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Understanding Waterproof LED Strip Lights: A Comprehensive Guide

LED strip lights have gained popularity due to their versatility in adding light to various spaces. They come in a range of colors and offer diverse installation methods. A crucial factor to consider when buying LED strip lights is their water resistance. Numerous waterproof LED strip light options are available in the market, so understanding which suits your requirements is vital.

What is an IP rating?

An IP rating, or Ingress Protection Rating, is a number given to an LED strip to represent the degree of protection it offers against foreign solid objects and liquids. This rating comprises two numbers: the first signifies protection against solid objects, and the second represents protection against liquids. For instance, an IP68 rating indicates total protection against dust and the ability to withstand submersion in water up to 1.5 meters for a maximum of 30 minutes.

When are waterproof LED strips necessary?

Waterproof LED strips aren’t always required. If you are a beginner or your project is essential, you may not need them immediately. The majority of simple LED projects can be executed using non-waterproof LED strips. However, waterproof LED strips become essential for damp environments or if your LED strips will be used outdoors or underwater.

How many different waterproof grades of LED strip lights are there?

There’s a wide array of waterproof grades for LED strip lights. Understanding which one to select might not be straightforward for beginners. There are five primary waterproof grades: IP20, IP52, IP65, IP67, and IP68.

The grade you need depends on your intended use of the LED strip lights. For indoor decoration purposes, the IP20 grade would suffice.

IP20 Non-waterproof

The IP20 grade is the lowest, offering no water resistance, and is intended solely for indoor usage.

IP54 Nano Coating

Waterproofing Process:

An additional painting layer is applied to the LED strip light, leaving the opposite side as a bare PCB. IP52 LED strips offer dust resistance, but their water resistance is low.

Application:

These are suited for dry and wet areas such as living rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms. However, their use is not advisable in areas prone to water splashes.

Color Shift:

The color temperature of the finished product might increase compared to the LEDs. For instance, to manufacture 3000K IP54 LED strips, LEDs with a lower CCT than 3000K, such as 2700K LEDs, should be used.

Brightness Loss:

Around 6% loss of luminosity.

Dimensional Changes:

Compared to IP20 LED strips, the height increases by a very limited one, and the width remains unchanged. Hence, additional width consideration is not required when choosing LED aluminum profiles.

IP64 Spray Painting Glue

Waterproofing Process:

A Spray Painting Glue wraps the LED strip. IP64 LED strips offer the same dust and water resistance as the IP65 silicone tube LED strip.

Application:

They are suited for areas that experience moisture or water splashes, like kitchens, bathrooms, and eaves. Due to their slim casing, they aren’t recommended for outdoor use.

Color Shift:

There’s essentially no noticeable color shift.

Brightness Loss:

About a 5% reduction in luminosity.

Dimensional Changes:

Compared to the non-waterproof IP20 LED strip, the IP64 heat shrink tube LED strips have virtually no changes in width and height.

IP65 Silicone Extrusion Tube

Waterproofing Process:

The LED strip is manually covered in a silicone sleeve or by silicone extrusion. IP65 LED strips are dust and water-resistant.

Application:

They are suitable for areas with moisture or water splashes, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and eaves. Due to the hollow casing, they are not recommended for outdoor use.

Color Shift:

There’s almost no noticeable color shift.

Brightness Loss:

Around 5% loss of luminosity.

Dimensional Changes:

Compared to the non-waterproof IP20 LED strip, the width and height of IP65 silicone tube LED strips increase by approximately 2mm. Therefore, the increased size must be accounted for when selecting LED aluminum profiles.

IP67 Fully Silicone Encased

Waterproofing Process:

The LED strip is fully encased in Silicone. IP67 LED strips provide excellent dust and water protection, even against temporary immersion in water.

Application:

Due to their superior waterproofing, these are ideal for outdoor usage or any environment where the strips may be temporarily submerged in water.

Color Shift:

Like the IP65 and IP64 strips, there is practically no color shift with the IP67 silicone-encased LED strips.

Brightness Loss:

The loss of brightness is minimal, similar to the other higher IP-rated strips.

Dimensional Changes:

Compared to the non-waterproof IP20 LED strip, the IP67 LED strips might be slightly more prominent due to the additional silicone casing. This should be taken into account when choosing LED aluminum profiles.

IP67 Silicone Glue Coating

Waterproofing Method:

The waterproofing involves the application of silicone filling to the LED strip’s surface. The primary limitation of this process is the length can be 5 meters only.

Use Cases:

These are ideal for outdoor applications, although they are not recommended for underwater use.

Color Variation:

There is no change in color.

Luminosity Reduction:

Approximately 8% reduction in brightness.

Size Alterations:

The dimensions of the IP67 full silicone-encased LED strips are about 2mm increase.

IP68 Silicone Glue Extrusion

Waterproofing Method:

The LED strip is enveloped in a clear Silicone glue casing.

Use Cases:

These strips are perfect for both outdoor and underwater applications. It doesn’t allow water penetration and is resistant to chlorine, acid, and alkali, making it suitable for underwater environments.

Color Variation:

Like the IP57 silicone fully encased LED strips, the IP68 full silicone encased also shows color variations.

Luminosity Reduction:

Approximately 15% reduction in brightness.

Size Alterations:

The dimensions of the IP68 full silicone encased LED strips are slightly increased, approximately by 2mm.

Misunderstandings around IP52 and IP65

Many manufacturers incorrectly label their silicone-coated LED strips as IP65, which implies they’re suitable for places prone to splashes. However, these LED strips have exposed PCBs on the backside, making them not completely waterproof. Misuse can lead to damage.

Common Waterproofing Materials for LED Strips

Epoxy resin, PU glue, and Silicone are the most popular materials in waterproofing LED strips. Let’s explore the differences.

Epoxy Resin

Epoxy resin is economical, user-friendly, and relatively non-toxic, making it a popular choice for affordable LED strips. However, its molecular structure has some flaws. Firstly, its thermal conductivity is subpar, which can decrease the lifespan of the light strip. Secondly, it tends to yellow over time, which can affect the color temperature. Moreover, it is susceptible to temperature extremes, hardening, and cracking at temperatures below 0°C.

PU Glue

PU glue is pricier than epoxy resin, offering better-yellowing resistance, low-temperature endurance, and improved thermal conductivity. Nevertheless, it has toxicity issues, producing some small molecular compounds that are unpleasant to smell and harmful to health after curing. Moreover, it doesn’t withstand high temperatures well. LED strips with PU glue shouldn’t be used in areas exceeding 80°C.

Silicone

The most expensive of the three, Silicone, is an eco-friendly material that combines the benefits of PU glue and epoxy resin. It is highly resistant to high and low temperatures, making it suitable for environments ranging from -50° to 300°. This makes silicone-based LED strips a perfect choice for saunas and refrigerators. Furthermore, it doesn’t yellow over time, maintaining a consistent LED strip color temperature over a long period, making it essential for high-end lighting projects. The good thermal conductivity of silicone aids in the LED strip’s heat dissipation, but aluminum channels might be needed for high-power (above 20 W/m) strip lighting for thermal management.

ItemEpoxy ResinPolyurethane GlueSilicone
CostLowHighHighest
Temperature resistance0-60℃
Harden in low temperature
-40-80℃
Performance remained stable
-40-220℃
Performance remained stable
Heat conductivityLowHighHigh
YellowingObvious after half a yearNoNo
ToxicityLowHigh, bad smellNo
Light transmission rate92%95%96%

Understanding Silicone Integrated Extrusion

Silicone-integrated extrusion is a method where LED strip lights and solid Silicone are fused in a mold under the effects of high-temperature vulcanization.

Why Choose Silicone Integrated Extrusion?

The silicone-integrated extrusion process offers distinct benefits when juxtaposed with traditional waterproofing methods.

Unlimited Length

The silicone-integrated extrusion process makes waterproof LED strips of infinite length possible. Contrarily, the maximum length for a waterproof LED light strip produced through traditional waterproofing methods is usually 10 meters.

Enhanced Productivity

The silicone-integrated extrusion process is predominantly automated, and Silicone can be hardened via high-temperature vulcanization in mere minutes. In contrast, the traditional waterproofing method is mainly manual, taking up to a full day for the silicone adhesive to cure naturally.

Superior Waterproof Performance

The silicone-integrated extrusion process employs solid Silicone, which is more durable and resistant to breakage. This, coupled with a one-piece injection-molded plug, enhances the waterproof efficacy of the LED strip lights.

How Does Silicone Integrated Extrusion Work?

Despite being more intricate than conventional waterproofing methods, the Silicone integrated extrusion production process can be distilled into four primary stages.

Stage 1: Silicone Preparation. The base ingredient, solid Silicone, must be thoroughly kneaded using a machine to make it softer and eliminate air pockets.

Stage 2: Preparing for Extrusion. The process commences with positioning rolling LED strips on the payoff frame, which are then sorted and aligned using an adjustment table.

Stage 3: Beginning the Extrusion. Next, the LED strip and Silicone are fed through the pre-assembled die. Activating the operation button on the electronic control box starts the machine, which begins to encapsulate the LED strip in Silicone.

Stage 4: Vulcanization. The machine expels the silicone-covered LED strip, passed through a vulcanizing oven. Here, the product undergoes gradual vulcanization and shaping. The oven maintains a moderate temperature to prevent the LED beads from burning. Once vulcanized, a tractor removes the LED strip.

Guidance on Using Waterproof LED Strip Lights Trimming and Connecting LED Strips with Connectors

Cutting and linking LED strips with LED connectors is relatively straightforward and user-friendly.

Welding and Sealing Waterproof LED Strips

Welding LED strips is a more complex process requiring particular technical expertise.

Installing Waterproof LED Strips

The process for setting up waterproof and non-waterproof LED strips is virtually identical. However, given the additional weight of waterproof LED strips, it is advisable to use installation clips alongside double-sided tape.

Final Remarks

Ultimately, LED strip lights provide an exceptional lighting solution for any environment, and with appropriate waterproofing techniques, their usage can be extended to outdoor and underwater areas. By perusing this piece, you can ensure the longevity of your LED strip lights.

MyLikeLed is a renowned manufacturer of superior LED strips and LED neon flex. Our products are rigorously tested in state-of-the-art laboratories to guarantee the highest quality standards. We also provide customization options for our LED strips and neon flex. So, for first-rate LED strips and LED neon flex, don’t hesitate to contact MyLikeLed at your earliest convenience!

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