Understanding 120V LED Strip Lights

Understanding 120V LED strip lights is crucial if you require more light without a transformer or power supply. 

They are common in industrial and home applications for their durability, efficiency, and reliability. 

As such, they are beneficial and an excellent addition to your lighting project. 

However, they have shortcomings that make some individuals prefer lower-voltage LED lighting systems like the 12V LED strips. 

For instance, they have a larger voltage drop, fewer customization options, and more safety considerations. 

Some people don’t like that 120 volts of electricity in the strips flow under their cabinets or sofas. So, are the 120V LED strip lights excellent or bad for a lighting project? 

If you have such a question, you are in the right place. Today’s piece takes an in-depth look into the world of 120V LED strip lights. Read on.

Features of 120V LED Strip Lights

Multicolor LED strip showing red, blue, and green LEDs

(Multicolor LED strip showing red, blue, and green LEDs)

AC Input

A primary difference between lower-voltage LEDs and 120V LED strip lights is their power. 

12V and 24V LED strips rely on DC power, whereas the 120V LED strips operate on 120V AC input. In other words, they can tolerate the alternating nature of the AC input throughout their lifetime. 


Some 120V LED strips have built-in dimmers that allow you to set brightness levels accordingly.

 Without the feature, it would be hard to use them in applications that require brightness flexibility. 

Color Changing

RGB or RGBW 120V LED strip lights have a color-changing capability that allows you flexibility over various colors. 

Generally, they come with remote controls or mobile apps for easier customization.

Smart Home Integration

Some 120V LED strips have Alexa and Google Home compatibility, allowing you to control them using voice commands.

 Alternatively, you can do so using smartphone apps and sound commands. 


IP67/68 120V LED strips are water and dustproof, making them suitable for demanding applications such as underwater lighting. 

Additionally, they are great for any outdoor lighting applications like security and decorations. 

Installing and Setting Up 120V LED Strip Lights

Installing 120V LED strips in the dark

(Installing 120V LED strips in the dark)

The process of installing 120V LED strip lights is straightforward since you don’t need additional circuitry for additional components like a transformer. 

First, clean the installation surface to make it easy to attach the LED strip. 

Second, use screws or adhesive to attach the LED strip to the surface while following the manufacturer’s instructions. 

If you opt for screws, predrill the holes to prevent damage to the LED strip lights. 

Additionally, space the holes about three feet apart and in a position where the clips don’t block the LEDs. 

Third, plug in the strip lights to the socket or 120V power source and test it to see if it functions correctly. 

Applications of 120V LED Strip Lights

An LED strip lighting up an aquarium

(An LED strip lighting up an aquarium)

120V LED strip lights perform well, last long, are efficient, and consume less power. Consequently, they find use in a range of applications, including:

  • Home decoration
  • Architectural decorative lighting
  • Indoor accent lighting like under cabinets or on ceilings
  • Task lighting, such as kitchen lights for cooking
  • Outdoor Lighting
  • Signage and advertising
  • Retail displays like accentuating shelves and cloth racks

Considerations When Choosing 120V LED Strip Lights

A blue LED strip light

(A blue LED strip light)

Given their long lifespans, you must be careful when buying 120V LED strip lights. Here, we look at factors you must consider to get the best 120V LED strip lights.

Location of the Lights

The place you plan to install will determine the types of 120V LED strip lights you need. 

For example, if you want to illuminate an outdoor space, waterproof LEDs would be better. 

Among these are the IP67 and IP68-rated ones, as they have excellent resistance to dust and rain. 

For indoor use, go with LEDs that have multicolor and dimming capabilities. 

Aesthetics and Function

An excellent question to as yourself is, what are you planning to do with the 12V LED lights?

 Consider the overall look you want to achieve, whether the lights suit the occasion and their compatibility. 

Moreover, assess the lighting type, whether it’s perimeter, accent, indirect, task, or specialty application. 


Lumens are a measurement of brightness that a human eye perceives.

 Generally, LED strip lights for outdoor applications like security produce more lumens than those for indoor use. 

Additionally, factor in the lumens per the unit distance to know the LED strip length to install to get a certain amount of light. 

Color Rendering Index

An LED strip’s CRI is very important, especially for indoor and business premise use, as it tells how accurate a color is on a scale of 0 to 100.

 For instance, you will find it difficult to differentiate between a black and a navy shirt when under color with a CRI of 10. 

At such CRI, items look drab, desaturated, and maybe even unidentifiable.

Quality and Brand

An easy identifier of a 120V LED strip light is its manufacturer. Some manufacturers are reliable, having built their brand name over the years. 

Therefore, their LED strip lights perform better, last longer, and consume less power.  


What care and maintenance practices are critical for 120V LED strip lights?

120V LED strip lights use alternating currents, and you can connect them directly to your power source or wall outlet. 

Moreover, they are durable, with most lasting over 60,000 hours under proper care that includes: First, use the LEDs in the right environments, like an IP68-rated strip in underwater operations.

Second, power your strip lights with the correct voltage, as overvoltages significantly reduce their lifespans. 

For our case, ensure you connect a maximum voltage of 120V, as any lower voltage lower diminishes the brightness. 

Third, install a voltage regulator to supply a constant voltage to the LEDs if you draw your power from an unstable source.

Are 120V LED strip lights cheap? 

120V LED strip lights have varying price tags according to their quality and brand reputation. 

However, when compared with traditional lighting systems, they are costlier to purchase but cheaper to install. 

The cheap installation price is because they have built-in connections, and you don’t have to install cables.  

Are 120V LEDs strip lights worth it? 

Yes, they are worth it. First, they are easy to install as you only have to plug them directly into a standard electrical outlet.

 Moreover, you don’t need to install cables and connections, as the strip has built-in connections between adjacent LEDs. 

Second, they have top-notch brightness despite saving a lot of power. 

For instance, they convert close to 90 percent of wattage to light while only 10 percent gets lost in heat. 

Their major downside is that they lack the cutting flexibility synonymous with the 12V or 24V strips. 

Consequently, if you need a strip that has greater flexibility, you are better off going with the two lower-voltage options. 


LEDs are some of the brightest light sources, which consume less power for a similar lumen output to traditional lighting systems.

 In other words, they convert most of the wattage to light energy while little transforms to heat energy. 

Consequently, they are popular in lighting applications that need a bright light or draw power directly from the mains. 

If you have a lighting project that requires bright light, consider the 120V LED strips. 

Moreover, unlike 12V and 24V LED strips, the 120V ones don’t need step-down transformers to lower the voltage.