LED Rope Lighting vs Strip Lights: What’s the Difference?

Posted by Birddog Lighting on Sep 7th 2018

LED Rope Lighting vs Strip Lights: What’s the Difference?

LED lighting is one of the best ways to illuminate a space. LED lighting solutions use very little power and are exceptionally bright. And luckily, for more challenging lighting solutions, LEDs don’t only come in bulbs.

LED rope lighting and LED strip lights are both flexible solutions for creative lighting needs. But while the two may have a lot in common, they aren’t the same. Read on to discover some of the differences between the two.

Light Source

One of the biggest differences between LED rope lighting and LED strip lights is the light source. LED rope lighting is made up of individual LED bulbs encased in a clear plastic tube. These may come in different colors, but you can’t change the color of the bulbs.

LED strip lights are comprised of surface-mounted LED chips affixed to a flat piece of tape. They do come with color changing options, as well as a variety of single colors. These tend to produce a more diffuse light than rope lighting.

Round or Square Corners

You’ll want to take a look at the area you plan to affix the LED lights and determine if it has square or rounded corners. LED strip lighting is better suited to rounded corners than to square ones. It can’t bend very well around corners, and if you want a tight fit, rope lights may be your best choice.

You should keep in mind that if you plan to install rope lights in a square corner, you’ll have to cut the rope light and incorporate a corner or T-connector. With tape lighting, you can fold the tape around the corner at a junction between two of the light chips.


Of course, the brightness of your LED lights is an important factor when choosing between rope lighting and strip lights. If you’re lighting a workspace or someplace that requires bright light, you’ll want to go with tape lights. They produce a very bright light and can be dimmed as the occasion demands.

LED rope lighting is much dimmer. It’s an excellent choice for mood lighting or soft illumination around a pool deck, outdoor gazebo, or similar. But if you’re looking for bright task lighting, these are not the lights you’re looking for.

Run Length

The length you’ll need to run LEDs for your project will also affect your decision between rope and strip lights. In part, this will depend on your lights’ voltage. Generally speaking, LED rope and strip lights come in either 12V or 120V.

The maximum run length on lights refers to the maximum length of light you can plug into a single energy source before you’ll start flipping breakers.

If you’re using 12V LED strip lights, the maximum run length will be 20 feet. If you’re using 120V rope lights, you won’t want to go more than 150 feet on a single power source. But if you’re using LED strip lights, a single power cord can power up to 330 feet.

Special Effects

One of the big appeals of LED lighting is its potential for special effects. Being able to change the color of your lights with the push of a button or to dim them when the situation calls for it is a big perk.

Both LED rope lights and strip lights offer dimmable or strobe options for the nights when you have company over. Both are sold in RGB color changing, though the LED strip light has more uniform light due to not using individual colored bulbs.

Ease of Installation

If you’re a confident DIY-er, rope and strip lighting installation isn’t anything to worry about. Depending on how involved your planned setup is, you may need to do some splicing. That being said, if you’re just looking to hang them on a fence or similar, your only concern will be making sure the electrical connections are water resistant.

Learn More About LED Rope Lighting

LED lighting is one of the best options on the market today, for environmental and financial reasons. The flexibility LED rope lighting and strip lighting offers makes illuminating your space a breeze. Make sure to determine your needs before you buy and you’ll have a solution that will last you for years.

If you’d like to learn more about using LEDs to light your house, visit the rest of our site at Birddog Lighting. We have all the information you need about LED lighting projects. Check out our posts on LED technology.

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