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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
HI,
My project involves installing under-cabinet lights. Wiring is there and waiting.

Have any of you seen differences, gains, sacrifices by using 12v or 24v tape lights.... or Triac vs Magnetic dimmers?

Have you had any difficulty with dimmer switches with either? (not looking for Zwave or wifi stuff... just dimmers)


I was thinking of 24 V because it is supposed to have better consistency with the voltages and brightness...
I would like to try the tape lights in the picture attached: ( OB LED Strip Light, DC 24V CRI 90 LED) and skip the diffuser channels.
My main goal is to make the tile I installed pop with color which means higher CRI warm lighting, and want consistent lighting.
I also cannot afford to do trial and error and am not sure if I am asking all the right questions.

654722


Materials:
Dimmer switch
driver,
@ 25' of low voltage wire tot.
@ 2.6m of tape lights tot.

Runs:
1) Dimmer switch to Driver directly above cabinet

2) Driver to below cabinet for 30" of light

3) Driver to over ceiling, to below cabinet for 3 cabinets and 1 span of cable over microwave.


24V have only found magnetic drivers for 24V and supposedly the selection for compatible dimmer switches is more limited? Especially if you want custom colors and to match the other switches in a 4 gang.

12 V offers a huge variety of LED tape lights where there are a lot of diodes per inch... These have more triac and magnetic driver options that I have found
 

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12V vs 24V is all about voltage drop. Getting 1/4 the voltage drop in exchange for harder to find lights and power supplies. That means voltage drop both within the strip and in hookup wiring. You can defeat voltage drop in the strip by feeding it at both ends, or keeping segments under 8’ or so.

Having a 120V dimmer drive an LED power supply isn’t going to work, unless the power supply is specifically made to dim low voltage LEDs from a triac dimmer. A normal power supply will treat attempts to dim as "dirty power" and will try to work at full power anyway.

The best way to dim LEDs is on the DC side, with PWM dimming.
 

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I think 24 volts is better as it is 1/2 the amps.
I like using a power supply with 0-10v dimming. Of course the dimmer is costly.
 

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soaker tub and backsplash, kitchen backsplash, Var fixes around the house.
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Having a 120V dimmer drive an LED power supply isn’t going to work, unless the power supply is specifically made to dim low voltage LEDs from a triac dimmer. A normal power supply will treat attempts to dim as "dirty power" and will try to work at full power anyway.

The best way to dim LEDs is on the DC side, with PWM dimming.
We want the dimmer in the switch on the wall, with all the switches... 4 gang. Lutron makes dimmer switches that work with the magnetic driver. Not sure about Eaton... which has the best color switches and plates for our tile. If it boils down to eaton, we may have to go with 12V as i have yet to find a triac 24V driver.
Hitlights sent me a sheet of different dimmer switches that work well with their magnetic drivers. I have attached it.
 

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Never seen that combo dimmer driver before.
Wierd how a driver can be that compact when most drivers alone are very large. If 1 part fails, you have to but the entire thing.
 

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soaker tub and backsplash, kitchen backsplash, Var fixes around the house.
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Dang, these things are not cheap!

Not sure I like that. bet it gets warm...

Never seen that combo dimmer driver before.
Wierd how a driver can be that compact when most drivers alone are very large. If 1 part fails, you have to but the entire thing.

So after talking with Lutron... it looks like I may totally go a different route and use an ELV (reverse Phase) Driver instead of MLV....
and the MA-Pro-MN programmable dimmer switch, which they claim is a better route?



Original.

Here are the components, hope it is allowed, for what I was thinking

My new direction after finding out 24V would be more consistent

Dimmable Driver 60W (2.5A), Magnetic, 110V AC-24V DC ... Compatible w/Lutron & Leviton

https://www.amazon.com/Dimmable-Magnetic-Transformer-Voltage-Compatible/dp/B073FT7NTZ

654819


and the specific lights I was interested in: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08KG1LKZ4

The dimmer switches are expensive. Especially if custom colors.



However I did just find thisL ABI 24V 120W Power Supply Driver TRIAC Dimmable Transformer for LED Flexible Strip Light (Works with Standard Wall Dimmers) 24V triac
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0743JB1LQ

I have learned that the ratings are not worth crap. The first review said:
"The ABI dimmable driver works as described, but runs very hot and has a slight buzz. If you're looking to dim with a TRIAC style dimmer, I suggest spending a little more money and getting a magnetic style dimmable driver (I replaced this ABI with model M100L24DCAR). The dimming on the ABI driver was very sensitive on the low end and much less so at the highest light output (imagine a logarithmic curve). With my new magnetic transformer, the dimming is linear and smooth. The ABI driver had a little bit of flicker at the lowest dimming settings (using a Lutron CL Dimmer), but the switch's fine tune adjustment was able to provide a flicker-free setting that was adequate. The ABI driver is good for the price point, but did not work for my kitchen under cabinet lights. "

Seems like every route gets more and more confusing.
 

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Now to make it even more confusing, I have read that the driver wattage needs to be close to the light's wattage, not way bigger. A typical tape is apx. 4.5 watts per foot.
Also, and this is important, you need to put the tape in a channel wIth a cover to hold it up if mounted facing down horizontally. The adhesive backing will not last over a month.
I have been there.
 

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We want the dimmer in the switch on the wall, with all the switches... 4 gang. Lutron makes dimmer switches that work with the magnetic driver. Not sure about Eaton... which has the best color switches and plates for our tile. If it boils down to eaton, we may have to go with 12V as i have yet to find a triac 24V driver.
Careful, after being told it doesn't work you start picking out colors. That's not the best approach to solving problems. The tech does what it does, not what you want.

Anyway, those are all triac dimmers, which was a cheap broken hack the day it was invented. Performance is mediocre even with the incandescents it was designed for; with new tech, it doesn't get better.

Here are the components, hope it is allowed, for what I was thinking

My new direction after finding out 24V would be more consistent

Dimmable Driver 60W (2.5A), Magnetic, 110V AC-24V DC ... Compatible w/Lutron & Leviton
Very good procurement -- while Amazon is an almost guaranteed road to cheap junk, this particular Hitlights unit is both sold by Amazon.com (and not one of the generally wretched Marketplace sellers), and also has a proper ETL listing mark with a file number. I am concerned that it may not be technically compatible with your lights, but Hitlights is one of the more reputable LED suppliers out there, so if they say it's OK, then, well they should stand behind it.

I'm used to doing the dimming on the low voltage side, where you do PWM... and since it's low voltage you have the freedom to use cheapies, and dimmers start at $5-ish. DC (PWM) dimmers perform the way dimmers are supposed to... and are basically the same tech as RGB controllers - just 1 channel instead of 3. I am surprised nobody makes a 12V/24V PWM dimmer that doesn't have a remote capable of being installed at a switch location.


You don't need 24V if you are careful about wire selection on the DC side and double-feed strips over 8'.


have learned that the ratings are not worth crap.
Amazon reviews are generally complete rubbish. At best they are written by rank amateurs, at worst they're faked. (not a big problem with "Sold by Amazon" items). Amazon is fighting a hopeless war against the brushers, and Amazon doesn't even really have financial incentive to win.

What matters is a competent manufacturer and those UL/CSA/ETL listings.



Now to make it even more confusing, I have read that the driver wattage needs to be close to the light's wattage, not way bigger. A typical tape is apx. 4.5 watts per foot.
This type of LED strip takes (normal) constant-voltage power supplies of ANY type that produce the requisite 12-14 or 24-28 volts (allowing for battery charge float voltage): bench supply, wall-wart, hacked PC power supply, battery charger, solar charge controller output, anything goes.

They don't require any particular type of power supply, although if marketers want to sell them that way, they can have fun with that. It's a very poor power supply that can't function at any amperage between 0 and its rating. (or 0 and 33% of its rating if cheap Chinese lol).

There is no "typical tape" anymore, there are so many variations. You have to consult the documentation. I used to rule-of-thumb 24W per 5m (16') per channel for typical 300-LED (60 per metre) strips, which is 1.5W per foot mono, or 4.5W per foot RGB. But that assumes too much.
 

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soaker tub and backsplash, kitchen backsplash, Var fixes around the house.
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Now to make it even more confusing, I have read that the driver wattage needs to be close to the light's wattage, not way bigger. A typical tape is apx. 4.5 watts per foot.
Also, and this is important, you need to put the tape in a channel wIth a cover to hold it up if mounted facing down horizontally. The adhesive backing will not last over a month.
I have been there.
  1. Driver:
    1. Wattage
      1. 12v
      2. 24V
    2. Type:
      1. Magnetic (Core and coil) MLV (Toroidal or Laminated EL core)
      2. ELV (Solid state)
      3. Triac...
  2. LED Tape Lights
    1. 12V vs 24V
    2. Total Wattage = (wattage per foot X feet)
  3. Power requirements: light wattage / Driver wattage must be must be no less than 30% or more than 80% of LED rating (30/100 - 80/100)
  4. Dimmer Type: The correct dimmer switch
    1. MLV Driver: Lutron MLV dImmer (Reverse Phase?)
    2. ELV Driver: Lutron ELV dimmer (Forward Phase?)
    3. Triac?
And now for some more reading.

DIMMERS
  1. For MLV Transformers use
    1. Standard Phase control a.k.a. Leading Edge
      1. for use with inductive (MLV transformers, fans) or
      2. resistive (incandescent) load
  2. for ELV Transformers use
    1. Reverse Phase control a.k.a. Trailing Edge
      1. for use with capacitive(ELV Transformers) or
      2. resistive (incandesecent) load types
    2. DO NOT use regular or incandescent or MLV drivers on ELV
      1. could cause dimmer buzzing, fixture buzz, lamp flickering, RFI, damage to dimmer or driver.
  3. for incandescent?? is there another type... ie rheostat?

TRANSFORMERS/DRIVERS
  1. MLV transformer
    1. Sensitive to DC voltages
      1. some ELV dimmers contain DC and can damage the MLV driver.
    2. some have input choke or "debuzzing coils" incompatible with some microprocessor based dimmers
      1. check for dimmers with neutral connection for this (electronic overload and fault detection circuits.)
      2. May be compatible with standard (non microprocessor dimmers... ie Diva, Nova T, skylark two wire controls)
    3. inductive load may subject dimmers to Voltage spikes and surges... lutron claims their MLV dimmers able to windhstand
    4. Some have secondary side protection (PTC, fuses, circuit breakers, Elect. overload/fault detection circuits)
  2. ELV transformer
    1. Need a dimmer designed specifically for capacitive (ELV) req. spec. considerations
    2. incandescent dimmers could cause dimmer buzz, fixture buzz, flickering, RFI, damage to components.
    3. Use Reverse Phase control dimmer for ELV Transformers.
      1. ELV are UL listed for both ELV transformers and incandescent loads
      2. will eliminate AM noise, but maybe not lamp buzz
    4. Some are listed as compatible with std incandescent dimmers.
      1. (Not recommended as best performance achieved with ELV dimmers and maybe graphic eye.)
      2. ELV dimmers (Lutron) have overload protection.

Diffusers?

  • angle and placement: Desired effect on tile vs workspace and countertop reflection
  • width
  • length
  • end caps vs connectors or both
  • Depth (more lights per inch requires less depth)
  • Could use rope lights instead.
Some common dimming technologies include
Forward Phase
Reverse Phase (ELV)
0-10V.
Forward Phase: Forward phase-cut dimming (commonly referred to as incandescent or Triac dimming) is the most common dimming method.
ELV dimmers are generally very compatible with LED loads, offering smoother dimming to low levels.

Dimmers work by changing the shape of the AC power waveform thus reducing the power available to the lights. The forward part or back side of the sine wave the more you chop, the dimmer...
What does Triac mean?

The key electronic component in a dimmer that makes wave-chopping possible is called a “triac”. So all these type of dimmers are “triac dimmers”.

So then, what is a triac driver compared to an ELV or MLV???
 

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soaker tub and backsplash, kitchen backsplash, Var fixes around the house.
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Careful, after being told it doesn't work you start picking out colors. That's not the best approach to solving problems. The tech does what it does, not what you want...


I'm used to doing the dimming on the low voltage side, where you do PWM...

Amazon reviews are generally complete rubbish. At best they are written by rank amateurs, at worst they're faked. (not a big problem with "Sold by Amazon" items). Amazon is fighting a hopeless war against the brushers, and Amazon doesn't even really have financial incentive to win.

What matters is a competent manufacturer and those UL/CSA/ETL listings.
Funny thing... I installed the tile backsplash... we are pretty much limited to Eaton Oil Rubbed Bronze or Lutron Satin Midnight... I have mostly cheap black nylon or the like now... but good GCFI's and a killer 5a USB outlet ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07ZJBNNJK ) .... but we want better.

If I cannot get all I need in the colors I want... then I will have to course correct by choosing different drivers that will work... or different plates and receptacles.

I hear you on the dimmers... but we really wanted the dimmer in the wall and no remotes. Before we installed the tile, we had the wires run and it is done. LV 2 strand from the driver location to the lights. I had to hire someone to run it all... access is a b*$ch.

Preaching to the choir about Amazon... but it is good for getting stuff quick that is not available local... or to even shop and see if it exists...

Yeah... I really do not want anything that is not UL listed. Not sure what ETL means... but it seems important.

654867


Thanks,
 

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The google word is "NRTL". That is a list of companies of equivalent quality to a UL Listing.
Nationally Recognized Testing Lab. USA OSHA maintains that list, but it's trusted worldwide.

The ones we usually see here is UL, CSA and ETL. CSA was Canada's old national testing lab back when they were monopolies. ETL is a competitive startup, and they are the darling of those few Chinese makers who bother to seek an NRTL listing. I'm a little suspicious, but I rail so hard on the cheapsters who simply fake CE stamps, that I feel I'd be hypocritical to fault a bona-fide NRTL listing.

My main complaint with Amazon is they do less than nothing to tell you you're dealing with eBay-tier garbage; they blend them into search results so you can't really tell reliable from-Amazon product from the crud.


As far as remotes, what I would hope/expect to find in the market is:

  • brand X smart switch/dimmer remote, which takes 120V power, is UL listed, and sits in the standard junction box, has the look and feel of a real switch... and knows how to talk to a home-automation platform or comm standard.
  • brand Y low voltage LED dimmer which may be cheap Chinese but in any case knows how to talk to that same home-automation standard. More likely to find this in an RGB or RGBW dimmer or controller; in that case, you only use one channel.
  • Then you configure it so the brand X smart switch controls brand Y dimmer, and voila, "real switch" form-factors, with full-band PWM dimming.
Man, now I'm getting excited, this is making me want to build some of that stuff! LOL
 

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soaker tub and backsplash, kitchen backsplash, Var fixes around the house.
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Who me? NEVER.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Notes for LED supplies: Cut and pasted here. Color version attached. Any comments or corrections welcome.
  • Driver:
    1. Wattage
      1. 12v
      2. 24V
    2. Type:
      1. Magnetic (Core and coil) MLV (Toroidal or Laminated EL core)
      2. ELV (Solid state)
      3. Triac...
  1. Power requirements: light wattage / Driver wattage must be must be no less than 30% or more than 80% of LED rating (30/100 - 80/100)
  2. LED Tape Lights
    1. 12V vs 24V
    2. Total Wattage = (wattage per foot X feet)
  3. Dimmer Type: The correct dimmer switch
    1. MLV Driver: Lutron MLV dimmer (FORWARD Reverse Phase?)
    2. ELV Driver: Lutron ELV dimmer (REVERSE Forward Phase?)
    3. Triac?
DIMMERS


  1. Standard/Forward Phase control a.k.a. Leading Edge Dimming
    1. For use with inductive (MLV transformers, fans) or
    2. resistive (incandescent) load types
    3. Lutron rates these in VA
  2. Reverse Phase control a.k.a. Trailing Edge a.k.a ELV Dimming
    1. For use with capacitive (ELV Transformers) or
    2. resistive (incandescent) load types (Check this)
    3. Very compatible with LED loads
    4. offering smoother dimming to low levels.
  3. 0-10V
  4. Forward phase-cut dimming (commonly referred to as incandescent or Triac dimming) is the most common dimming method.
  5. Regular incandescent dimmers
  6. Some Universal dimmers can do both Leading or trailing edge….
Dimmers work by changing the shape of the AC power waveform thus reducing the power available to the lights. The forward part or back side of the sine wave the more you chop, the dimmer...
The key electronic component in a dimmer that makes wave-chopping possible is called a “triac”. So all these type of dimmers are “triac dimmers”.
So then, what is a triac driver compared to an ELV or MLV???



TRANSFORMERS/DRIVERS


  1. MLV transformer
    1. Magnetic transformers use copper wound around a steel core which is inductive by nature (inductance is the ability of a device to store energy in the form of a magnetic field)
    2. available in two types of construction: toroidal and laminated EI core
    3. Incompatabilities:
      1. Sensitive to DC voltages
        1. some ELV dimmers contain DC and can damage the MLV driver.
      2. some have input choke or "debuzzing coils" incompatible with some microprocessor based dimmers
    4. check for dimmers with neutral connection for this (electronic overload and fault detection circuits.)
    5. May be compatible with standard (non microprocessor dimmers... ie Diva, Nova T, skylark two wire controls)
    6. inductive load may subject dimmers to Voltage spikes and surges... lutron claims their MLV dimmers able to withstand.
    7. Some have secondary side protection (PTC, fuses, circuit breakers, Elect. overload/fault detection circuits)
    8. Lutron MLV dimmers are rated in volt-ampere (VA)
  2. ELV transformer
    1. step down line voltage with electronic circuitry which is capacitive by nature (capacitance is the ability of a device to store energy in the form of an electric field).
    2. Electronic transformers are compact and lightweight and have higher efficiency
    3. Need a dimmer designed specifically for capacitive (ELV) req. spec. considerations
    4. Use Reverse Phase control dimmer for ELV Transformers.
      1. ELV are UL listed for both ELV transformers and incandescent loads
      2. will eliminate AM noise, but maybe not lamp buzz
      3. Some are listed as compatible with std incandescent dimmers, (Not recommended) which could cause dimmer buzz, fixture buzz, flickering, RFI, damage to components.
    5. ELV dimmers (Lutron) have overload protection.
    6. Lutron® ELV dimmers are rated in watts (W), which is the lamp load connected to the transformer.
 

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We want the dimmer in the switch on the wall, with all the switches... 4 gang. Lutron makes dimmer switches that work with the magnetic driver. Not sure about Eaton... which has the best color switches and plates for our tile. If it boils down to eaton, we may have to go with 12V as i have yet to find a triac 24V driver.
Hitlights sent me a sheet of different dimmer switches that work well with their magnetic drivers. I have attached it.
Eaton has their Aspire line of ZWave automated devices that will dim MLV, ELV and incandescent.

I went a slightly different route of using zwave LED dimmer with a separate power supply with a Eaton ZWave 96xx series accessory device. I paired the device using the ZWave controller and now it works.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So does that mean you are paying a monthly fee for the Zwave?
 

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So does that mean you are paying a monthly fee for the Zwave?
ZWave is free (subscription-wise) with many controllers, I believe there might be some out there that have you pay or part of a pay for service, but Vera is not one of them. You can also roll your own with openHab and others.

Also once you create the association, you do not need the controller unless you want to do complex things.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
ZWave is free (subscription-wise) with many controllers, I believe there might be some out there that have you pay or part of a pay for service, but Vera is not one of them. You can also roll your own with openHab and others.

Also once you create the association, you do not need the controller unless you want to do complex things.
guess I can look into it again. My American Standard HVAC has Zwave, but if I add any devices they wanted $$$...
Now that I think about it... AS may have done away with Zwave and started their own software apps.
 
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