12 Volt LED Strip Lights for Outdoor Use: The Ultimate Guide

There are many applications for 12-volt LED strip lights for outdoor use.

You might install them as security lights, decorations, or lighting a pathway.

Either way, LED strip lights must have some properties to suit them for outdoor use. 

Here, we’ll be looking at their qualities, the benefits you stand to gain by installing outdoor LED lights, and many more. Read on. 

Qualities of 12 Volt LED Strip Lights for Outdoor Use

LED lights illuminating a front garden of a house

(LED lights illuminating a front garden of a house)

In most cases, you can use 12-volt LED strip lights for outdoor use in interior environments.

However, you can’t say the same for interior LED strips, as they lack certain qualities.

Here, we look at the qualities that qualify specific 12-volt LED strips for outdoor use. 


LED strips have Ingress Protection (IP) ratings that indicate their protection level against dust and water.

For example, an IP68 rating shows that the strip is entirely dust and waterproof and can withstand long periods under water. 

Additionally, they have a layer of epoxy covering the electrical traces and connections, safeguarding them from contact with water. 

High Durability

Manufacturers make LEDs for outdoor use with high-quality materials that can withstand the harsh weather elements.

First, they make them with flexible PCBs with polyimide as a substrate. 

Polyimide is tough yet remains flexible for long periods.

Moreover, the epoxy or PVC cover withstands vibrations, damage from impact, and extreme temperatures. 

Ultra-Violet Light Resistance

LEDs for outdoor use come into contact with UV radiations from the sunlight.

Therefore, UV light is resistant to prevent fading, discoloration, or long-term damage to the LEDs. 

Low Power Consumption

LED lights for outdoor use must be energy-efficient since they are on most of the night.

It will drain your batteries faster, and you’ll pay more electricity bills if they are not. 

Luckily, LEDs convert 90 percent or more of the electrical power to light and less than 10 percent to heat.

On the other hand, traditional incandescent lights convert less than 20 percent of power to light. 

High Brightness

LED lights for outdoor use have more lumens than interior lighting as they illuminate a larger space.

For instance, LED strip lights for security are usually twice as bright as interior lights and less warm. 

Wider Temperature Range

LEDs for interior lighting applications usually work in environments with a reasonably constant temperature range.

On the other hand, those for exterior use operate during winters and summers, two seasons with extreme temperatures. 

Therefore, the LED strip lights must have a wide temperature range to function effectively in all seasons and weather conditions.

Expert Advice on Choosing the Right 12 Volt LED Strip for Outdoor Use

An expert advising a couple

(An expert advising a couple)

First, consider the lighting application in terms of what you will be lighting.

Outdoor spaces can be as small as a yard or as big as a ranch.

Therefore, if the area is expansive, use LED strip lights with high-density LEDs that produce a higher output. 

Second, consider the type of lighting that you need.

The standard white or yellow light is fine if you’re lighting a ranch.

However, if you are lighting your porch for a party, use multicolored LED strips for decorative purposes. 

Third, know beforehand where you will install the lights.

If it is under a shed away from rain, go for an IP68 rating or lower.

Conversely, if you install them on an open roof, go exclusively for IP67 and IP68-rated LED strips.

Fourth, consider the length of LED strip lights that serve your purpose. 

Fifth, consider the surface on which you will install the LED strips.

For instance, if you are installing them on metallic surfaces, buy ones that have adhesives.

Difference Between 12-volt and 24-volt LED Strip Lights

A 24-volt LED strip with a power supply unit

(A 24-volt LED strip with a power supply unit)

A primary difference between the 12 and 24-volt LED strips is the voltage that they operate in.

12-volt strip lights need a 12-volt DC power supply, either a battery or a converter that converts alternating current (AC) power to DC. 

We primarily use them for smaller lighting applications in the automotive and marine applications.

Moreover, we use them in our homes for interior and outdoor lighting applications.

On the other hand, 24-volt strips need 24 volts to light at full brightness.

You can power them from a 24 volts power supply such as a battery or by converting AC power to 24 volts DC.

In most industries and warehouses, the light they use is 24-volt LED strips. 

The reason is that they operate at higher voltages but at lower currents.

And, from physics, power loss is the square of the current multiplied by the resistances.

The power supply is relatively similar, so the 12-volt battery runs the LEDs at a higher current, hence more significant power loss. 

Surprisingly, both LED strip lights produce the same brightness level if they are of the same materials and build design.  

Pros And Cons Of Installing LED Strips on the Outside

(A modern villa outside staircase with LED strip lights)

LED strip lights are gradually replacing incandescent and fluorescent lights for outdoor use.

Typically, it’s because they have the following characteristics. 


  • They are energy-efficient as they consume less power
  • They produce less heat
  • They are five times more durable than incandescent bulbs
  • Have wider customization options
  • Flexible making them easier to install


  • Presence of dark spots if some LEDs burn out
  • LED strips have lower light intensity than LED bulbs


What’s the difference between 12 Volt LED strip lights for outdoor and indoor use?

Generally, the differences between 12-volt LED strip lights indoors and outdoors are minimal.

First, most outdoor LEDs have IP67 or IP68 ratings, while indoor ones have lower ratings.

The IP68 rating is an electrical system’s highest water and dustproof rating.

If your outdoor strip has an IP68 rating, you can submerge it in water, and it will remain functional. 

Alternatively, an IP67 rating means you can keep your LED strip light in outdoor environments but not underwater.

Therefore, they can withstand periodic water influx, such as when it rains or cleaning with water-based detergents. 

Second, LED strip lights for outdoor use are generally brighter with light that projects over a large area.

In contrast, LED strip lights for interior use have warmer lights that illuminate spaces or act as decorations. 

Are 12 Volt LED strip lights for outdoor use dimmable?

The answer is that whether a 12-volt strip light is dimmable or not depends on the dimmer and the specific product.

In other words, many outdoor LED strips are very bright, being dimmable to allow you to adjust the brightness accordingly. 

Moreover, check the product specifications to see if it matches the dimmer you intend to pair it with.

Some dimmers work with certain LED strips or may need specific switches or drivers. 

Can I connect a LED strip directly to a battery?

You can connect a LED strip directly to a battery if the voltage supply matches the strip’s voltage requirement.

Typically, LED strip lights operate on 12 or 24-volt DC supplies.

If you have an LED strip that runs on a different voltage from what the battery supplies, you’ll face two scenarios. 

First, the lights will shine dimmer if you underpower the LED strip.

If you overpower the LED strips, you’ll damage the circuitry and burn your light-emitting diodes.

In such a case, use a voltage converter or regulator to step down the voltage and ensure your LED strip receives the correct voltage. 


There are many LED strips for outdoor use in today’s electronics market.

You’ll find them with different lengths, densities, voltages, and colors, meaning there’s much to consider before settling on one. 

Luckily, we’ve gone through all you need to know, plus how you can power your lights.

LEDs are an integral part of our future, and we must find ways to make the best of them.