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Recommended usage of AllPixel and PowerTap for projects with >5A
#1
Question 
Hey there,
I've been researching stuff for my next LED project. I'd like to make a rectangular backlight with Neopixel LED strips, mounted on the edge of a wooden wall panel. This rectangle will be approx. 2m wide and 1.3m high. My idea is to make 4 strips for each side of the rectangle, with a total length of 6.6 meters. One strip goes in the AllPixel and the rest of the strips will be connected via PowerTaps.

The power requirement would be something around 11-12A @ full white. I think, I will use orange or yellow most of the time. So, a 12A power supply should do it. The alternative is a more industrial-like power supply with 20A.

The PowerTaps also come in handy for injecting power underway. I guess I won't be able to power the whole strip (all 6.6m) with a single power connection. But what's bugging me is the specs for the AllPixel, which say:

The AllPixel is designed to safely handle up to 5A on this connection.

So what does this mean? Connecting a 12A to it alone will destroy it or only until more than 5A are pulled out of it? My knowledge of electronics is rather limited. What does the PowerTap safely handle?
Can I safely use a 12A power supply with the AllPixel/PowerTap but splitting up its output into several 5V lines and connect them at the AP and each PowerTap?

Adam wrote in another thread here, that LED strips should be powered externally if they need more than 5A. Meaning, not to attach the 5V line to the AllPixel. Would that also mean, not attaching power directly to the PowerTap and use the PowerTap only as a bridge for the LED data? I had the impression, that the PowerTap is exactly designed for this case: power LED setups with 5 and more amps.

I hope, someone could help me here and clear things up a little bit. Much appreciated.

Andreas
#2
Hi Andreas,

Sorry for the confusion. Basically, we mean that you shouldn't have more than 5A go through the AllPixel or the PowerTap. But connecting a 12A supply to that doesn't mean that 12A is going through it... just capable of it. But there's ways around it.

First, I recommend a supply like this if you need more than 10A. They are cheap and work well. Only downside is that you have to install your own power cord, which means dealing with house voltage... so be careful!
http://www.amazon.com/Switching-Power-Supply-Strip-176-242VAC/dp/B00EDNKS70/

You absolutely can use multiple supplies, one per PowerTap/AllPixel, but sometimes one big one is easier. If you do it that way, just wire in multiple outputs to the supply and then connect one to each PowerTap/AllPixel. The PowerTaps pass ground through but only connects to power on the input side. The strip will only draw as much as it needs per section. You can generally calculate the max current draw as 60mA times the number of pixels.

I hope that helps make more sense. Let me know if you have any other questions.
#3
Hi Adam,

thanks for the explanation. That makes things much clearer.
You are right, handling house voltage (240V at my location) can be really dangerous, if you don't be careful. A single but powerful supply might be easer, but if you ask me, I will probably use multiple power supplies at lower currents, e.g. 4A. That will be a bit more comfortable to work with. ;-)

Thanks,
Andreas


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