Ensuring you have the correct driver for the lights

Drivers, which are also frequently referred to as transformers or ballasts, adjust the incoming electrical supply from mains voltage (which is 230V) to an appropriate voltage that will run LED light fittings.

There are a number of different outputs and matching these to the light fitting is essential.

There are two types of output for drivers; constant current and constant voltage. You will need to consider which one you need, depending on the application. Generally, a constant current is for spotlights, while constant voltage would be for linear strips.

To identify which type of fitting you have, take a look at your current and voltage inputs. Common constant voltage inputs are 12V and 24V, while common constant current inputs are 350mA, 500mA, 700mA and 900mA. Constant current will always be given as an amperage, and normally in milliamps, which is denoted with mA.

It is important to know that you will need to match the voltage or current to the driver exactly.

The next important stage is to make sure the driver has a high enough capacity to cover the power requirement of the light fitting. This is measured in Watts (W). The total wattage of the LEDs should be equal to, or below, the maximum wattage on the driver. For example, a 60w, 24V driver would be able to run a maximum of 6 metres of 10W, 24V LED strip but could run less. Some drivers will also have a minimum load.

In addition to matching the driver to the LED, you will need to consider the dimming. There are many different dimming types available, so you will need to check the types of controls you have so that you can ensure they are compatible.

Finally, if you are going to locate your driver externally, you will need to decide whether it needs to be waterproof. If so, you must choose an appropriate IP rating that will protect against water ingress. Alternatively, it could be housed in an external, waterproof enclosure which will offer the needed protection. Our article on locating your driver has some practical advice for this.

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