What to look for when choosing a controller for an LED strip?

One of the most interesting products in the field of LED lighting is the LED strip, which is a set of LED matrices mounted on a flexible tape base. The installation of electronic components on the tape is carried out according to the smd technology, that is, the soldering of the elements is carried out by the printed conductors. The tape can be selected monochrome, that is, emitting one color. However, the so-called RGB tapes, consisting of tri-color RGB LED matrices, have the most expressive capabilities. Management of such tapes is carried out through special controllers, the choice of which will be discussed. The principle of operation of the LED strip controller is based on pulse-width (PWM) control of the luminous intensity of each of the colors (RGB), that is, the device has three output channels. So, we will consider how to choose a controller for the LED strip and which one is better in terms of characteristics.

Output voltage and power

LED strip is a periodic structure, the power of which depends on its length and is indicated in watts per meter. The tape can be cut in certain places with contact pads for connecting power. The general lighting design may consist of a set of ribbons of various lengths, the location of which can be selected in accordance with the design decision. The voltage of the tape can be 12 or 24 V, it does not depend on its length. For the correct choice of controller, it is necessary to calculate the total power of the entire light structure, and then select a device that corresponds to this value, as well as the voltage of the tape.

Controller Specifications

We recommend choosing a device with a small margin in power (up to 20-25%). For example, if the total power of the tape is 135 watts, it is better to choose a controller with a power of 150 watts. That’s enough.

Controller control method

Depending on the required control mode, the choice of controller can be made in favor of the following options:

  • manual (push-button) control;
  • IR remote control
  • radio wave remote control;
  • controllers switched on by an audio signal.

The devices of the first type are simpler and cheaper than others, but they have certain inconveniences associated with the need to be near them in order to select a specific mode of operation.

Manual control

Remote control on infrared rays does not have this drawback, but the mode can be selected only at small (no more than 12 meters) distances and in the absence of foreign objects between the remote control and the signal receiver. It is advisable to choose a controller with a remote control for the LED strip if you use it inside a small room.

Remote control dimmer

The greatest freedom is provided by radio control. This method has the largest radius of action, while the radio signal is able to bypass obstacles.One of the varieties of controllers controlled by a radio signal are devices controlled via Wi-Fi channel, which can be switched by a smartphone, tablet and even controlled remotely via a computer network.

Wi-Fi control

To control the lighting effects inside the living room, you can choose switches equipped with sound relays and reacting to a certain sound, which creates a certain convenience.

Availability of switch programs

The RGB controller may contain memory programs for controlling the intensity of the glow of individual colors. The choice of programs can be carried out either manually or automatically. Given that the idea of ​​creating RGB diodes is to obtain different shades of glow by mixing basic colors, each program that you can choose creates a unique play of color. Such effects are used in interior design, as well as in quality decorative illumination of building facades, monuments, bridges and other structures.

The number of effect selection programs can vary from units to hundreds, depending on the size of the device’s internal memory. In addition, some devices allow you to create and record your programs.

If you are keen on electronics or programming, then you can make your own RGB controller. You can use any microcontroller for this, but they may seem difficult to master. However, for such cases there are special boards for simplified programming of microcontrollers and smart home-made products. As an example of such a board, you can choose the Arduino universal programmable controller, on the basis of which many automatic control circuits for various purposes can be built. Including controllers for LED strips.


Special mention should be made of the DMX controllers used in professional lighting technology, the abbreviation of which is derived from Digital Multiplex. Such a device is able to control 512 channels of light load, for which you can choose LED strip, spotlights and lamps. The main areas of DMX use are lighting design of clubs, restaurants, concert venues.

That's all you need to know about how to choose a controller for your RGB LED strip. We hope the tips provided have helped you find the right type and power for your device!

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