12 Volt Waterproof LED Strip Lights: The Ultimate Guide

Twelve-volt waterproof LED strip lights are getting popular as more people embrace lighting technology.

No longer must you have complex designs to accommodate chandeliers and other designs that take up space. 

Moreover, some LEDs can change color depending on the power input or in response to music.

And what’s even better is that they are waterproof.

In today’s article, we are looking at waterproof LED strips and what you should consider when purchasing them.

The Top 3 12-volt Waterproof LED Strip Lights

LED strips lighting up a black background

(LED strips lighting up a black background)

RGB 12V Outdoor Waterproof LED Strip Light

The RGB 12V LED is an ideal light source for damp locations or areas with high moisture levels.

The strip light has an IP67 rating, which can withstand moisture entry for long durations. 

Moreover, it is available in rolls of 10 meters with 30 LEDs per meter.

Consequently, a single strip has 300 LEDs that you can cut in threes if necessary.

Other vital information is that the strip has 410 lumens per meter with light at a beam angle of 120°.

12V Waterproof LED Light Strips

One special thing about 12V waterproof LED strips is that you can sync them with music.

The LED strip has a microphone that picks up music beats and changes colors according to the rhythm. 

Furthermore, you can control it with a power controller, remote control, and a Bluetooth app.

For outdoor use, it is waterproof with an IP65 rating and 60,000-plus years of service. 

Waterproof IP65 LED RGB Flex Strip

LED Supply’s Waterproof LED Flex Strip is IP65-rated lighting with 540 lumens per meter for the standard density (SD) version.

If you opt for the high-density (HD) version, you’ll get more brightness with 1080 lumens per meter. 

Also, you can cut it after every 3 LEDs, which translates to 4 for the SD and two for the HD.

If you want to reduce their brightness, you can do so with the help of a 12V PWM dimmer that installs between the strip and the power supply.

Considerations When Buying The Best 12V LED Waterproof Outdoor Strips.

Multi-color LEDs lighting up a building

(Multi-color LEDs lighting up a building)

We use LED waterproof outdoor strips for different reasons.

Therefore, we need to consider some factors that make one suitable for a certain application and not the other.

LEDs per Foot or Meter

Typically, LED strips with higher brightness have more LEDs per unit length.

If you buy one with the lights further apart, you will notice it is dimmer and spotty. 

But remember, the number of LEDs per length isn’t a fit-for-all determinant of brightness.

It is a determinant of how spotty your lighting shall be.

For instance, you may have dark spots between the LEDs if they are two per meter. 

Color Options

(A series of background LED lights)

Depending on the application, you can opt for a single or multi-color LED strip (RGBW or RGB).

If you need the strip for standard lighting, a single-color one suits you best.

However, go with the red-green-blue lights or include a strip with a white light diode (RGBW) for decorative purposes.

Brightness

12-volt LEDs have different brightness levels that suit certain applications.

You may need an LED with lower lumens for internal lighting than you would for outdoor setups.

Moreover, if you use 12-volt LEDs for interior use, the brightness will vary depending on the room size.

Color Temperature

LEDs can produce different versions of the same color, such as cool white and neutral white.

Tunable lighting is gaining popularity, whereby you don’t need to buy a strip with tons of colors.

All you have to do is buy a color strip that can turn from a warm color to a cool one.  

Where Can You Use 12 Volt Waterproof LED Strip Lights?

LED strips lighting up the interior cabin of a car

(LED strips lighting up the interior cabin of a car)

Generally, we use 12-volt waterproof lights for outdoor applications since they come into contact with water.

And unlike filament bulbs, which you ensure don’t come into contact with water, LED conductors are fully insulated.

Here are some uses of waterproof LED strips.

  • Automotive lighting: You can install 12-volt LED strip lights outside your vehicle for lightning. For instance, if you are a camper and would need to provide sufficient lights for your camp, the LED strips are ideal. Moreover, they will draw power from your vehicle’s 12-volt battery. 
  • Outdoor lighting: You can decorate your yard or garden with 12-volt LED strip lights. Additionally, they are the best choice for a wedding or party, as they are easy to install and waterproof. 
  • Marine applications: Few light sources can withstand unforgiving marine environments. The reason is that there are a lot of storms in the oceans that may damage light sources. It can be due to short circuits or the destructive force of waves. Conversely, waterproof LEDs are a better option as they are robust and waterproof. 
  • Bathroom lighting: Sometimes, having a single filament bulb casts shadows throughout the bathroom. To avoid such, you can run a waterproof LED across the wall to ensure you get uniform light throughout the room.
  • Aquarium lighting: Waterproof LED strip lights are ideal for aquariums as they also improve their aesthetic values. Moreover, their waterproof nature means they can last long under a high-moisture environment. 
  • Decoration: The fact that 12-volt waterproof LEDs work best in high-moisture environments doesn’t mean they can’t work indoors. If you need low-lying lights, say behind cabinets or stair rails, they are the ideal option.

FAQs

How do you know an LED strip light is waterproof? 

The only way to know if an LED strip is waterproof is to look at its Ingress Protection (IP) rating.

Generally, the first digit indicates the strip’s protection against dust, while the second indicates against water.

Moreover, the higher the numbers, the greater the protection. 

If you walk into a shop to purchase one, you may see ratings such as IP65 and IP68.

What this means is that the LED strip is dust-proof (rating 6) and jet-proof (rating 5) or waterproof (rating 8).

As evident, the second rating shows that the LED is waterproof even under continuous immersion in water.

Will outdoor LED strips consume a lot of power? 

If you are comparing them to conventional incandescent lights, the answer is that they consume very little power.

Additionally, they consume a similar amount of power compared to indoor LED strips of the same rating. 

When it comes to LED strip lights, they produce little heat and convert approximately 95 percent of power to light.

Conversely, incandescent bulbs convert less than 10 percent of power to light, meaning they lose 90 percent or more energy.

What’s the lifespan of an outdoor waterproof LED strip light? 

Like any electrical system, the lifespan of a waterproof LED strip light depends on prevailing conditions and its quality.

Generally, most have a lifespan of close to 50,000 hours.

In contrast, fluorescent and incandescent bulbs last between 1,000 to 10,000 hours. 

However, you must properly install and maintain the LED strip lights.

Failure to do so or disregarding manufacturer instructions will predispose the LEDs to premature failure. 

Conclusion

When buying a 12-volt LED, consider its application and area of lighting.

Choosing a high-density strip with 60 LEDs per meter is better if lighting up a large space.

It will be brighter with 1080 lumens per meter compared to 540 of the standard density (SD) strip. 

On the downside, it will consume 40 watts per reel which are 13 more than the standard density (SD) strip.

Additionally, you can run the strip a shorter distance than the latter making it more costly to install.