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Technical Series #1: How many Watts does an RGB LED Light Strip require?

Posted on October 11 2016


Welcome to Hitlights’ Technical Series, where we talk about technical issues that come up when developing our LED light strips and accessories.

Today’s Topic: How many Watts does an RGB LED Light Strip require?

Here at HitLights, we deal with customer questions and technical support daily. We do this for a living, so we get to know quite a bit about LEDs. All of this information we keep on the website, where possible, and close at hand for reference whenever we’re assisting a customer with placing an order or setting up a project. Whenever we get asked a question we can’t answer – well, it bothers us – and we want to figure out the answer!

All of our LED strips have a rated wattage and lumen output. This is measured both by roll (typically 16.4 feet), and by foot. Watts per foot is a number we deal with on a daily basis, as the total wattage requirement of run of LED light strip will determine what size power supply we need - as well as which controllers can handle that wattage.

We’ve had accurate data for all of our Single Color strips for a long time. These are easy to determine, because the light output and the energy consumption does not change a whole lot. 100% white is always the same. For our Luma10 RGB Color Changing Strips, though, we were always told "it depends", "you can’t calculate that" or "probably a little less than the Luma10 Single Color"…

Well, that wasn't good enough.

So we had Jake, our trusty office manager, order us a Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor. This device, amongst other things, measures the amount of power, in Watts, that an electrical device is using. With the Kill A Watt, we could finally get our answer!

First, we tested it on our Single Color LED Light Strips. We found that the numbers for those were pretty good. We measured a little less than the rated 1.5 Watts per Foot for our Luma5, a little more than the rated 3.0 Watts per Foot for our Luma20 – and right on the rated 2.0 Watts per foot for our single color Luma10.

Next up was the RGB Luma10. With our power monitor, we were able to learn two things. The first was the reason that RGB strips don’t have a rated Wattage : It really is hard to measure! Depending on color and function, we got ratings between 0.5 and 2.0 Watts per foot! The second : based on our tests, we’re pretty happy saying that MOST people will get a maximum of 1.7 Watts per foot out of their Luma10 RGB LED Light Strips. Here’s why :

We found that with the controllers we tested (The R101, the R108 and the 44-Key IR Controller), the Wattage per foot ratings for static single colors ranged from 0.8 Watts per foot (for simple colors such as Red, Green or Blue) to 1.7 Watts per foot (for colors mixed from those three basic colors, such as Orange and White). For color changing functions, such as jumps and fades, we estimated a range of 0.5 Watts per Foot (simple color fade on/off) to 1.4 Watts per foot (full fade through of all colors).

Things got even more interesting when we worked with the 44-Key IR controller. This controller has all of the regular colors, and we got similar numbers on this controller as we did for all of the others, with a maximum Wattage of around 1.6 Watts per Foot for White. The DIY color function of this particular controller, however, meant that we could take that 1.6 Watts per Foot white – and make it even brighter! We found that at this maximum DIY brightness, we were using 2.0 Watts per foot – exactly what we would expect of the Single Color Luma10 LED Light Strips!So there was the (not so simple) answer. The maximum Wattage of the Luma10 RGB Color Changing Light Strips is TYPICALLY 1.6 Watts per Foot. Though depending on your choice of controller you can get up to 2.0 Watts per Foot (on the 44 Key IR controller’s DIY color settings).




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