The Ultimate Guide To Addressable LED Strip

Light - LED Strip Light

Due to the ease of installation, energy efficiency, and low maintenance, LED strips have been widely used in furniture, automotive, advertising, lighting, ships, bars, and other industries. Especially when you need a dynamic lighting solution, LED strips are a good choice. LED strips have different colors, such as red, green, blue, RGB, etc. It can be installed almost anywhere. It’s very hard to find another lighting solution competing with LED strips.

Addressable LED strips raise the benchmark to a whole new level. They give you more options and more excellent lighting effects such as running chases, flowing fades, meteor trails, and much more. You can even design your lighting effects with the control system. The problem is that you need to know how to choose the right addressable LED strip.

If you don’t know how to choose the right addressable LED strip yet, don’t worry. Read on to find out all you need to know about addressable LED strips.

UCS1903 SPI addressable led strip

What is addressable led strip?

Individual addressable led strip is also called digital led strip, pixel led strip, magic led strip, or dream color led strip, is a led strip with control ICs that allow you to control individual LEDs or groups of LEDs. You can control a specific part of the led strip, which is why it is called ‘addressable’.

What is difference between addressable LED strip and regular analog LED strip?

Analog led strips can allow you to have one color for the whole LED strip at a time. You can change the color anytime you want for the whole led strip, but you can’t change color only for parts of LEDs.

Addressable led strips allow you to have different colors for every section of LEDs, creating various colors in different areas of one LED strip.

Regular analog led strip
Addressable led strip

How do addressable LED strip work?

The proper functioning of an addressable LED strip is achieved by five main components working together. They include

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs)

Integrated circuit chips (ICs)

FPCB (Flexible Print Circuit Board)

Power supply


Each group of LEDs has an integrated circuit chip, and this integrated circuit chip controls the change of color and brightness of this group of LEDs. This is the reason why you can control a particular group of LEDs individually. The controllers used to control addressable LED strips are also unique in that, unlike conventional RGB controllers, they generally have a data channel, and some even have a clock channel. Traditional RGB controllers have R, G, B,+ pins corresponding to the RGB strips.

The workflow of the addressable LED strip is, therefore, as follows.

When switching the power, the current passed through the LEDs, causing LEDs to light up at their default settings.

To create an effect, you need to enter a command on the controller to control the color and brightness change of a specific group of LEDs.

The controller then passes the appropriate signals to the IC chips on these LEDs, which execute the command to control the LEDs’ color and brightness change.

What are addressable led strips used for?

Decoration Lighting
Addressable LED strips can be widely used in KTV, bars, gyms, etc.

Building facades Lighting
Addressable LED strips can be used on the facades of tall buildings, on bridges, etc.

Special Event Lighting
Addressable LED strips can be used for Christmas, concerts, etc.

Home Lighting
Addressable LED strips can be used to decorate the home environment and create a festive, cozy feel.

Type of addressable led strip?

Addressable LED strips are divided into two main categories, DMX512 addressable led strip and SPI addressable led strip.

DMX512 Addressable led strip
SPI Addressable led strip

DMX512 addressable led strip

DMX512 stands for digital multiplex 512. This means that 512 channels are controlled digitally through 1 data cable. DMX512 is a standard for digital communication networks that are commonly used to control lighting and effects. It was originally intended as a standardized method for controlling stage lighting dimmers, which, prior to DMX512, had employed various incompatible proprietary protocols.

The DMX512 addressable led strip is an LED strip that receives DMX512 signals directly, without a DMX512 decoder, and changes the color and brightness of the light according to the signal.

DMX512 Addressable LED Strip Project

SPI addressable led strip

The Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) is a synchronous serial communication interface specification used for short-distance communication, primarily in embedded systems. The interface was developed by Motorola in the mid-1980s and has become a de facto standard. Typical applications include Secure Digital cards and liquid crystal displays.

The SPI addressable led strip is an LED strip that receives SPI signals directly, and changes the color and brightness of the light according to the signal.

SPI Addressable led strip project

DMX512 Vs. SPI

DMX512 is an internationally standardized protocol, while the SPI protocol varies according to the factory of each IC.

Signal protocol
DMX512: Parallel, synchronous parallel interface signal transmission technology, a universal signal control protocol for digital lighting equipment
SPI: Serial (synchronous serial interface signal transmission technology)

DMX512: More complicated
SPI: Easy wiring

DMX512: Good, unified IC category/protocol, and DMX512 is used for some luminaires
SPI: Relatively inferior, with various lC categories and slightly different protocols, basically no SPI luminaires

DMX512: Breakpoint transmission, parallel transmission of signals, with high reliability
SPI: Breakpoint transmission, no renewed transmission of two successive breakpoints

Anti-interference of signals
DMX512: Good, with strong long-distance communication anti-interference capability
SPI: Inferior, long-distance communication is subject to strong current/strong magnetic disturbances

Overall cost
DMX512: High
SPI: Low

DMX512: Indoor and outdoor large & ultra-large advertisement lighting and synchronous control of light show        
SPI: Small spaces/ independent styling/ supporting facilities

How to choose the right addressable led strip?

While the principles of addressable LED strips are mostly the same, some key parameters affect the product’s performance. Parameters that are worth your time and consideration are as follows:


Addressable led strips generally come in 5V, 12V, 24V. Generally speaking, the higher the voltage, the better. If you want to understand why this is the case, the answer is the voltage drop.

What is voltage drop?

Voltage drop causes LED strips to lose their intensity as the strip becomes longer. LEDs at the beginning of the strip (nearest the power supply) will shine brightly. Whereas, LEDs at the end of the strip will have a dimmed appearance.

Why does voltage happen?

Any length of wire has a certain amount of electrical resistance. The longer the wire, the more the resistance. Electrical resistance causes voltage drop and voltage drop causes your LEDs to dim.
Therefore, LEDs at the end of a strip will always be getting less voltage than the LEDs at the beginning.
If you make the strip long enough, the drop in voltage will become significant enough to cause a visible difference in brightness.

Not all addressable led types have a high voltage of 24 V or 12 V. However, we can solve the voltage drop problem by connecting both ends of the led strip to the power supply.

Power consumption

The more power, the brighter it will be. The amount of power consumption you choose depends on the brightness level you need.

Type of Colors

The addressable LED strip is available in a wide range of colors.

Single Color: White, Warm White, Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, Pink, etc.

Dual Color: White + Warm White, Red + Blue, etc.


RGB + White

RGB + Warm White + White

Type of Integrated circuit chips (ICs)

DMX512 is an international standard protocol. Different types of DMX512 ICs may have different performances, but the supported protocols are the same, which means that the same DMX512 controller can control different types of DMX512 ICs. However, SPI is not an international standard protocol. SPI ICs produced by different manufacturers support different protocols, which means that different SPI ICs may need to be used with different SPI controllers. Below I list the common IC models on the market.

DMX512 addressable led strip: UCS512, SM17512

SPI addressable IC is divided into built-in IC and external IC or divided into resumed transmission with breakpoint and resumed transmission without breakpoint or divided into with clock channel and without clock channel.

SPI Addressable led strip common built-in IC models: WS2812B, WS2813, WS2815B, SK6812, SK9822, APA102, CS2803, CS8812B
SPI Addressable led strip common external IC models: WS2801, WS2811, WS2818, UCS1903, TM1814, TM1914, TM1812, CS8208, CS6816, CS6814, LPD8806

What is brakpoint resume function of SPI addressable led strip?

The breakpoint resume function means that when only one IC fails, the signal can still be passed on to subsequent ICs.

SPI Addressable led strip common IC models with breakpoint resume function: WS2813, WS2815B, CS2803, CS8812B, WS2818, TM1914, CS8208
SPI Addressable led strip common IC models without breakpoint resume function: WS2812B, SK6812, SK9822, APA102, WS2801, WS2811, UCS1903, TM1814, TM1812, CS6816, CS6814, LPD8806

Common IC models with clock channel: SK9822, APA102, WS2801, LPD8806
Common IC models without clock channel: WS2812B, WS2813, WS2815B, SK6812, CS2803, CS8812B, WS2811, WS2818, UCS1903, TM1814, TM1914, TM1812, CS8208, CS6816, CS6814

IC Specification Download

SK2813-RGB-LED specification

SK6812-RGB-LED specification

SK6812-RGBW-LED specification

SK9822-RGB-LED specification

WS2811 specification

APA102 specification

TM1814 specification

UCS1903 specification

UCS2904 specification

WS2812B specification

WS2813 specification

WS2815B specification

WS2818A specification

LEDs Density

LED density refers to the number of LEDs by one meter of addressable LED strips. The higher the LED density, the more uniform light, the higher brightness, and no light spots.

IP Grade

IP Code or Ingress Protection Code is defined in IEC 60529 which classifies and rates the degree of protection provided by mechanical casings and electrical enclosures against intrusion, dust, accidental contact, and water. It is published in the European Union by CENELEC as EN 60529.

If you need to install addressable LED strips outdoors, you need to use IP65 or higher IP grade addressable LED strips. However, for installations that are submerged in water for short periods, IP67 or even IP68 would be safer.

How to wire addressable led strip?

Before controlling the DMX512 addressable led strip, you need to use the ‘address writer’ provided by the IC manufacturer to set the dmx512 address into DMX512 ICs. You only need to set the dmx512 address once, and the DMX512 IC will save the data, even if the power is turned off. Please check the how to set dmx512 address video below:

But, the SPI addressable led strip does not need to set the address before use.

SPI addressable led strips will have different outlets wire according to different functions, and their wiring diagrams will also be different.

Addressable led strip without breakpoint resume function, only has data channel.

The addressable led strip with the resumable transmission function will have a data channel and a spare data channel.

Addressable led strip with clock channel function have a data channel and a clock channel.

The data channel is generally represented by the letter D on the PCB, the spare data channel is represented by the letter B, and the clock channel is represented by the letter C.

SPI built-in IC addressable led strip

SPI external IC addressable led strip

With clock channel SPI IC addressable led strip

With break resume transmission function SPI IC addressable led strip

DMX512 Addressable led strip wiring diagram

Click here to check the high quality PDF DMX512 wiring diagram

SPI Addressable led strip with only data channel wiring diagram

SPI Addressable led strip with only data channel and clock channel

SPI Addressable led strip with only data channel and break resume channel

How to control addressable led strip?

You can control dmx512 addressable led strips through dmx512 controller or dmx512 master.

In the same way, you can control SPI addressable led strips through an SPI controller.

How to customize addressable LED strip for your lighting projects?

Step 1: You must have a rough idea of what lighting effect you need and then think in-depth to specify your requirements. The more, the better. This will ease your communication with the Chinese LED strip manufacturers.

Step 2: Contact some Chinese LED strip manufacturers, tell them what you need and ideally come up with drawings showing how big the place is, where the LED strip should be installed and what kind of lighting effect you want it to be. For lighting effects, I would suggest you go to YouTube and find some existing examples and share them with the manufacturer, and they know better what you need. In short, you want to provide as much detail as possible to the LED strip manufacturer.

Step 3: When the sales person from the Chinese manufacturer gets your exact requirements, they will discuss with the electrical engineer and work out how many LED strips are needed, plus how many LED controllers and how many LED power supplies.

Step 4: The sales person will then discuss how to implement your lighting effect with the lighting designer or programmer, which is currently mainly based on the LedEdit or Madrix platforms. Given that not many LED strip manufacturers in China can offer lighting design services, not to mention that only a few can program based on Madrix software. You may need some patience to finally find a Chinese LED manufacturer that can offer this programming service.

Step 5: The sales person will discuss further specifics with you and then quote a price. After confirming back and forth, you hand over the order to the Chinese LED strip manufacturer.

Step 6: Once production is complete, the manufacturer sends you the entire shipment.

Step 7: You will need to hire some experts or electricians to install the customized LED strips. As everything is calculated based on the given project site information, the LED strip manufacturer in China will usually design and provide you with a wiring diagram for the installation. Therefore, follow the instructions to complete the job.

Step 8: Installation and lighting commissioning. Please note that only a few LED strip manufacturers in China can offer this service by sending their field engineers to your site to do the whole job.

Where to Buy Addressable LED Strip?

Addressable LED strips are much more complicated than the regularly led strips. This is why it is more challenging that you choose the right addressable LED strip manufacturer. You can find the addressable led strip manufacturer in the following ways.

  1. Amazon
  2. Alibaba
  3. Find the led strip factory through exhibitions or Google
LED Strip Sample Book


Addressable led strip is a led strip with control ICs that allow you to control individual LEDs or groups of LEDs. You can control a specific part of the led strip, which is why it is called ‘addressable’. Addressable led strip is also called digital led strip, pixel led strip, magic led strip, or dream color led strip.

In order to control addressable LED strips, you need to use a DMX or SPI controller.

The addressable LED strip receives instructions from the DMX or SPI controller, and then the IC on the addressable LED strip changes the color or brightness of the LED light according to the instructions.

Connect the data cable of the addressable LED strip to the controller, and the power cable to the LED driver.

Step 1: Check if there are some black ICs on the PCB of the LED strip, and the PCB is marked with an arrow. It should be noted that some ICs are built into the LED lamp, but you can see a small black dot inside the LED lamp.

Step 2: Check the number of pads and printed marks on the PCB. SPI addressable LED strips, with 3 pads or 4 pads, printed as GND, DO(DI), + or GND, DO(DI), BO(BI), +. DMX addressable LED Strips have  5 soldering pads, printed as +, P, A, B, GND.

Step 3: Connect the controller to test the LED strip. Addressable LED strips, LED lights in different positions can have different colors.

The brightest addressable LED strip is the SMD2835 white addressable LED strip.

Addressable RGB LEDs have ICs, and you can control a certain part of the addressable RGB LEDs individually.

Non-addressable RGB LEDs have no IC, you can’t control a part of addressable RGB LEDs individually, you can only control all non-addressable RGB LEDs at the same time.

Addressable RGB LEDs have ICs, and you can control a certain part of the addressable RGB LEDs individually.

Non-addressable RGB LEDs have no IC, you can’t control a part of addressable RGB LEDs individually, you can only control all non-addressable RGB LEDs at the same time.

1. Maybe the number of pixels set by the controller is wrong, or it exceeds the maximum pixel support of the controller.

2. Maybe the addressable LED strip is broken.

The ICs on the LED strip and controller.

DMX512 LED strip and SPI LED strip.

Addressable RGB is better.

Because addressable RGB  is more flexible, it can achieve more lighting effects.

The Pixel LED Strip is a light strip with an IC that allows you to control each LED or part of the LED strip individually. Each individually controlled unit is also called a pixel.

Digital LED light strip is a kind of LED light strip with ICs, a single LED or a single group of LEDs can change color independently. Digital LED light strips can achieve a variety of color changes, such as running water and horse racing effects.

WS2812B is a new generation product developed on the basis of WS2812. It not only inherits all the excellent qualities of WS2812, but also improves the IC from the external mechanical layout to the internal structure, further improving the stability and efficiency.

IC TypeExternal ICBuilt-in IC
Pixel3LEDs / Pixel1LED / Pixel

One data pin of Arduino can control 300 LED WS2812B.

Yes, most WS2812B LED strips have capacitors.

WS2812B protocol, please check the datasheet.

Yes, WS2811 is also called NeoPixel.

16mA per IC, for 12V, 0.192W per cut.

RGBIC is better. Because you can individually control an LED or a certain part of RGBIC to achieve more complex lighting effects.

RGBW is better, because RGBW has a separate white light, this is true white light.

Yes, you can cut RGBIC LED strip on the cutting line.

Yes, you can. Simply connect RGBIC strips by soldering or using quick solderless connectors.

Yes, RGBIC is also called dreamcolor.

RGBIC has ICs that enable you to change colors, but you can control each LED or part of the LED individually for more dynamic lighting effects such as chasing, shooting stars, and rainbow lights. RGBW can only change colors in one whole strip at the same time.

IC means Independent Control.


After reading this article, I believe that you are familiar with addressable LED strips and know how to choose a suitable addressable LED strip. LEDYi is a professional LED strip lights, LED tape lights, and LED neon lights manufacturer in China. We offer customized solutions, OEM, and ODM services. Wholesalers, distributors, dealers, traders, and agents are welcome to purchase in bulk with us.

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