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Thread: 5v vs. 12v Pixels

  1. #1
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    Default 5v vs. 12v Pixels

    Hey Everyone, I'm just getting into this game and feel like there's sooo much to learn but I'm loving learning all of it! Some of the initial decisions that I made were to make wiring and setup easier, or so I thought hah.

    I'm starting this year with at least a roof line, 245 pixels, 4 arches (tbd pixels), 4 mini trees with 140 pixels each and maybe a few other props or window outlines but I don't want to get too far ahead of myself just yet. I was originally thinking of 12v pixels to avoid power injection, only to later find out that I would need to inject every ~100 pixels anyway... so okay I want to do this anyway so I'll work it out hah.

    I was planning on continuing with 12v nodes for everything and after much research I purchased a Kulp K8-PB for the price and 8 outputs which seemed the best bang for the buck giving me room to expand. Yesterday I was watching Bill Porters presentation from VCS 2020 where he used 5v pixels for all his props and in doing so was able to better utilize the PSU's capacity and drive more props even with power injecting. So I was then sold on doing 12v for the roofline to avoid extra PI there, but switch most of my props to 5v and deign them with PI as Bill did. Then I realized K8-PB only supports one voltage, so then I would have to purchase an expansion board and another PSU. Realizing that I would need to purchase more than 1 PSU to power my current plans anyway adding a ~$20 smart receiver and a CG-1500 to the mix wasn't too bad.

    However when looking at most of the common pixel suppliers here, most of them do not sell 5v pixels or they would be special order which makes me believe that 5v might not be the way to go? If that's the case I'll just end up with a few more PSU's than originally intended but and injecting lines with alternate PSU's along the string. But I wanted to see what most of you do... do you special order 5v pixels and wait 4-8 weeks for some orders then do lots of PI or do you order the 12v which seems to be the main option that is readily available at all suppliers and have a higher number of PSU's powering your displays?

    Thanks in advance for your help!
    -Russ

  2. #2
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    Default Re: 5v vs. 12v Pixels

    Hi, and welcome to the forum. IMO, you are going to have to inject power whichever voltage you choose. Overall, 12v requires less injection points than 5v. You will find proponents on both sides of the equation. I have made it a point to only use 1 voltage on my Pixels (12v) so the option of moving props is more convenient. It also lowers the amount of extra parts I might need to replace a power supply or a bad pixel. Last I checked, both 5v and 12v pixel availability was about the same (although I have not checked in the last couple of weeks). I'm sure others will chime in with their thoughts. Best of luch whichever way you choose.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: 5v vs. 12v Pixels

    If you've already invested in 12V pixels, just stay with that.
    Otherwise, the other upside with 5v pixels is they are often less expensive.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: 5v vs. 12v Pixels

    From what I saw, just looking quick, the 5v are only about $1.50 less per string which given the need to PI more often I would think that savings get's negated real quick. I'm leaning toward staying with 12v just for that reason but wanted to see what you all did.

    Thanks so far!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: 5v vs. 12v Pixels

    Quote Originally Posted by rsegreto View Post
    From what I saw, just looking quick, the 5v are only about $1.50 less per string which given the need to PI more often I would think that savings get's negated real quick. I'm leaning toward staying with 12v just for that reason but wanted to see what you all did.

    Thanks so far!
    5v = 0.3w / pixel. 12v resistor = 0.72W / pixel. The savings is in 1/2 the power usage. That is where my savings matter. 6 hours on time per day for 60 days times 10000 pixels adds up.


    2020 Full sized show reworked for the new location. Only adding (famous last words) 13 RBLs that I finally got converted to using pixels
    2019 - Just moved into a new home (yet another change of plans). Will be dim but not dark. Too much to do at the new place to leave time for a show. Dim show (3000 pixels) had regular visits most nights.
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyX...ttrsZNARkUce0Q

  6. #6
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    Default Re: 5v vs. 12v Pixels

    I mainly use 5V pixels, with just a couple of props 12V. I like to use 5V pixels where they are all close together (arches, Megatree, etc). The other cost you need to consider is that I can run almost twice as many pixels from a single 5V PS than I can with 12V. I have started to design my layout so my PS is located at my prop and just running Data and V- from my controller, doing it this way eliminates the issue of what voltage I have the controller set for and lets me have short runs for Power Injection. I am in the minority in my choice of pixel voltage, but I am extremely happy with my decision. I have NEVER had an issue purchasing 5V pixels from any of the pixel vendors recommended on these forums.

    HTH
    2012 - 1st year 64 Channels - 7500 LED lights - 5 sequences
    2013 - 128 Channels - 10,000 LED lights - 7 sequences (2 New)
    2014 - 201 Channels - upgrading 8 Arches to dumb RGB - 8+ sequences (1+ New)
    2015 - 240 Channels + 8 Universes - sequences TBD
    2016 - No Display
    2017 - Back in the Game - 240 Renard Channels + 12 Universes
    2018 - 256 Renard and 9 Falcon Outputs of Pixels - 16 sequences shown over 2 nights
    2019 - 256 Renard and 9 Falcon Outputs of Pixels - 16 sequences shown over 2 nights
    2020 - Emergency Conversion to Falcon F48 with limited wireless

  7. #7
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    Default Re: 5v vs. 12v Pixels

    You can easily run 245 pixels at 35 to 40% without power injection. I run 3 mini trees, 300 pixels total at 35% with no power injection and no issues.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: 5v vs. 12v Pixels

    I avoid counting on brightness reduction to make my design work. I do the same as HTH, PSUs as close to the props as possible. Where I have to have long runs I use 12v or 24v PSUs with buck converters at the injection points to drop the voltage to 5v. Average full brightness power in this configuration is 0.4W per pixel at full white.


    2020 Full sized show reworked for the new location. Only adding (famous last words) 13 RBLs that I finally got converted to using pixels
    2019 - Just moved into a new home (yet another change of plans). Will be dim but not dark. Too much to do at the new place to leave time for a show. Dim show (3000 pixels) had regular visits most nights.
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyX...ttrsZNARkUce0Q

  9. #9
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    Default Re: 5v vs. 12v Pixels

    Quote Originally Posted by dim bulb View Post
    You can easily run 245 pixels at 35 to 40% without power injection. I run 3 mini trees, 300 pixels total at 35% with no power injection and no issues.
    So if almost no one runs their pixels at 100% why do we design our displays with power injection assuming we will run at 100? From what Iíve read itís not please to the viewer when viewing them at 100 anyway.

    Iíve heard that what if thereís a malfunction and your controller goes to 100 while your sleeping designing as such could save you from fire. But at that point wouldnít the fuse blow and cut power?

    Two other questions: 1. if running 5v allows you to have a lot more pixels per PSU why do we keep them so close to the props? Just to have shorter runs? It seems you would have a lot other PSUís in that scenario too no? Maybe not at capacity but still a lot none the less.

    I guess Iím just nervous about injecting with a separate PSU and having to be conscious of the right V+ so I could see the appeal of having more pixels powered by a single PSU being an advantage there, but then again youíre running that much more wire for PI.


    2. What do you do to inject arches? I assume theyíre more than 50 pixels each, but Iíve never seen or counted the strips inside to confirm thatís just my assumption. I guess you just inject at the end and beginning of each arch?

    Sorry for rambling, I feel like I over analyze everything here to make sure Iím setting myself up as efficient as possible.

    Thanks,
    -Russ


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  10. #10
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    Default Re: 5v vs. 12v Pixels

    With 245 pixels on your roofline, you can put power at the beginning and end of the string and run 100%. You don’t have to inject every 100 pixels. Power runs both directions from an injection point so you would do that every 200 pixels. I have a run of 810 pixels injected that way and I can run them at 100% all white. I have both 5v and 12v but would gladly swap out the 5v if someone wanted to trade. 5v will cost more in wire which is also heavy, has to be stored, layed down and picked up every year.

    http://spikerlights.com/calcpower.aspx

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