Rope Lighting Guide

Rope light is the flexible and creative solution to a variety of illumination needs.

By Eric Allen | Updated Mar 11, 2020
Rope Light Guide

Rope light is a flexible PVC tubing with light bulbs spaced evenly on the inside. This light style is popular for indoor accent and outdoor landscape lighting as well as holiday decorating.

Rope Light Basics We'll Cover

  • Incandescent or LED Rope Light?
  • Differences in Diameter
  • Wire Count
  • 12V vs 120V

Creative Rope Light Ideas

Before we cover the basics, you might be wondering what rope light can be used for. There are a variety of indoor and outdoor applications to consider. A few of our favorite rope light uses include creating backlit bookcases, kitchen cabinet lighting, holiday decorating, and outdoor landscape lighting.

Incandescent or LED Rope Light?

Incandescent rope light has the benefit of lower up-front costs and lasts up to 3,000 hours, which is perfect for seasonal use. For long term and landscape lighting projects, LED rope light uses less energy, which allows for longer runs to be connected together. LED rope light is estimated to last up to 100,000 hours.

Rope Light Diameter

Rope light is most commonly available in 1/2"(13mm) and 3/8"(10mm) diameters. Rope light accessories are typically designed to match a specific diameter.

  • 1/2" rope light is the most popular diameter, commonly used for outlining buildings, landscape lighting, and general holiday decorating.
  • 3/8" rope light has thinner PVC tubing and is ideal for designing signs, decorative motifs and making sharper curves.
  • Flexible LED strip light is a flat material with low voltage that can be applied to a variety of surfaces.

Wire Count

When working with rope light, the wire count needs to remain consistent through all light runs and any accessories being used. 2 wire is the most popular choice for steady light. 3, 4, and 5 wire rope light allows for animation and special effects when paired with a controller.

12V or 120V?

120V is the most common type of rope light and is ideal for most indoor and outdoor lighting projects where an electrical outlet is accessible. 12V (DC) rope light is an alternative option for parade floats, bikes, boats, and low voltage landscape lighting because it uses a converter or battery for its power supply.

Rope Light Motifs

Rope light decorations let you create festive holiday scenes in minutes. Some popular designs include snowflakes, stars, and animated characters.

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