LED strip lights have become a popular lighting option due to their energy efficiency, long lifespan, and versatility. However, one common issue with LED strips is voltage drop. In this article, we will explore what LED strip voltage drop is, why it happens, how to find it, and how to avoid it.
What is voltage drop?
LED strip voltage drop refers to the decrease in voltage that occurs as the electric current flows through the strip. This reduction in voltage can cause the LED lights to become dimmer and less efficient over time.
LED strip voltage drop refers to the decrease in voltage along the length of an LED strip light, resulting in a reduction of brightness or uneven illumination.
As electrical current flows through the LED strip, it encounters resistance that causes the voltage to decrease gradually from the power source to the end of the strip. This effect can be particularly noticeable in longer LED strip installations or when using low-quality materials.
LED strip voltage drop is typically measured in volts per meter (V/m) or millivolts per LED (mV/LED).
A higher voltage drop means that the brightness of the LEDs will decrease more significantly over a given length of the strip.
It is important to consider voltage drop when designing and installing LED strip lighting, as it can affect the overall lighting quality and the effectiveness of the installation.
Why does an LED strip voltage drop happen?
LED strip voltage drop happens due to the resistance in the conductive material of the strip.
As electricity flows through the strip, it encounters resistance in the form of conductive material, which slows down the flow of current and causes a drop in voltage.
The longer the LED strip, the higher the resistance, and the greater the voltage drop. Additionally, poor connections or inadequate wiring can also contribute to voltage drop.
This can lead to the LEDs appearing dimmer, color shift, or even malfunctioning.
How to find voltage drop?
Determine the length of the LED strip you want to use.
Check the voltage of your LED power supply.
Calculate the total wattage of the LED strip by multiplying the length of the strip by its wattage per foot.
Determine the voltage drop of your LED strip by multiplying the total length of the strip by the voltage drop per foot.
Subtract the voltage drop from the voltage of your LED power supply to get the minimum voltage required for the LED strip to function properly.
You can also use online voltage drop calculators to simplify the process. These calculators will take into account the specific specifications of your LED strip and power supply to provide a more accurate calculation.
LED strip voltage is related to LED chips. Below are the forward voltages required for several color chip drives.
- Blue LED chip: 3.0-3.2V
- Green LED chip: 3.0-3.2V
- Red LED chip: 2.0-2.2V
Do all LED strip lights have a voltage drop?
Yes, all LED strip lights have a voltage drop to some degree.
The amount of voltage drop depends on various factors such as the length of the strip, the size of the wire used, the quality of the LED chips, and the power supply used.
Even high-quality LED strip lights with a low voltage drop will still have some voltage drop, which is why it’s essential to choose an appropriate power supply and wire gauge to minimize the voltage drop.
Is LED strip voltage drop harmful?
LED strip voltage drop is not necessarily harmful, but it can affect the performance of the LED strip lights.
The voltage drop can cause the LED lights to become dimmer, particularly at the end of a long LED strip run.
This can be an issue in applications where consistent lighting is important, such as in commercial or industrial settings.
Additionally, the voltage drop can cause the LED strip lights to consume more power than necessary, which can lead to higher energy costs over time.
Therefore, it is important to properly address and mitigate the effects of LED strip voltage drop to ensure optimal performance and efficiency.
What factors will affect the voltage drop?
Several factors can affect the voltage drop in LED strip lights, including:
- Length of the LED strip: The longer the LED strip, the higher the voltage drop.
- Wire Gauge: The wire size used to connect the LED strip to the power source can affect the voltage drop. Thicker wires can help to reduce voltage drop.
- Electric Current: The amount of current flowing through the LED strip can also affect voltage drop. Higher current levels will lead to a higher voltage drop.
- Temperature: The operating temperature of the LED strip can affect voltage drop. At higher temperatures, the electrical resistance of the circuit increases, leading to a higher voltage drop.
- Power supply: The voltage and current rating of the power supply can also affect voltage drop. A power supply that is not rated high enough for the LED strip can result in a higher voltage drop.
- Connection quality: Poor quality connections between the LED strip and power source can also lead to higher voltage drops.
- LED quality: Lower-quality LED strips may have a higher voltage drop due to the internal resistance of the LEDs.
It is important to consider these factors when designing and installing LED strip lighting to ensure proper functioning and prevent excessive voltage drop.
How To fix voltage drop led lights?
here are several ways to avoid or fix voltage drops in LED strip lights:
Use a thicker wire
One of the main causes of voltage drop is resistance in the wire. Using a thicker wire with lower resistance can help reduce voltage drop.
Here are the steps to use a thicker wire to avoid LED strip voltage drop:
Step 1. Determine the correct wire gauge
You will need to determine the correct wire gauge based on the total length of your LED strip and the current needed to power it. The longer the length and higher the current, the thicker the wire gauge you will need. There are online wire gauge calculators available that can help with this.
You can check out the Wire Resistance Calculation Tool to make calculations more straightforward.
For instance: 22 gauge wire for led lights & 18 gauge wire for led lights are available.
Step 2. Purchase the appropriate wire
You can calculate the voltage drop of the wire using the Voltage Drop Calculator.
Once you have determined the wire gauge you need, purchase the appropriate wire that can handle the current required for your LED strip. Make sure the wire has a large enough diameter to reduce resistance and voltage drop.
Step 3. Strip the wire
Cut the wire to the appropriate length and strip the insulation from both ends of the wire.
Step 4. Connect the wire to the LED strip
Depending on your LED strip, you may need to solder the wire to the LED strip or use a connector. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper connection.
Step 5. Connect the other end of the wire to the power source
Connect the other end of the wire to the power source, making sure to use a properly rated connector or solder the wire to the power source.
Shorten the distance between the power source and the LED strip:
The longer the distance between the power source and the LED strip, the greater the voltage drop. Shortening the distance can help minimize voltage drop.
Connect the other end of the wire to the power source: Connect the other end of the wire to the power source, making sure to use a properly rated connector or solder the wire to the power source.
Use multiple power sources
Using multiple power sources can help distribute power evenly along the LED strip and reduce voltage drop. This can be achieved by connecting separate power sources to different sections of the LED strip.
Use a voltage amplifier
A voltage amplifier, also known as a signal repeater or LED amplifier, is a device that can help boost the voltage along the LED strip. This can be particularly useful for longer LED strip installations.
Choose a high-quality LED strip
High-quality LED strips are designed to minimize voltage drop and provide consistent brightness throughout the strip. Choosing a reputable manufacturer and quality LED strip can help avoid voltage drop issues.
By creating parallel connections, you can split the power supply to different sections of the LED strip, which can reduce the voltage drop in each section.
Power supply at both ends of the LED strip light
This method involves connecting the power supply to both ends of the LED strip light, which can help to balance the voltage across the entire length of the strip and reduce voltage drop.
Use LED strips with thick copper PCB
LED strips with thicker copper PCB can provide better conductivity and reduce resistance, which can help to minimize voltage drop.
You can check out the PCB Resistance Calculation Tool to make calculations more effortless.
Use a higher voltage power supply
Using a power supply with a higher voltage than the LED strip is rated for can help to compensate for the voltage drop and ensure that the LED strip receives the necessary voltage to operate properly.
By following these tips, you can help avoid voltage drop issues and ensure consistent brightness and performance from your LED strip lights.
Solving the voltage drop issue may require some investment of time or money.
To save on costs, parallel connections or connecting both ends of the LED strips to the power supply can be utilized.
For those looking to save time, LED strips with thicker copper PCB or long constant current LED strips can be chosen.
Nevertheless, it’s essential to consider that sometimes time itself is valuable.
MSHLED is a reputable manufacturer of top-notch LED strips and LED neon flex that undergo rigorous quality control tests in our state-of-the-art labs. Additionally, we offer tailored solutions for our LED strips and neon flex, ensuring that our clients receive products that meet their specific needs.
Get in touch with MSHLED today for exceptional LED strip and LED neon flex products!