RGB vs RGBW LED Strip

RGB LED string lights has been around for a while now and has opened the door to previously unheard-of lighting possibilities, allowing not only a wide range of customisable colours but also the ability to cut and join any length to create totally unique shapes. In response to popular demand though, there’s now a new kid on the block, RGB+W, which adds an extra white chip into the mix. Why might you need this? Read on.

RGB LED string lights have been on the market for a while now and have been a great solution for previously unheard of accent lighting features. RGB strip lights have opened the door to creative and colorful LED installations. 

These LEDs strips give customers a wide range of customizable color for completely unique lighting installations. Due to the popularity of RGB LED strip lights, a new tape light technology is not available! RGB+W LED strip lights takes the existing RGB and pairs white LED diodes to the mix. This article addresses the differences between RGB and RGB+W LED tape light and why/when you may want one over the other.

led string lights

What’s the difference between RGB and RGBW LED strip?

Standard rgb lighting uses a 3-in-1 LED chip made up of red, green and blue chips. It can produce a wide range of colours by mixing the three and looks almost white with all three at full brightness. RGB+W LED strip uses either a 4-in-1 LED chip that has a white chip as well as red, green and blue or an RGB chip alongside a white chip.

Why would you want an extra white chip? 

Although rgb lighting can produce a colour close to white, a dedicated white LED provides a much purer white tone and allows you the option of an extra warm or cool white chip. The extra white chip also provides extra scope for colour mixing with the RGB chips to create a huge range of unique shades.

Which is better?

RGB+W is undoubtedly a much more flexible product than standard RGB outdoor light string which looks a little crude alongside RGB+W. Inevitably  it is of course a bit more expensive but you are getting a much more capable product. 

If all you’re after are basic RGB colours with no requirement for a proper white then basic RGB outdoor light string is generally more cost effective, however if you do need white (for example for task lighting) then RGB+W is a better bet. 

Are the controllers different?

Yes. RGB+W lighting controllers have five outputs, one for each colour and one for power. As rgb light has one less chip, it only requires four. The functionality of the control also has to be different to control the white part of the LED in RGB+W.

Is RGBW more difficult to install?

No. The extra chip makes no difference – as long as you choose the correct controller then it’s no more complex than rgb light. In terms of control it may be a little more complex as there are extra functions but once set up it’s easy.

rgb led lights

What’s the difference between RGB and RGB+W LED Strip Lights?

Market uses a 3-in-1 5050 LED chip that is made up of red, green, and blue LED diodes. These LED strips can produce a wide range of colors by mixing the three, including an almost white look when LED colors are at full brightness.

RGB+W LED Strip Lights

The new  RGB+W features red, green, and blue LEDs, but adds a dual LED chip design that features a white 2835 LED that is paired with each of the RGB diodes. With the additional white LED chip, the RGB+W LED strip light can produce a wide range of vibrant colors, along with soft-bright (3000K) white, or a combination of white and RGB.

While RGB can produce color that is close to white, the dedicated white LED chip provides a pure white tone that is better for the task and accent lighting, when color is not needed. The extra white chip also allows the LED strip to produce a unique mix of RGB and color lighting.

Which is Better?

RGB+W tape light is undoubtedly a much more flexible option than standard RGB LED strips. The 24 Volt RGB+W tape light is slightly more expensive than RGB but is better for a broader set of installations and improved functionality. 12 Volt RGB tape light is generally more cost effective. 

This is a good lighting option for those looking for vibrant colors, where pure white would not be necessary or for customers with budget constraints.

led lights with remote

How to Control RGB & RGB+W Strip Light

RGB and RGB+W LED strip lights use slightly different controls. RGB has four outputs (red, green, blue, power), while the RGB+W (red, green, blue, white, power) tape has five outputs. Armacost Lighting’s ProLine and SlimLine wireless switch controls are offered in both RGB and RGB+W options. They are available in traditional wireless controls and in Wi-Fi / smart controls.

The RGB+W LED controls will work with RGB tape light by simply not wiring the W connection. However, RGB controls will not work with RGB+W strip lights.

Both RGB and RGB+W LED tape light are low-voltage and require an LED driver or power supply (as well as a controller) to operate. They are very popular for under cabinet lighting.

Why RGB is so popular?

RGB outdoor light strings are highly popular because they’re: Safe. RGB lights are free of harmful ultraviolet and infrared light. You can look at them for extended periods, or use them for hours at a time, without worrying about your eyesight.

Although RGB outdoor light strings can produce a colour close to white, a dedicated white LED provides a much purer white tone and allows you the option of an extra warm or cool white chip.

RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue. Together, these colors of light make up the entire color palette on digital screens (like TVs and digital cameras). RGB is the best choice for anything online, like your website, ad posters or banners, and logos.

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