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Connecting 12v LED strips to the TC420

This section describes using regular LED strips or modules, designed to be used with a 12v DC power source. If you are using high power LEDs such as luxeon star or the high power CoB LEDs, please see the LEDs - High Power LEDs section of this page.

The TC420 uses a common anode (+) system. This means that all the anodes (+) of the LEDs are joined together and the fades are controlled with the cathodes (-). In most cases, this won't have an effect on you, the exception being if you are planning to use RGB or RGBW LED strips. If you are using either of these strips, you must get common anode strips.

All other LEDs usually have a separate anode (+) and cathode (-), so you can pretty much get what you want. In some instances you could use the controller to control a circuit to operate lights which need more power or different value of power, but that's outside the scope of these instructions.

To connect the LEDs to the controller, simply connect the anodes (+ wire) of all the LEDs to the v+ terminal on the controller. Next, connect the cathodes (-) to the chX- terminal for the channel that you would like to control the LEDs that you are connection.

TC420 wiring diagram

Each channel can handle a maximum of 4 amps. To calculate the amps, you need to know how much power the LEDs use. Module LEDs will usually give you a wattage and voltage on the packaging, for example 1.44 watts and 12 volts DC. Strip LEDs will be 12v and the watts will usually be given to you per metre, for example a typical 5050 chip LED strip will be 14.4 watts per metre.

Modules example

Lets say you have 20 of the 1.44 watt LED modules. You multiply the 1.44 (watts) by 20 (quantity), then divide that by 12 (the volts) and that will give you the amps.

amps = (1.44 * 20) / 12
amps = 28.8 / 12
amps = 2.4

Strip example

Lets say you have 75cm of the 5050 chip LED strips. You multiply the 14.4 (watts) by 0.75 (length), then divide that by 12 (the volts) and that will give you the amps.

amps = (14,4 * 0.75) / 12
amps = 10.8 / 12
amps = 0.9

You will need these values to make sure the current flowing through the TC420 is not too great, and to specify the power of the transformer you need. To make things easier, I have included a calculator below for the most popular LED types.

Strip LED Calculator

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Total watts = | Total amps = | Lumens (approx) =

* Please note, there is not a lot of data currently available on the 5730 chip. From what I have read it appears to use the same power as the 5630 but radiates around 20% more lumens. Some data has this figure much higher, but I would rather err on the side of caution.