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A Guide to LED Strip Voltage Options

Time to read 4 min

Advice Centre > LED Strips > LED Strip Types > A Guide to LED Strip Voltage Options

Whatever your lighting needs, the impressive variety and versatility of LED strips are sure to match your design requirements and technical specifications. Some of the most popular LED strip types include the colour-changing and water-resistant kinds, these products can be purchased in a single colour of pure white or warm white, or an RGB spectrum for a more colourful effect.

This guide will cover a very important feature of LED strip lighting: voltage. It will highlight some typical uses of LED strips of different voltage options and introduce some products in the We Love LEDs range. Click on one of the links below to jump to that section:

The main things to consider

To avoid dissatisfaction with your LED strip, you should educate yourself on the key elements affecting the installation, efficiency and performance of different voltage options.

Power supply

Firstly, you must acquire a current-limiting device, which is needed to prevent the LED strip lights from being overdriven. The device works by regulating the current and increasing the lifespan of the lights. If such a device is not used, then the electrical aspects of the strip lights change and begin to get hot, resulting in brightness fluctuation and eventually broken LEDs. Therefore, controlling the current is a vital element to bear in mind.

You should also use a power supply which matches the voltage of the strip. For example, you should never connect a 12v LED strip to a 24v DC power supply as it will burn out the bulbs.

Voltage drop

Another key thing to consider is voltage drop. This refers to the reduction in voltage from the starting power supply's total voltage across the whole circuit. If LEDs are subjected to an excessive drop in voltage, then the lights will begin to flicker or dim and the overall performance will decrease significantly. A common cause of voltage drop is utilising an incorrect type of connector when implementing greater distance between the LEDs and power supply.

Other factors affecting voltage drop include cable thickness and LED strip length. If you are using a long cable, you need to ensure it is also quite thick, as thin cables will ultimately result in a voltage drop. Single colour strips such as the Classic 120 12v, for example, can be powered from one end up to five metres and up to 10 metres from both ends. The power input levels for RGB and Pixel strips are different—get in touch to learn more.

Fortunately, a higher voltage aids in counteracting voltage drop. In LED lighting, opting for a high voltage will make the transmission process smoother, thus lowering the risk of voltage drop.

5v LED strips

The 5v voltage of these lights makes them perfect for decorating and achieving dynamic lighting in internal areas. A benefit of using 5v voltage is that it is a safer option. Not only does 5v reduce risk of electric shock, but low voltage lights also make use of a transformer unit rather than a main power supply, so can be used in gardens, boats and caravans. One disadvantage of 5v voltage is that contrary to popular belief, you are not actually guaranteed to save energy costs. However, a dimmer can help cut back costs slightly.

Equipped with a long lifespan of 30,000 hours and specially designed for colour flexibility, the Pixel 60 5v LED Strip is a wonderful choice of low LED 5v voltage. With this product you can create vivid and vibrant displays of many different colours; there is also a 12-month warranty in case your lights should need repairing.

12v LED strips

Typical applications of 12v lights include kitchens, bedrooms and driveways since they can be used both internally and externally. Although, note that you should always invest in appropriate weather protection and fixings when installing LED lights outdoors.

A major advantage of using a 12v strip is its reliability. This voltage option is much more cost-effective, and uses 20% less energy to emit the same light as an incandescent bulb. However, compared to 5v strips, this option requires more careful planning of wiring and transformer sizing during installation.

Recommended 12v products in the We Love LEDs range of LED strip lights are the Water Resistant 60 LED Strip and the Eco 60 12v LED Strip. Both of these products emit gorgeous shades of pure white or warm white that will transform the ambience of a room. Water Resistant 60 RGB strips are a great option if you want to place lights in an area susceptible to moisture such as a kitchen or a bar, while the Eco 60 strips will help you save even more energy than other low voltage LEDs.

24v LED strips

A 24v LED strip offers a great deal of versatility and is particularly beneficial for decorative or discreet lighting. Long lengths of 24v LED strips can also be comfortably powered from one end without running the risk of voltage drop.

As mentioned above, with 24v lights you should use a matching power supply. If you use a 12v power supply for 24v lights, for example, the lights will not work.

The We Love LEDs range offers many great 24v LED lighting options such as the SG160 RGB LED Strip and SuperSlim 60 LED Strip. Both products are ideal for homes and offices and come with a 12-month warranty.

Frequently asked questions

How far can you install an LED strip from its power supply?

You can install a 5v or 12v LED strip up to five meters from its power supply from one end—any more will cause a voltage drop. With 24v strips, these can be powered up to 10 metres from the power supply from one end.

What does LED density on an LED strip mean?

LED density means the total population of LED lights on a metre reel. In the Classic 120 strip light, for example, the density is 120 bulbs per metre whereas for the Water Resistant 60 it is 60 LED bulbs per metre.

What LED strip light colour temperature should I choose?

2700-3300k: a warm white which is perfect for bedrooms to achieve a cosy atmosphere.

4000k: an ideal balance for retail store decoration. This option is available from We Love LEDs through special order only.

6000-6500k: a pure white which is desirable for creating natural-looking fake sunlight.