Philips Hue’s Lightstrips are a great product: I have a few myself But one thing has always bugged me about them: they’re wider than normal. This might not sound like a problem, but it is when you try to fit them in an aluminum diffuser channel, and they don’t fit.
Equally if you’re trying to run your Hue Lightstrips around your roof line and you only have a tight space, you don’t want to realise at the last moment that they won’t fit. So just how wide are they?
Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus (the indoor version) are 14mm (11/20″) wide in total, with the actual LEDs taking up 12mm and the silicone cover adding an extra 2mm width. The Philips Hue Outdoor Lightstrips are quite a bit wider, at 20mm (8/10″) total width.
A Recap of Hue’s Lightstrips And Diffuser Channels
Philips Hue’s Lightstrip Plus range comes as both an indoor and outdoor variant, although the indoor variant is more popular (and also half the price).
Each lightstrip contains a number of LEDs, which can change color to deliver over 16 million different colors (and this can be controlled within the Hue app, through a Hue accessory or with voice control when paired with a smart speaker).
I discussed my thoughts on the indoor Hue lightstrip in a lengthy video previously, but to summarize my views, I think that it’s probably the best smart lightstrips on the market right now – especially when considering that the Hue ecosystem offers a lot more than smart color support.
However one of the things I dislike about it is that the individual LEDs are fairly spread out, meaning that the typical “light bump” effect you see on all LED lightstrips is more pronounced with Hue’s lightstrips:
As a result, people sometimes use diffuser channels. These are made out of aluminum and have a semi-transparent plastic cover, and you insert your LED lightstrips inside them. The semi-transparent cover then helps to diffuse (or “spread out”) the light bumps a bit:
Unfortunately because Philips Hue’s lightstrips are wider than average, many typical diffuser channels won’t actually fit Hue’s lightstrips. I discuss this point more later on, but I first wanted to discuss their width in a bit more detail.
More Detail About The Lightstrips’ Width
Before diving into compatible diffuser channels (and whether you can decrease the width of the Hue Lightstrips, by chopping off the silicone), I wanted to dive into a bit more detail about the width of the indoor and outdoor Philips Hue Lightstrips.
Width of the Indoor Hue Lightstrips
There have been a few versions (generations) of the Hue Lightstrip Plus, although both the previous third generation and the fourth generation are a similar width – approximately 14mm (11/20″) in total:
This compares to a more standard LED lightstrip which is only 10mm (4/10″):
I’ll cover why Hue lightstrips are wider than average in the next section, but it’s worth knowing that the width of an LED lightstrip is made up of two factors:
- The actual PCB width (this is the circuit board itself, which has the individual LEDs on it)
- Any waterproofing or splash-resistance, such as a silicone cover
The PCB of the Hue Lightstrip is 12mm in total, compared to around 9mm in a more standard LED lightstrip.
However the Hue Lightstrip Plus also contains a fairly large silicone cover. You’d think that this is so that it can be declared as “waterproof”, but the strip only has an IP20 rating, basically meaning it can withstand humidity – but not much else. Either way, this thick silicone cover adds an extra 2mm of total width to the Hue Lightstrip:
Width of the Hue Outdoor Lightstrip
As covered earlier, the Hue Outdoor Lightstrip has a total width of 20mm (8/10″). This is fairly thick, but it’s because the outdoor lightstrip has an IP67 rating, meaning that it is officially declared as weatherproof.
This extra weatherproofing housing is what increases the width from 14mm (for the indoor model) to 20mm (for the outdoor model). The YouTube video below shows this from 0:28 onwards:
You probably won’t be able to find any diffuser channels wide enough for the Hue Outdoor Lightstrip, but thankfully you shouldn’t really need one – the weatherproof housing acts as a built-in diffuser anyway.
Why Is The Philips Hue Lightstrip So Wide?
I mention earlier that the Hue Lightstrip has “6 pins”, and you can see these six pins on the image below:
That’s a large part of the reason why Hue’s Lightstrips are so wide: they essentially contain six wires running through them, meaning that they will naturally need to be wider than a 4 or 5 pin LED light strip.
But what exactly are 4, 5 or 6 pin LED light strips? As a general rule, all LED light strips will contain a single common positive wire/line (they need constant power – separate to the individual LEDs – for general control and management). This is one of the “pins”.
Then the other “pins” are for control of the individual LEDs – meaning that if a lightstrip has a red, green, blue and white LED, it will have four pins for those LEDs – and therefore five pins overall. Basically:
|Common Power Line||Blue LED Line||Green LED Line||Red LED Line||White LED Line||Second White LED Line|
As you can see from the above, some LEDs contain a white LED. This allows them to produce better white colors than standard RGB light strips. After all, it’s pretty difficult to produce a perfect white color by mixing blue, green and red!
However there’s more than one ‘type’ of white light: during daytime, the light is a bluey white shade. During nighttime, the light is a yellow white shade. This is discussed on the Kelvin scale:
As a result, some more premium LED lightstrips will contain a second white LED. One LED (the first) will be for warm white, and the second will be for cool whites. This allows the LED lightstrip to produce a much better, and more natural, range of colors.
And this is exactly what Philips Hue’s lightstrips offer: they contain 5 LED diodes (red, green, blue, warm white, cool white), meaning that they are “6 pin”. This is good, but it also has a downside: it requires more internal wiring, meaning their lightstrips are wider than average.
This brings us onto the next sections: what should you do if you want to mount your Hue lightstrip somewhere, and it just won’t fit?
What Diffuser Channel To Buy For Hue’s Lightstrips
The smaller LED lightstrip that I shown earlier has a width of 10mm (4/10″), and this just about fits into a standard U channel (diffuser channel) that has a total external width of 15mm (6/10″):
This diffuser channel therefore definitely wouldn’t fit Philips Hue’s Lightstrip, which is 14mm when including the silicone cover. As a result, you need to ensure that any channel you purchase has an internal width of at least 15mm.
Note: Some sales listings (especially on Amazon) say that they support Hue’s Lightstrips, but they actually don’t. Double check the listing’s pictures and description to verify that they show an internal width of at least 15mm. It might also be worth checking the reviews – I have seen many reviews of diffuser channels say that they don’t fit Philips Hue Lightstrips.
In the end, I purchased the following from Amazon UK, and the product images have a diagram showing that they have an internal width of 16.1mm. They fit my Hue Lightstrips fine:
So to wrap up, if you are building a diffuser channel (or you’ve got a small space that you want to run Hue Lightstrips through), you need to check that you’ll have at least 15mm (6/10″) of free width.
You should be fine to leave the standard Hue adhesive backing on the lightstrip – it is so thin that it won’t prevent the lightstrip from fitting into the diffuser chanel.
Is Removing The Silicone Cover A Good Idea?
If for some reason you can’t find an adequate diffuser channel, or you really need the extra 2mm that the silicone cover adds, you might be wondering whether you can strip off the silicone cover?
Some people have tried this, and it is possible: you just need to carefully cut the edge of the silicone off with a sharp knife, and ensure that you don’t touch any of the wiring/PCB. There are a few things to be aware of though:
- This will almost certainly void your Hue warranty. They tend to take a dim view to someone physically cutting into the device, oddly enough! However if your warranty has expired, or you simply don’t mind too much, then this is a simple enough DIY task.
- The bottom of the Hue Lightstrip contains exposed copper electrics. Whilst this is low voltage, it can cause a short (and potentially destroy your Hue Lightstrip) if this copper touches other metal – such as the aluminum of a diffuser channel.
So if you are running the cover-free lightstrip within a diffuser channel (or near other metal), you might want to place it on some tape first – to protect the copper from touching the other metal.