If there’s a single advantage that LEDs have over formerly traditional methods of providing illumination, it’s the significantly increased ROI in terms of power conversion. LEDs are much less costly to power and return much more actual light Ð instead of merely wasting heat – per wattage invested.
The Components of an LED Set-Up
Beyond the light-emitting diode itself, the most important component for a string of LEDs is (arguably) the driver. It helps manage the functionality of the LED, as well as the lifetime. The driver is sometimes known as the controller and feeds the electric current needed to propel the electrons into the hole of the semi-conductor material, which then produces light once they combine. The function of the driver is two-fold: it ensures that the proper voltage and current are flowing into the LED circuit and changes high voltage, alternating current to low voltage direct current.
The Importance of the LED Driver for Power Conversion
The power that comes from your office or home outlet is almost always high voltage alternating current. However, an LED needs direct current in order to run reliably. The controller/driver attenuates the voltage and changes the alternating current to direct current. This is necessary to ensure that the LED doesn’t experience current fluctuations, which can overload the device beyond its manufacturer-rated levels and reduce its lifetime.
The voltage must also be kept constant, because– according to Ohm’s Law– fluctuations in voltage also cause fluctuations on current. Not only can high current degrade an LED, but so can low current. When you’re in the market for one, it’s important to understand the difference between the two types of available power conversion drivers: constant-current drivers and constant-voltage drivers.
- Constant Voltage LED Driver: This type of driver provides a fixed voltage to the LED and restricts the current. The intended diode should already possess internal resistors to ensure the current is managed. This driver ensures that too much current never afflicts the device.
- Constant Current LED Driver: This option is intended for LEDs that can sustain several voltages; it provides a single current level. The wattage of the LED is important and determines the voltage your device will support. The driver simply ensures you’ll have a single current output value – no matter what.
It’s important to not use a resistor in place of a constant-current LED driver for regulating power conversion. Although the resistor can regulate current, it doesn’t have the ability to reduce the current in case of spikes, which means it will increase as a function of time. This rise in current will, of course, shorten the lifetime of the diode as the waste heat degrades the environment. A constant-current driver is simply more flexible and reliable. This rings especially true if you need high-output LEDs for your company.
Energy Recovery Products
If you need more information on anything that involves LEDs, drivers, controllers, or related products, don’t hesitate to contact us at ERP-Power.com. Check out what we have to offer on the website, and give us a call at your convenience at 805-517-1300.