How to choose LED strip voltage
Which is better - 12V or 24V?
A common choice when choosing an LED strip is either 12V or 24V. Both fall within low voltage lighting, with 12V being the more common specification. But which is better?
It depends on a variety of factors, but the questions below should help you narrow it down.
1) Do you have an existing power supply specification?
If, for example, you're using 12V batteries or already have inventory of 12V power supplies, you might be better off making sure the new LED strips match what you already have.
That way, you won't need to buy a new set of power supplies just to match the LEDs.
2) Do you need to cut the LED strips to a particular length?
12V LED strips come in 3 LEDs per string, and 24V LED strips come in 6 LEDs per string. While they can be cut to length between strings, they cannot be cut within a string.
That means that 12V LED strips are cuttable every 3 LEDs, while 24V LED strips are cuttable every 6 LEDs.
Depending on the LED density, cutting every 6 LEDs on a 24V strip could mean that your length options come in increments of 3" instead of 1.5" at 12V.
3) Do you still not have a preference? All else equal, a 24V system will perform better.
Generally, the same product being offered in 12V and 24V will have the same number of LEDs with the same power and light output, but simply different voltage and amperage combination.
For example, a 24W per meter LED strip at 12V would draw 2.0A per meter, while the 24V variant would draw 1.0A per meter. Both will draw 24W and provide the same amount of light output, but because the 24V variant draws less amperage, it will generally perform better internally in the LED strip as well as at the power supply.
This is because resistance is determined by amperage only, and is independent of voltage. Therefore, all else equal, the lower amperage option (24V) will perform better electrically.
(This is the same logic for why power grids use several thousand kilovolts while transporting energy, and then stepping this down when distributing to homes).
Therefore, if power supply selection and cuttable length are not significant considerations, we believe that 24V is superior to 12V. Read more about our list of 24V advantages here.
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