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The big deal with LED lighting is that when you install LED power supplies with an LED light source such as LED strip lighting, that replaces incandescent lighting and produces the same total lumens of light, your new lighting system will consume less electricity. A lot less. Most people interested in LED lighting understand this fact. But when it comes to actually choosing which LED components to purchase in order to install an LED lighting system, selecting the right LED power supply for the desired lighting scheme and assuring you have the necessary drivers and extensions can become more complicated for those who are unfamiliar with the science of electricity and lighting.

First, Elemental LED’s team of LED experts is always available to answer questions, explain anything that a customer might find confusing, and walk them through the process. But for those who want to figure it out beforehand, the following basics of electricity and 12V LED power restrictions should help clear things up. LED lights are remarkable because they produce the lumens, or volume of light, equivalent to an incandescent bulb that consumes several times as many watts.

Watts are a measure of power. A popular metaphor to explain the important terminology of electricity, amps, ohms, volts, and watts, is water flowing through a hose, pushing water against an old fashioned water wheel. The amount of power generated by the water pushing the wheel is equivalent to wattage. The amount of water pressure applied from the tank where the water is stored is like the voltage, and the speed that the water flows through the hose is akin to amps. Ohms measure resistance, which is caused by how inefficient the wires are at conducting electricity, similar in the metaphor to the size of the hose and the resistance this causes against the flow of water. These are obviously all related. More “water pressure,” volts, or a “larger hose,” fewer ohms, or a “faster flow of water,” more amps, all result in more watts.

LED lights require far fewer watts of electricity from their 12V LED power supply to create the same amount of light; for example a natural white, high density LED strip light consumes 2.9 watts per foot, and produces 156 lumens per foot. A 40 watt white incandescent bulb produces about 500 lumens of light. Four feet of LED strip light will produce slightly more light, and consume less than 12 watts, or less than 1/3 the total amount of electricity of the incandescent bulb.

LED power supplies include 12V adapters that connect directly to an electrical outlet and 12V drivers that are hardwired into a building’s electrical system. They are available in various watt capacities, from 20 watts to 600 watts. The purpose of this range is that the power supply’s watt capacity must be greater than the total wattage consumption of the lights attached to it. LED lights must always be connected to a power supply that matches its voltage. Almost all LEDs are 12V, and thus must be connected to a 12V power supply and never plugged directly into an outlet or 120V power source.

Amps and ohms are important conceptually but don’t factor into purchase decisions. Ensure that the voltage and watt specifications of the LED power supply are compatible with the outlet, which is especially important in countries outside the United States where they have different standard currents, and be sure your driver puts out enough watts for the lights, and your LED lighting system will be ready to install.