What's the maximum length of an LED strip I can connect together?

Modified on Wed, 27 Sep 2023 at 12:44 PM

Understanding the Unlimited Potential of LED Strip Lights: A Comprehensive Guide by Hi-Line Lighting

Whether you're a professional installer, a business owner, or a DIY enthusiast looking to illuminate your space with LED strip lights, a key question often arises: "What's the maximum length of an LED strip I can connect together?" In truth, the length of LED strips you can connect is potentially unlimited, provided you know how to correctly wire them. While this might sound complex, we're here to demystify this for you:

A common misconception is that the length of an LED strip is limited due to voltage drop, which can make the strip's end dimmer. This can occur when you connect more than 5 metres (approximately 16 feet) of a standard 12V LED strip. You might wonder why someone would opt for a 12V LED strip when the 24V versions can offer longer runs. One reason might be the existing power infrastructure. For instance, in vehicles, boats, or systems with a battery backup set for 12V, it would make sense to use 12V strips. However, there are solutions to mitigate this issue. Firstly, with proper wiring techniques, you can overcome these limitations. Secondly, by using LED strips that operate at a higher voltage, you can achieve longer runs.

24V LED strip lights, for instance, can typically be run for longer lengths before voltage drop becomes an issue. This is because the higher voltage allows the electricity to travel further along the strip before it begins to weaken. Furthermore, the lower the wattage of the strip, the longer the runs you can achieve.

At Hi-Line Lighting, we've taken the benefits of 24V strips a step further with our specially manufactured single-colour strips. Developed with constant current technology, these strips can run up to 20 metres when powered from one end and up to 30 metres when powered from both ends, offering an even better solution to voltage drop. They are available in rolls of 10, 20, and 30 metres.

Besides our single colour strips, we also offer high copper PCB designs for our RGB and RGBW versions of colour-changing strips. These strips are designed to combat voltage drop effectively, and although the cost of these products is slightly higher due to their superior design, they deliver better results in terms of managing voltage drop. For example, we manufacture 10mm RGBW strips and 12mm wide RGBW strips, both delivering great results. The choice between them often depends on the installation limitations. If width is not a constraint, installers generally prefer the 12mm variant because of its higher copper content in the PCB.

When managing longer installations that exceed typical lengths, a common method is using a signal amplifier to counteract voltage drop. However, at Hi-Line Lighting, we advocate for a different approach: injecting power at several points along the strip to counteract the voltage drop. This method, which essentially involves wiring parts of the strip in parallel, alleviates the load on the LED driver and can deliver uniform brightness throughout the strip, even over long runs.

To give a practical example, you could power a 5-metre strip from a separate power supply unit (PSU), and then start a new 5-metre strip powered by another PSU. To the eye, these strips will appear as one continuous line, but in reality, they are individually powered. Alternatively, if you're using a single power source, you could inject power into the middle of the strip, with, for example, 10 metres of strip on either side. By terminating both ends of this strip to the same LED driver, you can perfectly manage voltage drop over the entire length.

It's crucial to remember that incorrect wiring design, incorrect cable size, and other mistakes can cause serious safety issues, including fire hazards. While we at Hi-Line Lighting can offer expert advice and support up to a point, as manufacturers and suppliers, we always recommend that you engage the services of a professional installer for implementing your lighting plans, especially for complex installations. Safety should always be your top priority and advanced installations should always be conducted by a qualified electrician.

Closing Thoughts: Expert Installation for Seamless Appearance

As we conclude our article on "What's the maximum length of an LED strip I can connect together?", it's important to highlight that while there are specified limits for series connections, skilled installation can work wonders. For instance, if the strip is designed for a maximum series connection of 5 metres as an example, adhering to this is essential for optimal functionality. However, expert installation can create the illusion of an endless metre run, even if the strips are not connected in series, making it appear seamless to the eye.

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