WS2812B Clone With Four Instead of Three Channels To Control RGBW

The SK6812 is very similar to the popular WS2812B but can control four instead of three channels.

Whenever you want to control RGBW LED instead of RGB LED, the SK6812 is the most commonly chosen controller.

It is a clone with all the risks and benefits. You get RGBW support for the price of a WS2812B, and due to a higher voltage range, you may be less subject to the effects of voltage drop.

When To Use

Here are the most important advantages over the WS2182B:

  • RGBW Support: You want to control RGBW LED instead of RGB LED
  • 3.3V Support: While the WS2812B can be controlled using 3.3V, this is outside the specs, and when the physical distance between microcontroller and first LED is longer than a few centimeters, you may have to use a level shifter. The SK6812 has a wider voltage range and works reliably with 3.3V.
  • Long Strips: due to the wider voltage range, a voltage drop seems to have less negative effects. This can be a benefit when using LED strips longer than 2.5m unless you use voltage injection anyway.

When To Not Use

There have been reports that protocol timing may be different from WS2812B. Typically, SK6812 are compatible but they are clones with slight variations. There have also been reports that some SK6812 use LED with smaller dies (lower brightness). If in doubt, check the data sheet of the particular SK6812 you are planning to purchase.

If you want to control RGB LED (and do not need the additional channel for RGBW), then probably the safest approach is to use the proven WS2182B. Often there are no significant price differences.


SK6812 Datasheet


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(content created Mar 06, 2024 - last updated Mar 19, 2024)