Do Led Strip Lights Need A Driver? – Everything about the LED driver

Led strip lights are not like led bulbs, led strip lights are in the form of strips, which have a power source and led chips on the strip, so they need a driver to convert the AC current to DC current, then give to the led strip lights.

Do Led Strip Lights Need A Driver?

Yes, LEDs (light-emitting diodes) need a driver. They are components in an led lighting circuit that control the intensity and brightness of the light emitted. They also control the current and voltage of the LEDs and have an inbuilt resistance and capacitance that helps improve the quality of the light output and extends the life expectancy.

The driver should be specific to the type of LEDs in the circuit and should have been included when the LEDs were purchased. Some of the typical drivers for linear strips and bulbs are- constant current drivers and constant voltage drivers.

LED drivers basics

LED drivers are the most popular method of dimming LED lights. LED drivers control a LED light that is designed to be run at a particular power. Usually, the driver allows you to dim the light to the desired level. That is, it allows you to adjust the brightness of the light source. However, even with the best dimming drivers, there will be some amount of change in the light source’s color. As the brightness is reduced, the color will shift, making it look a bit bluer.

The driver’s job is to take the low voltage (5-12 VDC) power from the battery and step it up to the voltage needed to run the light. The simplest of drivers consist of a transformer and a diode, which converts the current from AC to DC, and the current coming out of the transformer is smoothed out by a capacitor. More advanced drivers use an array of MOSFETs, insulated gates, to keep the voltage high during a current surge. The less complicated the driver, the less protection they give, and the more likely your LED lights will burn out. That is why most LED lights use multiple drivers.

Types of LED drivers

The two main types of drivers are constant current and constant voltage drivers. Which one is right for you? It depends on the specifications of your LED light. It’s not safe to use a constant voltage driver with constant current light and vice versa.

1. Constant Current Led Driver

A constant current driver is a device that regulates the amount of power going to a light-emitting diode or other electrical device. There are two different types of current limiting devices to protect devices from voltage spikes or faulty wiring. Pulse width modulation and constant current. Pulse width modulation, PWM, is a way to control a light source by varying the amount of power sent to the source.

If power is applied to the light source at a constant rate, the result is that the light source will flicker. This is because the power is not sufficient to keep the light source running at the required intensity. This is where the PWM comes into play. By varying the power going to the light source, we are able to control the light source. The variation in the amount of power goes in cycles that are short, fast bursts. The current limiting device is capable of controlling the power supplied to the light source by briefly turning it on and off. This is called PWM (pulse width modulation).

Constant current drivers are made for high-power LEDs, which have a maximum current rating of say 50mA or 100mA. Since LEDs only have a limited lifetime before they burn out, the driver needs to be able to supply them with a current which is high enough for them to reach their specified brightness but not too high that it kills them before their time. Convince current drivers are also called LED drivers because they are always on as long as the battery is connected.

2. Constant voltage drivers

Constant voltage drivers are used to controlling the output voltage of power supplies. They are not used to PWM the supply. It is fitted in between the supply and the load. They have simply 3 terminals as input and output. The input voltage is connected to the common terminal, the output is connected to the other terminal and a feedback terminal is connected to the controller circuitry. The constant voltage driver is used to control the common-mode voltage of the load.

Constant voltage drivers are electronic devices that are used in automobiles to run the headlights and other auxiliary equipment. The constant voltage driver maintains a constant voltage to a load. This is despite the fact that the battery voltage is changing as the battery is used. The operation of the driver is controlled by a feedback loop, so it adjusts its output to keep the voltage constant.

What does a driver do for LED lights?

A driver is a small circuit board that provides a constant current at a specified voltage to the LEDs. Its main function is to regulate the flow of current. This prevents the LEDs from burning out because if the current is too high the LEDs can burn out quickly. There are several types of drivers available, but they all have one thing in common: they convert AC power from the electric grid into a steady, constant DC power. This is the type of power LEDs require to shine brightly and last longer.

A driver and a power supply are two different things. The driver converts the 12 Volts or 24 Volts to a low DC voltage and then uses that low voltage to drive the LED. The driver also has an input for a current sense resistor and a feedback voltage. The driver then has an output for the led. The power supply is used to convert the AC line voltage to DC voltage (usually 24V or 12V). It also regulates the output voltage. The power supply has 3 wires and the driver only has 2 wires.

How do LED strips connect to the driver?

There are different ways to connect the LED strip to the driver. The most common way is to connect the positive and negative leads of the strip or chip to the positive and negative leads of the driver.  The other way is to connect the positive leads of the strip to the negative leads of the driver and vise versa.

LEDs strips connect to the driver using two wires. One is the power supply wire and the other one is a data wire. A positive voltage on the power supply wire turns the LEDs on, while a negative voltage in the data wire puts them off. There is a data wire for each LED and each wire carries the same pattern of pulses. This is how the driver knows how many LEDs are connected to the strip and where they are located. The driver also keeps track of the speed at which the LEDs are cycling.

Why do LED drivers fail?

LED driver failure is pretty rare when you consider how long they live on average, but their failure rate is much higher than their lifespan. The two main reasons for LED driver failure are over-driven LEDs and partial burns. Over-driven LEDs happen when the driver does not properly put out the voltage necessary to power the LED. A partial burn happens when the LED fails to turn on or flickers.

The frit on the LED’s surface cracks, which prevents it from conducting electricity completely. LED driver failure can be prevented by making sure that the driver is not over-driven by checking the output voltage, making sure that the LEDs are the correct shape, the shape of the heatsink is a perfect fit, and making sure that the correct voltage is used; this means that the voltage output is too low or high. A few things to check are the quality and type of wire used and making sure that the soldering is done carefully.

How do I choose an LED driver for my LED?

Choosing an LED driver is as important as choosing an LED. To correctly select an LED driver you need to know the LED power, LED voltage, LED current, LED forward voltage, and LED forward current together with the LED lumen output. The LED driver should be able to produce the required LED forward voltage and current at the specified LED forward current.

The most important component of an LED driver is the IC controller, which can be based on a microprocessor. The controller will regulate the current flowing through the LED. The required amount of current is determined by the amount of lumen you want to produce at the LED.

There are several things to consider when choosing an LED driver for your LED.
  • Power: The first is how much power you need. For example, if you need to light up a house, you’d better choose a constant voltage driver instead.
  • Cost: The second is the cost. You can save money with constant current drivers if your LEDs are evenly distributed. But if you need to light up a whole building, then you’d better choose constant voltage drivers.
  • Heat: The third is heat dissipation. Because the constant current driver reduces the heat, the LEDs are cooler and have a longer lifespan.

Can you use any LED driver?

Yes, LED drivers are specially designed to be able to drive any LED strips. However, you should check the specifications of your LED strips to make sure that a certain LED driver is compatible.

The RGB LED strip comes with a PCB on the back so you can solder in a driver. The end of the strip is a positive and negative terminal so you can cut the strip to size, solder the ends and then connect it to power without a driver. Each strip has 3 LEDs per meter which means you will get a total of 6 LEDs per 2m of the strip. The flex strip measures 10mm wide and there are 60 LEDs per strip. It doesn’t matter which color you connect to the positive and negative wire, they will all light up.

How to test led driver?

For testing the led driver and led strip, you can use an Ohm meter to test the resistance of the led strip. The led strip should have a similar resistance to an incandescent light bulb. You can also use an led dimmer to test the led strip if it is the correct driver.

You can test the dimmer in three different modes:

  1. Using the dimmer directly as a 12v power source
  2. Use the dimmer as a PWM source,
  3. Use the dimmer to drive the led strip directly.

One easy way to test LEDs is to use a voltage and current meter. Put the meter in DC voltage mode, and connect the positive probe of the meter to the positive lead of the LED string, and connect the negative lead of the meter to the negative lead of the LED string. Then, turn on the power and see what the voltage is across the LED string while measuring the current flow.

As long as the voltage and the current are the same, then the LED string is working properly. You can always use a voltage divider or two resistors to drive the LED string at a low voltage, and then use a multimeter to measure the voltage across the string.

How to repair the LED light driver?

Check the voltage of the power supply with a power supply tester.  Check if there is any sign of broken components on the soldering joints of the failed drives.  Inspect the driver for any sign of damage.  A good check would be to switch on the power supply and see if the driver glows. In the case of an SMD driver, check for any cracks or melting marks on the packaging.

Replace the damaged driver with the working one from the same brand, if available.  For any other model, purchase a new driver from the same brand.  If the voltage on the power supply seems fine, then inspect the power cord for any sign of damage and repair it, if available.  This is the most common reason for the failure of a driver. Also, check if the power cord is fitted correctly.

LED driver troubleshooting

LED driver troubleshooting can be done by using an oscilloscope to check for switching frequency, inductor current, and Vf. If you don’t have an oscilloscope, you can still estimate the switching frequency from the inductor current, Vf, and the resistance of the diode.

In many cases, the LED driver is the main culprit, and replacing it with a new one often resolves the issue. On the other hand, a loose connection in the electrical wiring can also cause these problems (which is common in a lot of cars, which may have their wiring routed over time). Driving the car for about five minutes should tell the tale. If the problem still persists, the next step is to take the car to an electrician to find out the root cause. In rare cases, the electrical system is faulty and the whole electrical system will have to be replaced.

Is an LED driver the same as a transformer?

LED driver is a circuit specifically designed to power LED lights. LED driver is not the same as a transformer. LED driver is designed to operate on relatively low voltage, which is why it is necessary to convert AC line power into DC. LED driver has a very low voltage drop because it uses high-frequency switching. This keeps the power losses in the driver to a minimum. A transformer is not the same thing as a driver. A transformer must be hooked up to a power source before it can be used. The voltage will be reduced but the frequency will remain the same.

An LED driver is a voltage source that is used to drive the LED strip. It’s a small PCB that is >90% efficient, with integrated over-current, over-temperature, short-circuit protection, and additional dimming capabilities. It’s a transformer but the output voltage is constant, the input current varies in direct proportion to the input voltage. So it’s not exactly a transformer, but it is used to drive LED strips.


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