12 Volt LED Strip Lights: The Ultimate Guide

12 Volt LED strip lights transform how we light our homes and business environments.

Whether you want to light your backyard with colorful lights or improve the mood of your interior space, the LED strip lights suit you perfectly. 

But why the 12-volt LED strip lights? What should you consider when buying them?

If you have these questions, today’s article is for you. Let’s begin.

How LED Strip Lights Work

A flexible PCB LED strip

(A flexible PCB LED strip )

We have two types of flexible PCB LED strips currently in existence, namely analog and digital strips.

Regardless, both rely on a driver or transformer that converts alternating current (AC) voltage from the mains into low-level DC power.

Remember that LEDs rely on DC power, and you can adjust the power to control the light’s color, brightness, and pattern.

Analog Strips

Analog strips are available in a single-color (mono) or full-color spectrum (RGB).

Generally, you can cut the strips to fit your design as they have 5 to 10 cm segments.

Additionally, they have 30, 60, or 120 light-emitting diodes for every meter.

The number varies according to the application and buying price. 

Moreover, LEDs in every segment connect in series to have the same current at each light and hence higher operating voltage.

Conversely, the segments connect parallel to operate with the same voltage but with a current drop at each light. 

Digital Strips

Digital strips have full-color spectrum (RGB) LEDs that rely on a driver chip for control.

Therefore, engineers refer to each LED as “just addressable” since you can control the performance of a single LED with a driver. 

Moreover, the strips consume 5 volts and may power up dimly when you connect them to a 3.3 volts power source.

When turning them on, digital strips use programs written on a microcontroller. 

Designers may write the programs to respond to switches and sensors within a setup.

For instance, they can power up and display red light with a single switch pressing.

Moreover, they may flash blue when you flick the switch a second time, and so on. 

Powering Your 12 Volt LED Strip Lights with A Battery

Replacing a 12-volt car battery

(Replacing a 12-volt car battery)

We are powering the 12-volt LED strip lights with a 12-volt battery for this case.

The reason is that a bigger battery provides a bigger voltage that may damage the LED strips.

Conversely, under voltage will not provide sufficient power meaning that your LEDs will be dimmer. 

If you don’t have a single 12V battery, we recommend connecting eight 1.5V batteries (8×1.5V=12V).

Moreover, to know when your battery will last, calculate its capacity, usually in milliamp hours (mAh)

A mAh is the hours when a battery supplies current to an electrical system before it drains out.

Some common battery ratings are AA Dry Cell with 400 and 900 mAh, 9V alkaline (550 mAh), and a car battery (45,000 mAh). 

Therefore, to get the number of hours a battery lasts, divide its mAh rating by the LED strip light mA value.

If the battery capacity is in watts, divide the power (W) by the voltage and multiply the answer by 1,000 to get a rating in milliamps.  

Choosing A 12 Volt LED Strip Light Power Supply

Now that you have your strip lights, the next question is determining the best power supply. Here’s how to do so.

First, let’s say you have an 80 watts rated 12-volt LED strip. 

The rule of thumb is to get a power source with 20 percent more capacity than your strip requires.

So a strip that consumes 2 watts per foot must be 40 feet long and draw power from a 96-watt (80×1.2) power source.   

Considerations Before Installing or Purchasing 12 Volt LED Strip Lights

Installing a LED strip

(Installing a LED strip)


How bright your lights will be is an important consideration, especially when considering the size of your room.

Using brighter lights is better if you need to light up a big space. 

Moreover, use dimmer 12-volt LED strips for smaller rooms to avoid excessive brightness.

However, it may take trial and error to get the best lighting for your home may take trial and error. 


Generally, we use 12-volt LED strip lights to improve the mood and themes of our homes or businesses.

Therefore, for a business setting, use simple LED lights that aren’t too flashy.

Conversely, you can choose the LED strips to install in your home as that is a private space.   


As much as cost isn’t the only determining factor when buying LED strips, it surely plays an important role.

First, look at the product quality to see if it is worth its price tag.

Second, consider the energy costs you will pay monthly due to adding LED strip lights. 

Freedom of Customization

There’s a lot of customization that you can do with the 12V LED strip light.

First, you can install it in any pattern and design you wish.

Secondly, you can customize the color and brightness of the LEDs to your liking.

Reasons Why Your 12 Volts LED Strip Lights Stops Working

A damaged LED strip

(A damaged LED strip)

Like any electrical system, 12 volts LED strip lights may fail for several reasons.

First are faulty circuit design, short circuits from water contact, loose connections, and poor power supply. 

If your LED strip stops working completely, the issue might be a faulty power supply.

And in this case, a power supply is an electrical device that transforms raw electrical power into a form that the LEDs can use.

It ensures the power is of the right voltage and current to power the circuit.

Second, if your LEDs flash at certain intervals, you will likely overload the power supply.

An overload happens when the system you are powering draws voltage or current beyond what the source can supply.

For this case, the solution would be acquiring a bigger power supply with a greater total wattage.


Do you get more brightness by supplying more voltage to your 12-volt LED strip?

The brightness you get from a LED depends on its rating and not the power source.

For instance, a 12-volt LED lamp will shine brightly if you power it with a 12-volt battery.

Alternatively, it will be dimmer if you power it with a 9V battery.

So the answer is that you cannot get a 12-volt rated LED strip to shine brighter by powering it with a bigger battery.

Are 24-volt LEDs brighter than 12-volt LEDs?

You won’t find any brightness difference between 24-volt and 12-volt LED strips.

The voltage doesn’t impact the brightness of a battery beyond its rating.

For example, 24-volt light-emitting diode strips will be dimmer if you power them with a 12-volt battery.   

How long will your 12-volt LED strip last? 

Depending on operating conditions, there’s no fit-for-all answer regarding how long 12-volt LEDs will last.

Other reasons include material quality and the frequency of use.

Regardless, most LED strips last longer than 18 years with a daily use average of hours. 


Lighting your home or business is a crucial step to improving your mood.

We all want to live in a space with aesthetic value to relax our minds while being well-lit. 

Surprisingly, we often prefer LEDs as they consume less power while being bright.

If you have a lighting project, consider them, and you will see excellent results.