Philips Hue LightStrips are vibrant, easy on the eyes, and hard on the wallet. You’ll pay $65 for six feet (two meters) of LEDs, not including a hub. But why spend that much when you can buy alternatives for far less?
LED strip lights brighten a room or add some much-needed color. They’re easy to install and use, and create excellent ambient lighting. But you usually control standard LED strips with an Infrared (IR) remote. Unfortunately, those IR codes often overlap with TV IR remotes, which leads to conflict. You might turn up the volume on your TV and notice the lights turn red. When you turn down the volume, your lights might flash random colors. Smart LEDs bypass IR altogether to avoid this frustrating issue.
Philips Hue offers some of the brightest, most colorful, and most expensive smart LED strips out there. But if you’re willing to settle for something that’s nearly as bright and colorful, we’ve found some alternatives that will leave more money in your wallet.
How to Choose an LED Strip
When you buy LED strips, you have to consider a few things:
- Length: LED strips come in different lengths and, surprisingly, the more expensive options (like Philips Hue) tend to be shorter. Philips Hue LED strips are available in six- and four-foot lengths. Most companies that sell inexpensive strips offer them in sixteen- and thirty-two-foot lengths. Measure the space you plan to cover, and then order an LED strip that’s longer. You can cut most of them if necessary.
- Multiple Strip Connection: Sometimes, you might want to cover an odd length of space that isn’t available, like 20 or 40 feet. It’s unlikely you’ll find an LED strip that long, so the solution is to connect two (and cut down the second, if necessary). But if the strip’s power adapter isn’t powerful enough, that might not be possible. Check with the manufacturer if it doesn’t recommend connecting more than one strip.
- Dedicated White LEDs: Check for the following abbreviations: RGB (Red, Green, Blue) and RGBWW (Red, Green, Blue, Warm White). RGB strips balance red, green, and blue together to create a harsh, white light. RGBWW LED strips have a dedicated white LED that alternates with an RGB LED. Typically, the white LED is tunable, which means you can change the shade of white from warm to cold, and back again. These white LEDs are easier on your eyes than the RGB LEDs forced to white.
If you don’t plan to put your LEDs on a flat, horizontal surface, you might need an adhesive. Every set of inexpensive LEDs I’ve ever used has had terrible adhesive. Within one day, any LEDs I’d mounted from a ceiling, wall, or another vertical surface inevitably fell. Even cleaning the surface first didn’t make a difference.
Most double-sided tape is thick, expensive, and overkill. That extra thickness causes uneven bumps in the LED strip. Carpet tape, though, is extremely thin and strong. You can cut it into thinner pieces, apply it to the bottom of the LED strip, and then remove the second paper side before you mount the lights. This should hold your LED strips to nearly any vertical surface.
White LEDs: iLinktek RGBWW LED Strip Lights
If you want to brighten a dim room with a white light that won’t hurt your eyes—and add a splash of color—iLinktek has a great option. You connect this 16-foot (five-meter) RGBWW strip via Wi-Fi. It’s also compatible with the Smart Life app, which means you can set it up with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant for voice control.
The one downside is the company doesn’t recommend you connect more than two strips to a single power adapter.
By comparison, though, you’d spend around $136 for 16 feet of Philips Hue strips, not counting the additional Hub. At this writing, the iLinktek strip is $30.
RGB LEDs: iLinktek RGB LED Strip Lights
If you want to save a few dollars, you can skip the dedicated white LED and settle for this RGB strip. As we mentioned above, these combine red, green, and blue to create white light, but it’s harsher than a dedicated white LED.
If you know you always want color, or the harsher white light doesn’t bother you, you get all the same Wi-Fi benefits you’d get with the RGBWW strip, including the 16-foot length.
Music Syncing LED Strips: MINGER DreamColor LED Strip Lights
If you want LED strips that do a little more, the MINGER DreamColor strip has an extra trick up its sleeve: music syncing. This LED set uses a microphone to listen to music (or your voice) and flashes its lights in time with the beat.
These are great for parties or, if you’re a music lover, just to create a “live concert” mood. The strip is 16-feet long and features RGB LEDs. You miss out on white options here, but to create a fun atmosphere, that might be less important, anyway.
Build Your Own Philips Hue LED Strip: GIDERWEL Home Smart Zigbee RGBCCT Strip Controller
If you already have dumb LED strip lights and a Philips Hue hub, you can convert the strip to work with Philips Hue. You’ll save money and gain access to the Philips Hue app, which includes scene support and voice commands. This Giderwel controller supports RGB and RGBWW LED light strips.
To set it up, you disconnect the existing IR connection and push the wires into matching terminals on the controller—no soldering necessary! If you don’t have bare wires, you might need an adapter that works with most LED strips.
Then, you’re ready to pair your light strip with the Philips Hue Bridge.
Build Your Own Wi-Fi Connected LED Strip: Magic Hue LED Strip Light Controller
If you have dumb LEDs and don’t have a Philips Hue hub, the Magic Hue Controller can help. If you swap out your existing IR controller for Magic Hue, you can connect your LEDs to the Smart Life app, and Alexa or Google Assistant.
This controller is compatible with RGB and RGBWW strips, and it includes an IR sensor and controller. If IR conflicts with your TV, a quick fix is to cover the IR sensor with electrical tape to block the signal.
Good Dumb LEDs: SUPERNIGHT LED Light Strip Waterproof RGBW
If you’d rather buy dumb LEDs and convert them with a smart controller, Supernight makes good, inexpensive strips. This set is waterproof and supports warm white and RGB lights. The strip is 16 feet and alternates RGB and WW LEDs.
The set includes an IR remote, but you probably won’t want to use it in a room with a TV or other IR controls. You might find that when you try to turn on your TV, you change the LEDs to pink, instead. You can solve this problem if you convert to a smart controller.