The Ultimate Guide To Addressable LED Strip


Table of Contents

Addressable LED strips have been gaining popularity among DIY enthusiasts and lighting professionals due to their flexibility and versatility.

They offer a wide range of possibilities for customization and programming, making them ideal for a variety of applications such as home decoration, architectural lighting, and stage lighting. 

In this guide, we will explore everything you need to know about addressable LED strips.

ucs1903 spi addressable led strip 1
UCS1903 SPI addressable led strip

What is an addressable LED strip? 

An addressable LED strip, also known as a digital LED strip, is a type of LED strip that allows for individual control of each LED on the strip. 

Each LED on the strip is assigned an address, allowing it to be controlled independently from the others. 

This means that you can program different colors, brightness levels, and effects for each LED on the strip, creating complex lighting displays and animations.

What is the difference between an addressable LED strip and a regular analog LED strip?

Analog LED strips are limited to displaying one color at a time for the entire strip, with the ability to change the color but not for specific sections of LEDs. 

Addressable LED strips offer the ability to have different colors for each section of LEDs, allowing for a wide range of color options and creating unique color patterns and effects.

How do addressable LED strips work?

To make an addressable LED strip work, you will need the following equipment:

Addressable LED strip

Integrated circuit chips (ICs)

Flexible printed circuit board (FPCB)

Power supply


how do addressable led strip work

Here are the steps for how addressable LED strips work

Power Supply: First, you need to connect the power supply to the LED strip. This will provide the required voltage and current to the LED strip.

Controller: Then, connect the controller to the LED strip. This will allow you to control the color and brightness of the LED strip.

IC Chip: Addressable LED strips have IC chips embedded in them, which control each individual LED. These IC chips communicate with the controller to receive instructions on what color to display.

FPCB: The IC chips and LEDs are connected to the Flexible Printed Circuit Board (FPCB), which allows for flexibility in the strip.

LEDs: The LEDs themselves emit the light and are individually controlled by the IC chip.

Programming: Finally, the controller can be programmed with different patterns and effects to create various lighting displays.

In summary, the power supply provides power to the LED strip, the controller sends instructions to the IC chips which control each individual LED, the FPCB connects all the components together, and the LEDs emit the light based on the instructions received from the IC chip. The controller can be programmed with various patterns and effects to create unique lighting displays.

What is the best addressable led strip used for?

Addressable LED strips are used for a variety of lighting applications, including:

Decorative lighting

Addressable LED strips are commonly used for decorative lighting purposes, such as in homes, hotels, restaurants, and retail stores.

Entertainment lighting

Addressable LED strips are also used in entertainment lighting, such as in stage productions, concerts, and other live events.

Architectural lighting

Addressable RGB LED strip can be used in architectural lighting to highlight the unique features of a building, such as arches, columns, and other design elements.

Automotive lighting

Addressable LED strips are used in automotive lighting to enhance the appearance of the vehicle and provide better visibility on the road.

Signage and advertising

Addressable LED strips can be used in signage and advertising applications to create eye-catching displays that attract attention.

Industrial lighting

Addressable LED strips are used in industrial lighting applications, such as warehouses, factories, and other large spaces, to provide efficient and customizable lighting solutions.

Gaming and computer lighting

Addressable LED strips can be used to add lighting effects to gaming PCs and computer systems, creating a more immersive and visually appealing experience.

Types of Addressable LED Strip

Addressable LED strips have become increasingly popular due to their flexibility and ability to create dynamic lighting effects. They allow for different colors and patterns to be displayed in various sections of the strip, making them ideal for use in various applications such as home décor, stage lighting, and commercial installations.

There are two main types of addressable LED strips: DMX512 and SPI.

DMX512 addressable led strip

DMX512 addressable LED strips are a type of addressable LED strip that is commonly used in stage lighting, architectural lighting, and other large-scale lighting projects. DMX stands for Digital Multiplex and 512 refers to the number of channels that can be controlled on a single DMX universe.

The DMX512 addressable LED strip is a type of LED strip that can receive DMX512 signals directly without the need for a DMX512 decoder.

DMX512 addressable LED strips are available in a variety of lengths and can be cut to size to fit a specific application.

SPI addressable led strip

The SPI (Serial Peripheral Interface) addressable LED strip is an LED strip that uses a serial communication protocol to control each LED individually. 

It is usually controlled by a microcontroller or a dedicated SPI LED controller, and each LED on the strip has a unique address that can be assigned and controlled independently. 

This allows for more complex and customizable lighting effects, such as animations and patterns, to be created. 

The SPI addressable LED strip is commonly used in applications such as stage lighting, advertising displays, and decorative lighting.

DMX512 Vs. SPI

DMX512 and SPI are two common signal protocols used in addressable LED strips. Here are some differences between DMX512 and SPI in terms of signal protocol, wiring, compatibility, reliability, anti-interference of signals, overall cost, and application:

Signal Protocol:

DMX512 uses a serial digital signal protocol that allows for multiple channels of information to be sent over a single cable.

SPI uses a parallel digital signal protocol, where each LED requires a separate data line.


DMX512 requires a dedicated DMX512 cable with an XLR connector.

SPI requires a separate data line for each LED on the strip, making wiring more complex.


DMX512 is widely used in professional lighting applications and is compatible with various DMX512 controllers and software.

SPI is less common and may require a specific controller and software.


DMX512 has been around for several decades and has a proven track record of reliability.

SPI can be more prone to data errors and signal interference, which can affect the reliability of the LED strip.

Anti-interference of signals:

DMX512 has better anti-interference properties due to its differential signal transmission and is less affected by external noise.

SPI signals can be more vulnerable to interference, especially in longer cable runs or environments with high electromagnetic interference.

Overall cost:

DMX512 cables and controllers can be more expensive than SPI, but DMX512 can be more cost-effective in larger installations due to its ability to transmit more channels over a single cable.

SPI may be more cost-effective in smaller installations where fewer channels are needed.


DMX512 is often used in stage lighting, architectural lighting, and other professional lighting applications.

SPI is commonly used in decorative lighting, such as for signage, displays, and accent lighting.

Ultimately, the choice between DMX512 and SPI addressable LED strip will depend on the specific needs of the project, including the number of channels, cable runs, reliability requirements, and overall budget.

How to choose the right addressable led strip?

Choosing the right addressable LED strip depends on several factors, such as the size of your project, the desired level of control, and the type of LED chip used in the strip. Here are some key factors to consider when selecting an addressable LED strip:

LED Density

LED strip density refers to the number of LEDs per meter of strip. Higher-density strips have more LEDs and produce a more uniform and continuous light. However, higher-density strips also require more power and may be more expensive.


LED strips typically operate at 5V(addressable led strip 5v),24V(  addressable led strip 24v), or 12V (addressable led strip 12v). Choosing the right voltage depends on the specific LED chip and the length of the strip. Longer strips generally require a higher voltage to maintain a consistent level of brightness.

What is voltage drop?

Voltage drop is a phenomenon where the voltage supplied to a circuit or a component within a circuit decreases as the current flows through the circuit.

As the LED strip gets longer, the resistance of the wire in the strip increases, causing a voltage drop. 

This voltage drop results in a decrease in the voltage that reaches the LEDs at the end of the strip. 

As a result, the LEDs at the end of the strip receive less power and produce less light, resulting in a dimmer appearance. 

To avoid this issue, it is essential to choose the right voltage and wire size for your LED strip, depending on its length and power requirements.

Why does voltage happen?

As the current flows through the wire, it encounters resistance which causes the voltage to drop. This is why the LED strip’s brightness decreases as the distance from the power source increases. It’s important to choose the right gauge wire and power supply for the length of the LED strip to minimize voltage drop and ensure consistent brightness throughout the strip.

Waterproofing (IP Grade) 

IP (Ingress Protection) grade is a rating system used to indicate the degree of protection provided by an electrical enclosure or housing against solids and liquids. The IP rating consists of two digits that provide information about the enclosure’s ability to protect against solids and liquids.

For example, an IP68 rating means that the enclosure is dust-tight and can withstand continuous immersion in water beyond one meter deep. On the other hand, an IP20 rating means that the enclosure provides only basic protection against solid objects and offers no protection against water.

Type of Colors

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

When choosing an addressable LED strip, consider the type of colors you need for your project and select a strip that can produce those colors.

Type of Integrated circuit chips (ICs)

DMX512 IC chips used in addressable LED strips are designed to interpret DMX signals and control the LEDs accordingly. 

However, SPI ICs are integrated circuit chips used in SPI addressable LED strip. These ICs are responsible for controlling the individual LEDs on the strip, allowing for the creation of complex lighting effects.

Below I list the common IC models on the market.

DMX512 addressable led strip: UCS512, TM512

SPI addressable LED strip

The different types of SPI addressable IC include built-in and external IC, as well as resumed transmission with or without breakpoint, and those with or without a clock channel.

The breakpoint resume function in SPI addressable LED strip means that when there is a failure in an IC, the signal can still be passed on to subsequent ICs, and the strip can continue functioning with the remaining ICs.

Type of SPI Addressable LED Strip ICBuilt-in IC ModelsExternal IC ModelsIC Models with Breakpoint Resume FunctionIC Models without Breakpoint Resume FunctionIC Models with Clock ChannelIC Models without Clock Channel
Common ModelsWS2812B, WS2813, WS2815, SK6812, SK9822, APA102, CS2803, CS8812BWS2801, WS2811, WS2818, UCS1903, TM1814, TM1914, TM1812, CS8208, CS6816, CS6814, LPD8806WS2813, WS2815, CS2803, CS8812B, WS2818, TM1914, CS8208WS2812B, SK6812, SK9822, APA102, WS2801, WS2811, UCS1903, TM1814, TM1812, CS6816, CS6814, LPD8806SK9822, APA102, WS2801, LPD8806WS2812B, WS2813, WS2815, SK6812, CS2803, CS8812B, WS2811, WS2818, UCS1903, TM1814, TM1914, TM1812

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

Controller Compatibility

Make sure the LED strip you choose is compatible with you chosen individually addressable led controller. Different LED strips may require different protocols, and not all controllers support every protocol.

How to wire gram addressable led strip?

Before controlling the DMX512 addressable led strip, You need to address write. To set the DMX512 address for addressable LED strips, you need an address writer provided by the IC manufacturer. Connect the address writer to the DMX512 ICs and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to set the desired DMX512 address. This process usually involves selecting the starting address and the number of ICs to be controlled.

It is important to note that the DMX512 address only needs to be set once, and the DMX512 ICs will save the data even if the power is turned off. Once the DMX512 address is set, you can control the addressable LED strip using a DMX512 controller.  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 strip are wired differently depending on their functions. 

Addressable led strips without breakpoint resume functions only have a data channel. like ws2812 led strip.

SPI addressable led strip with the resumable transmission function has a data channel and a spare data channel.

SPI addressable led strip with clock channel functions have a data channel and a clock channel. 

Typically, the data channel is labeled with the letter D on the PCB, the spare data channel with the letter B, and the clock channel with the letter C.

SPI built-in IC addressable led strip(ws2812 led strip)

ip65 ws2812b

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

mshled dmx512 led strip wiring diagram

SPI Addressable led strip with only data channel wiring diagram (eg: ws2811)

SPI Addressable led strip with only data channel and clock channel

spi addressable led strip with only data channel and clock channel

SPI Addressable led strip with only data channel and break resume channel (eg: ws2815)

spi addressable led strip with only data channel and break resume channel

How to Control Addressable LED Strip?

dmx512 addressable led strips can be controlled using a dmx512 addressable led strip controller or dmx512 master, and SPI addressable led strips can be controlled using an SPI addressable led strip controller.

There are several ways to control addressable LED strips, including:

Controllers: Addressable LED strips can be controlled using a variety of controllers, such as DMX, SPI, addressable led controller wifi, or PWM controllers. Some addressable led strip controllers can be programmed to create complex lighting effects, while others offer simpler manual control.

Addressable led controller software: Many addressable LED strips are compatible with software-based control systems, such as Arduino, Raspberry Pi, or other microcontroller boards. These systems allow for more advanced programming and control of the LED strip.

Remote Control: Some addressable LED strips come with a remote control that allows you to change colors, brightness, and lighting effects without the need for additional hardware.

Smartphone Apps: Some manufacturers offer smartphone apps that allow you to control your LED strip from your mobile device.

How to Customize Addressable LED Strip for Your Lighting Projects?

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Step 1: Determine the lighting effect you want and specify your requirements in detail. This will make it easier to communicate with LED strip manufacturers.

Step 2: Contact LED strip manufacturers and provide them with drawings or examples of the lighting effect you want. They will work with electrical engineers to determine the number of LED strips, controllers, and power supplies needed.

Step 3: The manufacturer’s salesperson will discuss your lighting effect with a lighting designer or programmer, such as using LedEdit or Madrix software. Not many LED strip manufacturers in China offer this programming service, so it may take some time to find one.

Step 4: After finalizing the details and receiving a quote, place an order with the LED strip manufacturer.

Step 5: Once production is complete, the manufacturer will ship the order to you.

Step 6: Hire experts or electricians to install the customized LED strips, using the wiring diagram provided by the manufacturer.

Step 7: Complete installation and lighting commissioning, which can be done by the manufacturer’s field engineers if offered as a service.

Where to Buy Addressable LED Strip?

Addressable LED strips are available from a variety of sources, including electronics retailers, online marketplaces, and specialty lighting suppliers. When shopping for an addressable LED strip, be sure to choose a reputable supplier that offers high-quality products and good customer service.  

Other ways to find addressable LED strip manufacturers include:

  1. Local electronic stores or lighting stores – they may carry a limited selection of addressable LED strips or be able to point you in the right direction to find a manufacturer.
  2. Online electronics stores – such as SparkFun, Adafruit, and Digi-Key.
  3. Online marketplaces – such as eBay, Etsy, and AliExpress.
  4. Social media – search for manufacturers on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
  5. Referrals from other lighting professionals or enthusiasts – ask around for recommendations.


Addressable LED strips work by using a microcontroller to control the individual LEDs on the strip. Each LED has a unique address that the microcontroller uses to send commands to control the color and brightness of the LED.

When choosing an addressable LED strip, consider the length of the strip, the number of LEDs per meter, the color options, and the voltage requirements. Also, consider the type of control system you will be using to control the LEDs.

Addressable LED strips can be installed using adhesive tape or mounting clips. They can also be cut to size and soldered to connectors for custom lengths. Wiring and control systems will also need to be installed.

Non-addressable LED strips have all the LEDs connected to a single circuit, so they all show the same color and brightness. Addressable LED strips have each LED connected to an individual circuit, allowing for individual control of each LED.

Yes, addressable LED strips can be used outdoors if they are designed for outdoor use and are properly sealed against moisture and weather. Be sure to choose an IP65 or higher rated LED strip for outdoor use.


In summary, this article has provided a comprehensive guide on addressable LED strips, from their features and benefits to their applications and how to choose a suitable manufacturer. MSHLED, as a reputable LED strip lights manufacturer in China, offers various customizable solutions and services to meet the diverse needs of wholesalers, distributors, dealers, traders, and agents. Whether you need LED strip lights, LED tape lights, LED Pixel Light,or LED neon lights, MSHLED is a reliable partner for your lighting projects.


Hi, I’m the author of this post, and I have been in this field for more than 10 years. If you want to wholesale LED Strip Lights or custom LED Pixel Light, feel free to ask me any questions.

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