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LED Drivers Demystified: A Practical Guide for the Right Choice

driver

Do you want to repair faulty LED fixtures? Choosing the right driver can be complex, as in 99% of cases, there is no information available on the LED plate that one would want to power.

This article helps you identify the important factors in choosing an equivalent driver to replace the faulty one.

What is an LED Driver?

An LED driver is commonly referred to as a transformer, power supply, ballast, and even as an LED pilot, if translated by Google. Indeed, it is a device that transforms the input current into a current capable of powering a series of LEDs. However, an LED driver is much more than just a simple transformer!

Primarily, the two most popular types of drivers powering LEDs are:

  1. Constant Voltage (CV):

This type of driver maintains a constant voltage which is equal to the forward voltage of the LEDs and the overall resistance of the circuit. They are commonly used for low voltage LEDs such as LED strips, LED ropes, and some LED bulbs. To maintain a fixed forward voltage (Vf), the LED configuration (in series or parallel) must be calculated precisely to match the Vf.

2.Constant Current (CC):

This type of driver adjusts the voltage (V) to maintain a stable current (I). They are commonly used for high-power LEDs. Most LED fixtures use this type of driver. Adapted to a wide variety of possible LED configurations, these drivers also come with protection to prevent damage to LEDs in case of overvoltage.

Our commercial, industrial, and agricultural lighting products exclusively use constant current (CC) LED drivers.

Key Features to Consider When Choosing an LED Driver

Dimming:

Some drivers are equipped with dimming functionalities, allowing the adjustment of the LED brightness. This adds additional flexibility in lighting management. Dimming is usually low voltage 0-10V, and the wires are identified by “DIM+” and “DIM-.”

LED dimming

Wattage Adjustment:

Most distributors are unaware that drivers are adjustable. As a manufacturer, we present this hidden possibility. We can manually adjust either the current or the voltage to match the LED array.

LED driver wattage adjustment

Control:

Some drivers are equipped with outputs to manage control devices such as photocells and occupancy sensors. You can find the controls on our product page. Often, drivers control their components via a 12VDC output.

Drivers control

Protection Against Overcurrents and Short Circuits:

LED drivers often incorporate protection devices against overcurrents and short circuits to ensure system safety and prevent damage to the LEDs. They are equipped with a fuse and an MOV (metal-oxide varistor). The MOV is particularly important as it absorbs overvoltage shocks and sacrifices itself to protect the LED PCB. Generally, our indoor luminaires withstand surges from 2KV to 4KV, and our outdoor luminaires, from 4KV to 6KV, which are among the best in the industry. It is also possible to install a surge protector device (SPD) to protect lighting devices in environments more susceptible to surges.

Mandatory Electrical Safety Standards:

LED drivers generally comply with specific standards to ensure their compatibility and safety. Safety standards such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories), ETL (Intertek), or CSA are mandatory in Canada and the United States. Des normes de sécurité telles que UL (Underwriters Laboratories), ETL (Intertek) ou CSA sont obligatoires au Canada et aux États-Unis.

Choosing a Compatible Replacement Driver

The input voltage must match the voltage of the electrical panel that powers the fixtures. Most of our drivers are 120-347VAC to facilitate choice; here is a list of our drivers.

The output voltage must match the voltage accepted by the LED PCB. Normally, you can obtain this information from the manufacturer. Otherwise, you can also see if the output voltage of the new driver and the driver to be replaced are similar.

The output current must be almost identical to the driver to be replaced, at least it should not exceed +/- 10%.

Besides these three crucial elements to ensure the proper functioning of the replacement driver, you should also check if the fixture requires dimmability and control (photocell or occupancy detector).

If you are not sure about the choice of replacement driver, do not hesitate to contact us at info@speclite.ca, and one of our lighting specialists will guide you in the choice.

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