Can I power LED strip lights from Rpi GPIO pins?

I have a project where I’m using some 12 volt LED strip lighting.
I’m wondering if I can power 0.45m of it from the GPIO/5v pins?
Do you think that its possible to use this:

or this:

to boost the voltage from 5v to 12v to power the LED strip (the strips take about 900mA per/meter)?

The pi typically is only powered by a 10-12 watt power supply. Not enough to drive the LED strip lights. Get a beefy 12V supply to drive the LED strips directly, and a buck converter attached to that supply to provide the 5V for the pi. It may help to put a large capacitor across the output of the buck converter to remove ripple/noise.

The pi’s GPIO pins can only source about 50mA max, but that’s enough for driving the logic circuit of the strip lights.


Thanks Robin57159!

I’ll try it!!

1 Like

With respect to the Pololu devices. I have used a number of different types and are very happy with their performance. But getting 12V from 2 x AA cells results in not much current before the voltage regulation drops. Using 4 x AA cells to produce 5V works really well. Stable 5V supply as battery voltage varies.
If you need 12V, try for a battery supply close to 12V, ie 6 or 8 x AAs. Stepping voltage up, steps current down.

Level conversion may be another issue, depending on the type of Led strip you have. If it is programmable, connecting 5V logic to a 12V device may damage either device. I have used a level converter provided by Core Electronics (SparkFun device) to convert 5V to 3V very successfully. This device maybe able to convert from 5V to 12v; its just Mosfets. Dont know for sure.

As Robin57159 stated, GPIO pins on micros are not designed to provide high current. I have used a GPIO to drive one or two Leds, but always make sure the current is within specification. (usually less than 20mA).

1 Like

Hi James,
the strips are not programmable so I ended up trying what Robin57159 stated using a 12 volt supply and buck converter to convert the 12 volt to 5 volt and powering the strips straight from the 12 volt supply.
Thanks anyway,

1 Like

Good to hear.

I used a Pololu 12V Step up regulator; to step up the voltage from 4 x AA cells to power a strip of 18 LEDs.
Its a kind of portable light, I have used it for light painting photography.
Works well and lasts a few hours using rechargable NiMh cells.


1 Like