Today’s appliances typically operate on either a 12-volt or 24-volt power system. While 12-volt power supplies used to be the industry standard, 24-volt systems have become increasingly popular in recent times.
Both 12-volt and 24-volt systems boast a variety of benefits and drawbacks. When choosing a power supply for your business, it’s vital to understand the key differences between the two voltage options.
Save money with a 24-volt system
By choosing a 24-volt power supply, you’ll enjoy reduced wiring costs. In fact, when compared with a 12-volt system, 24-volt systems reduce wiring costs by almost half. This reduction occurs because a higher voltage system features a lower current, meaning you’ll need thinner wires. Of course, narrower wires are cheaper than their thicker alternative.
Most modern power systems feature a 230V AC inverter. With these inverters, you can install standard AC lighting and appliances in your business or office space. AC appliances and lighting are much cheaper and efficient than the alternative.
In recent years, solar panels and inverters have become much more affordable and efficient. It’s much easier to invest in a higher voltage system without worrying about the cost of inverters.
Battery-powered appliances benefit from 12-volt systems
If you’re running an appliance directly from a battery, a 12-volt power supply is a safer option. For DC circuits, 12-volt systems are much safer to use.
Domestic appliances run almost exclusively on 12-volt systems—so for everyday household use, 24-volt systems are usually unnecessary.
It’s easier to convert a 24-volt system to 12-volts
When compared with 12-volt systems, 24-volt systems are more versatile. Charge regulators cannot easily increase a 12-volt system’s voltage to 24-volts. Charge controllers can reduce a 24-volt system’s voltage to 12-volts when necessary.
If required, a 12v to 24v converter can be used to boost voltage. These step-up converters, however, are less widely available than 24-volt to 12-volt converters.
Choosing a 24-volt system, then, is the better option in scenarios when using appliances that run on both 12-volts and 24-volts.
Consider your energy consumption
What’s the easiest way to determine whether a 12-volt or 24-volt power system is the right choice for your business?
Consider your energy consumption.
The first rule is—continuous currents should not exceed 100 amps.
The higher the current, which is measured in amperes or amps, the larger the circuit protection and wiring components of your system need to be. Higher currents require larger cables and breakers, which are expensive. By doubling the voltage, you’ll receive double the power while maintaining the same current.
Currents higher than 100 amps lead to greater costs and potential dangers. A standard household extension cord, for example, usually has a max current of 10 amps. 100 amps would melt your extension cord and potentially cause a fire.
These days, 12-volt systems are usually used only where energy consumption is limited, such as in caravans and RVs.
In short, it’s best to choose a voltage that suits your energy needs. For households, 12-volts is often enough, but for offices, retail spaces, and other business premises, we suggest installing a more versatile and affordable 24-volt system.