LED Drivers are electrical devices which regulate the power that ‘drives' LED strips. They transform AC mains voltage (240v) to a lower DC required for LEDs.
As one of the UK’s largest LED lighting suppliers, Ultra LEDs stocks a wide range of 12v and 24v drivers and power supplies specifically designed for low voltage lighting, including constant voltage, dimmable drivers and DALI operating systems.
We are also exclusive stockists of the Tagra® professional LED lighting range, known for its unrivaled quality, including their range of premium drivers which have an unprecedented 5 year warranty.
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What are LED Drivers and how do they work?
LED drivers are electrical devices which regulate the power supplied to a string, or strings, of LED strips.
They transform the 240v alternating current of a mains power supply to a lower, direct current of 12v or 24v required for LEDs.
They also make sure the power supplied to the LED tape is constant, adjusting according to the electrical properties of the tape which changes as the tape heats up.
A proper driver is crucial because it ensures the LED tape doesn’t become too hot or unstable, which can cause the circuit to fail.
Ultra LEDs offer a range drivers with an output of either 12v or 24v. When buying an LED driver it is important that the output voltage value corresponds with the voltage of the LED tape you wish to power.
If you use a driver with a higher voltage output than what is required for the tape (e.g. a 24v driver with 12v tape) this will result in a brighter light output in the short term but the LED tape will burn out very quickly. If you use a driver with a lower voltage output than what is required the tape will not work at all.
The wattage of a driver indicates the maximum value that it can supply to the LED tape. It's important to consider the driver’s wattage capability when installing it in an LED circuit.
We recommend choosing a driver with a wattage capability at least 10% higher than the wattage the LED tape requires.
For example, 10w LED tape would require a driver with an output wattage of at least 11w or more. This ensures a longer life span of the driver.
What types of Drivers are available?
Plug and Play Drivers:
Most of our standard range of drivers feature plug and play technology, with a cable and mains voltage UK plug attached.
These are best suited for DIY and home use due to their easy installation. They are available in 12v or 24v and various wattages.
Feature a curved, slimline design, making them ideal for installations where space is tight.
These require hard wiring.
Exclusively stocked by Ultra LEDs, this range of high-performing LED drivers are best suited for demanding, long-term environments such as retail or commercial installations.
Thanks to their exceptional reliability record, high-quality internal components and unprecedented 5 year warranty there is no need to worry about failure.
They also feature various terminals for more versatile installations. The Tagra drivers require hard wiring, either via a flex cable and a plug or directly into a mains voltage circuit,
making them better suited for professional use.
They are available in 12v or 24v with various wattages and some are dimmable.
Our dimmable drivers work by removing parts of the mains voltage, reducing the amount of power it supplies to the LED.
They can either be ‘trailing edge’ (ELV) or ‘leading edge’ (TRIAC), depending on which part of the mains voltage current they chop out.
There are a few differences between the two different types of dimmers:
TRIAC (leading edge) Dimmable Drivers:
Use slightly simpler technology to dim LEDs, and are therefore usually a cheaper option.
They usually have a slightly narrower dimming range for low-voltage bulbs like LEDs due to their higher minimum load requirement, so usually work better with higher voltage LEDs.
ELV (trailing edge) Dimmable Drivers:
Trailing-edge dimmable drivers are slightly more sophisticated, offering smooth, silent dimming.
They are usually better suited to lower-power.
Water Resistant Drivers:
Due to their higher IP rating of either 65 for splash proof drivers or 67 for waterproof drivers, water resistant drivers are useful in environments like kitchens, bathrooms
or even in outdoor systems. All water resistant drivers feature a waterproof hardwired flex cable as standard and cannot be rewired.
Featuring a slimline design and multi-port plug and play technology, this range of drivers have been specifically developed for easy installation into furniture without the need for electrical qualifications.
With corresponding sensors, mains voltage plugs and 6 ports for different runs of LED tape, these versatile drivers are easy to install in situations where space is tight with no wiring required.
Available in 12v or 24v.
Short for ‘Digitally Addressable Lighting Interface’, our DALI drivers are a more specialist solution.
They are integrated into a system which uses computer software to control lighting over many areas and across several lighting circuits.
As well as on/off functions, DALI drivers can dim LEDs and combined with the software interface can be pre-programmed to change the lighting patterns at scheduled times. They are available in 12v or 24v.
Rechargeable Battery Packs:
Rather than using a mains voltage power supply, these self-contained rechargeable battery packs offer a great solution for temporary or portable LED lighting systems. They include a mains voltage charging cable and a DC cable to connect to your LED tape.
They are available in 12v with various milliamperes per hour, depending on the length of tape you are running.
What is an IP rating?
The IP or ‘Ingress Protection’ rating of a product refers to its degrees of protection from solids or liquids in its electrical enclosures. The first number in an IP rating refers to its level of protection
from dust, and the second refers to its level of protection from water. For example, a driver with an IP rating of 65 is dust proof and splash proof. An IP rating of 67 indicates the product is waterproof
up when submerged up to 1m when installed correctly. A product with an IP rating of 68 can be submerged over 1m.
Does my LED Driver need to be waterproof?
Yes, if you are installing and LED driver outdoors we recommend using a waterproof driver with an IP rating of 67 or above.
In bathrooms where moisture levels are high or there is a chance the driver could get splashed, we recommend using a driver with an IP rating of 65.
Which IP ratings should I look for in outdoor installations?
When installing LED lighting systems outdoors we recommend only using products with an IP rating of 67 of above.
What is the difference between an LED Driver and a Power Supply?
A power supply traditionally refers to any component in an electrical circuit which supplies voltage to the rest of the circuit.
This could be either AC or DC. An LED driver is a type of power supply which provides a constant, low direct current to LEDs.
In the LED lighting industry these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, the fact they are DC is assumed.
Why Use an LED Driver?
LED drivers are required in all LED systems (except those which are specifically developed to be controlled by mains voltage power supplied).
This is because LEDs require a constant, direct current with a low voltage of around 12 to 24v, rather than the 240v of AC supplied by a mains voltage supply.
Without a driver to regulate the voltage delivered to the LED could results in failure.
Which LED Driver do I need?
Our range of LED drivers offer a suitable solution for a variety of different environments and situations.
The driver you need depends on the voltage and wattage of the tape you wish to install and the situation in which you are installing it.
When choosing a suitable driver compatibility is crucial. Be sure to choose one with a corresponding output voltage to the tape in question (either 12v or 24v), and with a wattage
capability that is at least 10% greater than the wattage the tape requires to ensure a longer lifespan of the driver.
The environment in which you are installing the driver also needs to be considered. For example, for permanent installations in demanding environments such as in retail displays we recommend
our Tagra® Professional range: Made using only the highest quality components and rigorously tested to to comply with all regulations these drivers are guaranteed to last with an unprecedented
5 year warranty.
For commercial spaces which comprise of different areas and require a combination of various solutions we recommend our DALI control system and DALI drivers.
Short for ‘Digital Addressable Lighting Interface’, this specialist system uses computer software to control LED lighting across a range of different zones and can be preprogrammed to scheduled times.
Our Plug & Play range of drivers are perfect for all other uses, including domestic installations in your home.
Do I need a dimmable driver for colour changing LED tape?
No, a standard driver with a compatible voltage and wattage capability will power colour changing tape.
However, you will need to purchase an RGB controller, which consists of a receiver that wires between the driver and the tape and a handheld remote control.
What's the difference between an LED driver and a transformer?
Whereas a driver transforms mains voltage AC into a low voltage DC, a transformer usually onlY transforms mains voltage AC into a lower AC voltage, and typically have an output voltage that is too high for LEDs.
LEDs require a constant, direct current (DC) of 12v or 24v in order to work. This means that a low voltage transformer which are typically used for halogen bulbs will not power an LED circuit.
However, as halogen technology is phased out and LED technology comes to the forefront, the terms Driver and Transformer; are often used interchangeably in the LED lighting industry.
How do I mount my Driver?
Drivers can be mounted to various surfaces in several different ways depending on the driver in question.
Many drivers have screw holes integrated into their design, meaning they can be fixed onto almost any surface with screws.
However, for drivers without this feature we recommend securing them to a surface with an adhesive tape.
This is a great solution for installing lighting under kitchen cabinets or in furniture.