LED lights find their use in several applications. But for these LED lights to work as intended, you’ll require the right LED driver. Sadly, LED drivers that people use aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution.
How do you narrow down the specs you need to look out for when you think of initiating a purchasing decision? This article addresses this question in detail while touching on other aspects, such as the working principle of LED and LED PCB design. Also, there is a discussion of LED driving circuit manufacturing steps and precautions that one needs to take.
Essential Factors When Choosing LED Drivers for LED Lights
Before looking at other factors such as LED working principle and LED driving circuit manufacturing process, some critical considerations when choosing LED drivers include:
Efficiency is a crucial element when selecting an LED driver. Also expressed as a percentage, efficiency will tell you the amount of input power that the driver needs to power your LED. Frequent or regular efficiencies/capabilities are around 80-85%, though UL Class 1 LED drivers with the ability to operate more LEDs are highly efficient.
Another key element to choosing your LED driver meant for your LED lights is the driver’s power factor. The power factor lets you know the amount of actual power load put on the driver’s electrical network. On most occasions, the power factor stands in between -1 and 1, and the closer/nearer to 1 the power is, the more efficient the LED driver will be. A typical standard for power is around 0.9 and above. In case you find that there is no mentioning of power in a driver’s spec, it means that the product has a low power factor. This small power factor should be below 0.9.
3.Power Requirements: Input/ Output Voltage / Current, and Wattage
First, you may have to make careful considerations for your light’s voltage requirements. If you have an LED light that needs 12 volts to function, consider using a 12-volt driver. If it needs 24 volts, ensure also use a 24-volts driver and so on. In short, ensure that your driver achieves its power outputs within the specified ranges of the light.
Next, you will have to consider providing a voltage at the location where you want to use the light. The driver has to withstand the location’s input voltage to step down to the required input voltage. A majority of homes use 120 volts, while business entities need at least 277 volts. Plenty of LED drivers can withstand a wide range of voltages coming in. In short, when choosing your LED driver, don’t forget to consider the current input of the LED as well.
Lastly, put into consideration the wattage requirements of your LED lights. Go for an LED driver consisting of a maximum wattage that is higher than the wattage of the light. At all times, do not attempt to pair an LED driver with a LED light that surpasses the maximum wattage of the driver.
It is possible to achieve dimming capabilities using both constant-voltage and constant-current LEDs and drivers. However, the product datasheet has to specify that they are dimmable. But if you don’t see such specs, then there are high chances that the device isn’t dimmable. The same goes for commercial and household LEDs consisting of internal drivers. External drivers that are dimmable need external dimmers for them to work.
In the world of LED drivers, there’s something known as IP ratings that inform the users of the environmental protection provided by a driver’s enclosure. The first digit specifies the protection from solid objects, while the second one specifies the protection from water elements. For example, LED drivers consisting of IP67 ratings get protected against temporary immersion in liquids and dust. Therefore, when choosing a driver, it is vital to ensure that it is safe to use or consist of several safety protection features.
LED Working Principle
A Light Emitting Diode, also known as LED in short, is an invention that is widely used in many places these days. The working principle is not a difficult thing to understand as such. A LED consists of a two-lead light source semiconductor. It’s a p-n junction diode emitting light during activation. The application of suitable voltage to the leads makes the electrons to recombine with electron holes found within the device. The combination releases energy in the form of photons, a process known as electroluminescence. The color of the light depends on the semiconductors’ energy bandgap.
In other words, the working principle of LEDs is by quantum theory. This theory states that if electrons move from a higher level of energy to lower levels, energy gets emitted from the photon.
LED PCB Design Calculation
There are plenty of printed circuit board manufacturing challenges such as dealing with small pads or high-density circuit pads. However, there are several methods that manufacturers use to avoid such setbacks by PCB design calculation. The most common LED PCB design calculation involves calculating led power and resistor power.
To calculate LED power, you will need a multi-meter. After that, look at the datasheet of the manufacturer to determine the voltage in the LED unit. Alternatively, you can do so by estimating the voltage based on the color of the LED. To calculate the power of the LED, multiply the voltage of the LED by the current of the LED. The result –in watts- is the amount of energy your LED use. In the design of LED PCBs, the use of resistors is a must. The most common equation for calculating power in a resistor is easy to comprehend. According to the equation, power –in watts- is offered by the product of the voltage (V- volts), and multiplied by the current (I in amperes).
LED Drive Circuit Manufacturing Method
The process of producing your LED driver circuit is not a tasking process as you may picture it to be. First, you will need the following essential items:
- AA batteries and four AA battery holders
- A small solderless breadboard
- NPN switching transistor
- 5mm red LED
- Jumper wires (2” and 1” inch)
- 1 k Ω resistor
- 330 Ω resistor
- Radio shack
After assembling all the above equipment, you’ll need to follow the following steps to have your LED drive circuit.
1. Attach the 5mm LED from the holder of the battery to the positive (+) strip of your solderless breadboard.
2. Carefully make an attachment of the black LED from any battery holder to a hole found in the negative (-) strip of the breadboard.
3. Make some insertion of the 1 KΩ resistor. Insert the resistor in F1 and f6 holes.
4. Now, insert the 330 Ω resistor in holes J15 and any other hole on the positive strip.
5. Make insertion of LED1. Insert the anode in hole H15 and the cathode in hole H12.
6. After completing the above step, insert LED2. Here, you’ll enter the cathode in hole 111 and the anode in hole I6.
7. Insert the three transistor leads. Here, the Emitter goes into hole G10, the Collector to hole G12, and the Base to hole G11.
8. Make a connection of the transistor emitter to the ground using 1” jumper wires. One end will go to hole F10 while the other one goes to the nearby hole found on the left side of the breadboard.
9. Now use the 2” jumper wires to connect the switch.
10. Now, put the four AA batteries to the battery holder.
11. Flip your switch to the A position. Here, you will notice that LED1 is a bit brighter than LED2. This is because excessive currents are now flowing through the collector.
12. Congratulate yourself! You have your LED drive circuit ready.
Security Matters You Need to Pay Attention To
When making your LED drive circuit, among other things that matter the most, your safety is paramount. You do not want to injure yourself or other people close to where you’ll be working. Before you begin working, you need to ensure that your electric power and the experimental setup are up to speed. As much as possible, avoid loose connections and wire cables. Familiarize yourself with ON/OFF buttons and assume all exposed metals are live.
When it comes to your work environment, make sure that you are aware of the lab exit doors while avoiding a stuffed work environment. Do not work while wearing any jewelry, loose-fitting clothes, and metal watches. Avoid wearing chains around the neck as rotating machines can grab them. Ensure that you wear gloves at all times and that there are first aid kits and emergency numbers available at your lab. If you have long hair, tie it at the back of your head.
By observing the above safety precautions, rest assured of your safety and the safety of those around you. The guidelines above are by no means inclusive. There are plenty of other safety procedures that you may have to put in place too.
While this may sound a bit dramatic, LED drivers function as the ‘heart’ of LED lights that we use daily. For this reason, you would want to go for one with a lot of specs and high levels of quality that you can. When you are in the market for high-class LED drivers aimed at powering your LED lights, you can choose to communicate with us. We will provide you with rationalization advice from the most professional perspective.
I look forward to establishing contact with you.