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Fairground LED Lights in Cool White and Clear Plasitic Housing
19/10/21
Written by: Leon Bagga

Your Guide To LED Drivers

If you are thinking about, or have already bought, LED lighting for your home or business premises, the likelihood is that you will need to think about getting the appropriate LED driver to go with your device. Here at Vision Lighting, we know that being informed can help you to choose the right driver for your device.

So, if you have any questions about the products we offer or are having trouble choosing the right one, we're always on hand to help. You can get in touch with us by calling +44 (0) 1132 799 745 or emailing us at info@vision-lighting.co.uk with your message.

What Is An LED Driver?

LED drivers are electrical devices that supply and regulate power to a single or string of LED lights. The way that it operates is similar to a traditional transformer, in that it transforms mains electricity into a voltage that can be used to ‘drive’ the LED lighting.

More technically, an LED driver turns the mains alternating current (universal AC input) voltage of 240V into a lower input voltage, whilst also turning it into a direct current (DC). This allows it to regulate the power to a constant voltage of either 12V DC or 24V DC, adjusting the output voltage according to the electrical properties of the LED strips.

LED drivers are essential for your lighting setup as it stops LEDs from burning out. When LEDs turn on, their temperature increases. As this happens, the forward voltage, or the voltage required to light up the diode, decreases. This causes the LED to draw more current in what is known as the thermal runway, eventually pulling too much current and burning out.

However, a driver has its own power supply, and compensates for the changes in the forward voltage, regulating the power, whilst also delivering a constant current to the LED. This can help to reduce the risk of damage to your LEDs and prolong their lifespan.

How Do I Choose An LED Driver?

As LEDs all require a constant DC of 12 or 24V, all LED systems require an LED driver. The one exception to this is LED systems that have been specifically designed to use mains voltage, like LED bulbs and special types of LED lights, such as our Trade LED DOB Floodlights range. However, if it is not one of the exceptions, you will have to make sure that you get yourself an LED driver.

“But how do you choose the right driver?” I hear you ask. Buying the most suitable driver is very simple when you ask yourself these five basic questions.

What voltage do I require?

As we have mentioned before, most LED strip lights will require either 12V or 24V constant voltage LED drivers. The voltage that they will require will be clearly stated in the product specification or on the packaging. Make sure that you get an LED driver with the same output voltage that your specific LED strips require.

But what happens if you get this wrong? Using 12v constant voltage drivers with 24v lights will mean the LEDs will not be able to light up at all. On the other hand, using 24v constant current LED drivers with 12v lights might make the LEDs shine brighter to begin with, increasing the light output, but the voltage will be too high for it to handle, thus burning it out.

How much wattage do I need?

The wattage that you need is the amount of power that the LED tape consumes per metre of its length. To work this out, multiply the wattage of the tape by the number of metres it is long (or, tape wattage x length in metres = wattage the LED tape requires).

After you have worked out the power level your LED lighting systems consume, you can then look for a driver that is suitable. With LED drivers, the wattage signifies the maximum output capability.

Thus, to ensure the lifespan of your lighting systems, it is recommended that you choose a driver that has at least a 10% higher wattage capability than the LED tape requires. For example, if you had 10 metres of 5W LED tape, the system would require 50W to power, and so you would need a driver upwards of 55W.

Does it need to be water-resistant?

If you are using the LED lights for outdoor lighting, street lighting, or ambient lighting and other lighting applications in your kitchen or bathroom, then you will need to make sure that you have water-resistant light drivers. If you’d like to know more about IP ratings, you can check out our blog to get the guidance that you need.

You can see how water resistant both outdoor LED drivers and indoor LED drivers are by looking for the IP rating. The IP rating will indicate how well the casing of the driver is resistant to water, along with other things such as foreign objects, dust, and bugs. Typically, splash-proof indoor LED drivers for kitchens and bathrooms have an IP rating of 65, and outdoor LED drivers generally have an IP rating of 67 and up.

Does it need to be a dimmable LED driver?

If you want to be able to arrange either a simple or complex dimming design for your residential or commercial property, then make sure that you purchase a driver that has dimming capabilities. The wide dimming range of LED drivers works by reducing the power level supplied to the lights.

There are two types of dimming drivers on the market. These are ELV drivers, or trailing edge dimmable drivers, and TRIAC drivers, or leading-edge dimmable drivers. The ones that work best with your lighting setup largely depend on your complex dimming design.

Do I need a ‘plug and play’ or a ‘professional’ driver?

If you are looking to install your LED lighting yourself, it is best to go for current drivers that have plug and play technology, as opposed to a range of input designs. Often drivers might not include terminals, meaning they require you to directly wire a plug to the end of the cable.

However, plug and play technology is exactly as it sounds, you simply plug it in and voila! Plug and play drivers are not limited to novices, though. You can also purchase a professional terminal LED driver for optimal efficiency in your installation.

Once you have asked yourself these five questions, you will be guaranteed to know which LED drivers will provide the ultimate performance in your lighting system.

Our Lighting Products Use Quality LED Drivers

Nanolight LED Trough Light Most Waterproof Sign Light in the UK

Our Nanolight - The Most Waterproof Sign Light In The UK

This product comes with internal Tridonic LED drivers - these are enclosed in a sleek 45mm aluminium profile. This carefully-engineered product is therefore remarkably slim and has been sealed to IP66, making it the first sign light of its kind on the market.

Purchase Nanolight
Black Cool White 50W LED Floodlight with SMD LEDs and Mean Well Power Supply Inside

TradeLED Floodlight with Mean Well

This product is ideal for illuminating large spaces, buildings, signage and billboards. We specify Mean Well as an LED driver for this product due to high reliability, as well as a range of features such as surge protection and build quality.

Purchase LED Floodlights
LED Strip Light on a 5 metre roll with 3M VHB adhesive tape

LED Strip Lights - Self-Adhesive 5 Metre Rolls

LED strip lights are a simple, cost-effective, and versatile way to light up your commercial and domestic properties. We have an impressive range of LED strip lights that can be installed quickly and easily thanks to their self-adhesive backing.

Purchase LED Strip Lights

Get a driver for yourself

Mean Well LED Driver - LPV Range, IP67

Our Mean Well LED Drivers from the LPV Range are fully encapsulated, with an IP67 rating. There are models to suit either 12V or 24V devices, in wattages ranging from 20W to 150W.

Mean Well LED Driver - XLG Series, IP67

For wattages above 150W, we also stock the Mean Well LED Driver XLG Series, which is available in 150W or 200W, again with an IP rating of 67.

In Need Of An LED Lighting Solution? Look No Further Than Vision Lighting

At Vision Lighting, we aim to provide only the best-quality products, and we know that understanding how drivers work really is the key to choosing the right one. But, if you're still unsure or have other questions, you can get in touch with us. To speak with a member of our team directly, you can call us on +44 (0) 1132 799745 or email us directly at info@vision-lighting.co.uk.

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Vision Lighting Ltd,
Unit 1 Wortley Moor Lane,
Wortley,
Leeds,
West Yorkshire,
LS12 4JD

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