LED Power Supply and Dimmable Driver Care | HitLights

Caring for Your LED Power Supply and Dimmable Driver

Businesses all over the world replace fluorescent and incandescent lighting with LEDs. LED lights offer numerous benefits over more traditional lighting choices. Still, to use them, you need a power supply to convert the current from high-voltage alternating current (AC) to low-voltage direct current (DC). To ensure the safety of your installation, consider this guide to understanding and caring for your LED power supply and LED dimmable driver.

Table of Contents:

Why Do You Need an LED Power Supply?

Compared to a conventional lighting system, LED lights do not consume as much energy. However, to protect your installation from a high alternating current that could damage the lights, you need a power supply to regulate the current and safely create maximum brightness.

These power supplies, also known as drivers, turn the high-voltage AC input into the low-voltage DC output. They also protect LEDs from fluctuations in the flow of electricity. Understanding the driver's capabilities and adequately calculating your LED light strip power needs is a component of caring for your power supply.

The basic equation to determine power needs is the watts per foot multiplied by the total feet. That gives you the total wattage. For example, suppose you need 20 feet of LED strip lights, and the strip says it requires 2 watts per foot. In that case, you need a 60-watt power supply to provide adequate energy and regulation for your installation. Always remember that the general rule of thumb when choosing the right power supply for your application is the total load should be within 30 to 80 percent of the power supply rated capacity

How Do You Select the Right LED Power Supply?

You already know that calculating your wattage needs is critical to ensuring you run energy to your lighting system efficiently. However, you also need to consider the voltage or current. Ensure the light strip's voltage is compatible with the output voltage. Line voltage varies worldwide, so check for low or high-line AC power input.

Questions To Consider When Choosing an LED Power Supply

Before purchasing a power adapter of any type, consider the specifications of your facility and light project to determine how that affects your power needs. For example, are there space limitations? Do you have specific goals for the installation that may require special features, such as dimming or pulsing? Other questions you may consider include the following:

  • What is your budget for the installation?
  • What type of LEDs will you use, and how many?
  • Do your lights require a constant current driver or a constant voltage power supply?
  • What plans do you have for the installation?
  • Is the voltage in your area limited?

For example, if you need optimal dimming capability, you likely need to consider an LED dimmable driver, which supplies power and controlled dimming features.

The Types of LED Drivers

There are essentially two types of LED power supplies: constant voltage LED drivers and constant current LED drivers. Determining the type you need depends on how you install and configure your lighting system and the efficiency level you need. The primary difference is that a constant current driver provides a steady current of energy through the system, providing sufficient voltage to each LED light throughout, and the constant voltage driver provides a steady flow of voltage through all the connected LEDs. 

Why You Must Consider Environmental Exposure

Where you intend to install your power supply is as important as why you need it. Power supplies generally have temperature limitations. Therefore, you may want to avoid installing your LED power supply in small enclosures with no ventilation, which could potentially cause it to overheat. 

You should also look for the ingress protection rating. Every power supply has a code with two digits. The first number represents the driver's ability to resist exposure to solids, whereas the second indicates resistance to liquids. The higher the number, the greater the protection.

For example, an IP rating of "1" for solids would indicate that the power supply is safe from damage caused by an object larger than 50 mm. However, an IP rating of "6" would suggest that even dust could not enter the driver. A high rating for liquids would be "8," indicating that the power supply is safe from long periods of water immersion.

The Meaning of UL-Certified

If you see "UL-listed" in the description of an LED dimmable driver or power supply, it is UL-certified. For example, the 40 Watt EK-Serious Dimmable Driver from HitLights is UL-listed and waterproof. 

Underwriters Laboratories is an extension of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration charged with testing the safety of electrical products. For a company to receive UL certification for its items, it must adhere to specific safety regulations, such as using wiring that can withstand 35 pounds of strain and plugs with 20% overrating.

That UL certification provides an extra layer of protection and security. You may find this particularly important if you have limited space to install your power supply or need a large driver with high wattage. In addition, UL-listed products will shut off automatically if overloaded, preventing potential fire hazards.

How Do You Properly Install and Mount Your LED Power Supply and Lights?

A critical element of caring for your LED strips and driver is to ensure proper installation. The installation process is relatively the same for all drivers:

  • First, connect the positive and negative wires on the output side.
  • Next, connect the ground and neutral wires on the input side.
  • If you have a dimmable driver and an optional dimmer switch, connect the switch to the driver via the live wire from your power source.

Ensure you use the connectors, such as wire nuts, that meet the code requirements for your region. For optimum safety, avoid leaving the wires exposed as well. Running them through the wall would be efficient.

Mounting Your Light Strips and Power Supply

Mounting the light strips and power supply is relatively simple. HitLights products have blue heat induction tape on the back so you can adhere them directly to the wall. If you need something more substantial, other options include:

  • Foam tape is more robust than heat induction tape and is available in rolls of 100 feet.
  • Mounting straps are an excellent source to help secure the taped strips. You can apply the straps every few feet and to areas that do not stick as well as you want.
  • Other adhesives and glues are sometimes helpful if you need to stick your light strips to a surface vulnerable to temperature changes and humidity, such as stone or wood. You can apply the appropriate glue for supplemental support.

When using a magnetic dimmable driver for your power supply, proper installation entails mounting it vertically with the label at the top. This allows the heat to dissipate faster and will protect against vibration and heat impact while also improving efficiency.

What Differentiates an LED Power Supply From an LED Dimmable Driver?

The standard LED driver controls the power sent to your LED light installation. With a dimmable driver, you have the same system managing the electrical current with an additional feature that dims the lights. Unfortunately, most transformers and standard drivers cannot be paired with a dimmer switch and will dim unstably, causing flickering or inconsistent dimming fluctuations. To avoid that issue, you can purchase a dimmable driver.

The Benefits of Using a Dimmer Switch

A dimmer switch is optional for your LED installation but does come with significant advantages. For example, it increases your LED lights' longevity by reducing the time when they are at their highest energy output. It is also simply an efficient way to control your lighting sources.

A Smart RF Dimmable Wall Switch has unique features that allow you to control your power supply from anywhere using a mobile device. You can adjust the brightness, set timers for dimming on a schedule and use voice control through your Google Assistant or Alexa devices. The safe design also stops the switch from overheating.

This feature is especially beneficial for business owners and operators who are not always on the property. You can monitor your energy usage and adjust the lighting to suit the facility's atmosphere.

What Is the Difference Between an LED Dimmable Driver and a Controller?

You already understand the uses and benefits of an LED dimmer switch and dimmable driver. An LED controller allows you to customize the color of your lighting system from a distance using a remote. Basic remote switches will turn lights on and off from a distance, but the more sophisticated controller allows you to adjust colors and program sequences for later use.

Dimming is another feature you will find in LED remote control technology. You can purchase an RGB Light Strip Kit that contains everything you need, including the lights, remote, and adapter, to create a small installation in your business.

Are You Prepared To Care for Your LED Power Supply?

With a thorough understanding of how to care for your power supply and what you can do with an LED dimmable driver, you can make the most of the benefits, including energy efficiency. The first step is identifying the appropriate driver for your lighting system and incorporating the features that best suit your intended use. With proper care, your system will last significantly longer and cost less than traditional lighting options.

To find a LED power supply and other key items for your LED lighting installation, check out the products and resources available at HitLights.

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