The difference between 12V and 24V is typically insignificant, but if you truly do not have a strong preference for one over the other, hopefully this article has convinced you of the benefits of a 24V system!
If you are considering purchasing lights for or installing a low voltage lighting system, you will likely have come across both 12V DC and 24V DC options. Oftentimes, the price and performance specifications listed will be the same, and you may be wondering, "what's the difference? Which one should I choose?"
1. 24V is better suited for LEDs.
Despite some of the most popular power supply voltage options being 12V or 24V DC, it's important to remember that (most) individual LEDs are actually 3V DC devices. It is through configuring the LEDs in a parallel vs series combination.that the voltage of an LED system can be made to match a particular power supply voltage.
Typically, a 12V LED strip is configured with 3 LEDs in series per string. At 3V each, the total LED voltage is only 9V, or about 75% of the total voltage. The remaining voltage is dissipated by a current limiting resistor. Since the resistor does not contribute to illumination, we can conclude that in a 12V LED strip, approximately 25% of the electrical energy is dissipated as waste heat.
In a 24V LED system, there is typically enough voltage overhead to allow for 7 LEDs in series per string. At 3V each, the total LED voltage is 21V, or about 88% of the 24V input. In this situation, less than 13% of the voltage energy is wasted as heat energy.
In short, a 24V LED system can actually reduce inherent electrical design inefficiencies by more than 50%.