LED drivers can confuse LED technology. There are so many types and variations that it can sometimes be overwhelming. So I was willing to write a short post explaining the variations, their differences, and what you should look for when choosing an LED driver for your lighting.
An LED driver is a device that regulates power to any LED or LED string. This is a critical part of the LED circuitry, and operation without it will cause a system failure. The forward voltage (Vf) of high-power LEDs varies with temperature, so LEDs must be used to avoid damaging them.
Forward voltage is the number of voltage required for a light-emitting diode to conduct current and light up. As the temperature tends to increase, the forward voltage of the LED decreases, causing more current to flow through the LED.
LEDs continue to heat up and draw more current until they naturally burn out, also known as thermal runaways. The LED driver is an independent power supply whose output matches the electrical characteristics of the LED. This prevents thermal runaway as the constant current LED driver compensates for forwarding voltage changes while supplying a constant current to the LED.
Basic things to Consider Before Choosing an LED Driver
First, you should know…
Drivers are mainly of two types. One driver uses low voltage DC input power (typically 5 to 36 VDC), and the other driver uses high voltage AC input power (typically 90 to 277 VAC). LED drivers that use high voltage AC power are called offline drivers, or AC LED drivers. It is recommended for most applications and appliances to use a low voltage DC input LED driver. Even if the input is high voltage AC, the DC input driver can be used with an additional switching power supply. Low-voltage DC drivers are recommended as they are very efficient and reliable.
What kind of LEDs are used?
- Find out forward voltage, recommended drive current, etc.
- D you need a constant current LED driver, or a constant voltage LED driver?
- Here we are talking about constant current versus constant voltage. What kind of electricity do you use? (DC, AC, battery, etc.)
- Are you running AC? See how AC drivers can help!
- What are the space restrictions?
- Are you working in confined spaces? Not too excited to work together? What is the main purpose of your application?
- Size, cost, efficiency, performance, etc.
- Need a special feature?
- Dimming, pulsing, microprocessor control, etc.
For smaller applications, more dimming and output options are available compared to high-voltage AC drivers, allowing you to do more with your application. However, if you have a large general lighting project for residential or commercial lighting, consider how an AC driver is well suited for this work.
So by now, you should have a pretty good idea of an LED driver and what you should look for when choosing a driver with enough power for your application.