RGBW IC 5050-144_7

A lesson on RGB LED light strips and accessories

For the Christmas comes so near, people have beginning to think about decorate their houses for a beautiful and warm winter.

Recently I was asked for what LED lights are good to use for decorating the frame of their houses.Those frequent inquiries make me have this idea to sort out all what I know here to help someone out.

Chapter 1 RGB Multi-color changing LED strip

The RGB Multi-color changing LED strips which also known as 5050 RGB LED strips, those strips are made by SMD5050 RGB LED. This 5050 RGB LED has 3 chips inside, R(red), G(green), B(blue), so when work with compatible LED controller, it can mix to produce multi colors and white color.


Those strips are usually available in 12V or 24V DC, with different LED density, we can get SMD5050-150 per 5Meter, SMD5050-300LED per 5Meter and SMD5050-600LED per 5Meter.

The RGB color strips need to work with compatible RGB LED controller to change the strip color or dim the brightness. There is a vast of LED controllers. From mounting or controlling method, you can have Manual controller, IR or RF wireless RGB controller, Wall Recessed Touch Panel RGB Controller, WIFI smart APP LED Controller and DMX512 controller and so on.

The 12V and 24V DC strip are made 5 meter (16.4ft) per roll the max because if too long a continous run, the voltage drop will cause the back end of the strip dim which make the whole roll strip give bad light consistency. When one project that involves in many rolls of strips and need to control by one single controller, you can use RGB Amplifier , and power each roll of the strip in parallel to make it.

For example, below is a wiring diagram for a project that 25meters of the RGB LED Strips.

(p.s. This is just one way to run, you can run the amplifier after the strip’s tail too.)


Note: When you use the DMX512 controller to control the RGB strip, you need to use the RGB DMX decoder to transfer the SMD512 signal to the one that the LED strip can get. In theory, you can use countless decoder after one DMX512 controller which means with one Master Controller, you can control as many rolls of RGB as possible. Please find below wiring diagram for reference.


In the real installation, you may need to cut the strip to different lengths, or get the strip turning at corner, or have two strips install with a long distance. In those conditions, you will need to use RGB strip connectors, RGB cables. Also you will need different power supplies to fit different cases (wall plug-in type, hard wire type, waterproof type, etc).

Charpter 2 RGBW/RGBWW Multi-color changing LED Strips

In charpter 1 we said that the RGB 5050 LED has 3 chips (R, G, B) inside, so when it mixes to produce different colors, regretfully it can only mix to get cold white color. And as this white color is mixed by R, G, B, so it’s not so pure. In this condition, the RGBW 4in1 5050 LED comes out. This RGBW 5050 LED just as its name it has 4 chips inside, they are R, G, B and W (white). And as t he white color temperature is available for 3000K warm white, 4000K natural white, and 6000K pure white (daylight white), so the RGBW can be devided into RGBW (RGB+pure white), RGBNW( RGB+natural white) and RGBWW (RGB+warm white).


There are various choices for RGBW LED controllers to fit your different needs. You can recesse the Touch Panel RGBW controller into wall which is inline with your whole decorative style. And you can use wireless remote controller or WIIF Smart APP controller to save wires and look chic.

The same as RGB LED strips, when installation, you should pay attention to the voltage drop problem. If many rolls in a project, need to use RGBW Amplifiers. And when you use DMX512 controller for the RGBW strips, please don’t forget to use RGBW decoders. And also need to use 5 leads RGBW strip connectors and 5 color lead cable.


Charpter 3  Magic/Dream color IC controlled Addressable RGB LED strips and IC controlled Adressable RGBW LED strips

The RGBW LED strip get the non-pure white light problem solved. But human’s imangination and creativity is amazing. Besides just give some static simple color or simple flash, jump of color changing, what about to have more magic colors and more complicated dymamic lighting modes. Or what’s more to DIY something that can play more complicated moves, like words or videos. Come to this stage, we have the Addressable RGB LED strips and Addressable RGBW LED strips.

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The Addressable RGB and RGBW strips are made with IC added on the strips. There are many types of IC, like WS2812, UCS1903, SK6812, TM2812, and so on. When select controller for the Addressable strip, please make sure the controller can use for the strips’ IC type.

The Addressable RGB and RGBW strip are available in 5V DC and 12V DC. The 5V DC strip is individually addressable. It means the strip is every 1 LED is a pixel point be controlled by 1 IC, and every 1 LED can be cut. In turn the 12V DC strips is every 3LED as a pixel point be controlled by 1 IC and every 3LED per section can be cut. The more pixel points of the strips, when you use the strip to make screen to play words or video, the higher resolution the images or video will have. So the 5V DC Addressable strips has more pixel points than the 12V DC Addressable strips. But the 5V DC strip limits by the voltage drop factor, the length for each roll will be shorter. For example, the RGBW addressable LED strip has 5V 5050 30LED/M model in 4M/roll, 5V 5050 60LED/M model in 4M/roll, and 5V 5050 144LED/M model in 2M/roll.

The RGB Addressable LED Strip and RGBW Addressable LED strip should work with matched IC LED controllers. For RGB and RGBWW strips, they uses different LED controllers. Usually one controller will make to compatible with many IC types, please check it before place the order. And one controller will have its max controlling pixel point limit, during installation, it’s better to set up the controlling pixel point data to its max.

For example, if the pixel points of the RGB Addressable strips controlled by one dream color LED controller exceed the controller’s max rate, need to add data repeaters. And you can consider to use DMX512 controller and DMX Data decoder.


More information on the Addressable LED Strips, I will sort out in another post.