I am confused on choosing 12V or 24V Tape??
There are several factors that will help determine which tape you should choose. Price aside for the time being, 12V tape is more commonly used on smaller sized projects and 24V on larger projects. The simple reason has to do with Voltage Drop (more on that later). 12V tape typically has a maximum run length under 16' whereas 24V tape can run longer distances. Additionally because of the voltage differences, 12V tape tends to be on the lower wattages per foot than 24V tape.
Great so if I have a area that needs 30' of tape I should use 24V tape?
Not necessarily. The first thing to think about is what are you trying to accomplish with the lighting. Is this an accent lighting area or do I need something brighter, something more for task lighting. Once you determine what your goal is then you can determine whether you can use a 12V or 24V tape.
Wait, you said 12V tape typically is used for lengths under 16'. How can I use it if my distance is 30' of longer?
The distance described earlier has to do with the maximum length run a single strip of 12V or 24V tape will preform. This doesn't mean that you can't start another strip of the same length, it just means you will need to run a new "feed" wire back to your transformer.
What is a "feed" wire?
I call a "feed" wire the low voltage wire you use to connect the strip tape to the transformer. In many cases you will want to hide the transformer some place close by and therefore you will need to run a low voltage wire from the transformer location to the start of your strip or strips.
OK, I guess that makes sense but why can't I just run all 30' of a single "feed"?
Voltage drop! The best way to think of it is to imagine a garden hose with water in it and you want to water your flowers. If the hose is too long and you don't have enough water pressure then by the time the water gets to the end, there will be no flow. So if you try pushing the limits of the length of your tape, you will either need to beef up your pressure (voltage) or use smaller segments that have their own connections to the power (multiple feed's).
I know exactly what you are saying now, I have a bunch of dead flowers, haha. Well how do I know what size transformer to use?
Great question and most often overlooked. There are a few things you need to consider. First calculate the entire length of the section you want to power. Lets say for the sake of this example its 29' and you are using a 12V tape that has a rating of 1.5 watts per foot. Next multiple the total length by the watts per foot number and that is your total watts. In this example the total is 43.5 watts. So you will need a transformer that is large enough to power 43.5 watts of tape. Check out the FAQ's for transformers to understand what that number actually means depending on the transformer. Keep in mind in this example we were using a 12V tape and we have 29 total feet of area we want, assuming the maximum length run we can do off a single feed is 16', we will need to run two feed wires from the transformer. One for the first 16' and then another at the location where the last 13' will start.
Thanks, I think that answers most of my questions concerning which type of tape I should pick. What if I still have questions?
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