Sample of an Ezzolights LED driver for our Luxlights lighting
Every LED light would always require an electronic control gear or ballast or power supply or transformer or in the field of LEDs is called the driver. To the lay person, it is any of the above but not so many people understand that all LED lights would need some sort of driver, be it from the ubiquitous LED light bulb to your home LED lighting and high powered floodlights.
All LED light module accepts current flow in one direction only, it is direct current albeit low levels of current. A good driver works to ensure the current flow is managed well with an unwanted increase in LED internal temperature kept under control.
It is important to consider buying LED drivers which are deemed safely approved by your local authorities OR at least are tested to IEC / UL / EN Safety Standards! All these are internationally approved safety and performance standards. The reality is many customers would outweigh buying cost factors in the LED lighting with its accompanying drivers.
Certified drivers to IEC/BS/EN/UL standards have additional separated and optimum protection in the event of faults in other proximate circuit electrical wiring. It is called Separated or Safety Extra Low Voltage (SELV) and that label should be printed on the driver. Or the confirmation that the driver is certified to IEC/BS/EN 61347-2-13 or UL 8750 & CSA C22.2 No. 250.13.
Do note there are test centres of various respectability even for drivers certified to IEC/EN standards, so if you are not sure or wish to clarify, we would be happy to oblige.
In Singapore, it is a government requirement for LED drivers to carry the Safety Mark logo which essentially means the driver or transformer is certified to IEC 61347-2-13 for consumers at home (www.spring.gov.sg/safety). There is no specific requirements for commercial projects unless it is required by the customer. Sometimes the "quality" of the driver maybe assessed by the warranty provided.
Efficiency of your driver is also a critical differentiation. Often however, what is cheaper may not be a good idea if you wish to be efficient. This is referred to as Power Factor or the degree in which actual energy is used (in kW) when converted to AC electricity. So if a power factor is 0.95 and you use it to support a 18W LED light, the actual energy consumed is more than 18W. In cheaper LED drivers, often their power factor is only 0.70 and hence, your energy will actually be an extra 40% more. Certified drivers are often already 0.95 as the quality of the product ensures that efficiency.
3. THERMAL LOAD
LED lighting is sensitive to high temperature affecting its lifespan. It is also very true that LED Drivers are sensitive to the efficiency in which heat is dissipated from its components. This thermal load is critically measured between the casing temperature and component temperature. Good drivers are made to have as low a temperature difference.
4. SPIKE RESISTANCE
In theory, regular AC power supply are to have a clean sinusoidal wave pattern. In reality, many AC power supplies are irregular and maybe caused by switching large inductive or capacitive loads. Such voltage spikes, in particular, do affect the lifespan of your driver and hence lighting. Certain countries are more prone to large spikes compared to others.
All these points are often overlooked by consumers especially when costs becomes part of the equation. Do consider knowing what is the value of safety when the costs difference is only a few dollars at times.
Please contact us if you wish to know more about the technical specifications for your intended purchase. The blog is written to provide a simple overview of what goes into a driver.
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