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I have strips of 12 volt DC LED's that can be cut into groups of three that I am using to light buildings on a model railroad and am happy with the results. I can vary the voltage from about 6 to 12 depending on lighting needs for a specific building. I was surprised to learn that all these strips also work using the same voltage but in AC. Using AC to power these LED's would save me a lot of extra wiring.

Will running these LED's on AC harm them?

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1  
You can just convert to DC at the end of your run of wire, that would save rewiring. Depending on the frequency of the AC, a few diodes and maybe a capacitor could be a quick fix. –  Jason Aug 5 '13 at 17:36
    
It may be fine, but I would find the 50/60 Hz flashing annoying. –  Brad Gilbert Aug 6 '13 at 5:31
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1 Answer

Depending on the type of LED element and the driver circuit, you could either be fine or significantly shortening the lifespan of your lights. If the instructions or markings don't indicate that AC is acceptable then it's probably not.

However, a failure is not likely to be dangerous or cause a fire.

So you have to decide if the hassle of replacing burned out LED lighting later outweighs the hassle of giving it the proper power now.

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+1 LEDs are diodes that pass current only in one direction. On AC they are lighting half the time, but you cannot see this because of persistence of vision (the effect that makes movies move). The LEDs themselves would probably not be hurt assuming the voltage was in range. The other circuits tied to the LEDs are a different matter. –  bib Aug 5 '13 at 17:20
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@bib it depends on the breakdown voltage of the LED. Cheap ones usually have a breakdown vvoltage that is about the same as their typical operating voltage, sometimes less. If you bump up against that limit a lot, that can put a lot of stress on the LED. –  longneck Aug 5 '13 at 17:25
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