DIY LED Wire?
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Old 06-10-2014, 01:44 PM   #1
newbieplanter
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DIY LED Wire?


Trying to figure out whats the best wire size/gauge 20 or 22awg. to use to link leds together, an whats a good/best dimmer switch to use?

Last edited by newbieplanter; 06-10-2014 at 02:01 PM.. Reason: Fix, added
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Old 06-10-2014, 02:23 PM   #2
PlantedRich
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Figure how much current is to run through the wire at that point and then go to one of the online charts to size the wire. It will depend on how many LEDs are being fed by that section of wire. Be sure to allow a bit extra for safety. Larger is far better than small but don't need to go crazy to the point of being awkward to work.
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Old 06-10-2014, 03:40 PM   #3
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If your LEDs will be remote to your drivers by more than a couple of feet, I would use 18-20AWG wire. Speaker wire is typically 18AWG and ultra cheap. For LED to LED connections, I like to use 24AWG solid wire. If there is a DC power supply in the mix, then I run 18AWG from it to the drivers.

By 'dimmer switch', do you mean potentiometer? It needs to be whatever your driver requires.
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Old 06-10-2014, 04:34 PM   #4
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Using wire out of cat5(24ga) OR cat6 for LED to LED is fine. Cat6 wire is usually a wee bit "thicker" (23ga??)

Multiple conductor (18ga) thermostat wire for LED's to power...

Personally I use 18GA between LED's (since I have extra from the thermostat wire) BUT it is stiff and a bit of a PIA... and really unnecessary..

Generally good for runs shorter than 8ft
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Old 06-10-2014, 04:56 PM   #5
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FYI. The number of LEDs is really not important. The important point is the current.

NEC does not rate anything beneath 18 AWG, but most wire manufacturers will rate their wire. I have seen manufacturers spec 5A for 22AWG, so you should be fine using 22 or 23 AWG.
http://wiki.xtronics.com/index.php/Wire-Gauge_Ampacity
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Old 06-10-2014, 05:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pucksr View Post
FYI. The number of LEDs is really not important. The important point is the current.

NEC does not rate anything beneath 18 AWG, but most wire manufacturers will rate their wire. I have seen manufacturers spec 5A for 22AWG, so you should be fine using 22 or 23 AWG.
http://wiki.xtronics.com/index.php/Wire-Gauge_Ampacity

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Old 06-11-2014, 04:01 PM   #7
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The "best" wire is the type and size that carries the maximum current without excessive voltage loss or heating, and is easiest to work with. The thinner the wire (higher the gauge number) the harder it is to work with once you get smaller than around 20 gauge. I just get a spool of hook up wire from Radio Shack and use it.
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Old 06-11-2014, 04:50 PM   #8
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Hoppy, just to clarify. Anything larger than 22 AWG will suffice from a current and voltage perspective. Anything larger than 16 is overkill and will be messy. A quick reading of your post implies bigger is better.

I would also suggest that stranded is ideal for this application.

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Old 06-11-2014, 05:28 PM   #9
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For fun and games.. the AWG specs are extremely conservative..
http://www.powerstream.com/Wire_Size.htm

he following chart is a guideline of ampacity or copper wire current carrying capacity following the Handbook of Electronic Tables and Formulas for American Wire Gauge. As you might guess, the rated ampacities are just a rule of thumb. In careful engineering the voltage drop, insulation temperature limit, thickness, thermal conductivity, and air convection and temperature should all be taken into account. The Maximum Amps for Power Transmission uses the 700 circular mils per amp rule, which is very very conservative. The Maximum Amps for Chassis Wiring is also a conservative rating, but is meant for wiring in air, and not in a bundle. For short lengths of wire, such as is used in battery packs you should trade off the resistance and load with size, weight, and flexibility. NOTE: For installations that need to conform to the National Electrical Code, you must use their guidelines. Contact your local electrician to find out what is legal!
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Old 06-11-2014, 10:32 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pucksr View Post
Hoppy, just to clarify. Anything larger than 22 AWG will suffice from a current and voltage perspective. Anything larger than 16 is overkill and will be messy. A quick reading of your post implies bigger is better.

I would also suggest that stranded is ideal for this application.

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Bigger really is better if it is significantly easier for you to work with. There is no disadvantage to using bigger wire unless you are a strong believer in never wasting a valuable material like copper. Obviously 12 AWG wire would be extremely difficult to work with for the tiny solder pads on LEDs, so there is a practical limit on how big the wire can be, too.
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