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We found the best strip lights -- and yes, Philips Hue tops the list

An LED strip light is a flexible circuit board comprised of LEDs. You can stick it almost anywhere you want to add colorful, powerful lighting. Strip lighting can be used as accent lighting in your gaming room or as a neat effect during a party or event such as Halloween.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer on

Strip lights are a great addition to any home, whether you're looking to upgrade your parties or set a relaxing scene for the end of the day in your living room; cabinet lighting in the kitchen or outdoor illumination to light nights by the fire pit or grill; strip lights can do all of this and more, when you buy the best ones.

We've gathered the best strip lights for all of your needs and budget. From RGB to plain white, LED light strips are an easy way to add some holiday spirit to any gathering. You can set different colors or synchronize them to music for Halloween or birthday and Christmas parties,  all with a setting on a remote control or, even better, an app on your phone.

Must read: 

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Easy installation
  • Bright light output at 240 lumen per foot
  • High quality construction
  • Great fit for a Hue ecosystem
cons
  • Adhesive could be better
  • Limited smart control without a Hue Bridge
  • More expensive than alternatives
More Details

Specs:

  • Length: 6.5 feet
  • Control: Mobile app via Bluetooth
  • Installation: Self-adhesive
  • Wattage: 24 watts
  • Power source: Corded electric
  • Bonus features: Extend up to 33 feet, music sync

Versatility is the name of the game here. Getting the most bang for your buck in quality and usability is what makes this Philips Hue model the best strip lights. 

The synthetic polymer construction makes for a durable, thick coating on the LED strip. And the Bluetooth connectivity gives you easy control over them from your phone. Though these only include 6.5 feet of lighting, they can be extended with other kits to up to 33 feet or, alternatively, trimmed every 12 inches or so to shorten it.

Though you can control these from your phone via Bluetooth when in close proximity, an extra Hue bridge will unlock smart capabilities like scheduling, scenes, and app control from anywhere you go.

Tenmiro LED Lights
Amazon | Maria Diaz / ZDNet
Pros & Cons
pros
  • 100ft long coverage
  • Mobile app control
  • Music sync capability
cons
  • Can't connect another kit to this one
  • Finicky connectivity with app
More Details

Specs:

  • Length: 100 feet (2 rolls of 50ft)
  • Control: 44-key IR remote control, Bluetooth via mobile app
  • Light sources: 150
  • Installation: Self-adhesive
  • Wattage: 60 watts
  • Power source: Corded electric
  • Bonus features: Music sync, color changing

These Tenmiro LED light strips are the perfect addition for anyone looking to add some color ambiance to their space. And at constantly discounted prices, this is especially true for those on a budget. 

This set comes with two rolls of 50ft each, adding up to 100ft of bluetooth-enabled, self adhesive strip lights that change colors and brightness, to set the mood you want in your home. Though the Tenmiro LED light strips include a 44-key remote control, you can also connect them with your mobile device via Bluetooth.

Getting these strips set up can be a little particular, as you may encounter some initial issues with the remote or pairing it via Bluetooth to your device. But once they're set up, they've proven to be reliably responsive. 

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Wifi-controlled
  • 100 Color zones
  • No hub required
cons
  • Adhesive isn't very strong
  • No Bluetooth
  • No HomeKit support
More Details

Specs:

  • Length: 32.8 feet (2 rolls at 16.4 feet)
  • Control: Mobile app via wifi, Google & Alexa
  • Light sources: N/A
  • Installation: Self-adhesive
  • Wattage: 42 watts
  • Power source: Corded electric
  • Bonus features: Music sync, IP44 moisture resistance

These wifi-enabled Tapo strip lights by TP-Link are an eye-catching addition to any home or business. They feature a whopping 100 color zones and a 16 million color range, and the wifi-capability means you'll be able to control them trough the app from wherever you go.

The Tapo app makes it easy to synchronize these to music, or play with effects, set schedules and set scenes. The output on these lights is rated at 1100 lumens, so it's a pretty bright set on its own, yet a good addition for supplemental lighting with its fully dimmable feature.  

Though these strip lights don't include a remote control, they have a connected manual controller to turn on and off, and change colors and presets. This feature sets it apart from other options that rely on smart control or plug in to enable only.

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Bright colors
  • A lot of light sources in short length
cons
  • No remote control
More Details

Specs:

  • Length: 16.4 feet
  • Control: Mobile app via wifi
  • Light sources: 150
  • Installation: Included clips & mounting pads
  • Wattage: 20.4 watts
  • Power source: Corded electric
  • Bonus features: Music sync, color changing

The shorter length and bright colors make the Sengled Smart LED strip lights the perfect option for any gaming or media room. Wether you want to line the back of a monitor, TV, or even a desk, these strip lights feature 16 million color possibilities to fit right into whatever mood you're in.

This Sengled light strip has wifi capability to make it even easier to set the perfect scene for whatever is playing on your screen through the Sengled Home app. The colors on this strip are also pretty outstanding, though you can adjust the brightness to suit the room. LED strips tend to have a bluish hue no matter their color setting, but these strips do a great job at displaying true colors without blue tint.

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Weatherproof, flexible construction
  • Option for different white temperatures
  • Versatile, year-round use
cons
  • No remote control
  • No color options
More Details

Specs:

  • Length: 32.8 feet
  • Color temp: 3000K (with alternatives at 4000K and 6500K)
  • Control: No remote, plug in 
  • Light sources: 90
  • Installation: Included clips & screws
  • Wattage: 60 watts
  • Power source: Corded electric

This flexible 32.8 feet long light strip by Sylvania is the perfect addition for any outdoor space, from a deck to a fence, to landscaping or lighting walkways. Though it's built tough for outdoor use, you can also use it indoors to light bedrooms or living areas, or cabinet lighting.

The downside for this model are that it doesn't include a remote control or any color options. But if you're looking for a durable white light strip for your outdoor area, this is the top option. Personally, I bypass the lack of a remote control by using an outdoor smart plug to simply control the strip lights via my phone and Alexa. 

This model is for a warm white, 3000K color temperature, but Sylvania also offers alternative daylight color at 4000K and cool white at 6500K, purchased separately. 

Pros & Cons
pros
  • 900 lumens per kit
  • Motion-activated
  • Customizable installation
cons
  • Only 6 strips in a single run
  • No built-in on/off switch
More Details

Specs:

  • Length: 6 feet (6 linkable light strips)
  • Color temp: 5000K (with alternative at 3000K)
  • Control: Motion sensor, no remote
  • Light sources: 108
  • Installation: Included screws and self-adhesive
  • Wattage: 11 watts
  • Power source: Corded electric

Torchstar's LED light strips are marketed for safes and under-cabinet lighting, but the motion sensor activation makes them the perfect addition for anywhere you may need some extra light, like closets, along hallways, or even inside cabinets and pantries.

These lights come in six individual 12" long light strips and a motion sensor to activate them. The motion sensor has two ports to connect two separate extensions, making it easy to combine more of these light kits into one installation. 

Philips Hue Halloween lights indoor display with decorations
Philips

What are the best strip lights?

The best strip lights are the Philips Hue Bluetooth lightstrip because they combine easy control via bluetooth, color changing capabilities for ambiance, as well as bright output at 1600 lumens. Though the price is higher than others, the mentioned features makes the investment well worth it; plus this strip's sturdy construction results in increased durability, especially compared with other alternatives. 

Strip lightsZDNet's takePriceLumensLengthWattsColor changingBT/Wifi
Philips Hue
Best overall$99.9916006 ft24BT
TenmiroBest for a budget$19.99NS100 ft60BT
TP-Link TapoBest smart strip lights$79.99110032.842Wifi
SengledBest for gaming & media rooms$25.8980016.420.4Wifi
SylvaniaBest for outdoors installation$78.65199032ft 8in60--
TorchstarBest motion-activated strip lights$49.999006 ft11--

Which are the right strip lights for you?

Choosing the best strip lights for you will largely depend on what you'll be using them for and where you'll be installing them. If you're looking for bright, reliable, color-changing and true white under-cabinet lighting, the Philips Hue strip lights are your best option.

If you need a motion-activated option with a dimmer light for a smaller space, then Torchstar's lighting kit is your best pick. 

Choose these strip lights...If you want...
Philips HueThe brightest color-changing light strip with bluetooth capability
TenmiroTo stay on a budget and need a lot of coverage for less
TP-Link TapoSmart light strips to control from anywhere without buying a separate hub
SengledAn upgrade to your media room's ambiance through lighting
SylvaniaOutdoors strip lights to illuminate walkways or gathering areas
TorchstarMotion-activated lights for smaller spaces

How did we choose these strip lights?

Strip lights are the kind of thing I love to add more to the outside of my home than the inside, if I'm being honest. But I admit it is fun playing around with different lighting colors and scenes around my house, especially when the strip lights you're using are the best ones. 

Reliability in installation is one of the first things to look for on a light strip, and this is just one of the qualities we looked at when choosing these lights. Whether the adhesive is tacky and strong enough to hold these lights is important because these are often installed under cabinets or along the ceiling. Many lights on the market have issues with adhesion, so this is one of the first things I check for when choosing strip lights.

Along with installation, we tested how dependable the strips are, whether the LEDs won't randomly quit or get stuck in a random color regardless of your choosing. We focused on these and more features and combined those with our experience with different strip lights, as well as thorough research to determine which are the best ones.

Are LED strip lights worth it?

Though LED strip lights are more expensive than your standard light bulbs, the benefit of a reduced energy bill and more relaxed home ambiance may be what makes them worth the cost. 

LED lights are much more energy efficient than the average incandescent bulbs, so adding them to replace the use of these bulbs will undoubtedly save energy consumption.

Can LED strip lights catch on fire?

The truth is that any electrical component can catch on fire, given the right circumstances. However, LED lights don't heat up as much as an incandescent light bulb does, so the chances of them producing a fire from heat are extremely small.

As with any electrical products, make sure your outlets are in good condition before plugging in anything, as problems with an outlet would have a higher chance of causing a fire than the very low heat from LED strip lights.  

Why are some LED strip lights more expensive?

Most of what causes the cost of strip lights to increase in comparison to others is the quality in construction and the control capabilities. Some light strips don't have a coating over the LED lights, while others have a moisture and dust-proof flexible coating. 

Smart LED strip lights will also run the cost up, especially considering whether they have wifi or bluetooth capabilities, or another connection format like Zigbee or Z-Wave.

Are there alternative strip lights worth considering?

There are a lot of great strip lights on the market that may be better suited to your needs. Here are the best ones:

Editorial standards

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