Choosing the right driver for your LED system might seem confusing at first, but once you know what you really need it will become much clearer. Today we’ll be talking about LED drivers and by the end of the text, you should know which LED driver to pick.
What is an LED driver?
An LED driver is a crucial part of an LED system. It is an electrical device that provides electricity to light bulbs and also serves the purpose of protecting the bulb. It regulates power to an LED or a string of LEDs and the system would fail to operate without it.
It is quite important to use a good LED driver to avoid Thermal Runaway. When operating, LEDs require a specific amount of volts to conduct electricity and light up. As temperature increases, the forward voltage of LEDs decreases, which results in LEDs drawing more current. The LEDs continue to get hotter and draw more current until they burn themselves out.
There are three types of LED drivers: constant current, constant voltage, and constant current/constant voltage drivers. They don’t provide the same thing, so it’s important to choose the right one. If you want to know more in detail about LED drivers and how they work, click here.
Things you need to consider before buying an LED driver
There are a few questions you need to find an answer to before you decide which driver you need.
First of all, what type of LEDs are you using and how many?
Try to find out the forward voltage and what is the recommended driving current. Also, find out heat sink requirements so you don’t burn your LEDs accidentally.
Do you need a constant current or a constant voltage LED driver?
Constant current LED drivers are designated for a fixed output current (mA) and they require a designated supply of current usually specified in milliamps (mA) or amps (A).
They vary the voltage which allows the current to remain constant. A constant current driver is the best way for high power LEDs because it maintains consistent brightness across all LEDs.
A constant voltage LED driver is designed for a single direct current (DC) output voltage. The most common power supplies are 12VDC or 24VDC, if your LED light requires constant voltage, the amount of input voltage will usually be specified.
These drivers switch the alternating current voltage (VAC) to a low direct current voltage (VDC), and it will always maintain a constant voltage no matter the current load it is put on.
The most common use for these drivers is in under-cabinet lights and other LED flex strip applications.
What type of power will be used?
Determine whether you will run on AC, DC, batteries, or something else. LED drivers that use high voltage AC are best for general lighting projects or commercial lighting, and the low voltage DC drivers are usually used for smaller projects.
Any special features?
There are multiple options in this category and it’s up to you to decide what you want and need. You can have a dimming option, pulsing, microprocessor control, etc.