Extensions for LED Strips (Nanoleaf): Impact on Controller/Power Supply

Thread Starter

ljmccon

Joined Nov 27, 2015
35
Hi, all! I just purchased a Nanoleaf Essentials Lightstrip Starter Kit, which includes a 2M RGBWW light strip, controller, and 30W (15V x 2A) power supply.

The specs state that the strip uses 23W for its 2M.

They also sell 1M extensions for the strip (which you'll see at the above link) and state that you can add up to 8 of these 1M extensions to your starter strip -- which means you'll ultimately end up with a 10M strip. If these strips consume 23W for every 2M, that means the 10M strip would be consuming a total of 115W.

But that's what has me confused: They expect you to just attach all these extensions end to end, and use the original controller/power supply that came with the starter kit. How is that possible? I understand that a 30W power supply is fine for a 2M strip that consumes 23W... but how is it possible for that same power supply to to be okay for a 10M strip consuming 115W? (And what about the controller... can it possibly handle that kind of load?)

This question is killing me, and Nanoleaf support is no help, so hoping you can help me understand!
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
13,797
The fact that a number of devices can be connected does not mean that they will work with that power supply.
This is a case of false impression by omission. Probably intentional, possibly not.
 

MrSalts

Joined Apr 2, 2020
2,619
Well, I would say, don't buy a poorly documented product or your heart will be broken. Find something higher quality - even if it is more expensive.
 

Thread Starter

ljmccon

Joined Nov 27, 2015
35
The fact that a number of devices can be connected does not mean that they will work with that power supply.
This is a case of false impression by omission. Probably intentional, possibly not.
I suppose that's true, but there's no omission happening here. Here's a direct quote from their "tech support":

Thanks for reaching out. You can connect eight 1-meter extensions onto your original 2-meter Lightstrip for a total of nine Lightstrips and a max length of 10 meters. This should not affect or have an issue with power even if the total wattage of 10M is 115. Sorry for the confusion on the website.
So they're definitely explicitly telling folks to use the power supply that came with their starter kit. And if you check Amazon for the extensions, there are over 200 reviews and nary a one from someone disgruntled that hooking the extension up to their starter kit didn't work. That's why my spidey senses are tingling that I'm missing something, here. Nanoleaf doesn't sell beefier power supplies to accommodate this product... yet it's apparently working for a lot of people.

Well, I would say, don't buy a poorly documented product or your heart will be broken. Find something higher quality - even if it is more expensive.
I read ya loud and clear. The cost isn't really a concern to me. What drew me to this product is it's the only RGBWW strip I could find with a Homekit (and Thread) compatible controller. In fact, the impetus to me digging into this power-supply issue is that I was considering discarding everything from the starter kit except the controller -- and then using that controller along with this strip and a power supply to match.

But since I didn't know what the controller (or its wiring) could handle, I wanted to explore the max load Nanoleaf allowed. But since they're apparently advocating using a 30W power supply with up to 115W of lighting, I'm no closer to determining if I can use their controller with another strip/power supply.

Any thoughts on how I might drill down on that?
 
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Thread Starter

ljmccon

Joined Nov 27, 2015
35
Have you tried it yet to see what happens?
You mean actually interact with the real world? Perish the thought!

In all seriousness: I don't know exactly what I'm doing or getting myself into. So if I go out and spend a bunch of money on this, start cutting strips and soldering things together, and test it... I'm already in a bunch of time and money here if it fails. And if it does fail, will that be apparent immediately? Or will it seemingly be okay, leading me to then take the time to install it (which, just trust me, will be some significant effort) only to see it melt down two weeks later?

If I simply understood what I had in my hands right now, it might clue me in to whether this is likely to work and therefore worth the effort. It's hard to make a decision when I don't know what I have.
 

DickCappels

Joined Aug 21, 2008
9,513
If the specifications published for the power supply and led strips are to be believed, you need more current or fewer LEDs. I would start there.

Modern LEDs (well, white ones anyway) have about 10x the luminous efficacy as incandescent lamps. 115 watts, even for other than white is a of a lot of light. What is the purpose of the LEDs? General lighting, decorative lighting...? You might be able to lower the voltage a little bit and reduce the current.

If the power supply is any good, it will be protected from overload. If it isn't...well, you weren't going to be able to use it anyway.
 

Thread Starter

ljmccon

Joined Nov 27, 2015
35
I think maybe I've buried the lede, here... rather than try to get my specific burning questions answered, I may be better to just tell you exactly what I'm trying to do.

Objective: I'd like to recess an aluminum LED channel into the top rail of my headboard, and put an LED strip in there so that I have light to read in bed. The channel will be 2M long.

Requirements:
  1. Controller must be Homekit compatible
  2. I'd prefer RGBWW strips
  3. I want it to be as bright as possible
  4. I'd like to be able to individually control the light on each side of the bed, so I'll be using two 1M LED strips, each with its own controller

What I've already tried: I purchased a couple of Nanoleaf Essentials Lightstrip Starter Kits. Those strips can be cut down, but only every 13" or so, which is a bit of a challenge. Also, they're reasonably bright, but they could be brighter. And finally, the stock wiring is not conducive to my setup, so I'm going to have to break out the soldering iron and modify it regardless, which makes we wonder why I don't just dump everything but the controller and get a better RGBWW string.

Open questions:
  1. Even 1M of this better RGBWW string will consume slightly more power than the stock Nanoleaf power supply is rated to handle. I can get a different power supply of course, but how do I know if the controller can take the additional current? (I was trying to get at the answer to this question with my hypothetical scenario above... namely by trying to understand the impact of adding 8 extensions to the starter strip, as Nanoleaf endorses.) And how do I know the Nanoleaf power supply isn't already perfectly capable of handling the additional current of my upgraded strip? If Nanoleaf says it can handle 10M of their strip, it certainly should be able to handle 1M of the better strip that I'll use.
  2. Agree that I could bite the bullet and test this... but how do we define a successful test? Let's say I wire the better string up to the Nanoleaf controller with a beefier power supply... what should I be looking for? If it turns on, is that a successful test? Or do I need to turn it on for several hours to make sure it doesn't melt down? In other words, what are the key things I should be looking for to determine that this is a safe, long-lasting implementation?
 

BobTPH

Joined Jun 5, 2013
6,080
From the illustration, it looks like there are 7 groups of 5 LEDs in series on each meter.

If the P.S. is 15V, 23W would be 219mA per LED series. That is way too much. I think the 23W is for 10m of strip. That would solve the mystery.

I am using other RGB LED strips, and they take about 35W for 10m, so again, 230W would be a bit on the high side.
 

Thread Starter

ljmccon

Joined Nov 27, 2015
35
From the illustration, it looks like there are 7 groups of 5 LEDs in series on each meter....
There are actually 21 groups per meter. But you might be on to something, here. I was also discussing this in a Nanoleaf forum on Reddit, and here was one of the responses I got:

The strip dims if you extend it past a certain point. Idk what it is for the Nanoleaf one, but for typical strips like this it’s ~1-2m gives full light output, anything past that just spreads the PSU’s max current output across a larger area.

This is super common with these consumer extendable LED strips, btw. I honestly don’t know of a smart lighting vendor who sells a strip that won’t be PSU limited at 10M.

Although 10M at thermal/resistance limit on all LEDs would be a huge light output. That’s something akin to 10-15 100W incandescent bulbs.
Is this possible? If so, what part of the circuit is responsible for this magic? This looks like just a dumb transformer, and I always thought overloading these things wasn't good. i.e. Overloading it meant either meltdown (for a cheap transformer) or just that it wouldn't work (for a higher quality transformer).
 

BobTPH

Joined Jun 5, 2013
6,080
On second thought, my strips are 36W per 5m, not 10. So, 30 W for 10m sounds low, and 23W for 1m sounds high. My strips were advertised as 90W per 5m, but they do not come close to using that. The 3 colors in each chip are limited by the chip to about 10mA total. You can get get 10 mA of red, green or blue, but only 3.3mA each for white. This is done to control the heat.

The reason the lights get dimmer when they are strung together is the resistance of the wiring in the strips. This is a big problem for 5V ones because they need so much current, less so for 15V strips.
 
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