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12 volt vs 5 volt


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I am just getting started with all this awesome stuff.  I have decided that I want to go with smart pixels because that seems like where the technology is going overall.  It also gives me the most flexability with my display long term.  One of my first questions is what are the benefits of the two different voltages that are offered by LOR, 5v vs 12v?

Thanks in advance for the help!

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Short answer for nodes (as opposed to ribbons) - The the biggest advantage of 12 volts is you can make longer runs of pixels without power injection.  The biggest advantage of 5 volts is less overall power consumption.

Longer answer - The general rule of thumb is that with 5 volt pixels you can use about 50 pixels without needing power injection, and with 12 volt pixels you can use about 100 pixels without power injection.  That does vary somewhat depending on the pixels.

As for power consumption, each pixel at full white draws about 60mA (for either 5 volts or 12 volts).  Because wattage is volts times amps, the total power consumption with 12 volt pixels is about 2.5 times higher.  That means the number of power supplies will be higher for any given prop.  For example, prior to 2018, my 12 x 50 pixel tree plus 360 pixel star ran on a single 5 volt 70 amp (350 watt) power supply.  In 2018 I rebuilt the tree to make it 24 x 100 pixels and moved to 12 volts.  Of course wth four times as many pixels in the tree, I expected to need more power supplies.  However when I measured the consumption for one string, I realized I would need more than I expected.  I determined that I would need six 350 watt supplies for the tree plus one more for the star (it’s still 5 volts).  Ultimately I set the pixels to run at only 50% and was able to get away with only three 12 volt supplies for the tree - at least for 2018.

Now this discussion has been about pixels.  Ribbons are generally different.  For a ribbons vs pixels comparison, ribbons will give a look far closer to a continuous line of light, whereas nodes will look more like individual points of light.  Depends on what you are looking for.  Ribbons also change the 5 volt vs 12 volt question, but I’m just about to my train stop, so need to end this for now...


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  • 3 weeks later...

As Jim said, 12volts works better. I do have a 5volt controller in-use but its for one of my two pixel trees but its right there up close to the back of the tree. I do use a couple of ports to run to two pixel arches, however I've found that beyond about 30 feet, the signal is just too week and it glitches. I've not yet investigated the newer 24volt systems.

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