When To Use a 120W 24V Power Supply for Your Strip Lights
Strip lights provide countless lighting solutions, from simply brightening up a dark corner to illuminating whole rooms. They are available in shades of white and various colors as well, and they easily conform to just about any configuration.
These marvelous little lights come with a variety of power needs, however, and it's important to use the right power source. When should you opt for a 120W 24V power supply versus 96W or perhaps a 12V source? Your power supply should bring adequate power to your strip lighting and must match the voltage of your lights.
What Is the Difference Between a 12V and a 24V Power Supply?
LED strip lighting is designed for use with either 12V or 24V power. You need to use a power source that matches the voltage compatible with your lights. Volts are a way of measuring how much power can be moved through a circuit at a time at the same rate.
The Basics of Power Flow
For example, picture a garden hose and a drinking straw. The straw can allow a lot less liquid to pass through it at any given time because it's so much smaller than the hose.
If your LED strip lighting was designed for the straw and you tried to use the hose, it would be about the same as putting the garden hose in your mouth and turning on the tap. That probably wouldn't work out very well for you.
On the other hand, you wouldn't attempt to water your garden with a drinking straw. You would either have to spend all day waiting for enough water to pass through that narrow passage, or you would have to force it through at such a high rate of speed that it would become a dangerous torrent that could tear your poor plants to ribbons.
The Importance of Proper Power Levels
Metaphors aside, it's critical to use the right flow of energy for the lights you've selected. If you use a 12V power supply on a system designed for 24V, your lights will be dim at best and they might not come on at all. Conversely, if you connect a 24V power supply to LED strip lighting designed for 12V, you will damage the diodes. They will overheat and burn out quickly. You may cause a fire hazard as well.
Always check the specifications for your strip lighting and use the required voltage. This will keep your lights cool, long-lasting, and bright.
In general, the minimal background lighting from lower-intensity LED lights will only require a 12V power source. High-density LED strips designed to be the primary source of light for a whole room will generally need a 24V power source.
What About Watts?
Watts are the actual amount of power your lights will use. This is the other number you'll want to bear in mind as you design your installation and plan for your power needs. Each power supply unit is designed for up to a maximum number of watts, at the specified voltage.
There are only two options for voltage on LED strip lights: a 12V or 24V power supply. However, there are many options available for wattage, from as little as 24 watts up to 350 watts. You have some leeway when calculating your wattage. You could decide to have the capacity for more wattage than your lights require so that you could add to your lighting later without needing to replace the power supply.
For instance, you can safely use a 96-watt power supply even if you only need 60 watts to run your lights. A power supply is rated for up to a maximum wattage. As long as you don't exceed the 80% wattage capacity of the power supply, your system will work and be safe.
If you try to draw more watts through your power supply than it is capable of delivering, however, you will cause damage to the equipment and may cause a fire hazard. Ensure that your power supply has enough capacity to handle your wattage requirements.
Calculating How Many Watts You Need
You know how many watts your 24V power supply can handle, but how do you figure out how many you'll need?
Look on the packaging for your LED strip lighting and find the specification for watts per foot. Brighter lights will generally require more watts. Various diode designs have different power needs. The density of the diodes also matters. Packaging should provide clear information on the required wattage per foot to power the lights.
Since wattage is calculated by multiplying rated watts/ft by the length of the LED strip , the longer the strip, the higher the total watts will be. Basically, as you add together strips of lights, the wattage accumulates.
We'll use our Premium Luma 5 LED strip lights as an example. These lights need 1.3 watts of electricity per foot to run properly. A 16.4-foot-long strip would require 21.32 watts of power. If you wanted to run together three of these strips, you would need a power supply that can deliver within 30 to 80% of it’s wattage capacity. These lights require a 12V power supply, so you would select the 12V 96-Watt Power Supply.
When Would You Use a 120W 24V Power Supply?
If you want to run a long consecutive series of LED light strips to illuminate your space with bright, high-density lights, you may require 120 watts of electricity. The higher wattage doesn't mean you would necessarily have to use a 24V system, but it's a good choice.
Efficient Power Delivery of 24V vs 12V
When you plug your strip lighting into a socket, your power supply draws from your electrical power and converts the AC electricity that your building uses to the DC current that powers your lights. If you are forcing 120 watts of power through a 12V system, that juice has to move twice as fast as it would if you were drawing it through a 24V system.
The rate at which the power moves is measured in amps, and volts x amps = watts. If you want to provide 96 watts of power to your light strip, you would need 8 amps of current to push the power through a 12V power supply. (12 X 8 = 96)
With a 24V power supply, you only need 4 amps to accomplish the same wattage. (24 X 4 = 96). With 24 volts, you are cutting the current in half, so you use less power to deliver the necessary wattage.
Longer Runs With 24V
Assuming that the watts per foot are the same, you can safely install light strips of roughly twice the length of a 12V system with a 24V power supply and light system. The 24V light strips can handle two times the power moving through, so resistance is minimal and power is able to reach the end of the strip without the occurrence of dim lights or overheating.
Brighter Lighting With 24V Systems
LED strip lighting requires a steady, reliable source of power. In standard 12V systems, lighter-weight copper is fine for standard LED lighting solutions. However, what if you need long runs of bright, crisp lighting? You can use multiple, shorter strips of course, but this isn't always ideal.
The other option is to opt for the heavier-weight copper and more generous power delivery of a 24V power supply. The heavier copper can accommodate more electricity and deliver power over longer distances, keeping every light on your strip bright and steady.
A Stellar 24V LED Lighting System
Our Premium 24V LED Light Strip is the ideal solution to light up your space in one clean, simple installation. This lighting option offers over 400 Lumens of light per foot and comes in a 26.2-foot strip. Light up your studio or office, store, or home. This light strip is UL-listed and comes with a 6-year warranty.
Add an LED dimmable driver to customize your brightness for different activities, and always have just the right amount of light.
To power the full 26 feet of lighting, you'll need the right power supply. These lights use 4.4 watts per foot, so the full spool used in one consecutive piece requires over 115 watts of power. This is more than the standard 96-Watt power supply could safely accommodate.
How To Complete Your Installation With a 120W 24V Power Supply
HitLights has developed a new power supply option for use with 24V LED strip lighting systems that can accommodate 21 feet of these premium lights in one unit. It is fully compatible with any 24V LED lighting system requiring up to 120 watts of power, and it is the only power supply we sell that can handle the full spool of our brightest LED bar lights.
This 24V power supply is also UL-listed and comes with a three-year warranty. No wiring is required: Just plug in your light strip and plug the power source into a standard outlet. Get in touch with us at HitLights for more information and answers to all your questions about top-quality LED strip lighting and accessories.