Rope Lighting Guide

From parade floats to indoor accent lighting, rope light is the flexible and creative solution to a variety of illumination needs.

By Eric Allen | Updated Oct 8, 2019
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

  • Incandescent or LED?
  • Diameter
  • Wire Count
  • 12V vs 120V

Creative Rope Light Uses

Incandescent or LED?

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 readily 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 rope light diameter, commonly used for outlining buildings 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 indoor surfaces.

Wire Count

When using rope light, the wire count needs to remain consistent through all runs of rope light and accessories. 2 wire is the most popular choice for steady light, while 3, 4 and 5 wire rope light allows for special effects, such as chasing, animation or flashing between multiple colors. 3,4 and 5 wire rope light must be paired with a controller for the effects to work. Without the controller, the rope light will be steady.

12V or 120V?

120V rope light can be used when there is a power outlet within close proximity, but if there is not a power outlet nearby, 12V rope light should be used. Also known as DC rope light, 12V rope light is ideal for parade floats, bikes, and boats because it uses a converter or battery for its power supply.

Rope Light Motifs

Rope light motifs let you decorate in minutes, with brilliant snowflakes, animated holiday favorites like Santa and his elves, and other fun Christmas light designs.

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