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When you are ready to buy LED strips, you may have this question: “There is not much difference in price between 5V, 12V, and 24V LED strips. What is the difference? Which one should I choose?”.
So first, let’s quickly understand 5V vs 12V vs 24V LED strip on Table 1.
5V vs 12V vs 24V LED Strip
Figure 1. 5V vs 12V vs 24V LED Strip
5V vs 12V vs 24V LED Strip Comparison Table
|Low Voltage LED Strip||5V||12V||24V|
|Group||1 LED||3 LEDs||6 LEDs|
|Voltage Across Resistor||2V||3V||3V|
|% Power “wasted” on Resistors||40%||25%||12.5%|
Table 1. A table to quickly understand 5V vs 12V vs 24V LED Strip
5V LED Strip
5V LED strips operate at a lower voltage than 12V LED strips and 24V LED strips. Due to the increased voltage drop, their maximum operating length is usually shorter. The 5v LED strip is a safer option that reduces the risk of electric shock. 5V LED strips are compatible with a variety of controllers and dimmers, and dimmers can help keep costs down a bit.
Addressable 5v LED light strips have a long lifespan of 30,000 hours and are easy to install, making them the best choice for home decoration and parties. Using this product, you can create vivid and vibrant displays in many different colors; backed by a 5-year warranty.
12V LED Strip
12V LED light strips offer a balance between voltage, brightness and ease of installation. 12V LED strips provide brighter lighting compared to 5V options. Please note that when installing the 12V LED strip outdoors, please pay attention to the waterproof rating and protective devices. 12V LED light strips are suitable for a variety of applications including home lighting, commercial spaces and accent lighting.
The recommended product in the 12V LED strip series is the RGB Pixel 12V LED Strip 30leds. The product emits gorgeous RGB hues, making the room radiant. It also saves energy than other products.
24V LED Strip
24V LED strips operate at a higher voltage and are known for their long-term efficiency and performance. Particularly useful for decorative or concealed lighting. 24V LED strips can cover longer distances without significant voltage drops. 24V LED strips often offer smoother, more precise dimming control options.
The Suntech Lite range offers many great 24v LED lighting options, such as the WWA 24V Programmable LED Strip. This product is ideal for large projects and office lighting. We even offer customization of 24V 20M No Voltage Drop Addressable RGBW LED Strip.
Now, let’s take a deeper look at some technical parameters.
The difference in electrical potential between two points is called voltage (V). The higher the voltage, the greater the force that “pushes” the current through the wire or device.
When you decide what voltage pixel LED strip to choose, the first thing you should think about is the voltage drop.
Voltage drop occurs over any basic conductor length carrying current to a load. The voltage of the first LED of the strip will always be higher than the voltage of the last LED. The more LEDs hanging from a cable or PCB, and the longer the cable or PCB, the higher the voltage drop will be. Eventually, there will be a point some distance away where the LED will no longer function properly.
What is voltage drop? How to solve the voltage drop problem? Please click to watch the video 1 from Suntech Lite.
Video 1. How to solve the voltage drop
Considering the voltage drop issue, 5V LED strip is usually 3 meters/roll. 12V LED strip is 5 meters/roll. 24V led strip is 10 meters/roll. Suntech Lite offers 5V, 12V and 24V LED strips, even customized 36V and 48V LED strips. If you don’t know which one to choose, please contact us to help you.
Among the three forms of low-voltage LED light strips, which one should you choose, 5V, 12V, or 24V? Total power is a factor to consider. The main limiting factor for 5V LED strips is voltage drop. However, 5V is more energy efficient than 12V.
The formula for calculating DC power is P (power) = V (voltage) x I (current).
Assume we have a string of 60 RGB pixels, use 5V, 12V, and 24V to calculate the power consumption.
Total current = 60 x 0.06 (assuming 60mA per LED at full white) = 3.6 amps
Total power (5V) = 5V x 3.6A = 18 Watts
Total power (12V) = 12V x 3.6A = 43.2 Watts
Total power (24V) = 24V x 3.6A = 86.4 Watts
By calculation, to achieve the same end result, using 24V pixels would require 86.4W, using 12V pixels would require 43.2W, and using 5V pixels would require only 18W. It can be seen that 5V LED strip is more energy efficient than 12V and 24V.
So, where does the extra power from the 12V or 24V LED strip go?
Yes, that electricity is wasted as heat.
In order to convert this extra power into light energy rather than wasting it as heat, 12V LED strips usually have 3 individual LEDs in series for each individual pixel, as this increases the total voltage consumed. 3x, to about 10V, forcing more of the extra power to be consumed rather than wasted. In the same way, a 24V LED strip usually has 6 individual LEDs in series for each individual pixel, which will increase the total voltage consumption by 6 times to about 20V, forcing the extra power not to be wasted in the form of heat.
Therefore, the disadvantage of a low-voltage 12V or 24V LED strip is that the LEDs need to be arranged in series in groups of 3 or 6 LEDs per pixel, rather than individually controlled LEDs.
LED Strip Power Supply
LED strip power supply can provide appropriate voltage and extend the service life of LED strips. If an adapted power supply is not used, the LED strip will be overloaded, start to generate heat, and eventually cause damage to the LED.
Figure 2. 5V, 12V, and 24V LED Strip Power Supply
For example, never connect a 5V LED strip to a 12V power supply, or never connect a 12v LED strip to a 24v power supply, as this will burn out the LED strip.
12V LED Strips Have Shorter Cut Lengths Compared to 24V Strips
Since 5V vs 12V vs 24V led strips are made differently, their cutting methods are also different. Each LED of the 5V led strip is cuttable, the 12V led strip can be cut every 3 LEDs, and the 24v type can be cut every 6 LEDs. When cutting, follow the cutting line, shown as Figure 3.
Figure 3. 5V, 12V, and 24V LED strip cut lengths
When it comes to LED strips, the voltage they operate on has an impact on their design and cutting lengths. Typically, each LED chip on the strip requires 3V DC power. The number of LEDs per group varies depending on the voltage: 5V strips have 1 LED per group, 12V strips have 3 LEDs per group, and 24V strips have 6, 7, or even 8 LEDs. Cutting lines are placed between sets of LED chips, and the smaller the number of LED chips in each group， the closer these lines are.
Let’s consider the diagrams for 5V, 12V and 24V led strip lights:
Figure 4. 5V, 12V, and 24V LED strip lights diagrams
If you’re working in a small space with many corners, opting for a 12V LED strip is recommended. The closer cutting lines make installation easier and help minimize “dark areas” in corners. On the other hand, if you’re dealing with a larger space or a longer distance, a 24V LED strip is a better choice. Due to its higher voltage, the voltage drop is smaller, resulting in higher efficiency.
However, why the voltage drop of a 24V LED strip is smaller compared to a 12V LED strip?
24V LED Strips Have Less Voltage Drop Compared to 12V Strips
LED chips are connected in series into groups. Each group contains some LED chips and a resistor. The total voltage drop of the group must equal the total voltage of the strip. Then, route each set parallel and along the length of the strip.
Wires create resistance to the flow of electricity. The longer the wire, the greater the resistance and the greater the voltage drop. When the current reaches the last LED, it may not light up due to a voltage drop. Take, for example, what might happen with a 12V light strip, as shown in Figure 5.
Figure 5. 12V LED strip diagram
Notice in the picture above that the voltage across the LED has dropped from 3.0V to 2.75V.
When we switch to 24V, two things happen to reduce the voltage drop, as shown in Figure 6.
Figure 6. 24V LED strip diagram
First: When the voltage doubles (12V to 24V), the current is halved (Ohm’s law P=U * I). This also results in half the voltage drop across long wires. So instead of a 1V drop, it’s a 0.5V drop.
Second: the effect of the 0.5V drop is distributed among the remaining 8 circuit components (compared to only 4 on 12V).
Note that the voltage across the LED only drops to 2.9375V compared to the 2.75V of the 12V strip.
If your application requires long-distance LED strips, it is recommended that you use 24V strips.
Which LED Strip to Choose? 5V, 12V or 24V?
Suntech Lite is available in three voltage options: 5V DC, 12V DC and 24V DC.
If you don’t know which voltage LED strip to choose, we recommend you choose 12V DC because of the shorter distance between the cutting lines. This gives you more flexibility in cutting your LED strips to the desired length.
If you need to install a large project with high efficiency requirements, it is recommended to choose 24V DC as it reduces the possibility of voltage drops. Suitable for long distance lighting.
If you want to do DIY projects, such as decorating PC, gaming chair, etc. It is recommended that you choose 5V DC LED Strip. Because it is more flexible in operation, easy to install, and the price is not very high.