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RGB vs. RGB+W LED Strip Light. What’s the Difference?

RGB LED strip 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.

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

RGB LED Strip Lights

5050 LED chip

Armacost Lighting’s RibbonFlex Pro RGB tape light 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

5050 + 2835 chip pair

The new RibbonFlex Pro 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 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.

Kitchen with blue under cabinet 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.

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.

ProLine Controllers output: RGB vs. RGB+W
Output of RGB and RGB+W ProLine Controllers

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 undercabinet lighting.