I've been using some warm white external LED strip (LE Lighting Ever from Amazon) in the garden for a year or two that has lasted pretty well. As I've used it directly fixed I have it arranged so that I can't see the individual LED's but that restricts it a bit as to where I can place it. I've searched Amazon UK and there's loads of options for channel to enclose and diffuse the strip, but none of them mention external use. Is anyone here using the LED channel externally? As it's aluminium I'm wondering how it will look after a period of time outside in our weather. Thanks.
Aluminium (or Aluminum here in the US) should hold up just fine outside. You can expect it to become dull looking (more grey and less reflective) over time. Aluminum (when exposed to air) produces a thin layer of aluminum oxide, which is pretty tough and not very reactive. It also protects the rest of the aluminum.
So for most general uses it should be fine. I have an LED strip mounted outside on a aluminum support for our covered patio. It is still working after 9 years. No changes to the aluminum (it was not new when we moved in). However the waterproofing material for the LED strip has yellowed substantially and a couple LEDs have died (individual failures that have not affected the overall strip). Debating about replacing it this year.
That's what I'm concerned about - that the finish on the strip 'furs'. As it will be visible I don't want it to look crap after some time. I might be overly concerned and I'm thinking about what happens to aluminium on my motorbike when exposed to weather, but that's probably just down to road salt as opposed to just weather.
Yes that's what has happened to mine, the coating is perishing/yellowing from the UV making the warm white light become more like extra warm white. On one or two strips, it has burned out part way along a length where the water has managed to get between the coating and LEDs.
So I'm looking to install the coated weatherproof LED strip in the aluminium channels for 2 reasons:
To diffuse the light with the opaque channel cover, so that it looks more like a line of light rather than seeing the individual LEDs. That will allow me to install it where it's visible.
The opaque cover will keep UV off the strip and also provide additional weatherproofing.
Not sure if you have seen this video about diffusers. Might be handy if you have not gotten one yet:
As for the channel itself... I do not know enough myself (not having put anything to protect the ones I have used) but I would bet there are coatings you could use to protect/maintain it. Or even painting them.