LEDs are fast becoming the preferred lighting method of choice over fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs. However, whereas more traditional bulbs could be powered directly from the main voltage, LEDs require a driver.
In this article we’ll tell you everything you need to know about LED drivers, from how they work to how to choose the right one for your lighting project.
What is an LED driver?
Put simply, an LED driver is an electrical device used to regulate the amount of power that flows through an LED or LED array.
An LED driver, also commonly known as a transformer, is essential for responding to the ever-changing needs of a circuit of LEDs, supplying it with a constant amount of power in order to keep it operating at an optimum level and prevent it from overheating.
Why do we need a driver?
LEDs are a low-voltage light source that require a constant DC voltage, or current, in order to work.
Individual LEDs only require 2v to 4v of direct current (DC) power. However, when LEDs are connected in an array, such as on LED tape strip lighting, a higher voltage is required.
For this, we need a driver to convert incoming AC power to the proper DC voltage, in order to regulate the current that flows through the LEDs. This protects the LED circuits from any power fluctuations and prevents them from overheating.
Choosing an LED driver
LED drivers come in a range of wattage options to suit the wattage of your LED lighting fixture. When choosing a driver, you need to take the size of your LED array into consideration.
The size of the driver is measured in watts and needs to be matched to the power consumption, or load, of your LED array. To calculate this, simply multiply the wattage per metre by the total number of metres you intend run off a single driver, using the following equation:
wattage per metre x number of metres = total power consumption (load)
So, say you are using 10 metres of LED Strip Lighting that consumes 7.2 watts per metre – the entire load would be 10 x 7.2 = 72 watts. In this instance, a 100 watt driver would be more than sufficient.
If the wattage of your LED strip lighting is near to the driver’s limit, we recommend going up a level and choosing a driver that can handle a higher wattage.
Installing an LED driver
LED drivers are really easy to install and don’t require much electrical know-how. However, we always recommend that you consult a professional electrician before attempting any mains work.
If you need any advice on the installation of your LED driver, feel free to get in touch with one of our experts, who are always happy to help.