WS2811 Vs WS2812 Difference In LED Strip

Are you planning to connect LED strips to your board? Then you would want to know the difference between WS2811 Vs WS2812. So read below to know more!

Most of the articles on Arduino or Raspberry Pi asks you to hook up an WS2811 or WS2812 LED strip to your board. But have you ever tried to know why these LED strips? Why not any other LED strips? What makes them so special? And what about the WS2811 Vs WS2812 Difference?

WS2811 Vs WS2812 Difference In LED
WS2811 Vs WS2812 Difference In LED

Not many tutorials out there have tried to answer these questions. So in this article, we will do just that! So brace yourself. Sit tight and join the ride to learn all about these LED strips. Alright? Cool! Here we go!

What Is An LED Strip?

So before we dwell into learning the WS2811 Vs WS2812 Difference, let us try to answer this question first.

What is an LED?

An LED is a simple semiconductor device that will emit light when electric current flows through it. Now notice how I used the term “semiconductor device“. But what type of device is it? Well to be precise, it is a semiconductor diode.

So in short, LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. So what do we mean by that? It means that when electricity passes through this diode, it emits light!

So now that we know what an LED is, it is time to answer our next question.

What Is WS2811 LED Strip?

A WS2811 LED strip uses WS2811 LED driver chip to control the LED strip. Uhh… Got confused by what I just said?

Well, let me clear that for you by answering this question.

What is an LED strip?

You see, an LED strip is just a fancy way of connecting a bunch of LED lights together along a strip of wire. So an LED strip will have more than one LED lights in them.

But what makes them great is that you can address each of these LED lights separately.

Wait what? How can we do that, you ask?

Well that is where LED driver IC like WS8211 comes into picture. It is these chips that will help us connecting to each of the LED and controlling them to turn then ON or OFF.

Are you with me until here? Great! Then let us find answer to the next question

How Does WS8211 Chip Control LED?

So here is the thing. To control individual LEDs in a strip, LED driver chips like WS8211 is used. These chips sit alongside the LED and control their light intensity.

So by makes use of serial protocol in your microcontroller and assigning unique addresses to each of the LED driver chip you can control each of the LEDs.

So this way, when you want to control an LED, your board’s microcontroller will send out the address of the LED driver chip to be controlled. This will make the respective LED chip accept the next set of commands to be sent for itself.

And this way, your board will be able to control every LED to be turned ON or OFF!

Pretty neat, isn’t it? 😉

So now that we know what an LED driver chip like WS8211 does, it is finally time to ask the important question of this article.

WS2811 Vs WS2812 Difference

While both WS2811 & WS2812 are LED controller ICs, there are a few notable differences between them. Here are few of them that we listed out for you:

WS2811 Vs WS2812 Difference In Power

WS2811 LED chip uses 12V to work. Where as a WS2812 chip which uses only 5V. But then how will this impact you?

Well you see, if you are going to use along LED strip with many LEDs in them, you are going to see quite a bit of voltage drop along the strip.

Which means that the last few LEDs that is present at the far end of the strip from the board will get lower voltage. Now, if this drop is significant, your last few LEDs might not be glowing as well as its should be.

You do not want that. Right?

So for example you have 30 LEDs in your strip and the voltage drop is 2V towards the end of the strip. Well in that case, if you are using a WS2811 chip, the last few LEDs will get around 10V. This is still reasonably OK for an LED supposed to operate at 12V.

But on the other hand, if you are using WS2812 that works at 5V. the same voltage drop will be down to 3V from the supposed 5V. Now that is quite a significant voltage drop there. Right?

So you need to keep this in mind while choosing between WS2811 Vs WS2812.

WS2811 Vs WS2812 Difference In LEDs Controlled

WS2811 actually do not control one LED. But instead it controls a cluster of 3 LEDs together. So that means that you cannot go below a granularity level of 3 LEDs to control them.

But on the other hand, WS2812 can control 1 LED each. So, if you need a control granularity of 1 LED, you should be going for WS2812 instead of WS2811.

WS2811 Vs WS2812 Difference In Power Consumption

As WS8211 operates at 12V, the amount of power consumed by it is significantly more. On the other hand, as WS8212 uses 5V, it can operate at a much lower power consumption.

WS2811 Vs WS2812 – Pros & Cons Of Each

WS8211 Pros

  • Operates at 12V. So it can control more number of LEDs in a strip.
  • Ease of use when dealing with mass LED controls.

WS8211 Cons

  • It cannot control lower than 3 LEDs at a time. So its lower granularity level of control lies at 3 LEDs.
  • Consumes significantly higher power because of 12V of operation.

WS8212 Pros

  • Can control single indiviudal LEDs.
  • LED control graularity lies at 1 LED.
  • Lower power consumption.

WS8212 Cons

  • As it operates at 5V, its voltage drop becomes significant as the number of LEDs in the strip increases.


So in conclusion, whether to choose WS2811 or WS2812 entirely depends upon the type of use cases you are dealing with. If you want to control a long LED strip then WS2811 is the obvious choice for you.

But on the other hand, if you want to control LEDs at the granular level of a single LED, then WS2812 is the option for you to go for.

So hope this article was helpful for you in understanding the WS2811 Vs WS2812 difference. If you still have any more questions in your mind, do let me know in the comments below and I will try to give you my best help.

So with that, I will end this article here. Until next time, take care and happy learning! 🙂