Distinct Controller With 3 Channels, Can Be Connected To Anything

The WS2811 was the first LED controller widely used in daisy-chained RGB LED. It introduced the concept of one-wire communications.

In contrast to all its successors, it is a separate IC and not embedded in LED. You are free to hook up any suitable LED you like.

WS2811 uses 12V supply voltage. Internally, it takes care that connected LED receive exactly the current they need.

When To Use

WS2811 is an old concept that probably is the cheapest way of creating LED strips or displays that run with 12V.

12V supply voltage is perfect for driving a large number of LED as currents are low, and there is much less voltage drop than with 5V controllers.

Do not be mistaken: a LED strip using WS2811 can still be controlled by a GPIO from an Arduino or ESP8266. It just needs external 12V power to drive the LED.

When To Not Use

The controller is designed to control three LED at a time: it has three programmable channels, and each channel can drive three LED:

If you do not need to leverage its full potential, you can connect just one RGB LED to its three channels and build strips with truly individually addressable LED.

The standby power consumption is very high compared to more modern controllers. If you want to conserve energy or build a battery driven project you may want to use a different controller.


WS2811 datasheet


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(content created Mar 01, 2024 - last updated Mar 19, 2024)