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 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.
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:
Mixed colors and lower brightness settings will use proportionally less power.
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.
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):
Width is the same as “classic” NeoPixel strip…these are not the “skinny” size.
- 144 pixel/m NeoPixel 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.
- 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 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 Permatex Ultra Grey Silicone Gasket Maker 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.
NeoPixel strips are just the start…we’ve got shapes too! Rings, grids, shields and more…