What Is A Beam Angle For Strip Lights? All You Need To Know

If you want to illuminate a specific feature in your home, like a piece of art, the beam angle becomes important. It is also relevant when you want to install two different types of light strip next to each other.

A beam angle of a light strip is the angle at which the strip emits light. Light emitted at a smaller angle covers a smaller area but is brighter. Light emitted at a larger angle is not as bright but can cover a larger area. Most strip lights have a beam angle of 120°, but there are some exceptions. 

If you only want to use one smart light strip on a surface in your home, you probably don’t need to consider the beam angle. This is especially true if you are more concerned about the overall effect of the light. 

In this article, I discuss why the beam angle of your strip lights might be important. 

Which Beam Angle Do I Need For My Smart Strip Lights? 

Firstly, the beam angle of your strip light is only relevant if the light is shining onto a surface. If the light is stuck to a wall for example, and you look at the light directly, don’t worry about the beam angle. 

You may want your strip light to illuminate a surface, like your kitchen counter or the space behind your TV. In this case, beam angle might matter. It might still not make such a big difference though. 

In a nutshell, the beam angle refers to how big the illuminated area is when the light shines on it. The smaller the beam angle, the smaller the area that is illuminated. A smaller beam angle also leads to a more focused beam. 

45 degrees is considered a relatively small beam angle. 120 degrees is quite wide. 

Which beam angle you need depends on three things. 

Most LED light strips, including smart strip lights, have a beam angle of 120 degrees. An exception is the Philips Hue Lightstrip Play, which has a beam angle of 45 degrees. This means the Hue Lighstrip will illuminate a smaller area with more focused light. Photo by Rich Smith on Unsplash

Firstly, how large is the area you want to illuminate? For a larger area, you will need a wider beam angle. 

Secondly, how close will the strip light be installed to the surface? The closer the light is to the surface, the narrower the illuminated area will be. So if your lights are close to the surface, you may need  a wider angle. 

Thirdly, what is the maximum brightness of the lights? If the maximum brightness of your strip is quite low, you may want to have a strip with a narrow beam angle. That is if you want a bright illumination. 

In most cases, this doesn’t matter. It may become important if you are installing light strips from different brands in a long line. If two different light strips next to each other have different beam angles, the light on the surface will not be consistent. 

Can I Change The Beam Angle Of My Strip Light?

It is possible to change the beam angle of your strip light by placing it into an aluminum channel. These channels have a special lens to change the beam angle. 

Some channels have a fixed shape, so they can only change the beam angle to a different set angle. However, you can also get an adjustable aluminum channel, like this one for just over $40. These have a metal insert that can be repositioned to change the beam angle. 

The first practical LED light, designed by Nick Holonyak, Jr. cost over $200. Now we attach 300 to a strip for less than $10!


Factors that affect light brightness on a surface:

1. Ambient light 

The more ambient light there is, the less the effect of a light shining on a wall will be seen. 

If you want to illuminate a feature on a wall, like a painting, reducing ambient lighting can help. 

2. The distance between the light and the wall 

The further away a light is from a wall, the more the light is spread out on the wall. So if you want a bright light on a small area, the light should be closer to the wall. If you want a larger area lit up, the light should be further away from the wall. 

How Can I Create A Light Feature Wall In My Home? 

If you want to illuminate a wall in your home, you can use LED lights. You may want to illuminate the entire wall. For example, many people like to light up the wall behind their television. You may also want to focus light onto a featured décor item, like a painting. 

Long lights (LED light strips or wall washers) are good for both of these options. A long light can illuminate a wide area, which is practical for these scenarios. 

Although spotlights may also be an option, I will not discuss these in this article. 

First, you will have to decide where you want to place the light. 

You can place it onto a surface opposite the wall so the light shines directly onto the wall from the front. For example, if you want to illuminate the wall behind your TV, you can stick a light strip onto the back of the TV. 

This is only an option if you have items in front of the wall. 

You could also place the light on your ceiling, a few feet in front of the wall. In this case, the light will shine down onto the wall. 

Secondly, you must decide which type of light you want to use. 

Using an LED strip light 

If you want to light up a feature wall in your home, an LED strip light may be sufficient. 

LED strip lights are thin and can be installed by sticking them onto a surface. The strip is also inconspicuous. For example, if you stick it onto the back of your TV you will only see the light produced, not the actual strip. 

LED strip lights are limited in their brightness. They can be stuck to the ceiling above a wall. But this will probably only illuminate the top part of the wall. 

Using an LED wall washer

If you want to illuminate a very large area, an LED wall washer may be a better option. These lights are a lot brighter than light strips. 

LED wall washers are also larger. It is a lot more difficult to hide a wall washer. If you want to illuminate a whole wall, you can install a wall washer to the ceiling. It will be visible, but if the color matches the ceiling, this probably won’t be a problem. 

The beam angle of a wall washer can also be altered by using a different lens. This means you can focus on a specific feature or spread the light over the whole wall. 

Home Streamliner’s Take: 

In most cases, the beam angle of your smart strip lights will be completely irrelevant. Most manufacturers don’t even include it in their product descriptions online. 

The only time you may think about beam angles is when you install two different strip lights next to each other. If they have different beam angles, the area of light lit by each strip will be different. You might get a stepped effect on the surface you are illuminating. 

However, most smart light strips have a beam angle of 120 degrees. So the chances of you experiencing this problem are small. 

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This blog aims to share my research and first-hand knowledge in a helpful way. My goal is for you to be able to save time and find happiness in a streamlined home.