LED Drivers – The good, the bad and the ugly

Many consumers are unfamiliar with the importance of an LED driver and the important role that it plays in LED lighting.

One of the most important features of a good LED driver is the efficiency. This basically boils down to how much of the power that is uses actually goes through to the LED chip. As an example a 100W LED floodlight with a driver that is 80% efficient will only supply 80W of power to the LED chip, the other is lost to heat that the LED driver generates due to internal inefficiencies. This basically means that the 100W LED floodlight only gives off 80W worth of light.

The above mentioned example is very forgiving since there are LED drivers being sold today with efficiencies as low as 25% resulting in 75% of the energy that a luminaire uses being wasted.

Another very important factor is the protection functions that an LED driver should have built in (especially with South Africa’s “dirty power”). The most important protection functions that and LED driver should have built in includes, over voltage and current protection, over temperature and short circuit protection. These functions ensure that an LED driver can handle current surges and protects the LED luminaire.

Thirdly an LED driver with a high power factor will help reduce demand charges or maximum demand. This is particular important for companies that work on a two part payment structure.

Another factor that is easily forgotten is the LED driver lifespan. Good quality LED chips paired with a well-designed heat sinks can easily have a lifespan of more than 50 000 hours. More often than not the LED driver does not share the same lengthy lifespan. Another thing to remember is the temperature that the LED driver lifespan is tested. Many LED driver manufacturers rate drivers lifespan at 25°C when the LED driver reaches temperatures much higher, this will greatly reduce the LED driver’s lifespan.

There are many other things to look out for when choosing an LED driver, luckily LEDcorp has already done all the legwork and selected the best LED drivers for their products. This includes a 5 year warranty, a minimum power factor of 0.95, more than 50 000 hours lifespan, over voltage, over current, over temperature and short circuit protection all as standard. The minimum driver efficiency that LEDcorp’s LED drivers have is 83% for the 10W LED floodlight and goes up to 94% for the 200W floodlights, high bays and street lights.

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