The most popular type of NeoPixels are these flexible LED strips…they can be cut to length and fit into all manner of things. We’ve got over a dozen varieties! Two vital things to be aware of:

  • Though strips are described as “flexible,” they do not tolerate continuous and repeated bending. “Formable” might be a better word. A typical application is architecture, where they can be curved around columns and then stay put. Repeated flexing (as on costumes) will soon crack the solder connections. For wearable use, either affix shorter segments to a semi-rigid base (e.g. a hat, BMX armor, etc.), or use the individual sewable NeoPixels shown later.
  • Watch your power draw. Though each pixel only needs a little current, it adds up fast…NeoPixel strips are so simple to use, one can quickly get carried away! We’ll explain more on the “Powering NeoPixels” page.

RGB NeoPixel Strips

NeoPixel Digital RGB LED Weatherproof Strip is available in three different “densities”: 30, 60 and 144 LEDs per meter, on a white or black backing strip.

The approximate peak power use (all LEDs on at maximum brightness) per meter is:

  • 30 LEDs: 9 Watts (about 1.8 Amps at 5 Volts).
  • 60 LEDs: 18 Watts (about 3.6 Amps at 5 Volts).
  • 144 LEDs : 43 watts (8.6 Amps at 5 Volts).

Mixed colors and lower brightness settings will use proportionally less power.

For those using Circuit Playground Express or just needing a “no soldering” option (as in most classrooms), we have a special half-meter, 30-LED NeoPixel strip with alligator clips attached. Easy!

Mini Skinny RGB NeoPixel Strips

Mini Skinny NeoPixel strips are about half the width of classic NeoPixel strips. They’re available in two densities and backing colors:

30 and 60 LED/meter strips are 7.5 mm wide, or 5 mm if you remove the strip from the casing (vs 12.5 mm / 10 mm for classic strips). The high-density 144/m strips are about 10 mm wide, or 7.5mm with the casing removed.

Power requirements are similar to standard-width NeoPixel strips as described above.

Side-Light NeoPixel Strips

Side-Light NeoPixel strips have the interesting property of illuminating next to the strip rather than over it. They’re not quite as bright as regular NeoPixels, but may have interesting uses in tight spaces or for edge-lit acrylic. These strips are available in three densities on black flex-strip:

RGBW NeoPixel Strips

A recent addition is RGBW NeoPixel strips. These add a fourth LED element — pure white — which is more “true” and pleasing to the eye than white mixed from red+green+blue. Like the RGB strips, they’re available in different pixel densities and backing strip colors.

With a fourth LED per pixel, these strips may potentially draw up to 33% more current than their RGB equivalents. The maximum brightest cases are (approximately):

  • 30 RGBW LEDs: 12 Watts (2.4 Amps at 5 Volts)
  • 60 RGBW LEDs: 24 Watts (4.8 Amps at 5 Volts)
  • 144 RGBW LEDs: 57 Watts (11.5 Amps at 5 Volts)

Width is the same as “classic” NeoPixel strip…these are not the “skinny” size.

“Neon-Like” NeoPixel Flex Strip

This distinctive NeoPixel flex strip has a gorgeous diffused neon-like appearance thanks to its thick silicone casing.

This strip contains 60 LED along the meter but in groups of 3-LEDs-per-pixel. So basically, in your NeoPixel program, this looks like a 20-pixel-long strand.

Unlike the other varieties of NeoPixel strip, this one needs to be powered from 9 Volts (minimum) to 12 Volts (ideal) DC.

Ultraviolet NeoPixel Strips

A single-color ultraviolet variant of NeoPixel strip is available for special applications, currently one pixel density and backing color:

This can provide unusual effects when combined with UV-reactive paints, fluorescent laser-cut acrylic, etc.

The usual NeoPixel R, G and B channels translate to three individual UV diodes. So we recommend you pretty much just set all three channels to the same value, ranging from (0, 0, 0) to (255, 255, 255).

Same width as “classic” NeoPixel strip, and power draw at full brightness should be just a bit more than RGB 30/m: about 9.6W/meter (1.9A @ 5V).

NeoPixel Strands

Like NeoPixel strips, these “strands” are flexible and can be wrapped around things. The pixels are spaced further apart (2 or 4 inches) and each pixel is either sealed in its own tiny plastic capsule or epoxy-dipped, making them weatherproof (but not rated for continuous submersion). There are 20 pixels in a strand (except for the “Soft Flexible” variety, with 50).

Finer Details About NeoPixel Strips

  • NeoPixel strips often have extra wires so they can connect to both a microcontroller and power source, but these will always correspond to one of the same three signals: +5V, ground or data. If not using the extra wires, you can clip off any exposed tips and/or insulate with some heat-shrink tube.

  • 144 pixel/m NeoPixel strips and 32/m UV strips are sold in one meter lengths. Each meter is a separate strip with end connectors. Longer contiguous lengths are not offered in 144 pixels/m RGB, RGBW or 32/m UV.

  • 30 and 60 pixel/m NeoPixel strips are sold in one meter multiples. Orders for multiple meters will be a single contiguous strip, up to a limit: 4 meters for 60 pixels/m strip, 5 meters for 30 pixels/m.

  • For 30 and 60 pixels/meter strips, if purchasing less than a full reel (4 or 5 meters, respectively), the strip may or may not have 3-pin JST plugs soldered at one or both ends. These plugs are for factory testing and might be at either end — the plug does not always indicate the input end! Arrows printed on the strip show the actual data direction. You may need to solder your own wires or plug.

  • The flex strips are enclosed in a weatherproof silicone sleeve, making them immune to rain and splashes, but are not recommended for continuous submersion. Early 144 pixel/meter strips were not weatherproof, but the current inventory now offers this feature.

  • The silicone sleeve can be cut and removed for a slimmer profile, but this compromises the strip's weather resistance.

  • Very few glues will adhere to the weatherproof silicone sleeve. Using zip ties for a “mechanical” bond is usually faster and easier. The only reliable glues we’ve found are Permatex 66B (or Permatex 80050) Clear RTV Silicone (not all silicone glues will work!) and Loctite Plastics Bonding System, a 2-part cyanoacrylate glue. Customers have reported excellent results with Smooth-On Sil-Poxy, Permatex Ultra Grey Silicone Gasket Maker , Lexel® adhesive and Clear Gorilla Glue as well.

  • However, do not use Permatex 66B silicone to seal the open end of a cut strip! Like many RTV silicones, 66B releases acetic acid when curing, which can destroy electronics. It’s fine on the outside of the strip, but not the inside. Use GE Silicone II for sealing strip ends, or good ol’ hot melt glue.

  • 2-sided carpet tape provides a light grip on the silicone sleeve; something like a Post-It Note. Or you can try clear duct tape over the top.

  • All LED strips are manufactured in 1/2 meter segments that are then joined into a longer strip. The pixel spacing across these joins is usually 2-3 millimeters different than the rest. This is not a manufacturing mistake, just physical reality.

Some batches of 144 pixel strip don’t have pads between the LEDs. If you cut these into shorter sections, the only way to connect to them (except at the half-meter segments) is to carefully solder directly to the LED. The corner with the notch is the GND pin.

NeoPixel strips are just the start…we’ve got shapes too! Rings, grids, shields and more…

This guide was first published on Aug 30, 2013. It was last updated on Apr 23, 2024.

This page (NeoPixel Strips and Strands) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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