An Adafruit article showing people how to wire up an RGB LED to an Arduino UNO has the warning shown below on its page.

For longer strips requiring more than 1 Amp, wire the power directly to the strip, then run power and ground wires back to the Arduino.

I understand that you can connect ground wires together, however, it's advising us to run power wires back to the Arduino. I don't know what this would mean as I don't think a +12 Volt line will do the Arduino any good as it runs at 5 volts. Is this a typo on their end or is there something I'm missing here?


1 Answer 1


enter image description here
Source: Adafruit Learning Systems, RGB Strips
This is the PDF version of the article.

Is this a typo on their end or is there something I'm missing here?

Not a typo. Not sure it deserves two highlighted warnings.

Here is a schematic of the UNO power distribution:

enter image description here
Source: elecrom.com

The UNO gets its 5V from the output of an on board 5V LDO.
This LDO input is Vin
The LDO drops the 12V down to 5V.

I assume "back to the Arduino" means to the PWRIN or VIN connector.

When the current to the strip is over an amp, the wire can drop a significant amount of the voltage when long and/or thin wires are used.

So as shown, the power supply is connected to the strip with short wires then long wires can be used to power the UNO. Any drop in voltage from the strip to the UNO is helpful in reducing the 12V and reducing the load on the LDO.

This also assumes the UNO 5V and 3.3V are not used to power other add ons.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Does this mean that I'm supposed to connect the +12 Line into the Vin Port of the Arduino Uno and the Ground of that source to the GND pin of the Arduino? \$\endgroup\$
    – Bryan
    Dec 30, 2018 at 7:40
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Yes. On page 11 and 12, of the PDF version of the article I linked to, is Adafruits instructions. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 30, 2018 at 16:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, I see, thanks! Additionally, is it okay if I connect more than one external supply lines to the Vin Port? \$\endgroup\$
    – Bryan
    Jan 30, 2019 at 5:01

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