12 Volt LED Rope Light Review
Features, Installation, And Typical Specification Values

A 12 Volt LED rope light emits the crispest light in the rope light family and gives off practically no heat. When planning for the job, I find that going through these few points helps to be in the know for selecting the right one. Typical questions answered.


Voltage, Current, Heat Output
Other features

Where to use it, Cutting, Controller Selection, Installation Guide
Tool, Sundries, Accessories Tips here.

Typical Specifications

Typical Q & A
Will I save on power ... >>
Select AC or DC ... >>

More LED Faq here

Voltage and Current Used
The 12 v type falls in the low voltage category and shares features with the 24v type.

Current used is either AC (current with alternating  direction oscillating between poles) OR, DC (direct one directional current.)

Heat Output
A 12 Volt LED rope light emits practically no heat - one of the beauties of low voltage LED ropes.

Other Features
These include color, fading over time, packaging, work life, and most energy efficient working mode. These are shared among all LED rope lights.
I review them here.

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Tools Guide, Sundries and More Accessories Tips

Where to use it
A 12 Volt LED Rope light is mainly used for accenting a place or an object.
Popular for decorating Cars, Boats or Recreational Vehicles (RV.)
As an indirect or complementary decoration light they are popular as kitchen or bathroom cove lighting (kitchen, bathroom or hallway), as under-bench lighting and - of course - as Christmas lights.

I review more rope lighting usage tips on here.

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Spools are usually longer then the maximum working size so you WILL need to cut the spool.

Cutting is fun and easy, but ALWAYS count to cutting units. Cut unit size is usually dependent the color of your rope light and the exact voltage. Typical unit lengths are:
  • Yellow, Red, Orange LED: every 6" (12 Volt); 12" (24 Volt)
  • Blue, Green and White LED: every 3" (12 Volt); 6" (24 Volt)
Before deciding on the controller, determine what pattern you want. Then if you want chasing, fading etc. grab the appropriate controller.

Special Accessory
If you plan to run 12 volt LED AC on a 12 volt transformer - adaptor -, then you need to have a power cord that has a converter in line. (This in effect is what prevents your LED from flickering.)

Installation is very straighforward, and rarely requires a licensed electrician - certainly not a specialist. My tips above will give you a good headstart. And the link below takes you to a more comprehensive guide. Although it details usage for a boat, you will find a lot of tips apply to your job just the same. It might even help you come up with new ideas of your own.

Tool Guide, Sundries and More Accessories Tips here.

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Typical Specifications

As you will see, values are dependent on the color of the LED units (and to a lesser extent the exact voltage used) in your rope.

Maximum Spool lenght
Varies, about 150' (feet) or 45m. But please note, that the maximum working size is LESS, only a portion of it.

Maximum working size
About 30' or 9m.
I Recommend you don't make longer single stretches than that.

Wattage used by a typical 12 Volt LED rope light for every foot is between  0.47 and 0.53 Watt (W/ft) as follows.
  • Yellow, Red, Orange: 0.48 W/ft
  • Blue, Green and White: 0.84 W/ft
LED unit (often called bulb) spacing: typically 1" (inch)

Amperage Draw per foot (amps/ft): 0.040 amps/ft (12V) 0.020 amps/ft (24V.) Note: Count about 50% more for blue, green or white LED.

This is the shape you'll get when you cut thru your rope light.
Because most rope light profiles are standard I review them under general "Shapes and Components."

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Typical Questions Answered

Q. Will I save on using a 12 Volt LED rope light (low voltage) instead of my high voltage conventional rope?
Yes. Because the current draw is about 7 Times Less, you WILL save money on electricity. But the most efficient way to run it is from your low voltage battery, not via transformer from the mains. Reason? Heat loss on the transformer is sucking away power.

Q. 12 Volt LED Rope Light - Ok, I got it, it's low voltage. But which one to choose, AC or DC ... What's the difference and what are they anyway?
A. Too many quiestions at once, but here I try to anwer them ALL. 12 LED ropes come either AC or DC. Among others it is the power cord that reveals the difference. A DC type uses a straight power cord, which will connect to a battery or 12 V DC (Direct Current) source. You can not plug in an AC LED without a Converter.

Find answers to other commonly asked questions in my LED Faq.

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