WS2811 - 5V or 12V

Hi, I'm quite new to the world of arduino and addressable leds so need some guidance please.

I'm going to get some WS2811 leds, I'm looking to have about 80 connected BUT I intend to spread them out over about 25 meters so I will be extending the distance between each LED ( probably about 300mm between leds )

Would I be better getting 5v or 12v.

Would I be right in thinking a arduino would not be able to power all these on it's own. Also would I need to power the led string in more than 1 place.

Note : I haven't actually got an arduino yet, so may need some advice on which one to get at a latter stage.

Regards

Usually, when using 12V, you cannot individually control each led. Only each group of 3 can be controlled. The 3 LEDs in a group always have the same colour/brightness because they are controlled by the same chip. This also means that there are more wires between each group of 3 LEDs and their chip than the normal 5V, ground & data.

You don't say what kind of package you plan to use. Ws2811 are available as strips and as strings. The strings are 5V as far as I know. The strips are normally 12V, although it may be possible to find 5V strips also, but in that case you might as well get ws2812. If you get the 12V ws2812 strip, you can only cut the strip at the marked points, after every 3rd led.

There is no point thinking about what type of Arduino to get later. You need one to test the LEDs before you wire them into some project. You don't want to do that first and then find you have a dud led somewhere.

Correct, you will need a separate power supply for the LEDs. An Arduino can only power perhaps 8 or 10 LEDs through usb or its regulator (and only then if the input voltage is 6.5-7.5V, not 9V or 12V).

If you decide on 5V, you can power the Arduino from that same PSU, through its 5V pin. If you decide on 12V, you can power the Arduino using that through its Vin pin, but then you must take care not to overload the Arduino's regulator by drawing anything more than small currents at 5V.

One advantage of using 12V rather than 5V is that only around 1/3rd of the current will be required, so the wires can be thinner and longer and you may only need to feed power to the LEDs in a couple of places. With 5V, the current will be 3x more, so good quality thick wires are needed and power needs to be fed into the LEDs strip/string in multiple places.

dazz700:
I’m going to get some WS2811 LEDs, I’m looking to have about 80 connected BUT I intend to spread them out over about 25 meters so I will be extending the distance between each LED ( probably about 300mm between LEDs )

The ones you show are indeed based on a WS2811 driver and a separate RGB LED. The WS2812 is the integration of both.

80 is well within the capability of an Arduino Nano. 80 will require about 4.5 Amps at full brightness. Adding cable to these sounds tedious. Except for the waterproofing it would be easier to use these:

dazz700:
Would I be better getting 5v or 12v.

Well, in this particular format (strings, not strips), the 12 V version has one LED per WS2811 and uses the same current but at 12 V instead of 5 V, so uses 2.4 times the power. The (only) advantage is that the 12 V version can tolerate major voltage loss along the string - it will still work perfectly if the voltage at the other end has dropped to 6 V!

Using the 5 V version, over 25 m and 4.5 Amps, you would want to use at least 1.5 or 2 mm2 cable (house wiring) as a power “backbone” connecting (5 V and of course, ground) into the chain every few metres,

dazz700:
Would I be right in thinking an Arduino would not be able to power all these on it’s own. Also would I need to power the led string in more than 1 place.

An Arduino has nothing whatsoever to do with supplying 5 V power. If by “powering”, you mean supplying data, a Nano (same specifications as a UNO) is perfectly capable,

dazz700:
Note : I haven’t actually got an Arduino yet, so may need some advice on which one to get at a latter stage.

A Nano is the most practical for basic projects. A UNO is only ever useful if you have a “shield” to use with it that fully implements your project. A Nano can be used on a breadboard with pins soldered, or connection soldered to its pads. Actually, very practical to use with a matching “screwshield”.

(Price on Amazon.uk slightly ridiculous so I’m not linking to it :cold_sweat: )

What I do for powering strings of WS2811 lights (like the ones pictured above - though you can get them with all-black or all-white wire, instead of that hideous technicolor stuff) is to use an 18v laptop power supply, and every 50 light section (for 80, you could use 1 at each end) I put a one of those cheap buck converters, which I then seal in glue-lined shrink tube - and then run the 18v power to each buck converter (an added advantage is that all-black zipcord, marked with just light white printing on on of the wires, is readily available and cheap in sizes that can handle enough current to run 200 lights, which also happens to be what I use on each string. I then connect the 5v pin to the 5v pin of the controller, so that the controller doesn't need a separate power supply. 18v power supplies are readily available from trash-picking, since that's what virtually every laptop uses, and they far outlive the laptops they came with (I get them from the e-waste trailer at the local dump, right next to the big "no scavenging" sign).

DrAzzy:
I get them from the e-waste trailer at the local dump, right next to the big "no scavenging" sign.

Good source! I like it. Used the same myself (but not often). :grinning:

Cheers for the help. The leds will need to be waterproof so I will have to use the ones I've linked to and bite the bullet with adding all that cable.

Hi all, so I've got some pixel lights WS2811 12V
but the 12 V version.

As these lights are quite close together what I intend to do is splice some new wire between them so I can space them out a bit, I'll probably want to add half a meter of wire between them so this is going to make the run quite long - about 25M in total.
I had a play around with them yesterday, I snipped the last LED in the string and re joined it at the end of 10M of that thin RGB wire just as a experiment. Well it did work fine with all the colours except white where it was flickering so I'm putting that down to voltage drop.

Ok, so I'm thinking with having a 25M run I'm going to have to inject some voltage at a couple of points along the run which is not a problem.

Questions :

  1. would you recommend a thicker wire for use BETWEEN leds, if so how thick ?
  2. what size wire for injecting voltage ?

Regarding question 1, the RGB wire is ( or seems ) the same thickness as the wire attached to the leds so would there be any advantage in having thicker wire between the leds ?

Thanks.

dazz700:
As these lights are quite close together what I intend to do is splice some new wire between them so I can space them out a bit, I’ll probably want to add half a meter of wire between them so this is going to make the run quite long - about 25M in total.
I had a play around with them yesterday, I snipped the last LED in the string and re joined it at the end of 10M of that thin RGB wire just as a experiment. Well it did work fine with all the colours except white where it was flickering so I’m putting that down to voltage drop.

Ok, so I’m thinking with having a 25M run I’m going to have to inject some voltage at a couple of points along the run which is not a problem.

Highly recommended.

dazz700:

  1. would you recommend a thicker wire for use BETWEEN leds, if so how thick ?

I suggest at least 1 mm2. Basically the stuff your house lighting wiring uses. :grinning:

dazz700:
2. what size wire for injecting voltage ?

Likewise.

dazz700:
Regarding question 1, the RGB wire is ( or seems ) the same thickness as the wire attached to the LEDs so would there be any advantage in having thicker wire between the LEDs ?

Yes, because the span is longer, so you really want to minimise the resistance.

@dazz700

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Not sure what your application is, but it may be easier to get some fairly heavy gauge three-conductor cable that will run the entire length, break out the data wire at each LED for the input/output of the data lines, but leave the ground and power as a continuous run and tap off the power and ground for each LED.