When you’re purchasing LED strip lights, there are numerous details and specifications upon which to base your decision. Color, length, and intensity are some of the major deciding factors, but there are many unthought-of product aspects that further customize light strips and what they’ll require when it’s time to install them. For example, a decision between 12-volt strip lights and 24-volt strip lights could change the products needed for your project.
While it depends on a light strip’s current draw, LED type, and number of LEDs, 24-volt LED strip lights tend to have longer maximum runs than 12-volt strips. This is because higher voltage carries more power. All strips have a maximum run, which is the length of continuous strip that can be powered without experiencing voltage drop. Voltage drop happens when the supplied energy of a power source is reduced as electric current flows through wire (or any other pieces of equipment that do not supply voltage on a circuit). If a run of strip is too long, reduced energy across the strip will lessen its intensity near the end.
Regardless of voltage, additional wire must run in parallel back to a power source if you plan on installing more than the maximum run of your LED strip lights. For example, if you need a continuous 49-foot run of strip lights for a project and your 12-volt strip light has a maximum run of 16 3/8 feet, you will need to wire back to power twice after your initial connection—once for every 16 3/8 feet of strip lighting. A 24-volt LED strip light of the same intensity could have double the maximum run of your 12-volt strip, which means less parallel power connections and less additional wire to purchase and conceal. Another option for avoiding voltage drop would be to use an LED amplifier between maximum runs of strip. These devices amplify power from the end of one strip to the beginning of the next to avoid any power loss and extend the maximum run of LED strips.
Because they can handle more power, many 24-volt LED strip lights tend to have brighter LEDs, dual-row LED configurations, or single-row configurations of more LEDs. In these instances, maximum run might be the same as a 12-volt strip. However, keep in mind that these are more powerful strips with more LEDs or higher LED intensities. An identical 12-volt LED strip light would have a shorter maximum run.
Make sure to check any light strip’s specifications or description for its maximum run.
If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call us toll free at 866-590-3533. Our customer service and technical support teams are available from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. CDT Monday-Thursday and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. CDT on Friday.
Samantha is a web content specialist at Super Bright LEDs, Inc. She graduated from the University of Missouri with a bachelor's in journalism and currently lives in St. Louis with her husband. When she's not immersing herself in all things LED, she's zumba-ing or playing with her two little troublemakers (chihuahuas)!