How to Avoid Voltage Drop
If you want to get the most out of your LED Tape you need to make sure your auxiliary hardware can support the power demands of your setup. If they can’t there is a chance you will experience something called ‘voltage drop.’
Voltage Drop occurs when the power requirements of a length of LED Tape exceed the load of a power source or amplifier. As a piece of technical jargon it is actually quite simply explained. It refers to a ‘drop’ in ‘voltage’ that occurs when an electrical current has to travel too far from its source. The resulting voltage drop will cause your lights to under-perform, become dimmer and can even damage internal components and retard the life expectancy of your lights.
How do I avoid Voltage Drop? The reason that Voltage Drop happens is becaue wires, transistors and other electrical components create a certain level of resistance to the passage of electrons (the electrical current). The phenomenon is described by Ohm’s Law which states that a drop in voltage is equivalent to the strength of a current multiplied by the resistance of a wire. What is happening in a circuit is actually quite similar to what happens when the pressure in a hose drops. If the water has to travel too far the pressure will decrease.
To avoid Voltage Drop all you really need to do is calculate the load of your entire length of LED Tape. The power requirements of LED Tape are calculated on a per metre basis, so it is usually just a case of multiplying the number of metres you have by the wattage per metre. This will help you determine whether your initial transformer can handle the load; if not you may need to upgrade to a bigger transformer, or, in the case of RGB LED Tape, you will need to incorporate amplifiers intermittently along the length of your lights to boost the signal.
Now that you know what Voltage Drop is, how it can potentially damage your investment and how to prevent it, you should have many years of energy efficient lighting for your home.