What is the difference between 12v LED lights and 24v LED lights?

12V LED lights vs 24V LED lights
A range of 12v LED lights and 24v LED lights – including 4.8w, 9.6w, 14.4w and 19.2w

When looking to buy LED tape, you’ll find there’s a range of wattages, specifications and brightness to choose from. But what are the differences between 12v LED lights and 24v LED lights? And which should you go for?

Here at InStyle LED, all our products are commercial grade – manufactured using premium components – and we have over 8 years of experience designing and constructing high-specification LED tape lights. So if you buy your LED tape from InStyle – whether you’ve chosen 12V LED lights or 24V LED lights – you’ll know they are built to the perfect voltage, to give you optimum output and long life.

Many cheap alternative suppliers do not manage the resistors on their LED tape correctly, or don’t set the correct voltage for each type of LED tape. This can greatly affect the life of the LEDs, and can also lead to voltage drop along the length of a cheap LED tape reel.

For white LED tape

12V LED lights are ideal for lower wattage tapes, for example our 4.8W and 9.6W tapes both require a 12V LED power supply. This will give you full brightness along the LED strip, up to a length of approximately 6 meters from your 12V LED driver. (After 6m you will start to see a noticeable dip in brightness due to voltage drop. Beyond this length, you will require a second reel of 12V LED lights, to be wired back to the transformer in parallel.)

We supply our strips in standard 5 metre reels, as this is the optimum length. Or if you prefer, we can supply your 12V LED lights pre-cut to the lengths you need; cut-points for both 4.8W and 9.6W 12V LED lights are located every 50mm.

Mean Well 12V LED driver for 12V LED lights

12V LED strip lights for decking

12V LED lights in barn ceiling

Any 14.4W or 19.2W LED tape needs to run at 24V. This is because the higher voltage will carry the current better, which is required to produce full brightness across the LED tape up to approx 6 metres. Again, these tapes are supplied in standard 5m reels but we can supply them pre-cut to the nearest cut-point. Cut-points on 14.4W 24V LED lights are every 100mm; the 19.2W tapes cut-points are every 50mm.

Many cheap alternative companies offer a 12V LED strip light in a 14.4W version. This is not enough voltage: a 12V LED power supply is not sufficient to give you full 100% brightness across a 5m length. All such high-brightness LED tapes should use a 24V LED driver.

For RGB LED tape

Our standard RGB 7.2W LED tape is available in 12V or 24V versions. (Compatible with either a 12V LED driver or 24V LED driver.)

The advantage of RGB 7.2W 12V LED lights are that their cut-points are positioned every 100mm. However these 12V LED lights are available in 5 metre reels only (because any length longer than about 6m will start to display dimmed lights due to voltage drop). By contrast, the advantage of RGB 7.2W 24V LED lights is that they are available in 10m lengths – without a voltage drop. This tape is ideal for larger projects or to minimise cabling.

The RGB 14.4W is supplied in a 24V LED strip to carry the current better for the higher power. Again these come in 5M reels as standard and voltage drop is noticeable after approx 6 meters.

12V LED strip lights in a hospitality bar

Strip lights outdoors, powered by 12V LED driver

Summary of LED tape voltages and their recommended wattage

Whites –
4.8W tape = 12V LED lights
9.6W tape = 12V LED lights
14.4W tape = 24V LED lights
19.2W tape = 24V LED lights

7.2W tape = 12V LED lights / 24V LED lights (24V can run up to 10M lengths)
14.4w tape = 24V LED lights

Warning: Avoid 14.4W 12V LED lights – they should be 24V only