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Published Jan. 28, 2022

A little extra light goes a long way. If there’s one thing that can make a drab, just moved-in room look modern and thoughtful, it’s ambient lighting. Though most people instantly turn to lamps and other traditional furnishings to brighten up a room, you shouldn’t overlook LED light strips, which are easy to install and offer a full spectrum of color. The effect is illumination that can complement any atmosphere or activity—whether that be a day spent in bed watching Netflix or a Friday night hosting friends. Whether you use them as an accent behind your TV or brighten up a whole room, a few well-placed light strips can create a futuristic glow to match and/or amplify the mood. The possibilities with these techy lights are seemingly endless. These are the best LED light strips for every kind of setup, from little luminary boosts to full-on glow-ups.

How we selected the best LED light strips 

I recently installed the Govee Smart LED Strip Lights underneath my bed frame and was surprised at both the ease of installation and what dramatic difference it made to the ambiance of my room. While LED strips vary greatly in use, they all are capable of creating an improved mood wherever they are installed. I compared over 50 LED light strips for connectivity, color variety, size, ratings, installation, and type to find a variety of styles that work well for different spaces and lighting goals. 

Things to consider before buying LED light strips

LED strip lights can be used to illuminate a variety of places—from your gaming station to the inside of your car. Depending on what you plan to light up, you may need a strip, or strips, with certain qualities, like the ability to connect to a smart home hub. Some light strips are multifunctional and can be adhered to just about any surface, while others are made with a specific use in mind. The best LED light strips, the ones you need, will have features to match your lifestyle, and here are some things to consider to make sure they do just that.

Size

The first thing you want to think about before buying an LED light strip is purely logistical: How much space do you want to light up? Plan out where and how you plan to place your lights and measure out what you’ll need (you can take a string, place it along where you want to place the LEDs, and then measure that to know how much lighting you’ll need). From there, make sure you either buy a strip, or set of strips, at least as long as the space you need to ensure there are no gaps or hanging pieces. You may not be able to get the exact length you need, so check your lights to make sure there’s a way to cut or shorten them.

Connectivity

Most modern LED strips support a variety of connectivity options that allow you to control the color, brightness, and power of your lights via a remote or smartphone app. If your lights will be located in a hard-to-reach area, make sure you have a good way to change the lights from afar. If you already use a smart home service or voice assistant, like Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant, it may make sense to pick lights that you can control that way. And there’s no need to stop at LED light strips when it comes to making your system smarter and more functional—you can also install smart lights into your existing fixtures for even more control and convenience. 

Power

Depending on where you plan on installing your LED strips, you may want to consider what power source your pick uses. If you’re looking to light your home entertainment system or workstation, it’ll save time in setup to opt for an LED strip with a USB connector that can plug directly into your TV or computer. You can skip dangling cords or unsightly setups by powering up the strips right from the device itself. For those who want to snake lights around furniture or walls, you’re better off with LEDs that can plug directly into the wall. 

Color variety 

Lighting can play a powerful role in creating an ambience in our homes, which is why LED strip lights with a broad color range can help in setting the mood for any situation. Ideally, your light strips will support the full RGB spectrum, 16.8 million colors, like you’d find in an RGB-lit gaming keyboard or gaming mouse. Not all LED light strips have so many options, though; you can expect to get a smaller range of preselected colors to choose from in budget models, while others offer a truly customizable color range that you can finagle in the app. 

The best LED light strips: Reviews & Recommendations

Best overall: Govee Smart LED Strip Lights

Why it made the cut: Easy to install, with interactive features like music sync and voice assistant controls, this pick can suit almost any space. 

Specs:  

  • Number of lights: 150 per 16-foot strip
  • Wattage: 36W
  • Length: 16.4 feet
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi

Pros

  • Alexa and Google Assistant compatible
  • Music sync mode
  • 16 million colors to select from 

Cons 

  • Adhesive strip can’t be moved after placement

I recently installed the Govee Smart LED Strip Lights in my home and can confidently say that this pick is easy to use and offers a great variety of colors and connectivity. Available in both 16.4-foot (150 LED bead) and 32.8-foot (300 LED bead) lengths and easily customizable, they’re a great option for lighting up both big and small spaces. They take just minutes to set up—just wipe down your surface, peel the paper off of the strip’s adhesive back, then apply with or without the help of included support clips. (Be careful when you place them, though; they’re a lot harder to take off once they’re stuck to something.)

Customization is similarly snappy: You can fine-tune your settings using the Govee Home app (available on iOS and Android). Change colors to a unique shade from an RGB wheel, add a timer, and control brightness to suit your mood. Govee Home also offers different preset lighting modes—including “sunrise,” “sunset,” “movie,” “candlelight,” and a music sync option that uses the built-in mic (the same one that allows hands-free on/off, color, and brightness, control through Alexa and/or Google Assistant) to let the lights dance to the beat. You have more than enough options to make any space suit any situation—from date nights to quiet evenings with a good book. If you’re in search of something a bit more traditional that also offers ambient light, you can also consider our recommendations for the best twinkle lights to add some simple sparkle. 

Best premium: Philips Hue Bluetooth Lightstrip

Phillips

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Why it made the cut: With a range of options available in one, automation-friendly ecosystem, this pick can seamlessly integrate into your smart home system with minimal setup. 

Specs

  • Number of lights: 50 per 
  • Wattage: 20W
  • Length: 3 feet or 6 feet (extendable)
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

Pros

  • Works with many smart home devices
  • Multiple strings of lights can interact
  • Doesn’t slow internet

Cons 

  • Most expensive option

While the average LED strip can be customized and controlled with the help of an app or remote, it typically operates alone. Philips light strips can be integrated via Hue Hub (sold separately) to create an independently connected system that won’t bog down your Wi-Fi, which is probably already handling a plethora of devices. You can add up to 50 extensions (of the same Bluetooth version, so check compatibility before purchase) for a full-home lighting system that’s tailored to your needs—with features like a handy motion sensor for automatic power, scheduled automation, and smart control while home and away. This feature gives the Philips ultimate versatility, allowing you to easily install dimmable lights, night lights, or even queued hallway lighting that feels futuristic. The Philips lights are also designed with a coated strip to diffuse the light—creating a sleek modern look that changes hue on command. 

You can fit these Philips strips to any space and integrate them to your existing smart home system, whether that’s with Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Homekit, Microsoft Cortana, SmartThings, or IFTTT. The Philips app also offers more detailed customization than some of our cheaper picks, like preset mood lighting, timers, and alarms that can coincide with your sleep schedule. 

Best for rooms: Daybetter LED Strip Lights

Daybetter

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Why it made the cut: With up to 100 feet of lighting in a single package, this pick can extend around most rooms and provide an incredible glow.

Specs 

  • Number of lights: 270 per 50-foot strip
  • Wattage: 54W
  • Length: 50 feet  
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, IR Remote 

Pros

  • App and IR Remote control
  • Smart timing settings
  • Can trim strip to size

Cons 

  • White tone is blue-tinted

These LED strip lights from Daybetter are a great bet for big lighting projects. Featuring two 50-foot strips you can string together, this package is perfect to run along the perimeter of a room. If you have a big, but not too big project, they can also be cut down to fit your space. The strong adhesive backing makes them easy to set up. Like the other general-use lights on this list, the Daybetter strips can be controlled with an IR remote (included) or smartphone app via Bluetooth, and they support specialty features like an on/off and color-change timer and music sync. There’s one issue we’re aware of, though: According to some users, the white LEDs come across as especially cold, bluish light—something to keep in mind if you want these to replace, instead of complement, traditional bright lighting.

Best for cars: Govee Interior Lights for Car

Why it made the cut: These lights are specially designed to install to the interior of a car, illuminating your drive and even syncing to your favorite playlist. 

Specs

  • Number of lights: 72 per strip
  • Wattage: N/A
  • Length: 4 x .98 foot strips
  • Connectivity: App-controlled

Pros

  • Easy installation
  • Compatible with any car model
  • Waterproof design

Cons 

  • May need to adjust the music setting depending on genre 

Ambient lighting doesn’t need to be limited to your home. Govee makes a series of Bluetooth-enabled Interior Car Lights, which you can power through your car’s 12-volt cigarette lighter port. Two lines connect the four flexible, waterproof light strips, each of which has 72 LEDs and together offer enough length to allow any vehicle to be bathed in energetic light. The creative mode available in the Govee Home app allows you to choose from 16 million colors, select and tailor a dynamic music mode that syncs with the bass on your go-to songs, and add effects (there’s also a physically connected control box if you’re keeping your phone safely tucked away while driving). It’s a unique lighting option that will turn every drive into an adventure.

Best for TVs: Pangton Villa LED Strip Lights

Pangton Villa

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Why it made the cut: Specially designed to install on the back of your television, these LED strips add vibrant ambient lighting to your entertainment setup. 

Specs

  • Number of lights: 36
  • Length: 6.5 feet 
  • Connectivity: USB, Remote

Pros

  • Easy installation
  • Improves image clarity
  • Affordable option

Cons 

  • Limited usefulness outside of TVs

If you’ve been in search of a cost-effective way to improve the aesthetics and comfort of your home entertainment system, putting an LED light strip behind your TV can make a huge difference at a low cost. These inexpensive Pangton Villa LED Strip Lights add a colorful illumination behind your TV, easily adhering to any 40- to 60-inch TV with a USB plug to draw power from your set and cut additional cord clutter from your setup. With the remote, you can select from 16 colors and four brightness modes and customize your lighting. The backlit placement of these LED lights raises ambient light without creating glare on the screen, reducing eye strain and increasing perceived contrast on the display. If you have both a bigger budget and bigger appetite for upgrades, however, we have a full range of recommendations for the best LED lights for your TV that offer features like a microphone and camera that monitors your screen to sync up the lights, voice-activated commands, or a hub that can connect with the rest of your smart home gadgets. 

Best for PCs: Corsair iCUE Lighting Node PRO RGB Lighting Controller

Corsair

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Why it made the cut: Designed for easy installation on the back of your computer, these lights are a great addition to any workstation or gaming rig. 

Specs 

  • Number of Lights: 40
  • Wattage: 3W
  • Length: 16.5 inches per strip
  • Connectivity: USB 2.0

Pros

  • Magnetic or adhesive installation
  • Lets you customize each individual light
  • Easy setup

Cons 

  • Expensive

This pack of four small USB-powered LED light strips can easily connect to the back of any computer to amp up the ambiance of your battle station. Corsair’s light strips, while expensive, have a couple of features that make them really well-suited to backing up your gaming monitor. For starters, they offer a magnetic connection, in addition to usual adhesive strips, which makes them easy to remove and adjust or reapply. They also take power from your PC via USB. Most importantly, though, they offer a higher level of granular control: Through Corsair’s iCUE software, you can customize the control of every individual light on each strip. While the iCUE Lighting Node Pro RGB strip lights aren’t as multifunctional as some of the other options on this list, they are the absolute best choice for gaming PCs, specifically.

Best cheap LED light strips: Nexillumi 50-foot LED Strip Lights

Nexillumi

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Why it made the cut: This pick offers great length, wattage, and connectivity on a budget.

Specs

  • Number of Lights: 270 per 50-foot strip
  • Wattage: 40W
  • Length: 50 feet
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth and Remote

Pros

  • Alarm clock function
  • IR Remote for controls
  • Most cost-friendly option

Cons 

  • Transformer makes small sound when used on the highest setting 

With over 50 feet and 270 light sources for under $20, the Nexillumi light strip is the most cost-effective way to add ambient lighting into your home. Despite the low price tag, you don’t lose out on connectivity, color range, and wattage, which are about the same as our top pick. 

The Nexillumi strip comes with a 44-button IR remote that allows you to control colors, modes, and brightness. There’s also a smartphone app (available on iOS or Android) that offers even more granular customization for fine-tuning. While the Nexillumi strips are certainly one of the top contenders for the best LED light strips on this list, they don’t include smart home support, so you’ll need to rely on the app and remote to fine-tune your settings—no convenient voice control mode here. 

It also has a couple of the higher-end sets’ features: There’s a microphone mode, which allows you to sync the lights to any music using a small mic located in the controller switch, so the colors change and pulsate along with your favorite tracks. The alarm function, meanwhile, lets you wake to a gently increasing light source in the color of your choice—which can surprisingly mimic a natural sunrise.

FAQs

Q: How long can you run LED light strips?

One of the benefits of LED light strips is that they are designed to last—allowing you to get ample use that won’t putter out after a few months. LED strips can last up to 50,000 hours, which is approximately 5 years of steady and reliable ambient lighting. 

Q: Do LED strips use a lot of electricity?

Compared to incandescent bulbs or halogen lighting, LEDs use a small amount of electricity. And if you’re looking to cut back on your energy consumption even further, we recommend selecting LEDs with lower voltage, which translates to less wattage and energy use—though you will sacrifice a bit of brightness as well. 

Q: Which LED light strips are the brightest?

Of our top-rated selections, the Daybetter LED Strip Lights are the brightest, with 54 watts available in a wide swath of hues and tones. 

Final thoughts on the best LED light strips

While some home improvement tasks can be both costly and time-consuming, installing LED light strips is an uncomplicated way to improve your space on a budget. The colors, modes, and applications of this versatile ambient upgrade make the best LED light strips a great fit for nearly any space and situation, whether you want to reduce eye strain or just liven up your home entertainment system with backlighting or add music-synced lights to an interior.

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