What Type of LED Driver Do we Need？
There are two main types of external LED drivers, constant-current and constant-voltage, as well as a third type of driver called an AC LED driver which will also be discussed. Each type of driver is designed to operate LEDs with a different set of electrical requirements. When replacing a driver, the old driver’s input/output requirements must be matched as closely as possible. Key differences are detailed below.
Constant-current drivers power LEDs that require a fixed output current and a range of output voltages. There will be only one output current specified, labeled in amps or milliamps, along with a range of voltages that will vary depending on the load (wattage) of the LED. In the example to the right, the current output is 700mA, and the output voltage range is 4-13V DC (volts of direct current).
Constant-voltage drivers power LEDs that require a fixed output voltage with a maximum output current. In these LEDs, the current is already regulated, either by simple resistors or an internal constant-current driver, within the LED module. These LEDs require one stable voltage, usually 12V DC or 24V DC. In the example to the left, the output voltage is 24V DC, and the output current is a maximum of 1.04A.
AC LED Drivers drivers
AC LED drivers are actually no-minimum load transformers, meaning they could technically operate low-voltage halogen or incandescent bulbs as well. LEDs, however, cannot operate with conventional transformers because conventional transformers were not made to detect the low wattage of LEDs. In other words, LEDs have such a small electrical load that regular transformers do not register that they’re wired to a bulb at all. AC LED drivers are typically used with bulbs that already contain an internal driver that converts the current from AC to DC, so an AC LED driver’s job is to register the low wattage of LEDs and step down the voltage to meet the bulb’s voltage requirements, usually 12 or 24 volts. AC LED drivers are typically used to power 12-24V AC input LED MR16 bulbs, but they can be used for any 12-24V AC input LED bulb. The LED bulb datasheet must be carefully examined; if the LED bulb requires DC voltage input, it cannot be used with an AC LED driver.
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