are cheap LEDs a good deal?

LED strip loops in rainbow colours

Price is often the main consideration when making a purchase and this also applies to LED strips or tape. While it may be tempting to go for the cheapest option, it’s important to consider all factors that contribute to the price of LED tape to ensure that it meets your needs and will last for a long time.

Before we look at the different factors, you need to know that LED tape comes in 2 basic types: 24Volts and 12Volts. Generally, 24V is more expensive because it is better at maintaining a consistent brightness level especially over distance. In addition to the voltage, there are several other factors that can affect the price of LED tape:

When you’re thinking about making a purchase of LED tape, make sure you consider all the factors and their importance to you as well as the price:

  • Features: LED tape can come with a range of features, such as colour-changing capabilities, dimming options, brightness (lumen output), high colour-rendering index (CRI), waterproofing and compatibility for smart control and programming. The more features a particular LED tape has, the higher its price is likely to be.
  • Quality: the quality of LED tape can vary greatly, depending on the manufacturer and the materials used. High-quality LED tape typically uses more expensive materials and components. Cheap LED tape are equipped with smaller resistors that put an additional burden on the LED chips and shortens their lifespan. All LEDS are mounted on a backing that is also the circuit board. The thickness of the backing determines how effectively heat is drawn away from the LEDs. If LEDs get too hot, they become less efficient and don’t last as long. All these factors can contribute to a higher price tag.
  • Length: the length of LED tape can also affect its price. Longer strips of LED tape can be subject to ‘light fade’ caused by voltage drop the further the LEDs are from the power source. Longer strips cost more than shorter ones, as they require more materials and are more complex to manufacture.
  • Warranty: the length of the manufacturer’s warranty is often related to the expected life (number of hours) the tape is expected to last as well as the quality of the individual components used in the tape’s manufacture.
  • Brand: the brand of LED tape can also affect its price. Well-known, established brands may charge more for their products than lesser-known brands, even if the products are similar in quality.

If you’ve purchased LED tape of a reasonable quality, LEDs don’t often fail. But if they do, and the product is outside warranty, there may also be ‘hidden costs’ to replacing the tape such as retail price increases and shipping, your time finding a replacement and inconvenience while you are without it… not to mention matching the exact colour and tone of the LEDs to what you may already have.

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