From business-oriented projects to city-wide street lighting, there’s no shortage of appropriate applications for LED lighting technology.
When compared to more traditional lighting systems, LED lighting lasts longer and is more efficient.
However, LED lighting can’t operate on its own. It requires a power source—an LED power supply.
Choosing the right LED power supply depends on multiple factors. Let’s look at some considerations along with a few different types of LED power supplies.
For an LED system to function properly, it requires three different elements:
That last element is an LED power supply. LED drivers and LED power supplies are nearly interchangeable terms. To put it simply, the LED driver is like the brain behind an LED lighting system and contains a power supply composed of a power source and control circuitry. LED power supplies are designed to drive the LEDs and promote stability. LED drivers can be viewed as a self-contained power supply comprised of a power source and LED control circuitry. The LED power supply allows the LED to generate light by converting power within the driver.
LED drivers are highly efficient power management systems. In fact, a 100W LED bulb with an integrated LED driver can easily replace a 400W metal halide bulb, drastically reducing power consumption.
One of the primary differences between different types of LED power supplies is whether they’re constant current drivers or constant voltage drivers.
Here’s the difference between the two.
Constant voltage drivers supply a fixed voltage with a designated or maximum current range. In general, these drivers are suitable for any LED lighting application with an unknown number of LED strings and an unknown current draw. Current control is handled by components within the LED itself.
Contrary to constant voltage, constant current drivers supply a fixed current to the LED. They’re best used for any application where the LED must be connected to a constant current supply. Constant current drivers operate using a limited voltage range, making it even more important to choose an appropriate driver based on the voltage rating.
Choosing the correct LED power supply depends on a variety of factors and potential features. Depending on your use case, you’ll want to consider all of these when picking up a driver for your LED lighting application.
Wattage is the single most important factor when choosing your LED driver. Figure out the wattage of your LED application and choose a large enough LED driver based on that number.
If you’re only running one light, be concerned with that light’s wattage. However, in some cases, you’ll want to have more than one LED fixture hooked up to a power supply. To do this effectively, you’ll have to add the total wattage of each LED light and choose a power supply that gives you an additional 20% over the total wattage, just in case. The easiest way to accomplish this is to multiply your total wattage by a factor of 1.2.
Another crucial factor to consider when choosing an LED driver is the environment in which the driver will be used. By environment, we mean temperature and weather conditions.
Most LED drivers should come with a spec sheet that includes temperature parameters for optimal performance. To avoid issues, you’ll need to abide by these parameters and avoid using an LED power supply in an area where temperatures will exceed these limits. If not, the heat can build up to a point where the driver ends up being damaged.
Indoor or outdoor usage is another important environmental consideration. When choosing an LED driver for the outdoors, it should carry an IP67 rating. IP67 means that the LED driver is suited for outdoor applications, with protection from dust and the ability to withstand water submersion up to 1 meter for 30 minutes.
As the world continues moving forward with greener initiatives, power consumption levels are a strong consideration when selecting LED drivers. High-efficiency drivers increase energy savings and dissipate less heat, meaning that the driver itself will have an improved product lifetime. LED lighting systems tend to have a much longer lifespan than more traditional lighting systems, meaning that an energy-efficient power supply should be used to match the life expectancy.
It seems obvious, but the size of an LED driver is often overlooked. Depending on your LED project and where you’re installing the driver, you’ll need to make sure that it fits into the desired area. It shouldn’t be a problem to find one that is the appropriate size since LED drivers come in a variety of sizes, but it’s something you’ll need to consider before installation.
There are certain wired lighting control protocols that are desirable for specific lighting applications. If you want to take advantage of these, you’ll need an LED driver with that capability.
Some of these wired protocols include:
DALI is a big one for lighting systems, providing easier installation and use of ballasts and relay switches that allow for customization and dimming features.
With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), many lighting control systems have gone fully wireless. If your desired LED lighting system requires wireless connectivity, you’ll need an LED driver that supports wireless systems.
Connecting devices wirelessly like this helps designers plan out intuitive, efficient lighting systems.
Many lighting designs benefit from the ability to be dimmed, meaning that an LED driver with dimming capability will be necessary. Not only is dimming important but choosing a flicker-free LED driver is crucial as well.
Many of today’s modern wireless LED drivers use robust wireless protocols, including:
These protocols have certain strengths and weaknesses when it comes to dimming and flicker-free capability. Designers will need to weigh these pros and cons before selecting a driver for a particular use case.
There are also dimming modules that target certain special ambient lighting features. For example, dim to warm lets users adjust the color temperature by lowering the brightness of the luminaire. Taking it one step further is tunable white, with the ability adjust both the brightness and the color temperature separately.
No matter the use case, GRE Alpha has LED drivers to fit the scale of any project, including basic drivers, easy installation drivers, and more.
Our LED drivers have been used across multiple industries to power innovative LED solutions, from street lighting to horticulture. Explore our collection of LED power supplies today to find the cutting-edge lighting solutions you need.
Filed in: Company News