Each RGB LED has three LEDs inside, one blue, one green, and one red. Since LEDs are dimmable by nature, each colored LED can produce all color hues of a single color.
So, how does an RGB LED create these color combinations? It is a simple matter of playing with the brightness of each LED. For example, if you want the color purple you will increase the brightness of the red and blue LED while turning down the brightness for the green LED. Similarly, if you want the color yellow you will turn down the blue LED and turn up the red and green one. This color wheel demonstrates this process:
An RGB LED light strip works on the same principle. You can control the brightness and color of each strip using an RGB LED controller. More on that in the next section.
You can also create white light using RGB LED light strips. Just turn all three colored LEDs to the highest power to create white light. However, the white light created this way might have a little tint or hue.
RGB LED light strips are able to produce a number of colors but they do have some limitations. For example, they can’t create the color brown or light pink.
You can learn more about how RGB LED light works here.
We love some good LED blinking as much as the next person but after years of LED-soldering we need something cooler to get us excited. Sure there are RGB LEDs and those are fun too but what comes after that? Well, we have the answer: Digital LED Strips! These are flexible circuit boards with full color LEDs soldered on. They take a lot of LED-wiring-drudgery out of decorating a room, car, bicycle, costume, etc. The ones we carry come with a removable waterproof casing.
The Digital-type strips work in a different way. They have a chip for each LED, to use the strip you have to send digitally coded data to the chips. However, this means you can control each LED individually! Because of the extra complexity of the chip, they are more expensive.
What is an LED Strip Light?
LED strip lights are new and versatile forms of lighting. There are many variants and exceptions, but for the most part, they have the following characteristics:
- Consist of many individual LED emitters mounted on a narrow, flexible circuitboard
- Operate on low-voltage DC power
- Are available in a wide range of fixed and variable color and brightness
- Ship in a long reel (typically 16 feet / 5 meters), can be cut to length, and includes double-sided adhesive for mounting
Know Your LED Strips
Today, we’re going to explore the uses of LED strip lighting—a great, simple component that can add a lot of visual impact to any project. LED’s provide bright, colorful and (in some cases) customizable light, and by buying them in strip form you save yourself a lot of time and effort at the soldering bench.
Single Color, Non-Addressable:
They come in plenty of colors, and are great for providing bright, colorful lighting in fixed locations. These are commonly mounted under cabinets or tables to provide a nice recessed glow, or as a source of indirect lighting for home theater setups or display cases. They’re relatively inexpensive, and you can buy them in plenty of colors and intensities.
RGB, Non-Addressable: RGB strips are able to display any RGB color, and can change dynamically. They’re a good alternative for lighting projects where you want to be able to create different moods. They’re more expensive than single-color strips, and require some sort of microcontroller. If you’re so inclined, pre-made kits are available which include everything you need.
RGB, Addressable: The most customizable, most controllable, and just generally most awesome LED strips. Addressable LED strips are color-changing, like the previous category, but go a step further and include a tiny chip in between each and every LED, allowing you to control them all individually. They’re the most expensive, and to get the most out of one you will definitely need a microcontroller. They can be used for the most sophisticated lighting projects, or can even act as an art object all on their own. Additionally, they’re perfect for projects that rely on persistence of vision to create images in the air.