Cool room lights

Dmitry Grinberg writes, “Lighting a room is always a complicated task. This is especially true if you’re an engineer. You see, we all love blinking lights, RGB LEDs, really any combination of those things. When it came time to figure out the ligting situation for my room, I immediately knew that lots of LEDs would be involved. The room is 4 x 4 meters. WS2812 strips come in 4m length at 60 LEDs per meter. This cannot simply be a coincidence – it was meant to be! This is cool and all, but lots of problems remain to be solved. Luckily, they all were.”

More details at┬áDmitry Grinberg’s blog.

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  1. Are there other lighting setups which are more efficient? WS2812 is a linear driver from 5V to RGB LED voltages, so their efficiency is around 50-60%.

    1. I believe there are RGB LED strips that have separate R, G and B lines. Then you’d get better efficiency with a switching driver, and colour schemes will be limited on a per-strip basis.
      But if one is doing per-LED colour, then some chip manufacturer need to design a suitable chip. Inductor-based switching would be hard to integrate into a single package, but maybe capacitor switchers can be done…

      1. Most of the RGB LED strips I have seen do not have direct access to the LEDs. Instead, they are designed for 12V power (with common anode) and have current limiting resistors sized for that. Series of 3 LEDs share a resistor, and all those series are in parallel. This also means that you can cut the strip after every 3 LEDs.

      2. Ah, so that’s the type. I’ve never actually examined them in detail, only gave them a cursory look over.
        Unlike mains LED bulbs that need to compete on efficiency (the good ones with buck ICs I mean, not some corncob-type everything-in-series-and-let’s-connect-that-to-the-mains junk), I see a lot of these strips being used in display cases and shop lighting.
        I think they are not the most efficient LEDs in terms of light output, can discrete RGB match white LED technology?
        I suspect one is only getting middling efficiency, maybe worse than CFL bulbs, so for the sake of switchable colour lighting, linear shunts are only a part of the ‘inefficiency’ story.

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