Author Topic: 12V or 5V  (Read 1230 times)

Offline ChristmasBug

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12V or 5V
« on: December 26, 2016, 08:01:06 AM »
Guys - I Was looking to get more lights next year and wondering if there is a huge difference between a 5V pixel and 12V.  mean can you see the difference in color. I wa looking to do my upper roof line with 5V pixels and just looking for some advice on this matter?>

Thanks
Raspberry pi - 1 Main
 1 x F16V2-R Pixel Controller

Offline tmarshall

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Re: 12V or 5V
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2016, 10:18:07 AM »
I don't think there is much of a difference in color.  Assuming you have adequate power injection, I think any color differences would be more related to who manufactured your lights. As far as the decision to use 5V vs. 12V lights..., this is a topic of great debate and may spark some passionate discussions.

IMHO, they both have advantages.  I just did my first big light show this year..., about 6000 lights. I was only able to finish about half of the 12,000 I had planned. Before I started, I had to make the same decisions as you. I had originally planned on using 12V lights, but when I calculated the power required to run all my lights, I realized I was going to be need a lot more AC power outlets than I had available. For this reason, I went with 5V lights. Was that a good decision? The jury is still out on that one. Ultimately, the decision is yours. I don't think it matters that much either way, and I can't really say one is better than the other. But, having just gone through this, I have learned a lot about the real practical advantages and disadvantages.

The single biggest advantage of going with 5V lights that I am aware of is the efficiency factor. If you are planning a lot of lights, that can be very significant. That being said, there are a lot of disadvantages to using 5V lights, ...at least from my vantage point. 

5V lights require more power injection points. You will need to inject power about every 50 lights with 5V as opposed to 100 or so with 12V. This obviously means more work..., the more injection points, the more soldering and heat shrinking. But, apart from the labor aspect, there will also be a higher cost. With 5V lights, you will see a bigger percentage of voltage drop for the same power draw, wire size and distance than with 12V. What this means is, You will need larger diameter wire, or shorter runs which usually means either more smaller wattage power supplies located closer to the lights, or higher voltage power supplies with buck converters at all of your major props to drop the voltage down to 5V at the prop. More injection points means more pigtails or T-connectors, more hardware for fused power distribution. These will all add to the overall cost, ... not to mention that the more connection points, and the more complexity you have, the more opportunity for human error. As hard as I tried to pay attention to detail, and get all of my positives, grounds and data lines right, I had quite a few wires reversed. There is nothing more annoying having to undo all of your hard work trying to find out which wire is backwards.

I probably scared you away from 5V lights. If so, that was not my intent.  I just want you to know the facts before you start.  If you do decide to go with 5V lights, I recommend the buck converter route. It will allow you to position your power supplies at a significantly greater distance from the lights, getting them out of sight, and allow you to use smaller diameter power wires, and less power distribution boards and fuses, which will help offset the extra cost of the buck converters.

If I had it to do over again, which would I use? I don't know, but I would definitely put more thought into it, consider all the options and do all of the calculations.

Offline tbone321

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Re: 12V or 5V
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2016, 11:27:52 AM »
I would probably go with 12V up there due to the length of the string and the length of the wire going to that string.  While 12V strings are a bit less efficient than their 5V counterparts, they are also much more tolerant of voltage drops.  I have run 120 nodes on 12V with no power injection and they worked just fine.  That's simply not going to happen with 5V.  As for the difference in color, that is much more a matter of manufacture than voltage. 

Offline jnealand

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Re: 12V or 5V
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2016, 01:32:01 PM »
I would probably go with 12V up there due to the length of the string and the length of the wire going to that string.  While 12V strings are a bit less efficient than their 5V counterparts, they are also much more tolerant of voltage drops.  I have run 120 nodes on 12V with no power injection and they worked just fine.  That's simply not going to happen with 5V.  As for the difference in color, that is much more a matter of manufacture than voltage.

+1  I have 9 strings (18 strands) of 122 12v nodes on my big megatree and I have two pixel trees (8ft) using 12v nodes.  One has 4 strings of 120 (16 strands) and the other has 5 strings (20 strands) of 120.  No power injection needed.

It's your choice, I would just say whatever you pick use for everything in your display.  Do not try to mix and match because you most certainly will miswire / misconnect something in the future.  It's too easy to do, esp when we get in a hurry.
Jim Nealand
Kennesaw, GA all Falcon controllers, all 12v Master Remote Multisync with Pi and BBB P10 and P5

Offline rstehle

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Re: 12V or 5V
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2016, 01:44:13 PM »
It's your choice, I would just say whatever you pick use for everything in your display.  Do not try to mix and match because you most certainly will miswire / misconnect something in the future.  It's too easy to do, esp when we get in a hurry.

+1 to this!
Using all of the same voltage strings and power supplies also gives more freedom for rearranging/adding on to your display in the future.

Offline pixelpuppy

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Re: 12V or 5V
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2016, 09:35:31 AM »
It's your choice, I would just say whatever you pick use for everything in your display.  Do not try to mix and match because you most certainly will miswire / misconnect something in the future.  It's too easy to do, esp when we get in a hurry.

+1 to this!
Using all of the same voltage strings and power supplies also gives more freedom for rearranging/adding on to your display in the future.
+2
-Mark

Offline taybrynn

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Re: 12V or 5V
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2016, 09:48:19 AM »
keep it simple ... pick your type of nodes and voltage and stick with it.


I prefer 12v tm1804 ... because I like one type of like to deal with ... and they seem to use less power than ws2811, making them sometimes cheaper when power is factored in.

 

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