Best LED Strips of 2024

February 1, 2024

White LED strip downlighting is an easy lifehack to make any space feel brighter and more luxurious, but some of the best-selling LED strips on Amazon give off terrible quality light when it comes to flickering, color temperature and color rendering index, and that’s really bad considering how important those things are for kitchens, closets, and workspaces.

So, I spent over $600 of my own money buying all the top-rated LED strips on Amazon and I ran them through a bunch of tests using this professional colorimeter and this LED flicker meter to figure out which are the best and which ones you should stay away from.

And I’d love to just give you the results upfront, but unlike my LED lightbulb video there isn’t one best LED strip that will fit every application, so let’s break them down by category.

Full LED Strip Kits

Starting with the easiest to use variety, complete kits that come with a power supply and controller. All you do is take them out of the box and plug them in and you’re ready to go. Here they are ordered by the price I paid on Amazon.

First, we’ve got the Pautix 5V COB LED Strip Light which is $10 for 2 meters.

Next, the Daybetter Tunable Under Cabinet Light kit is $10 for 3 meters.

Then the Onforu warm white LED strip lights which are $14 for 5 meters.

After that is the Lafluit under cabinet light kit which is also $14 for 5 meters.

Next is the Wobane under cabinet light kit at $19 for 5 meters.

Then the Govee Warm White LED strip lights which are $21 for 5 meters.

Then, the Novostella tunable LED light strip is $24 for 6 meters.

The most expensive was the Pautix Tunable White COB LED strip which was $26 for 3 meters.

And here is the cost per meter.

Even though you might see these lights as accent lighting, some of the most common uses will be in closets and kitchens, and in those cases the color rendering index or CRI of the light is extremely important. LEDs don’t all have the same color emission spectrums, and if certain color bands are missing or underrepresented than objects lit up by that light won’t look quite right, and the ability for a light to show the true color of an object is called its CRI. I used my Hoppocolor 350C Colorimeter to measure the CRI of each strip and found that the Daybetter tunable under cabinet kit was by far the worst at 70.2 for warm white and 70.9 for cool white, while the Pautix tunable COB strip was the best at 91.6 for warm white and 92.1 for cool white, and even if you don’t consider CRI to be important for your application, I would never suggest anything below a CRI of 80, so we can eliminate the Daybetter kit completely.

The next important characteristic of these lights is their flicker, which is a function of the controller and power supply more than the LEDs themselves, but a flickering light source can cause headaches and vision issues, not to mention just being extremely distracting.

I used my Hoppocolor LED flicker meter to measure the Flicker percentage and Flicker index of each LED strip and I found that the Govee kit had the least flicker throughout its entire dimming range, while the flicker from the Wobane kit was unbearable below around 80% brightness where the meter measured 99% flicker percentage. I also thought the 5V Pautix COB led strip, and Daybetter under cabinet lights at 32% and 43% were way too flickery for permanent use, so we can eliminate those as well.

Next let’s talk about brightness. I measured a 22 inch section of LED strip inside of a light sealed white cooler and recorded the lux measurement with my colorimeter, then multiplied that by the square meters of the cooler to calculate the lumens of each strip. I found that the Pautix tunable COB LED strip was the brightest at 3681 lumens on cool white and 2768 lumens on warm white, and the Novostella tunable strip was the dimmest at 1142 lumens on cool white, and 1230 lumens on warm white.

And by looking at their power consumption we can also calculate their efficiency in lumens per watt, where the warm white lights from Onforu were a standout at 1417 lumens per watt and the worst was the 5V Pautix COB LED strip at 652 lumens per watt, less than half of the Onforu.

So, all things considered the best easy to use strip with everything included is the Pautix Tunable COB LED strip which had the highest CRI, highest brightness, acceptable flicker, and completely tunable color temperature using the included infrared remote, with the downsides being the highest price per meter, and a relatively low power efficiency.

The Govee Warm White strips also performed well with good brightness, low flicker, and high efficiency, at less than half the cost per meter of the Pautix strip, but I was disappointed that the CRI was only 83.2, and the Govee strip is obviously not tunable like the one from Pautix.

The Govee strip also doesn’t come with a remote, so brightness can only be controlled by pressing the buttons on the controller itself. But both the Govee and Pautix remember their last state when powered on, so you can control them with a smart outlet or timer by cutting the power completely.

DIY’er LED Strips

Next are the LED strips without a controller and these are for slightly more advanced DIY users who will provide their own appropriately sized power supply and controller. My preferred LED controller is the Shelly RGBW2, so that’s what I used for all my testing, and I used a benchtop power supply to provide 12V or 24V based on the requirements of the strip. 

In order by what I paid for each strip on Amazon first we’ve got the LEPro Warm White LED Strip which is $10 for 5m.

After that for $15 is the 12V BTF-Lighting FCOB warm white strip which is $15 for 5 meters.

Then the 12V BTF Lighting RGB + WW 5050 LED strip which is also $15 for 5 meters.

Next is the Topai 12V COB LED strip which is $19 for 5 meters.

Then the 24V LLTOP COB LED strip is $20 for 5 meters.

The 12V Hitlights Warm White strip is $30 for 4m.

Next is the Joylit 24V COB LED Strip which is $34 for 5 meters.

Then we’ve got the 24V Joylit UL Rated warm white strip which is $38 for 5 meters.

Last, the most expensive DIY strip is the SuperlightingLED 24V RGBW COB led strip which is $45 for 5 meters.

And here is their cost per meter, with the LEPro coming in at just $2 per meter, and the SuperlightingLED RGBW strip at an eye watering $9 per meter.

Looking at the Color Rendering Index the Joylit 24V COB LED strip had a standout CRI of 95.8, which means it would be great for even the most demanding applications like photography, but the majority of the strips were also above 90 CRI which is great to see. The only strip that I feel like I can eliminate based on CRI alone is the BTF-Lighting RGB + WW strip which had a CRI under 60, even with a dedicated white LED on the strip, which is unacceptably bad.

Looking at flicker, as I said before, it’s more a result of the controller and power supply than the LED strip itself, but I did verify that all the LED strips dimmed and acted as they should with the shelly controller and had nearly identical flicker percentages.

For brightness there was a massive amount of variation with the Joylit 24V UL Listed LED strip coming in at a ridiculously bright 11194 Lumens and at the very bottom of the list the BTF Lighting RGB + WW strip came in at less than 1000 lumens, 11 times dimmer than the Joylit.

But maybe the craziest thing is that the Joylit COB LED strip was also very bright at 5377 lumens putting it in second place overall, but it was still less than half as bright as the 24V UL Listed strip from Joylit.

And when I measured efficiency, the Hitlights, LEPro, and Joylit UL listed strip were at the top with efficiencies above 1200 lumens per watt for the 22” segment.

Another important thing to consider when going the DIY route is how long of an LED run you can make without changes in color or brightness which is largely determined by the thickness of the copper traces embedded in the strip. For each strip I measured the voltage at the beginning of the strip and at the end when outputting full brightness white to determine the voltage drop and the best performers were the Joylit 24V COB LED Strip, BTF-COB Strip, and Joylit UL Listed strip which each dropped less than 1 volt over the entire 5m length, indicating high build quality and solid copper traces.

So, all things considered the best overall strip for DIYers was the Joylit 24V COB LED Strip which had an awesome full spectrum CRI of 95.8, the second highest brightness at 5377 lumens and only 0.6V of voltage drop over the entire 5 meter strip, with the downsides being a relatively high price at $34 and middle of the road efficiency at just 841 lumens per watt.

From a budget standpoint the LEPro 12V LED strip lights are hard to beat with a cost per meter of just $2, and the second highest efficiency at 1209 lumens per watt, with the downsides being a CRI of just 80.3 and a voltage drop of 1.57 volts over 5m indicating a more cheaply made strip with thinner copper traces, but if you’re on a budget and not extremely concerned with CRI they are an excellent value.

And for me the most well balanced strip considering both performance and value was the BTF-Lighting FCOB warm white strip which was just $1 more per meter than the LEPro, but has a CRI of 92.3, 30% more brightness at 2185 lumens, good efficiency at 1072 lumens per watt and less than 1 volt of drop over the 5m strip, which is a significant upgrade over the LEPro for just a little bit more money.

Addressable LED Strips

And last, if you’re looking for an addressable LED strip with warm white your options are quite a bit more limited, and the installation can be a bit more complicated because in addition to needing your own power supply and controller you’ll also need to decide which software you want to use to provide the data for your strips. For my testing I used a benchtop power supply to provide the 12V or 24V required and a digQuad LED controller running WLED software.

The two addressable RGBW options are called SK6812 strips which come in 5V and 12V varieties and I’ve got the 12V strip from BTF Lighting which is $44 for 5m, and then there’s a newer type called WS2814 which come in 12 and 24V and I got the 12V 5050 LED package which was $30 for 5 meters, and the 24V COB LED style of WS2814 which was $42 for 5m. And for good measure I also included a standard 12V WS2815 RGB strip to compare CRI and efficiency.

The most welcomed surprise for me was that the newer WS2814 strips had great CRI numbers of 92.8 and 91.6, and the COB strip surprised me even more by managing a CRI score of 80.9 using its RGB LEDs, which is basically unheard of and twice as high as the RGB CRI of the other strips.

The SK6812 strip was the brightest of the addressable strips at 2062 lumens using only the white channel and also the most efficient at 827 lumens per watt, which is still relatively low compared to the non-addressable strips, but better than the 490-531 lumens per watt of the WS2814 strips and miles ahead of the 201 lumens per watt of the RGB WS2815 strip.

The SK6812 strip also had the least voltage drop of just 0.33 volts over the entire 5m strip compared to over 1V for the rest of the addressable strips.

And because the dimming of each LED is controlled by a microcontroller on the strip itself, I also measured the flicker percentage of each strip, and found that they were all well within the acceptable range with the SK6812’s performing the best with around half the flicker percentage of the rest of the strips at each brightness level.

And the last thing to consider for addressable strips is not only the distance in between the pixels, which we call the pixel density, but the size of each controllable segment. The COB LED strip for instance has no distinguishable pixels, but each controllable segment is 7cm long, which is decently large and may make your patterns look lower resolution, while the 300LED/m strips have a lower pixel density, but are controllable in groups of 3 pixels, so each controllable segment is only 5cm long for the SK6812 and WS2814 strips, and the WS2815 RGB strip is individually controllable per pixel, meaning patterns will look higher resolution.

So overall for addressable strips, I like the 12V WS2814 non COB strip which is quite a bit cheaper than the rest at just $30 for 5 meters, or $6 per meter and has a great white CRI of 92.8, is controllable in 5cm segments of 3 LEDs and had an acceptable voltage drop of 1.12V over 5m, with the downsides being significantly lower brightness and efficiency than non-addressable strips.

12V SK6812 strips have been my go-to for years, and they do have better efficiency, higher brightness, and lower flicker, but in the future I think I’ll be migrating over to WS2814 strips for their higher white CRI value.

Recap & Recommendations

So, to recap, my final recommendations in each category starting with the everything included kits are the Pautix Tunable COB LED strip for the best overall and the Govee Warm White strip for the budget option.

In the strip only category the best performer overall was the Joylit 24V Warm White COB strip, the budget option was the LEPro 12 strips, and a good balanced option between budget and performance was the BTF Lighting FCOB warm white strip.

And in the last category of addressable warm white strips my pick is the 12V WS2814 non-cob strip which sacrificed some brightness and efficiency compared to my previous favorite SK6812 strips, but with significantly higher CRI and a much lower cost per meter.

As a reminder, there are no sponsored reviews on this channel and I bought all these strips with my own money, but if you found this video helpful, I do appreciate if you use the links below because when you use those links as an Amazon affiliate, I do earn a small commission on the sale at no cost to you.

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Everything Included LED Kits

 

DIY’er LED Strips

 

Addressable LED Strips

 

Other Notable Performers

 

Other Strips Tested

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