v rail; is it safe to assume that is not enough? I assume as you stated above for your porch it is probably at least 30+ meters and that you used a PC PSU, what were the specs of yours to be able to power it all?</p>
<p>Thanks for the tips! specially the one about giving some space between what you want to illuminate and the led strip ;)</p>
<p>I bought the LED 5050 lights, but I can't get it to work inside my car, I ran 2 wires from the battery to inside the car, when I turn it on , it works for 2 min then u can smell a burning smell from the receiver part, I think the amp is the problem ? Anyone have a solution ?</p>
<p>I bought a set of RGB 5050 Light Strips and cannot get the person I bought them from to answer my question. I bought these specifically to go above the windows in my bus/camper. The RGB controller box has a &quot;pole&quot; input (that the power supply that plugs into the wall goes in- DUH- where are wall plug ins in a bus??) and the out puts are 1 for the wireless controller and 1 that has 4 &quot;pins&quot; to plug into the light strip. I BEG someone PLEASE tell me how to wire this up to my 12 V electrical system in the bus. I received NO-NONE-ZERO instructions or explanations for installation with the kit. If I even had a pin out diagram for the 4 pin plug I might be able to figure it out, but...HELP!!! </p>
<p>You can use 12V from the bus directly into the LED driver - As long as you have the right plug for it. You don't have to actually plug it into the wall, because that would be a transformation from 230V to 12V, but you already have 12V.</p>
<p>Where do you hide the damn controllers? Let's say you wanted to make a &quot;professional&quot; look by putting the LED's as primary lighting all around a living room atop crown molding that is 12&quot; down from the ceiling - where do you hide the &quot;power&quot; and &quot;brains&quot; of the unit? Burying them in the wall I think would be illegal (against code) and having them floating about seems like an eye sore. Ideas? Suggestions?</p>
<p>You can drill in a box in the wall that is for preinstallation, and hide the driver there.</p><p>Like this one: </p><p><a href="http://proff.elko.no/multibokser/multiboks-roer-pfxp-article444-178.html" rel="nofollow">http://proff.elko.no/multibokser/multiboks-roer-pf...</a></p><p>But you'll still have the problem of getting power I guess, call an electrician.</p>
<p>Hi guys!! YES I have some electrical experience. I have trying to run 6 lengths of the 5050 300 RGB LEDs. I have 12 volt repeaters running between the 16' ribbons so they do not dim. The problem I am having is the &quot;RED&quot; LED, it seems that the &quot;blue&quot; LED is getting some voltage causing the ribbon to look &quot;pink&quot; and not &quot;red&quot;. I have a 12 volt &quot;DMX&quot; that controls the color of all the ribbons at the very beginning.</p><p>Can anyone help!?? Thanks!! </p>
<p>This is a brilliant guide! Cheers</p>
if I buy one of these kits, can I cut the part I don't need (the one I saw was 16.6 FT long, I only need like half) can I use the rest? What would I need to use the rest? <br>Thank you for the information.. Nice Instructable.
<p>You can usually shorten the LED Strip to any length that you choose, you may have to solder the cables directly to the strip. Some strips will have compatible plug in blocks that allow you to cut them to a specific length and then plug the strip into a block.</p>
Good write up and a few new ideas for the &quot;list&quot;... Thanks
good instructable.
Thanks for this guide! I want to have LEDS for a long time already, and this guide will help me to find the right ones.

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