Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) quickly change incandescent and fluorescent technologies for indoor and outdoor lighting units. That’s due to their energy efficiency, design flexibility, long life, and durability.
Nonetheless, selecting the proper LEDs is only one part of the LED lighting system design equation if you’re planning to install LED lighting strips.
For the solid-state LED lights design to accomplish its optimal performance, you must combine it with a power supply whose qualities are a greater match for the LEDs and their intended usage. This post is a helpful guide on what you must pay attention to when choosing a LED power adapter.
What is an LED Power Supply, and Why Do You Need One?
LED technology has transformed the lighting industry with many benefits over conventional options. These benefits include energy efficiency, a long life span, environmental safety, and more. LED lights require a special device called an LED power supply to keep this positive aspect.
An LED power supply substantially impacts the stability and performance of LED lights. It’s considered the brain of an LED lighting system, and LEDs can’t properly function in exclusion of three vital components:
- the heat-sink cooling the unit
- the driver regulating power to the light source
- the chipset emitting the light
The LED power supply is a significant component that keeps delivering the correct current and voltage through an LED circuit. It effectively controls the power from low to high, as the power needed by LEDs is lower than other lighting options.
On top of that, it functions as an interface that incorporates wireless communication modules and sensors to allow human-machine interaction for different intelligent lighting applications.
You can use these LED power supplies in outdoor and indoor applications like tunnel lighting, horticultural lighting, signages, residential lighting, embedded lighting, architectural lighting, etc.
Such drivers now have different advanced features and flexibility for other lighting solutions.
You might be doubting the importance of these LED power supplies. You see, LEDs don’t consume much energy compared to traditional lights. Thus, they can’t be plugged into a wall socket directly, as the high alternating current could burn or damage them immediately.
They also need a stable power flow to produce light. That is where an LED power supply comes to the rescue. It’s essential for offering continuous voltage or current so that the LED can light up with maximum brightness and efficiency.
Further, LED power supplies offer LEDs the electricity they need to perform and function at their best. The drivers control the power to an LED or a string of LEDs and remedy high voltage-alternate to low voltage direct current. In other words, LED drivers safeguard LEDs from current or voltage fluctuations.
The voltage drop in an LED is nearly continuous for a specific level of current passing through it, which increases faster with little increase in applied voltage. Therefore, the power supply’s function is to control the current through the LEDs to accomplish the desired brightness (they are popular as constant current LED drivers).
On the other hand, continuous voltage LED drivers control the voltage, and there are also limiting resistances utilized in series to power the LEDs. Still, those are limited to lower power strip lighting and indicator lamps.
Types of LED Power Supplies
You will find two types of LED power supplies: constant voltage and current power supplies.
A constant current LED driver differs the voltage across the electronic circuit to keep a constant electrical current. That assures that whatever the fluctuation in voltage, the LED sustains the current at a specific level.
Constant current drivers for LEDs need a range of voltages and fixed output. Constant current drivers specify their specifications on the device, with a single output current rating and a series of voltages that differ based on the LEDs’ wattage.
You can determine the LED lighting’s brightness by the current value. Therefore, the brightness will change accordingly if the current value fluctuates. That also means it needs a stable current.
On the other hand, constant voltage drivers come in various forms, from those enclosed depending on their target application to a conventional power supply. Constant voltage drivers have a fixed voltage, normally 24VDC or12VDC.
LEDs use them, which means it needs one stable voltage. They have a current regulated either through simple resistors or an internal constant current driver inside the LED module.
Remember that this power circuit regulates the output voltage to a constant level. It supplies a constant voltage irrespective of the load, and you can often find it in power supplies for electric circuits.
How to Choose the Right LED Power Supply for Your Needs
When should you choose constant current for your LED power supply?
Are you creating your fixture? Perhaps you are working with high-powered LEDs. In that case, constant current LED drivers are the best way to prevent thermal runway or burnout by never exceeding the max specific current for the LED.
Also, designers find such drivers simpler to control in applications, allowing a more consistent level of brightness. Remember that control of the current, as opposed to the voltage, offers more precise control of power degenerated in the LED. It helps the designer predict failure rates more precisely than when constant voltage supplies.
When should you choose constant voltage for your LED power supply?
Have you already confirmed your LED or strings are rated to take a specific voltage? Then constant current LED drivers are more intuitive for design engineers, not to mention they’re often a cheaper solution than constant current drivers.
Remember that what you select for your LED driver type could substantially depend on the end-use and other constraints. For other applications and signage that depend on contrasting or vibrant colors, a continuous voltage supply could be more cost-efficient and simpler to design.
In addition, any color changes are more likely relative and will have a minimal effect on the efficacy of the viewed light. Also, efficiency is less crucial in signage, and another heat sinking is much more economical when the application is a single installation than lighting distributed throughout the website.
Nonetheless, constant current drivers could be a better option when the intended end-use is for illumination. These enable more even control of the brightness and light quality, meaning you can easily tune the system to keep LEDs running in their most efficient range.
On top of that, running LEDs in their most effective range often needs heat sinking, and the metal from the lighting fixture is usually sufficient to spread the heat and keep the LEDs operating in an efficient and ideal state.
Learning the functional differences in driving LEDs with constant voltage or current supplies could help designers improve their design to meet their light output, design longevity, and light quality targets.
Factors to Consider When Choosing an LED Power Supply
You should consider many factors if you’re trying to choose a power supply for your LED application. Think about where you’ll place that light and its environment.
For example, will it be placed indoors or outdoors? If you plan on installing it outdoors, will the power supply need to be waterproof? Do not forget to consider conduction and convection cooling of the power supply.
The environment is also a major factor in such scenarios. It could change it will consume energy; thus, you must understand the proper amount of wattage the LED light will consume to prevent energy loss.
Determine the proper amount of wattage
Understanding how many watts the light source will need is the most important thing. It will depend on the number of bulbs or the light applications you wish to connect to one power supply.
You can compute it independently or get the technician to do it. Keep at least a twenty percent safety cushion on your calculated wattage.
Maintenance and regulation
Regulation is another thing you must remember after you pick the power supply and compute the overall system wattage. You’ll need to consider the region you live in and the type of utilities provided there.
There are also harmonic current limits and safety standards, which you must remember. Understand if your LED will work well using an ITE power supply and how efficient any power supply you utilize must be to satisfy the regional and local standards.
The LED’s voltage
As you try to fix a malfunctioning power supply or work on your LED project, check if the voltage provided is compatible with the LED’s voltage. Also, always check for LED products with built-in current regulators, as they could also come with particular voltage measurements.
While choosing a power supply for your applicators, bulbs, or LED strips, check if it can manage the input voltage supply. It also depends on your specific location. Remember that line voltage differs based on the region you live in.
A smart approach here is to understand if you have low-line AC power or high-line AC power. It will help you know if your power supply is well-matched with the line power of your region.
The environmental conditions
There’s no hesitation that climate change is a rising issue. It only proves that weather conditions can impact anything, including LED lights.
That’s one thing often ignored when selecting a good LED power supply. Power supplies have temperature parameters like enzymes have optimums, which work at utmost efficacy.
Thus, do more than just put your power supply where it could heat up, crossing that temperature range and causing a risky disaster.
On the other hand, do more than keep your power supply in a cold place. The cold can jam your power supply. Always pay attention to the IP rating, offering details about the maximum solid size and pressure of liquid a power supply could repel.
Typically, it’s a 2-digit number where the first number describes the size of the solid the power supply could endure. Meanwhile, the second digit symbolizes the amount of liquid.
The bigger those numbers are, the more protection your power supply will offer. With the rise of the first figure, you can state that particles as small as dust will not bring any harm, while the increase in the second number means the power supply is safe from light showers and heavier rain.
When picking a power supply for your LED venture, it’s essential to determine where it should fit. Would you like to place it inside the product you’re creating? It should be trivial enough to fit in the space presented.
If it’s outside the application, it must have a way to mount close by. You will find various power supplies in multiple shapes and sizes to fit your requirements.
The power supply’s efficiency determines how much power goes toward creating the LED light. The higher your power supply’s efficiency percentage, the more power you end up saving.
For LED applications, it’s a brilliant idea to choose a power source with eighty percent efficiency or higher.
A Few Things to Keep in Mind When Using an LED Power Supply
Safety considerations are essential to improve the reliability and performance of LED applications. The designs of these LED power supplies differ from each other. Such supplies are accessible in an array of protections, like over-voltage, short-circuit protection, over-current, over-temperature protection, and many more.
Various standards represent such protection. They can deal with extreme temperatures and lessen catastrophic failure.
On top of that, an LED power supply comes with IP (ingress protection) rating, which intends for external use. That defines how well the power supply can safeguard LEDs from environmental conditions and keep the lights long-lasting and electrically safe.
Remember that the purpose of IP rating is to help understand its unit capability rather than making assumptions with ambiguous terms such as outdoor use, waterproof, dust-free, and many more.
As mentioned above, every LED driver is assigned a two-digit IP code, offering information about its protection level. The first number will be between 0 to 6, referring to the protection level against solid objects like debris and dust.
The second number will be between 0 and 8, indicating protection against liquids like water and moisture. Again, remember that a higher number guarantees better protection against liquids and solids.
Ultimately, you need to pick a manufacturer that uses high-quality parts such as aluminum capacitors with a longer life, utilizes appropriate insulation material and varnishing, and follows strict quality control measures and testing procedures.
Tips For Installing and Using an LED Power Supply Safely
Like other electronic devices, LED power supplies are susceptible to moisture and temperature. You must position it in a dry area and have sufficient space for heat dissipation.
Here are some tips you need to bear in mind:
Lessen the LED supply’s “ON” time
You can utilize a sensor switch to regulate your LED driver’s “on” time. For example, when there are people, your LED driver will be set “on.” But once no people leave, the sensor switch can efficiently turn off the driver.
You can save on electric energy and safeguard the LED driver.
Ensure that the area you install your LED driver is sufficient. Place it in a larger place if possible. Doing this will allow the airflow to cool down the driver every time the driver is working. Also, a larger area and sufficient airflow can stop the driver from potentially overheating.
Leave your LED supply with sufficient wattage
Make sure you do not use 100% power supply wattage. It will help if you leave some room for the driver. Only consume eighty percent of the maximum wattage of your driver. That will allow you to use the LED driver for a long time.
Tips to avoid problems:
- If you’re using an enclosure box with louvers, make sure you put the box, so the louvers are horizontal so you can stop the water from entering and guarantee proper air circulation.
- Ensure the primary wiring’s route to prevent jeopardizing the spacing requirements.
- Don’t leave the cover off your LED power supply box after installation.
- It’s also important to remember that all your wiring should have a rate of 105 degrees Celsius or greater. Don’t leave any knockout holes open. If the knockout is not used and removed, put a cap intended for that purpose in the unused holes.
- Don’t try to mount an added power supply in a single box, as it will only result in overheating the power supplies. A suggested option is to utilize two power supplies with approved current specifications in a box.
Remember that selecting the suitable and ideal LED power supply or driver for your lighting project is a complex task. This guide lets you understand the fundamental knowledge of an LED power supply. You now understand everything you need to know: how to pick the perfect supply, how to use the driver, and more.
An LED power supply will give your LED strip good performance, better brightness, and long service life. Prowin Power offers a one-stop LED power supply solution with 2-3 years warranty. Contact us now to get your LED power supply!