April 1, 2021

Just because you can run 1024 pixels or more…doesn’t mean you have to! Here’s how to figure out how many YOU should run from a single controller port.

When it comes to the hobby of Christmas lighting there are a number of topics that can definitely divide people, and this topic is one of them. Some enthusiasts are set in the opinion that you should stick to a certain number of pixels per controller no matter what and others are a little more free with the rules, saying that it just depends on the controller. Reality is, that no matter what your opinion on it, there are many different ways to approach this question when thinking through your own personal needs so that you can put on the very best show possible!

Things To Consider

When it comes to choosing a controller that will meet your specific needs as far as ports there are a few things to think over. What it really comes down to is three main things: how easy will the set up be, how reliable will it be when it comes to meeting your needs, and how much you will get for the cost.

Local Type Controllers

The first type of controller that came around is a local type controller. These types have been around in the world of pixels for a long time. These controllers offer local ports which allow you to bring them close to your props and run short cables from your controllers to each prop.

Difficulties With Local Controllers

The problem you can run into when using these local types of controllers is that if you have data that runs more than 25 feet you can start to have issues. Another things to consider is that along that 25 feet you’re going to have power loss and voltage drops, and depending on how many pixels you have at the other end of your 25 foot cable will determine whether you need to go through the process of adding power injection or not.

Long Range Controllers

Long range controllers are newer to the scene when it comes to lighting and offer you the ability to have more control when it comes to lighting your show.

Ultimately the type of controller you choose will influence the number of pixels to run on each port, so it is definitely worth taking the time to consider your wants and needs.


Considering the cost when deciding which type of controller you are going to use is one of the first things that most people will look at. The difference financially when running your pixels via a power injection board versus adding a new pixel controller is basically the cost of the new power injection board. Nearly every time you will find that this route will be the cheaper one.


If you happen to have a bad pixel among the pixels you are using, until you find and fix that pixel the rest of that line are all going to be out which will put a damper on your show. You can always run your lights for a couple hours up to a couple days prior to make sure that all of your pixels will work properly for the necessary duration.

It is important to weigh out the reliability factor compared to cost when making your choice. The cheaper option may cost less, but may cause more effort on your part when you’re putting on your show, so you may find it worth it to spend a little more and not have to worry about the quality or reliability of your pixels.

Smart Receivers

Using smart receivers are a wonderful way to go and highly recommended because gives you the best of both world when it comes to controllers. You can use them to control a much higher amount of pixels per port than average.

Using a smart receiver gives you more reliability in that if something goes wrong with a pixel in port “A” it won’t affect the other ports while also giving you maximum use of the processing on board for your pixels.


Aside from reliability, another great benefit of using smart receivers is the simplicity of setting up for your show. Each controller is set to certain pixels so you don’t have to hunt for what goes with what during set up and is much easier to explain to anyone helping you, as well as work with yourself.


Ultimately when making your choice for controllers and considering how many ports to run from each simplicity is key! It may be slightly cheaper, only by a few dollars, to go with a power injection board but those couple extra dollars spent on a smart receiver could really save your sanity when it comes to reliability, set up, and putting on your most amazing Christmas show.

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