This week, we’re going to cover the differences between rope lights and SMD fixtures!

Rope Lights

Rope Lights

Rope lights refer to LED lights that come in a round, tube-like casing. Typically, the casing for these lights is translucent, plastic, or PVC materials. This type of casing causes rope lights to show hotspots.

Inside, they connect the through-hole LEDs by wires. Because of the nature of wire connections, this allows the rope light to bend in multiple directions. However, this does make the fixture more fragile, and they will tend to become damage when bent and twisted repeatedly.

When you’re planning to mount rope lights, there isn’t a set mounting channel or clip on the market. People will use plastic clips or any other means they can find.

Generally, when you buy rope lights, they are inexpensive and do not come with any sort of warranty.

SMD Fixtures


SMD (surface mount diode) Fixtures are lit with LEDs that are assembled in a small package that is then soldered to a flexible circuit board. SMD fixturess have a high quality, PVC casing with a diffuser.  Hotspots are not present in SMD fixtures with diffusers.

Since SMD fixtures have flexible PCBs (printed circuit boards), they are less flexible than rope lights. The PCB will only allow the fixture to bend in one direction (vertically or horizontally). However, with an SMD fixture you trade flexibility for durability. These can bend many times without causing damage.

When you’re planning to mount SMD fixtures, specially designed mounting hardware and clips are available. This mounting hardware is secure, and suitable for straight and curved applications, and can be ordered along with your fixtures.

The lifespan of SMD fixtures is longer thanks to the higher quality materials, heat sink design, and proper mounting hardware. GLLS SMD fixtures, such as those in our LED Neon Flex line, also have a Constant Current IC that is more efficient than the current limiting resistors found in rope lights. This part of the design also increases the lifespan of the product.

Higher quality fixtures generally come with a warranty. Our LED Neon Flex and Landscape Flex fixtures, for example, come with a 3 year limited warranty!

The Conclusion?

Depending on your project, different types of LED Lighting are going to be more suitable. However, if you want something that’s going to last, you’ll want to invest in a higher quality product.