Getting to Grips with LED Strips: Do I need waterproof LED Strip Lights?
If you plan on using your LED Strip Lights in a kitchen, bathroom or outside, then the answer is almost certainly yes. In most other situations, waterproofing your LED Strip Lights isn't essential.
Waterproof LED Strip Lights feature a special plastic coating called an IP rated coating. This coating is designed to stop moisture from reaching the internal components and causing a short circuit. The degree of protection offered by an IP coating varies considerably and ranges anywhere from no protection to complete protection.
The standard for waterproof LED Strip Lights is IP65, which is a coating of silicone gel. These strip lights can withstand partial exposure to liquid, including splashes, jets and condensation. This makes them ideal for use in kitchens and bathrooms where the presence of plumbing and water outlets is a risk. You should also use waterproof LED Strips around the edge of windows where there is a tendency for condensation to form on cold days. Submerging this type of strip light is not recommended as water is still able to seep in and cause short circuits.
One of the main advantages of IP65 LED Strips is that it still remains waterpoof when cut. Other types of strip cannot be cut, as doing so compromises their protection. An example of this is IP67, which features a hollow plastic "sleeve." While it does offer greater protection, it cannot be cut, otherwise the strip light will be exposed and water able to pass into the sleeve.
When planning your installation, it is also very important to consider the peripheral units. Conventional power supplies, controllers and amplifiers are not waterproof. If you can keep these units way from moisture, all the better, but if it is unavoidable there are IP rated versions available. You should never submerge these units, even if they are IP rated.
For most applications, normal LED Strip Lights are fine. However, it is worth noting that an IP rated coating doesn't just protect against moisture; it also prolongs the life of the light as it protects against physical contact and accidental damage. This is particularly important if you plan on using the light at ground level, such as under kitchen units and along stairs.
Always seek the advice of a professional electrician, as dealing with electricity and water is potentially very dangerous. Even though LED Strip Lights use a low voltage direct current, exposure to water is still enought to short circuit the delicate components.
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