When you’re buying LED strip lights, there’s a range of specifications – factors such as wattage, lumens per metre, and the type of SMD used in manufacture. But one of the most important items to consider is the voltage of your LED tape.
In this article, we’re going to look at the differences between 12-volt and 24-volt LED lights… and explore which choice is right for your project.
What voltage should I choose for my white LED tape lights?
If you’re installing LED lights with a low-end wattage, then 12V tapes are ideal. For example, our 4.8W and 9.6W white LED strip lights both draw 12V. This is enough to give you full brightness along an LED strip, up to a distance of almost 6 meters from your 12V LED power supply.
(Anything longer will lead to a voltage drop across the tape length, producing a noticeable dip in the brightness of your LEDs. If you intend to fit a strip of LED lights longer than 6m, you should install two strips, butted together and both wired back to your transformer in parallel.)
InStyle supply LED strips in standard 5-metre reels, which you can cut to the length you need. Or if you prefer, we can supply your 12V LED strip lights pre-cut. Cut-points for 12V 4.8W and 9.6W tape are located every 50mm.
Higher-wattage LED tapes, such as our 14.4W, 19.2W or 24W white strip lights, need the power of a 24V driver. This is because a higher voltage carries current more effectively – essential to produce full brightness across these LED tapes over lengths of approximately 6 metres.
Again, these higher-wattage 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 at 100mm intervals; the cut-points on 19.2W and 24W tapes are every 50mm.
Some suppliers at the cheap end of the LED market offer 14.4W strip light products in a 12V version. This is not enough voltage: a 12V LED driver won’t supply enough power to give full 100% brightness across a 5m length. All high-wattage high-brightness LED tapes should be 24V.
What voltage should I choose for my RGB LED tape lights?
InStyle’s standard RGB 7.2W LED tape is available in 12V or 24V versions (compatible with either a 12V LED driver or 24V LED driver).
RGB 7.2W 12V LED lights offer the advantage of more frequent cut-points than the 24V alternative; they are positioned at 100mm intervals. However this type of tape is available in 5 metre reels only (because any length longer than about 6m will start to display lights dimmed due to voltage drop).
By contrast, RGB 7.2W 24V LED lights are supplied in 10m lengths as standard – each with enough power to avoid the effects of voltage drop. This 24V tape is therefore ideal for larger projects or to minimise cabling. Cut-points are spaced 166mm apart.
Our 14.4W RGB LED tape is available in a 24V version only, which better carries the current required for its higher wattage. Again, this is supplied in 5m reels as standard (voltage drop becomes noticeable after approx 6 metres).
Summary of LED tape voltages and their recommended wattage
4.8W tape = 12V LED lights
9.6W tape = 12V LED lights
14.4W tape = 24V LED lights
19.2W tape = 24V LED lights
24W 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
Remember: Avoid 14.4W 12V LED lights – they should be 24V only
Commercial grade, premium quality
At InStyle LED, we have over 10 years of experience designing and constructing high-specification LED tape lights – and we only supply commercial grade products manufactured using premium components. So if you buy your LED strip lights from InStyle – whether you choose 12V or 24V LED tape – you’ll know they’re built to draw the perfect voltage, and to give you optimum brightness and long life.
Many cheap alternative suppliers don’t take care to manage their tape’s resistors correctly, or don’t set the correct voltage for each type of LED strip light. This significantly affects the life of the LEDs, and also leads to voltage drop along the length of a cheap LED tape reel.