RGB vs RGBW LED Strip
RGB LED strip has been around for a while now and has opened the door to previously unheard-of lighting possibilities, allowing not only a wide range of customisable colours but also the ability to cut and join any length to create totally unique shapes. In response to popular demand though, there's now a new kid on the block, RGB+W, which adds an extra white chip into the mix. Why might you need this? Read on.
What’s the difference between RGB and RGBW LED strip?
Standard RGB LED strip uses a 3-in-1 LED chip made up of red, green and blue chips. It can produce a wide range of colours by mixing the three and looks almost white with all three at full brightness. RGB+W LED strip uses either a 4-in-1 LED chip that has a white chip as well as red, green and blue or an RGB chip alongside a white chip.
Why would you want an extra white chip?
Although RGB can produce a colour close to white, a dedicated white LED provides a much purer white tone and allows you the option of an extra warm or cool white chip. The extra white chip also provides extra scope for colour mixing with the RGB chips to create a huge range of unique shades.
Which is better?
RGB+W is undoubtedly a much more flexible product than standard RGB LED strip which looks a little crude alongside RGB+W. Inevitably it is of course a bit more expensive but you are getting a much more capable product. If all you’re after are basic RGB colours with no requirement for a proper white then basic RGB LED strip is generally more cost effective, however if you do need white (for example for task lighting) then RGB+W is a better bet.
Are the controllers different?
Yes. RGB+W lighting controllers have five outputs, one for each colour and one for power. As RGB has one less chip, it only requires four. The functionality of the control also has to be different to control the white part of the LED in RGB+W.
Is RGBW more difficult to install?
No. The extra chip makes no difference - as long as you choose the correct controller then it's no more complex than RGB. In terms of control it may be a little more complex as there are extra functions but once set up it's easy.