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LED Drivers

LED drivers provide power to LED light bulbs and LED fixtures that run on low voltage direct current. While fluorescent lamps are powered by ballasts, LED bulbs operate on a lower voltage and need LED power supplies to convert alternating current into direct current and to keep the power flowing throughout the whole circuit. LED drivers are connected to the main power source and increase or decrease the input voltage depending on the required level and then feed it to the fixture.

Contrary to LED bulbs that have an integrated or internal driver, commercial and large-scale LED fixtures use an external LED driver. The advantage of external drivers is it allows for easier replacement when the driver fails or goes bad over time. It is more cost-efficient to replace the power supply rather than the whole fixture, and there is a variety of replacement LED drivers to choose from. LED drivers are dimmable and IP rated for outdoor damp or wet locations. Programmable LED drivers are also available for special applications.

Two Types of LED Drivers

LED power supplies are separated into two types: constant current and constant voltage. Having either the output current or output voltage as constant would result in the other one being in a range and allows for varying wattages and light output.

Constant Current LED Drivers

Constant current LED drivers work with a fixed output current and produce varying wattages and output voltages. Constant current drivers send a specific output current in milliamps or amps to the fixture. The wattage value is directly proportional to the output voltage received, so a higher voltage sent results in a higher power consumption and stronger lumen output. LED drivers typically produce currents within 350mA to 6000mA. Constant current drivers are most commonly used in outdoor fixtures, architectural lighting, general indoor fixtures and sign lighting.

Constant Voltage LED Drivers

Constant voltage LED drivers convert standard 120-277V AC to produce a steady stream of output voltage in either 12V or 24V direct current (DC). The fixed voltage allows constant voltage drivers to produce a range of output currents and wattages up to a maximum. Since direct current typically loses power as it runs through a circuit, 24V configurations are ideal for longer runs to minimize the voltage drop. Constant voltage LED drivers are normally used for landscape fixtures, channel lighting and under cabinet lighting.