Cove lighting guide with LED strips

Cove lighting with LED strips

Cove lighting with LED strips has become increasingly popular in recent years as it offers a subtle and sophisticated lighting approach that can transform the mood and ambiance of a space. By utilizing LED strips hidden within a cove in the wall or ceiling, a seamless line of light can be created that illuminates surrounding surfaces and reflects into the room, creating a soft and gentle glow similar to natural light from a hidden window. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits and techniques of using LED cove lights in lighting design.


Examples of cove light shape and location of LED strips

Advantages of LED Cove Lighting

LED cove lights are a versatile and energy-efficient lighting solution suitable for a wide range of interior spaces, including living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, lobbies, restaurants, and retail spaces. The flexibility in design is one of the significant benefits of LED cove lights, as they can be installed in various shapes, sizes, and colors. This allows for endless possibilities in creating unique and captivating lighting designs that can be customized to meet individual preferences. LED cove lights also come with dimming capabilities, which allow for greater control over the intensity and mood of the light.

Another significant advantage of LED cove lights is their energy efficiency. Compared to traditional lighting sources such as incandescent or fluorescent bulbs, LED lights consume less energy and have a longer lifespan. This not only reduces energy costs but also lowers the environmental impact of the lighting system.

Factors to Consider for Cove Lighting Installation

Several factors need to be considered when installing LED cove lights, such as the location of the cove, the type of LED strips to use, and the color temperature of the light. Working with a professional lighting designer or electrician can ensure that the installation is done correctly and efficiently. Here are some tips to achieve the best results with cove lighting:

1. Location of the Cove and Energy Efficiency

The location of the cove is a crucial factor to consider, as it can affect the direction and spread of the light, which can impact the overall light output, look, and feel of the space. Cove lighting can be installed in a variety of locations, including along the ceiling, walls, or even in recessed areas.

Choose LED modules or strips with high energy efficiency, at least 100 lm/w, and place them within the cove light to ensure that most of the emitted light reaches the reflective surface, such as a white wall or ceiling, that directs it into the interior. 

Examples of cove light shape and location of LED strips

Surfaces that are more absorptive than reflective, like dark paint or wood, should be avoided unless energy efficiency is a primary design objective.

LED cove light in the bedroom


2. Selecting the LED Light Source with the Correct Light Output

The purpose of the lighting will determine the type of light source to be used. The illumination of coves can serve a variety of purposes, including guiding people, highlighting architectural elements, or providing ambient, general, or workplace lighting. The following luminous flux per meter for a LED strip can serve as a useful orientation guide:

Ambient light or highlight of objects, furniture elements: up to 500 lumens per meter (160lm per foot)

LED strip ambient  indirect light around furniture

Highlight architectural elements: up to 1000 lumens per meter or 300 lm/foot (many other light sources exist in the space)

General lighting via lines of light: up to 2500 lumens per meter (600 lm/foot), depending on the design of the cove and the materials used.

In many cases, up to 1500 lumens per meter (500 lm/foot) are sufficient.



For a living room of 20 sqm with 2.5 m in height and the purpose of general lighting, a suggestion for the length of cove light is:

  • Lines of light with LED strip 500 lm/meter: at least 40 meters total length
  • Lines of light with LED strip 1000 lm/m: at least 20 meters total length
  • Lines of light with LED strip 2500 lm/m: at least 8 meters in total length

3. Use LED Strips That Are Easy to Install and Have Low Redundancy of Parts

The light sources used for cove lighting must be easily installed over long distances with the least number of auxiliary items such as wires, connectors, screws, or transformers. A large capacity transformer is recommended to ensure proper functioning.

4. Use LED Modules or Strips With the Best Light Quality, Spectrum, and Color Rendering Index

The LED strips should provide the best light quality, spectrum, and color rendering index (CRI). The CRI measures how accurately a light source illuminates colors compared to natural light. LEDs with a minimum CRI80 are suitable for all work and living spaces such as offices, living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, etc. The recommended value for CRI is CRI95+. LED strips that closely mimic sunlight are ideal for creating a natural-looking illumination. 


For example, Nichia Optisolis (CRI99+) and Seoul Semiconductor SunLike (CRI98+) are LED strips that have almost the same spectrum as daylight.


Spectrum of Nichia Optisolis LED



Choose LED strips with minimum CRI80 for all work and living places, such as office, living room, dining room bedroom and so on with CRI95+ as the recommended value.

5. Install LED Modules or Strips With the Longest Lifetime, the Lowest Color Shift, and Best Lumen Maintenance

The LED light sources should have a long lifespan, minimal color shift over time, and excellent lumen maintenance, especially for installations with considerable length. If the brightness of the light source fades too soon, or the color temperature changes, the total replacement of the installation could be the only solution for uniform lighting.

For example, if "LEDs 1" are used in the installation and the light changes as in the image on the right, replacing only some sections with "LEDs 2" will exacerbate the lack of uniformity, as in the image below.

A "rainbow" of shades of white is generally not desirable. Replacing parts of an installation can lead to such an outcome.


6. Install a dimming option for general lighting

For cove lights used for general lighting, LED strips that provide high levels of illumination are recommended. However, there may be times when dimmer light is needed, which is why installing a dimming option is essential. Dimming LED strips require both the LED strips and the transformer to be dimmable. Light intensity can then be controlled via an external dimmer, such as a rotary or push-button wall switch, remote control, smart building control signal, or an app on the phone or tablet. It is recommended to purchase the type of dimming control at the same time as the transformer and the LED strip. Dimming is best considered during the design stage so that the electrical installation is made accordingly.

Currently, a great choice is wireless dimming control via Casambi or Philips Hue compatible products. Both these ecosystems have very mature apps for control, very good privacy controls and many online resources, such as how-to guides.

To selecting the right LED cove light, there are further few factors to keep in mind. One is the color temperature of the LED lights, which can impact the ambiance of a space. In brief, a warm light (around 2700-3000 Kelvin) is often used in residential settings to create a cozy and inviting atmosphere, while a cooler light (around 4000 Kelvin) is more commonly used in commercial settings to create a bright and crisp feel. For a complete guide about what LED color temperature to choose, check out our blog article Recommended CRI color index for different lighting projects.  

At Ledrise you will find many flexible LED strips to build the best cove lights possible.

With our full spectrum LED strips with CRI98+ with SunLike Tri-R technology from Toshiba and Seoul Semiconductor, you will have the most natural lighting possible

LumiFlex3098+ LED strip with CRI98+

Full spectrum light can also come from our LumiBar modules that are easy to install and future-proof by using the Zhaga standard for easy future upgrades.

LumiBar LED Modules with CRI98+

Our Nichia or Seoul LumiFlex LED strip create lines of light with the highest energy efficacy and lifetime up to 200.000 hours. Minimum CRI for the LumiFlex is 80 with 90+ versions available also.

LumiFlex Flexible LED Strips

You can also choose from our Plug & Play range of modules. 

The Multibar LED module is easy to install in your home or office, is very bright and comes with a CRI value of 95.

Multibar Plug & Play LED Strip


Related articles:

Recommended CRI color index for different lighting projects

Recommended CRI color index for different lighting projects





What LED Color Temperature to choose for a project, from 2700K to 6500K

What LED Color Temperature to choose for a project, from 2700K to 6500K