The performance, reliability and even return on investment of LED lighting solutions are significantly influenced by the quality of the LED drivers used. Russell Parr, CEO at PowerLed, highlights what sets driver suppliers apart, and how to ensure you choose the right one.
There are many different applications for LED lights, from retail and industrial to offices, galleries and beyond. While each project may be unique, LED lighting systems, regardless of the size, complexity, or application, have a basic element in common – drivers.
An LED driver is a crucial component that converts, regulates, and supplies the appropriate electrical power to ensure the optimal performance and longevity of LEDs. However, drivers are not one-size-fits-all – they cover a range of technical and quality-relevant properties and features – and they most certainly aren’t all created equal. In fact, drivers can often be the weak link in lighting design. This makes it vital to assess LED driver suppliers and their products when scoping a project.
Impact of quality components
Because LEDs must operate failure-free in a variety of conditions, the drivers that power them should be durable, reliable, stable, and efficient. As such, there are several factors to consider when selecting drivers to ensure optimal performance. These include voltage and current ratings, power capacity, dimming capability, compatibility, efficiency, and reliability.
Higher-grade components should not be a ‘nice to have’ but ‘non-negotiable’ instead, particularly when selecting LED drivers. This is because it will ensure they:
- Offer good thermal behaviour, meaning all facets function safely,
- Can withstand voltage spikes, which pose a challenge for control gear,
- Boast a reduced ripple value, which serves as a solid performance indicator,
- Have no-load, overload, thermal and short-circuit protection, to resolve potential installation issues,
- Are EMC compliant, with the appropriate testing and certification.
What’s more, the quality of the components used to manufacture drivers has an immense impact on power factor – the ratio of real power used compared to apparent power into the circuit or, more simply put, how efficiently the electrical power is consumed.
A low power factor indicates an inefficient product as it draws more current into the circuit than is utilised by the load. While there may be several contributing factors, inefficiency can often be attributed to poor driver design or low-quality components.
Selecting the right supplier
As a key element of any LED lighting system, the quality of the driver is crucial. Ultimately, LED drivers built with premium components will help to achieve the optimal performance, safety, longevity, and sustainability of a LED lighting system.
The range of available LED drivers can make it challenging to choose the right solution – and the right supplier. This is further complicated by the fact that not all manufacturers provide the same quality or depth of technical information on their products, leaving electrical contractors unable to make accurate comparisons.
With this mind, a good place to start is by looking for best-in-class solutions from accredited suppliers with a reputation for honesty, and excellence. Also add Energy-related Products (ErP) compliance to the list of criteria. The ErP directive is an eco-design directive intended to encourage manufacturers and importers to provide products that are more energy and resource efficient, and adherence to this directive shows that a supplier’s products meet the energy guidelines set out by the EU.
In addition to product peace of mind, working with reputable and compliant suppliers will result in other benefits, from energy savings and reduced maintenance costs to longer LED lifetime, overall reduction in the cost of ownership, and reduced environmental impact.
Working with a trusted and established supplier like PowerLed, part of Sunpower Group Holdings, will result in a dependable, high quality ‘fit and forget’ solution. In addition to being an official Tier 1 MEAN WELL partner, providing access to more than 4,000 products from one of the largest switching power supply manufacturers in the world, Powerled has a UK-wide network which offers expert advice, bespoke technical design support, as well as premium LED drivers and lighting solutions for a range of residential, commercial, and industrial projects.
Get more details about the full range of lighting solutions from PowerLed here