How to use LED strip lights: indoor and outdoor strips

 May 25, 2020

With their flexibility and ability to illuminate long stretches of surfaces, LED strips are one of the most versatile lights available. Many LED strips — including Philips Hue indoor and outdoor lightstrips — can even provide light in a variety of colors, making them ideal to not only illuminate your home, but create interesting aesthetics, set the mood, and highlight your home’s best features. 

Smart LED strips take the flexibility of strip lighting to another level. With Philips Hue, for example, you don’t need to wire a special LED-strip-compatible dimmer switch to the wall or worry about reaching an on/off switch —all you need is an app, your voice, or a smart accessory to control the lights.  

Though LED strips (especially smart LED strips) can be used in any way you like, use these tips from the experts to get the most out of strip lighting. 

5 ways to use indoor LED strips

Indoor strip lights can be used to accentuate certain indoor features, create lighted pathways, or set the mood with subtle lighting effects.

Bookshelf illuminated with LED light strip

Tip #1: Place under-cabinet strip lighting in the kitchen

LED strip lights make the perfect under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen, allowing you to light up your entire work surface in bright white light — or set the mood in the room with a vibrant color. Because Philips Hue lightstrips can be cut to size and mounted with the included adhesive, they’re incredibly easy to install, no drilling necessary. 

Because LED strip lights dim, you can create an even grander effect by lining the lower cabinets near the floor in your kitchen. Set the lights to a low glow, creating a relaxed atmosphere that’s just bright enough to guide you around the kitchen in the middle of the night for that midnight snack.

See how others use a Philips Hue light strip in their kitchen:

Philips Hue LED strip lighting in kitchen

Tip #2: Line the ceiling with LED strips

Cove lighting can be best achieved with RGB LED strips, which are slender and flexible enough to be hidden in many styles of crown molding. Because smart LED strips require just a plug and can be controlled via an app or other smart accessories, they’re much easier than standard LED strips that must be wired into a compatible wall switch or to your home’s electricity.

Philips Hue LED strip in cove for the living room

Tip #3: Outline your TV

With their adhesive backing, LED strips can be mounted onto almost any surface — including the backside of your TV or the inside of your entertainment center in the living room. With the LED strip casting light against the wall behind the TV, you can get a beautiful outline of light.  

Bright idea: When mounted on the TV or around your entertainment unit, Hue lightstrips can be used to create a surround lighting experience right in your living room while you watch a movie or TV show. Watch the LED strip flash, brighten, dim, and change color in sync with the content on your screen using the Hue Sync desktop app or the Hue Sync mobile app paired with a Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box.  

Tip #4: Line the stairs

Under-stair LED lighting can be done in two ways — under each individual step or along the side of the entire staircase — but the easier way is the latter, as it requires far less measuring and cutting. Hue lightstrips can be cut to size on designated markings but can also be extended with Hue lightstrip extensions. 

Even when deciding to use an LED strip along the side, you still have choices: you can either run the LED strip along the base of the staircase, cleverly hidden inside trim or baseboard, or along the inside of the handrail. With smart LED strips, you can also add a motion sensor to make your lights come on automatically as you walk by — especially helpful for those late-night trips down the stairs.

Tip #5: Highlight objects and furniture

Outline certain pieces of furniture to create a truly unique atmosphere. Use an LED strip underneath or behind the couch in the living room to create a cozy space to relax or line the shelves of a bookcase or display unit to put your favorite collectibles in the spotlight.

3 ways to use outdoor LED strips

While indoor LED strips complement your interior decor, outdoor LED strips can help you highlight your favorite outdoor features, designate specific areas with light, set the mood for an evening outside, or simply extend your living space.

illuminated outdoor strip light in the garden

Tip #1: Line your balcony or porch

Use an outdoor LED strip light to line the railing of your balcony or porch. Attach the strip underneath the railing, running it along the length to hide the strip itself from view but cast its light downwards onto the deck. 

If the porch or balcony is covered, you can also mount the LED strip along the underside of the roof, providing more overhead lighting. This not only allows you to illuminate a pathway or seating area, but it also lets you highlight the architecture of your home.

Tip #2: Outline flowerbeds with colorful LED light

If you have flowerbeds around the perimeter of your outdoor space — or even just smaller flowerbeds scattered throughout the middle of the yard — line them with LED strip lighting. As the sun sets, you can turn the lights on to cast complementary colors over them, highlighting your beautiful blooms and creating a unique lighting effect in your garden. Because the Hue lightstrip features a waterproof design, it’s ideal for flowerbeds.  

To install outdoor LED strips around flowerbeds, place the strip light along the perimeter and tuck it slightly into the ground. Make sure that it is evenly installed and no dirt is covering the light — though a little bit of grass does create an interesting shadow effect!

Flowerbed lit up by outdoor led strip

Tip #3: Line your pathways

Path lighting is a popular way to guide the way through your yard by placing one fixture after another along a walkway. If you’re not willing to invest the space or money into multiple pathway lights, you can line the path with an LED strip light instead. Using an LED strip light along a pathway will guide you through your yard with softer, diffused light rather than brighter pathway lights.

Tip #4: Highlight your stairs

If you have outdoor stairs that lead up to your patio or porch, line them with strip lights. Tuck a strip underneath the sides of the stairs to create a unique, subtle look. Not only will it add to the aesthetic of your outdoor space, but it will help you see where you’re walking if it’s dark outside — a win-win situation!

Examples of LED Strip usage

Looking for more inspiration? See how others are using LED strips in their homes:

Living room with cove lighting by Philips Hue LED strip
LED light strip behind bed
Cabinet with attached Led strip light
Living room with aquarium illuminated by LED strip
Living room with Led strip illuminating the ceiling
Entertainment room illuminated with Philips Hue RGB light strips

*When a bulb displays "Up to" a certain number of lumens in its specifications, it displays the maximum lumen output of the bulb. It shows how bright the bulb can get at 2700 K (White bulbs) or 4000 K (White ambiance or White and color ambiance bulbs). Learn more about brightness