What LED Driver Do I Need?
What LED Driver Do I Need?
When it comes to choosing the right LED driver compatibility is crucial. Using the wrong driver in an LED system could result in failure and even damage to the components used. As industry experts and one of the UK’s largest suppliers, our friendly technical team at UltraLEDs are on hand to advise you on all things LED and help you find the product that is right for you.
What is a Driver?
LED drivers are devices which regulate and supply the power used to ‘drive’ runs of LED strip lighting. Like traditional transformers, they transform mains voltage alternating current (240v AC) to a lower voltage. However, LED drivers also transform mains voltage current to a constant, direct current (DC) that LEDs require. By adjusting their output according to the electrical properties of the LED tape which changes as it heats up, drivers regulate the power supplied to the LEDs to be a constant of usually either 12v or 24v of DC.
As LEDs require a constant DC of 12v or 24v, LED drivers are required in all LED systems (except those which are specifically developed to be controlled by mains voltage power supplies such as mains voltage tape or LED bulbs).But at UltraLEDs, buying a suitable driver is easy – all you have to do ask yourself these 5 simple questions:
What is voltage?
All LED strip lights requires either 12v or 24v to power, which can be found in the product specifications. Be sure to buy a driver with the same output voltage that the tape requires. Running 12v tape with a 24v driver will result in the LEDs being brighter in the short term, resulting in the higher voltage burning the tape out. Whilst, running 24v tape with a 12v driver will result in the LEDs not lighting up at all.
What is wattage?
The amount of power LED tape consumes varies depending on its length. The wattage of a tape is the amount of power the tape consumes per meter. To work out how many watts your run of tape needs simply multiply the wattage of the tape by the number of meters you are running. For example, 5m of 6w LED tape requires 30 watts. We would recommend using a driver with an output capability of 33 watts or more to power this tape.
Once, you know the wattage of the run of tape you can then choose a suitable driver. The wattage of a driver indicates its maximum output capability. We recommend choosing a driver with a wattage capability at least 10% higher than the wattage the LED tape requires to ensure a longer lifespan.
Does your driver need to be water resistant?
If you are installing your LED strip outdoors or in an environment with moisture, it is paramount to use a water resistant driver. To know if a driver is water resistant look for its Ingress Protection or “IP” rating. Splash-proof drivers with an IP rating of 65 are best suited for bathrooms and kitchens use (Protected low pressure water from any direction). Waterproof drivers with an IP rating of 67 (Protection from immersion between 15cm and 1m in depth) or above, are best suited for outdoor use.
Do you want to be able to dim your LEDs?
If you want to be able to dim your LEDs, be sure to buy a driver with dimming capabilities. They work by reducing the amount of power supplied to the LED, and there are two different kinds: trailing edge dimmable drivers (also known as ELV drivers) and leading edge dimmable drivers (also known as TRIAC drivers). To learn more about the differences between the two different dimming technologies click here.
Plug and Play or Professional?
If you’re installing LED lighting yourself, we recommend our standard range of LED drivers; they feature innovative plug and play technology with a cable with UK mains voltage plug pre-attached, making installation easier than ever.
For those with electrical experience who require access to the driver’s ports or are you are looking for a driver for a more demanding situation. We would recommend our Tagra® Professional range of drivers. This is due to their exceptional reliability record, high-quality internal components and unprecedented 5 year warranty. They also feature several terminals for more versatile installation, which require hard wiring.
For any more information on drivers please contact a member of our technical team via firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office on 01625 611 611.