Our 12mm LED pixels and digital RGB flex strips all operate on 5 Volts. When working at one’s desk or workbench, this is easily supplied with a 5 volt wall adapter, or you might have a bench power supply.
So how do we get our project off the workbench and out into the world?
Here’s how to use our addressable LED strips and pixels for portable projects — bicycles, costumes and fashion accessories — using readily-available AA cells. This is much easier and less expensive to start with than using fancy lithium-polymer batteries and voltage converters.
36mm LED pixels and “analog” LED flex strips require 12 Volts and are not covered here — this tutorial is strictly for 5V LED products.
The recommended 5 Volts is a “nominal” rating…we actually have a little bit of wiggle room here. About 10% above or below this figure works fine. You can see this by measuring the output of a wall adapter with a voltmeter: due to manufacturing variance, the actual output could be anywhere in this range. So anything from about 4.5 to 5.5 Volts is safe for these LEDs and 6V is the 'rated absolute maximum'. Any higher and they’ll burn out quickly. Any less and the colors will appear muddy and brown.
This guide was first published on Jul 29, 2012. It was last updated on Jul 29, 2012.
This page (Overview) was last updated on Oct 25, 2020.