Powering LED Strips With a Battery
In this article we show you how to select and connect a rechargeable battery (or standard AA batteries) to an LED strip, and allow you to use your LED strips anywhere!
Tested and Recommended
At Waveform Lighting, we often like to take our LED strips "off the grid." We searched and tested a variety of battery options based on the following requirements:
1) Rechargeable with 12V output
2) Lightweight & consumer friendly
3) Sufficient charge to operate an entire reel of FilmGrade LED strips for more than an hour
We ultimately found that RAVPower's Xtreme Rechargeable battery pack works great in combination with Waveform Lighting LED strips.
The RAVPower battery includes USB ports with 5V output, as well as a DC jack with variable voltage, with 12V being one of the options.
The DC port on the battery unit is a "female" one, and to connect it to the LED strip, the incldued male-to-male cable can be used.
First, press the power button on the battery and ensure that the 12V output is selected. Then, simply plug in one end of the DC cable into the battery port marked "DC output." Then, plug the other end into the barrel jack end of the LED strip. That's it!
From a full charge, the battery pack is able to provide about a full hour of continuous illumination of an entire reel.
The official battery capacity specification provided by RAVPower indicates 85Wh. This translates to approximately 1 hour based on the FilmGrade LED strip power spec of 90W per reel.
To temporarily power off, simply click on the power button on the battery pack. When not being used, we recommend unplugging the LED strip completely as a precaution.
Extending Battery Life
We often find that the brightness of the LED strip can be reduced in certain scenarios. For this, we use a PWM dimmer which fits right into the low voltage DC system.
Waveform's FilmGrade dimmer connects between the battery pack and LED strip, acting like a "valve" that reduces brightness without any flicker or change in color.
As expected, battery lifetime improves in direct relation to the dimmer setting.
Other battery options
The options for connecting a battery to an LED strip are by no means limited to the method and accessories we tested. See below for some general tips and guidelines for finding a compatible pairing.
The primary requirements for powering an LED strip from a battery are:
1) LED strip voltage must match battery output voltage
2) Battery supply capacity should be sufficient for your needs
3) Connectivity method between LED strip and battery pack must match
The main thing to be aware of is that a battery providing a voltage level above the LED strip voltage spec can result in damage to the LEDs. Conversely, under voltage is not usually harmful to the LEDs, but can result in reduced brightness or no illumination at all.
The most common LED strip and battery voltage combination is 12V DC. Unless you have a specific situation that requires something else, 12V should work just fine.
If you want to use standard AA batteries, you can use a battery holder that creates a 12V voltage from 8x 1.5V AA batteries.
Calculating Power Capacity
Battery capacity is typically calculated in milliamp hours, abbreviated mAh, or watt-hours, abbreviated Wh. This value indicates the number of hours the battery can provide a certain electrical current (mA) or power (W) before it runs out of charge.
A bit of simple math is needed to calculate how long a fully charged battery can be used to power an LED strip.
First, determine the power draw of the LED strip in watts. This is usually provided in a specification sheet for the LED strip product. It is usually expressed in watts per foot or meter. If it is provided in A (Amps), multiply the number by 1000 to convert to milliamps (mA). If is provided in watts (W), divide the number by the voltage (e.g. 12V) and multiply the result by 1000.
Then, find the mAh rating from the battery. mAh ratings for common battery types are below:
AA Dry Cell: 400-900 mAh
AA Alkaline: 1700-2850 mAh
9V Alkaline: 550 mAh
Standard car battery: 45,000 mAh
Finally, divide the battery mAh value by the LED strip mA value. The result is the expected battery life in hours.
Instantaneous Power Draw Capacity
Many batteries will also specify a maximum instaneous amperage limit, typically expressed in Amps. We strongly recommend making sure the LED strip does not exceed this limit. Exceeding this limit may result in shortened battery life or damage to the battery.
Connecting the Battery
One additional piece of the puzzle is making sure that the wires and connectors are compatible. Most battery packs will either provide bare wire or DC connectors as its output terminal, the same as most wall plug power supply units.
We recommend reading our guide to connecting an LED strip to a power supply for further detail.
You can also check against our quick-reference chart below.
Battery packs are well suited for operating LED strips as they are inherently compatible DC devices. With the basic constraints we outlined above, you may also choose to consider battery weight, portability and recharge method and ability in narrowing your search.
The various pros and cons of individual battery types is beyond the scope of our article, but the compatible options are plentiful, and greatly expand the possible use scenarios of LED strip lights!
Browse Waveform Lighting Products
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