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How to Choose 12V LED power supply

What power supply do I need? Factors for choosing a proper 12V power supply

12V LED power supplies, also called 12V LED drivers or lighting transformers, are low voltage DC power supplies (DC stands for direct current). They are often used for 12V LED strip lights, LED modules and other LED lights. There are indoor and outdoor waterproof 12V LED power supplies. Most residential or commercial electricity is provided at high voltage 120V AC, some places at 240VAC or 277VAC. 12V power supplies convert 120V AC power to 12V DC. All our power supplies are UL listed. Our explanation often uses 12V LED strip lights to explain how to choose a proper power supply. Most 12V LED strip lights use 12V constant voltage power supplies. Some applications use dimmable power supplies.

More power supplies available:

Power supplies for medium or big scale installation

This category mainly introduces high power 12V power supplies and waterproof power supplies. There are 150W, 200W, 350W, 600W and higher wattage power supplies for medium or big scale installation of LED strip lights.

Power supplies for small projects

For small scale installation, such as installing one 12V or 24V LED strip of 5 meters or less, or two strips of low wattage, you can choose a small power supply, There are 12V 1A, 2A, 3A, 5A, 6A, 8A, or 10A power supply, or 24V 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A power supply. Please refer to the power adapter category for these small power supplies. Our power adapters are UL listed, class 2 rating.

If you need 24V power supply, please see the 24V LED Power Supply category.

Easy installation and suitable for North America and Europe

It is easy to install our 12V or 24V power supplies. When installing power supply for AC side, use our three prong wall plug cord to plug into an outlet or socket, or use wire cables(14AWG wire or 16AWG wire) to hard wire the power supply to AC source. For DC side, connect to LED strip lights or LED controllers using wires (16AWG, 18AWG, or 20AWG wire, depending on length and current load).

Most of our 12V or 24V power supplies are suitable for installation in both North America and Europe. They have a wide range of input voltages, or an input voltage switch to select 115V(also referred to as 110V or 120V) or 230V( 220V or 240V).

What power supply do I need?

The answer is a collective consideration of the following factors:

1. Constant voltage power supply or constant current? Mostly, constant voltage for LED strip lights.

2. For constant voltage power supply, is it 12 Volt or 24 Volt? Depends on the operating voltage of the LED strips.

3. Do I need a dimmable power supply? This depends on if you want to dim on the AC side or on the DC side of the power supply.

4. Do I need a waterproof power supply? Depends on the environment.

5. Is the input voltage 120V or 277V for the power supply? Mostly 120V. Some places use 277V.

6. Do I need a class 2 power supply? Certain application requires class 2 power supplies. Our small power supplies are class 2 certified.

How to choose a proper 12V LED power supply?

12V Power supply is one of the most important components of LED lighting. There are many types of 12V power supplies on the market, such as constant voltage or constant current power supplies, non-dimmable and dimmable power supplies, etc. Choosing a suitable power supply requires careful consideration. Choosing the wrong power supply unit (PSU) will not only damage your LED products, but also the device itself. In addition, a power supply that is too weak will lead to the development of high heat, which could cause further danger.

Mean Well Power Supply

We introduce the Mean Well power supplies here. The brand name Mean Well power supplies deliver highly reliable performance with a 3-7 year warranty. For its super quality, we have been selling Mean Well power supplies for many years. Mean Well offers indoor and outdoor waterproof power supply with or without PFC, non-dimmable or dimmable power supply, 110V or 277V input. The power range is wide, including 60W, 100W, 150W, 200W, 350W, 600W, 1000W, and even higher.

Important factors to consider when choosing a proper 12V LED power supply

1. Select the correct operating voltage.

The input voltage of 12V LED strips or 12V LED lights is 12V direct current, and only 12V LED power supplies can be used.

Important note: Under no circumstances should higher voltage transformers be used. For example, never use a 24V power supply to connect a 12V LED strip or light. If you choose too high voltage, the LED strip or LED light will be damaged.

Select the correct operating voltage

2. Wattage (power output).

If you install two LED light strips, and each LED strip is 5m (16.4ft) long and has an operating power of 50 Watts or 60 Watts, we recommend you use a 150 Watts power supply.

When installing, it is better to use parallel installation, which is to place the power feed point in the middle of the two LED strips, e.g., power the two LED strips from the middle. If possible, it is better not to install two LED strips in series, which is to chain two LED strips together and power them from one end. Below is the detailed explanation of how to determine the wattage of a power supply you should choose.

The 12V power supply should provide sufficient power output for the application. Here we need to know the power of the light strip. It is easy to calculate the power required for the application. The wattage per unit length of LED strip light multiplied by the length is the total power.

For example, if the LED strip operates at 12 watts per meter, and a display cabinet has an installation with a length of 4 meters, then the power of the 4-meter LED light strip is 12W x 4 = 48W.

Ideally, the power supply should run at 80% of its max capacity. Since more power is required in a short period of time when LED strip light is turned on, the power supply should provide enough power for the short time operation of turning on the lights. We usually add 20% to the wattage of the LED strip light. Therefore, the power of the required power supply for the display cabinet is 48W x 1.2 = 57.6W. There is no power supply of this power in the actual market, the next level of power is 60W. So we choose a 60W power supply.

12v power supply wattage

3. Non dimmable or dimmable 12V power supply.

Most times LED strip lights use a non-dimmable power supply. For normal projects, the LED dimmer or controller is installed between the power supply and the LED strip lights. At this time, the power supply itself does not need to have the dimming function, and the dimming function is assumed by the dimmer or the controller.

If you need to dim before the power supply, then you need a dimmable power supply. The dimmable function of a power supply is usually marked on the parameter label. If it is not marked, it is not dimmable.

dimmable power supply installation
dimmable power supply installation - wiring schematic
non-dimmable power supply installation
non-dimmable power supply installation - wiring schematic

4. Do I need a 12V indoor or outdoor waterproof power supply?

The decisive factor is the location of the 12V DC power supply. For an indoor application of 12V LED strips or 12V LED lights, we usually choose an indoor power supply. If you install a waterproof LED light strip outdoors, the power supply can be placed outdoor or indoor. If the power supply is put outdoor, you need to choose a waterproof power supply. Or you place the power supply in a dry area and use a waterproof 12V LED light strip outdoor. For example, consider the application when the LED light strip illuminates a balcony. Usually, you can choose to install the power supply and the LED strip controller in the adjacent room.

For bathroom, if you can't find a waterproof place for the power supply, we recommend placing the LED strip light power supply outside the bathroom. Remember, the power supply is a transformer, the interface from the high-voltage grid to low-voltage. Due to the high voltage side, it is safer to use a 12V or 24V LED strip light power supply outside the bathroom.

Note: For the above reasons, when you buy a power supply for a 12V or 24V waterproof strip light, you can consider whether you need a waterproof power supply based on the actual installation place. Generally, waterproof power supply is required in a humid or damp environment. If you can protect the transformer from water such as using a power box, or put the power supply in a dry place, it is no problem to choose a non waterproof power supply.

waterproof power supply

Can an LED driver be used as a power supply?

Yes, it can. Actually an LED driver is a power supply by itself. It is just another name of power unit that provides power for LED strip lights and other LED lighting products. FYI, it is also often referred to as LED power transformer.

How to connect LED strip light to power supply? There are many ways to connect. Please refer to the article: How to choose LED strip light power supply?

For more information on LED strip installation, read: How to install LED strip lights?

Wholesale Power Supply

We wholesale power supply as well. If you are looking for a power supply wholesaler, please contact us.