LED strip lighting is perhaps the most fan-favorite application of LED light. It has many uses and can instantly take the mood of the room to new places.
And since they’re in the form of thin, flexible stickable strips, they can go literally anywhere.
The options to choose between voltage, wattage, current, lumens, LED density, and material used in LED strips are many and varied. In this guide, you can learn the difference between a 12 Volt and a 24 Volt LED strip light.
The main difference in the 12V and 24V LED strip lights is that 12V has more frequent cutpoints suitable for corners. On the other hand, 24V strips can run a longer distance without experiencing voltage drop.
Do Different Voltages Affect Brightness?
When using the 12 or 24V strip correctly, within the maximum run limit, and on an appropriately strong power supply, there should be no difference in the brightness in the two voltage strips.
The brightness in strip lighting is described in lumens per meter (or foot). A high quality LED strip will usually provide around 1500 lumens per meter (or 450 lumens per foot).
The number of LEDs per length unit will determine the brightness and how much power the strip will draw per unit length. The higher the wattage per length, the brighter the strip will be.
Main Differences Between 24V and 12V Strip Lights
While many manufacturers prefer to make and sell high quality, premium 24V LED strip lights, you can just as easily install 12V lights without running into any issues.
Provided of course you are using the appropriate strip for your needs. Here are some of the differences you will find in the two lighting setups.
Cut Points Are Longer In 24V Strips
One of the differences between a 12V and 24V strip light is that the 12V has more cut points along the strip, compared to the 24V strip.
This is an important feature to consider if the project you have planned involves a significant number of corners and perpendicular lines. You would need to keep cutting the strip to follow the edges, the 12V would be better suited.
And if that is not particularly the case and your led strip lights are going to be more or less running in a straight line, you can choose either the 12V or 24V without any issues.
As a general rule, there are usually 2 cut points on a 12V strip for every 1 cutpoint on the 24V strip.
Number of Connected Strip Lights In Series
Provided everything else is the same, a 24Volt strip can carry the current to longer distances through the strip wires before the strip starts to experience a voltage drop.
Voltage drop is when the brightness reduces down the line, as the number of LEDs that need to be powered and their total resistance increases.
So if your LED strip project is across a considerable distance and the lights are connected in series to a single power source, then go for 24V.
This is especially so if you have only one power supply.
If you have more than one power supply, you can opt for 12V strip lights powered from the two ends of the strip light to sustain consistent voltage across the LEDs.
It might be a good experiment for electrical hobbyists to see the difference in voltage drop by measuring the voltage at the beginning of a strip and again at the end of the strip.
High-quality strips supplied with 24V and run 20 meters have shown a drop in 10% from the start and end.
When you look at 12V strips, a drop of more than 20% is recorded, and that is a visible difference that can be seen by the eyes if you have a longer distance strip set up.
Less than 10 meters, and 12V strips should serve you fine. Longer than 10 m, and the better quality result would be from the 24V strip.
For the same power supply, a 12V LED strip light will end up dissipating 25% of the electrical energy as heat energy.
Whereas in a 24V setup, only about 12% is wasted as heat. This is because more LEDs per resistor are configured in on a 24V strip.
Other than that, both 12V and 24V setups require a power supply unit placed at one end.
As mentioned earlier, the 24V supply would allow for more strips in series before the brightness starts reducing.
12V setups can also be made to run a sizable distance using the 12V power supply, using a little creative engineering and placing the supply unit in a way that connects multiple strips in parallel with extension wiring and arranging the strips in series.
In any case, it is not the most energy effective technique to connect all your strips into one single line and loop it back to the starting point to cover a rectangular ceiling, for example.
A smart approach would be to place a PSU on one corner of the rectangular ceiling. Then, connect two LED strips in parallel from the power supply.
Each strip runs along two sides of the rectangle, both ending on the opposite corner of the power supply.
Are 12V And 24V Strip Lights Compatible?
Let’s be real, not all DIY projects start off and end smoothly. In fact, most of them face several hiccups along the way.
In this case, you may be setting up 12V strip lighting, where your strips and power supply are both rated 12V, but you are running a few meters short.
You do, however, have a couple meters of 24V strips lying around, and now you’re considering connecting or soldering the 24V strip to your 12V strip and power supply to complete your setup.
This is where you can diagnose yourself. If you connect a 24V strip to a 12V power supply, the 12V strip will simply not turn on.
Sometimes, a faint red glow will come through if you happen to be using RGBW LED strips in particular.
While this is an apparent failure to catch with your eye, on the flip side is the slightly more unsafe scenario. You might end up connecting 12V strips to a 24V power supply, and that’s where I stop you!
12V strips can get excessively hot within a few seconds of being connected to a 24V power supply unit. If they are left like that by accident, the LEDs will get smoking hot and cause a fire.
At the very least, your LED strip will be damaged, and eventually, they will all burn out and stop working.
It is always a good idea to draw out and plan your lighting project before you purchase anything.
You might find that you may not need to connect as many LED strips end-to-end or better off using connector cables to extend the length in some places and place them in parallel.
What is your game plan to set up your strip lights?
Do you prefer a 12V or a 24V setup?