LED Outdoor Lighting: Choosing Tape or Rope

Henriette Rieu  |  August 29, 2014  |  3 Min. Read

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I love lighting the outside.

It provides safety and security, but quite frankly it also adds elegance. There are two main lighting products for the outdoors, rope lighting and LED tape.

There are numerous pros and cons to using both. The most important benefit for the use of LED outdoor lighting tape in the low voltage mode is safety.

Being only 12V or 24V you would not be in danger of being shocked by the product; whereas rope lighting is 120V and if the integrity of that product is compromised you could be shocked.

Outdoor LED Tape

led-outdoor-lighting-bridge

Pros of the LED Tape 12v or 24v low voltage with drivers.

  1. led-outdoor-lighting-tape-poolSafer product as it is only 12V or 24V and will not shock if compromised.
  2. It has a higher output of light at 2.6 watts per linear foot or 2500 lumens in a 16 foot maximum run at 152 lumens per foot. Delivers more performance than any other equivalent.
  3. It is very sleek at only ¼” wide and 1/16”high. Therefore more easily hidden.
  4. It provides even illumination without any dark spots.
  5. The diodes have a very consistent color rendition, 2700k, 3500k or 4200k
  6. Dimmable
  7. 50,000 hours of life.
  8. The female power supply is already set for wet location at the factory.
  9. This can be cut in 3 diode increments to allow a consistent coverage.
  10. The one meter version has water proof male to female connectors to plug together on site.
  11. Since this is so thin it can be bent around curved surfaces.
  12. Outdoor wet location application and warranty not negated by cutting as long as the silicon cap is applied and glued in with silicone
  13. 20 stainless clips and adequate silicone adhesive for 16’6”.
  14. led-outdoor-lighting-tape-sidewalkWith 10 gauge wire the power can be up to 200 feet away and hidden in the basement. Therefore large yards can be LED sourced all the way to the fences and up to the tree lines.
  15. The cost is reasonable as it comes in a kit with all connectors, clips, end caps for only $440 for the 16.5 foot roll and $200 for the driver, which is again indoor/outdoor rated.
  16. Also comes in a Red, Green, Blue color changer version.

Cons of LED Tape

  1. Must plan in advance as you have to hide a Driver(power source).
  2. Your electrician must calculate voltage drop from the 120v power to the driver to make sure you have a large enough wire. There is no voltage drop on the LED tape up to 16.5 feet.
  3. You can only use 70% capacity of the driver.
  4. Dimmers must be planned in advanced as well

Outdoor LED Rope Lighting

outdoor-led-lighting-rope-stairs

Pros of LED 120V Rope Lighting

  1. The power source is just 120V plug with a 5 foot cord.
  2. You do not need as much advance planning.
  3. You can have a longer run 3’3”, 13’5”, 19’9”, 33’3” and 46’6”.
  4. led-outdoor-lighting-rope-parkNo transformer necessary.
  5. Low costs at approximately $11 per linear foot.

Cons of LED 120V Rope Lighting

  1. Most important is that it is dangerous for shock if mishandled.
  2. You cannot adjust it. It must be exact size.
  3. If cut it negates the warranty and the wet location application.
  4. It is thicker ½” high and ¾” thick a little harder to hide but still bendable.
  5. Only 1.6 watts a linear foot which is almost half the performance and light
  6. Not nearly the output of the GM LED low voltage tape.
  7. The diodes tend to vary in color.
  8. Only available in 2900k and 5000k, not as many choices.
  9. Only one year warranty instead of 17 years.
  10. One color only red, green or blue. There is no color changing.

Final Notes

Tape vs. Rope for outdoor LED lighting is really about output versus cost. Tape will last longer with better color, but the rope will be less expensive.

Of the two, I like the LED tape by GM Lighting at 3500 degrees Kelvin for great color effects.

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Henriette Rieu

Henriette Rieu has been a lighting designer and home builder for over 25 years and has been with Yale for almost 15. Henriette enjoys the creative aspect of lighting design and help clients with remarkable projects.

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