What You Need to Know About LED Drivers
- Let's start by answering an important question: What is an LED Driver?
- Whether it is built right into your bulb or fixture or a separate component, the LED driver is the powerhouse behind your LED lighting system. To ensure that LEDs function properly, the driver converts AC line power (120V or 277V) to the appropriate DC voltage (most commonly 12V DC or 24V DC) or regulates the current (most commonly 350 or 700 milliamps or mA) for your LEDs. LED light drivers might also include components to make them dimmable.
- Types of LED Drivers
- There are two main distinctions between electronic and magnetic LED drivers: Constant current vs. Constant voltage. You should pick your driver depending on the electrical requirements of your LED system.
- Constant Current drivers fix the current supplied to the LEDs, but allow the voltage to vary depending on the load.
- Constant Voltage drivers supply a fixed voltage, usually 12VDC or 24VDC, and use a series of resistors or built-in regulators to control the current supplied to the LEDs.
- An LED Driver is just an LED Driver, right? Not exactly.
- The quality of your driver will have a significant impact on the efficiency and lifetime of your LEDs. To make sure that your LED lighting system has a steady lumen output and no variation, make sure you are using the right kind of driver. Finding the right driver depends on the constant voltage or constant current output that your LED system requires and the total wattage of your system. No matter which kind of driver you choose, the total wattage of the LED lights connected to the driver should never exceed the driver's maximum wattage rating.
Special LED Driver Features
- If you want to integrate dimming or other specialized lighting controls like color correction or color changing controls, occupancy sensors, photocells, remote controls, or automation controls, be sure to verify on the manufacturer's product data sheet that the driver you plan to use is compatible. Most LED drivers, especially the new electronic ones, should work with these commercially available 0-10V control devices.
LED Drivers vs. Low Voltage Transformers
- General Statement
- With few exceptions, LED drivers, low voltage transformers, and fluorescent ballasts are not interchangeable. Each of them is designed for specific lighting systems with specific electrical requirements.
- The following statements are primarily intended to describe the LED drivers and low voltage transformers that are used to power indoor residential lighting systems in the USA.
||Low Voltage Transformers
||To power LED lighting systems.
||To power low voltage halogen or xenon lighting systems.
||Depending on the electrical needs of the LED module an LED driver may provide a constant current or a constant voltage.
||The primary purpose is to "transform" the input voltage from 120V or 277V to an output voltage of 12V or 24V.
||Constant current LED drivers may provide a very small amount of current to the LED module (e.g., 350mA, 700mA, 1400 mA).
Constant voltage LED drivers may provide 12 or 24 volts of constant voltage and usually at very low amperages.
|The secondary circuit of a low voltage transformer can supply as little as 5 amps and should never provide more than 25 amps of electrical current.
|Type: Electronic or Magnetic
||Available in electronic or magnetic
||Available in electronic or magnetic
|Output: AC or DC
||Both electronic and magnetic LED drivers provide only a DC (direct current) output to the LED module.
||Electronic transformers may provide an AC (alternating current) or a DC (direct current) output but the great majority provide an AC output.
Magnetic transformers provide only an AC output.
||Both electronic and magnetic LED drivers come in a variety of wattages.
||Electronic transformers come in various wattages up to 300W.
Magnetic transformers come in various wattages up to 1500W.
||The total wattage of the LED module(s) being driven by the LED driver should never exceed the wattage rating of the LED driver.
||The total wattage of the low voltage lighting system being powered by a transformer should never exceed the wattage rating of the transformer.