How to Tell If LED Driver Is Bad: Tips for Checking & Troubleshooting Your System | Bravo Electro (2023)

LED drivers are one of the most important components of an LED lighting system. When they fail, it can cause costly interruptions and downtime. Ideally, you would catch a failing LED driver before it goes out altogether. That's why today, we'll teach you how to tell if LED driver is bad.

As the #1 supplier of electric components online, we help people like you troubleshoot and replace LED power supplies on a daily basis. It's actually not nearly as complex or complicated as you may have initially suspected! And in this in-depth article, we aren't just going to teach you how to check if an LED driver is bad - we'll teach you how to actually find a suitable replacement and get your system back up and running.

First - let's explain why learning how to tell if LED driver is bad is so important.

Why Learning How to Tell if LED Driver is Bad is so Important

The obvious reason to learn about troubleshooting LED drivers is so you can keep the lights on. A common use for LED lighting is in horticulture. And, if your grow lights fail, it can wreak havoc on your crop.

In the best-case scenario, you fix the problem within a day and just suffer a bit of stress (and so do your plants). But the worst-case scenario is far more grave. In a commercial grow room, hundreds of plants are on the line - and the costs of crop failure here are tremendous.

(Video) How to Troubleshoot LED Drivers

When an LED driver fails, a few things can happen. It can cause the LEDs to flicker or not turn on at all. In addition, if something goes wrong with your power supply, it can cause flickering even after you turn the power off. It's also possible that the LED driver will overheat and damage other components in your system - like the expensive LED lighting system itself. For more information, read our beginners guide to what an LED driver does.

So it stands to reason that learning how to check if an LED driver is bad is essential in order to save costlier repairs down the line. Now, let's look at some of the causes of a failing LED driver before we teach you how to check if LED driver is bad.

What Causes an LED Driver to Fail?

In some cases, a failing LED driver may be due to environmental factors like extreme heat or cold. In other cases, it could be caused by electrical surges from power outages or lightning strikes. It's also possible that the LED driver might malfunction due to poor wiring connections or a lack of correct insulation in the system.

But there is another common cause of a bad LED driver - and that's simply age. After all, nothing lasts forever - not even industrial-grade components like those found in an LED lighting system. If you have an older system and are noticing signs of failure, this is likely the most probable culprit.

Now that you have a better understanding of what causes an LED driver to fail, let's move on to the main reason you came here today: how to check if LED driver is bad...

(Video) How to Troubleshoot Your LED Lighting System

How to Tell If LED Driver Is Bad: 4 Troubleshooting Tips to Check Your Driver

Ready to discover how to check if LED driver is bad? As we said earlier, it's actually a lot more simple than you may think. Sometimes, it's as easy as taking a look at the lighting system and noticing a flicker. Other times you may need to take closer look and measure the voltage or current. Here are all the different tactics you can employ:

Watch for Dimming or Flickering Light

The first signs of trouble for your LED driver are actually the easiest to spot - because you can see them visually from far away. If you notice the lighting levels gradually dimming or flickering, it's a sign that you have an issue with your LED driver. It's possible that the driver isn't supplying enough power to operate and maintain peak performance.

Check for Overheating

It's also important to check for overheating - as this is a telltale sign of a bad LED driver. If your power supply has been running for a while and is now abnormally warm, that could indicate an issue. In some cases, you may even be able to smell the wiring and components burning.

Look for Loose Connections

The last thing to check is the connections throughout your system. If anything appears to be loose or disconnected, this can cause disruptions in power distribution - thus resulting in flickering lights or dimming levels. As such, it's critical to inspect all of your system's wires and plugs whenever troubleshooting a potential driver issue.

Test Voltage & Current Levels

The final step is to actually measure the voltage and current levels of the driver in question. We saved this one for last because it is the most effective way of troubleshooting your system. Many of the issues above - overheating, lights flickering, etc. - can actually be the result of a problem elsewhere in your lighting system. Actually testing the voltage and current levels of your driver directly will give you more information than any other steps.

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You can do this by using a multimeter to measure voltages and amps at each output port on your system. This will help you determine if there's any sort of discrepancy between what should be occurring versus what is actually happening in real time.

And while this is a bit more work, it's the best way to rule out a more costly issue with the LED board - and conclude that the LED driver itself is failing.

Generally, drivers will fail to 0v output. That means when you check the voltage levels, you will get bad power out - but good power in. On the other hand, if you are dealing with lights flickering but have good power in, and good power out - it means the issue could be elsewhere in the LED lighting system. This check allows you to determine where exactly the issue is - preventing you from replacing an LED driver that isn't actually failing!

Can LED Drivers Be Replaced?

So you've followed the steps above and confirmed that your LED driver is bad - that sucks! But don't stress - finding the problem is step one. Step two is replacing the driver. Yes - LED drivers can be replaced!

This is made easy at Bravo Electro, where we can help you find the perfect replacement for your system. We encourage you to reach out if you'd like a recommendation. This will eliminate human error or guesswork - saving you wasted time having to issue returns and exchanges. With that said, here are a few tips for replacing your LED driver:

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Tips for Replacing Your LED Driver

We have a complete guide explaining the different types of LED drivers - which we encourage you to read. This will help you understand which style you have and thus, which style you need to find as your replacement.

There are constant power, constant current, and constant voltage drivers. These have various pros and cons, specifically in terms of efficiency, longevity, and power output. Since you have a driver your replacing, it's as simple as matching up with that particular style. Along with that piece of information, keep the following in mind:

  • Check your wattage: When replacing a driver, make sure the wattage matches the existing one - or you may end up with more power than necessary.
  • Size matters: Make sure to also double-check the size of the driver. Generally, bigger drivers are needed for larger spaces and vice versa.
  • Consider compatible options: Last but not least - if available - consider finding a compatible option from the same manufacturer as your current system. This will ensure compatibility from a design standpoint and usually offer opportunities for discounted pricing since it's part of an existing product line!

Get Your Replacement LED Driver at Bravo Electro!

Finding out that you have an issue with your LED driver can be daunting. But by following the steps outlined in this guide, you can quickly diagnose and replace the driver - ensuring your system is up and running as soon as possible.

And when you're ready to get your replacement AC DC LED driver, trust only Bravo Electro! You may know us for our 12v DC power supply, 24v DC power supply, or 48v DC power supply collections. But we also offer a wide selection of high-quality LED drivers that are perfect for any situation.

We source our inventory from the most trusted manufacturers in the industry- so you can enjoy peace of mind shopping with us. Whether you're looking for something simple or complex - we've got you covered! Our team of electrical engineers is here to help assist you with custom or modified projects, too. So be sure to reach out if you need any help finding the best option - our team is always here to assist.

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Parting Thoughts on How to Check if LED Driver is Bad

That wraps up our guide on how to tell if LED Driver is bad. As you can see, there are four different ways to go about troubleshooting your lighting system. We encourage you to take a multifaceted approach to troubleshoot the system, as this will help you rule out other issues like a faulty LED board.

If you do confirm that the LED Driver is faulty, you can effortlessly replace the unit and keep your system going with the help of Bravo Electro. Shop now or reach out for assistance - we're eager to help you find a suitable replacement!

Or, if you want to learn more about how to test if a power supply is bad, read our full article. We also have great resources on the difference between AC and DC power supply, UL listed vs UL recognized power supplies, and whether house electrical is AC or DC.


How do you diagnose a bad LED driver? ›

Use a voltmeter and measure the output voltage of the LED driver. Constant current LED drivers may be at an exceedingly high voltage, so be careful. If the LEDs have failed the output voltage of the LED driver will be at its rated output (maximum voltage output for a constant current LED driver).

How do you test if an LED is bad multimeter? ›

The meter will show a small voltage reading when the leads are connected across the LED in one direction and OL when the leads are reversed. If the meter displays OL in both directions the LED is faulty. If the meter doesn't have a diode test function set the meter to read Ohms.

How do LED drivers fail? ›

Drivers often fail prematurely due to high internal operating temperatures. Battery-like components called electrolytic capacitors are typically the cause of death. Electrolytic capacitors have a gel inside them that gradually evaporates over the lifespan of the driver.

What goes bad in an LED driver? ›

Usually the circuits burn out and fail. LED Drivers typically have to supply less power to LEDs, due to their efficient nature, but they also have to be more precise. LED Lighting is designed with high precision and require the matching voltage to work effectively.

Can LED be tested with an ohmmeter? ›

LEDs act much like a normal diode. We can make use of the characteristics when testing the LED with an ohmmeter.

How do you troubleshoot an LED screen? ›

(1)Check the signal cable connection and reconnect, also check the power supply for the first module in the row. (2)Check whether the flat cable is working normally. If any problem, reconnect the cable. (3)Change a LED display module to see whether the color missing phenomenon disappears.

What does a multimeter do for LED? ›

A digital multimeter with a Diode Test function can be used to test LEDs of various colors if the DMM applies a sufficient voltage potential at the meter leads to overcome the forward voltage requirement of the LED. The Diode Test function typically applies 2 mA of current to the diode under test.

When should I replace my LED driver? ›

Signs You Need to Replace Your LED Driver

LED drivers can fail due to two major causes: overdriving and underdriving. Overdriving occurs when a malfunctioning driver delivers a current to your LED light or LED array that is too high. Underdriving means the current is too low.

What happens if you overload an LED driver? ›

Therefore, if the voltage deviates more than 10%, the LED bulb is fused off. Subsequently, the electronic parts inside the LED bulb get damaged from the voltage spike. Excess voltage wears out LED drivers and distribution panels prematurely. It also increases service interruptions to the LED lighting.

What voltage does LED driver output? ›

LEDs are designed to run on low voltage (12-24V), direct-current electricity. However, most places supply higher voltage (120-277V), alternating current electricity.

What happens when an LED goes bad? ›

For the most part, when an LED lamp is nearing the end of its life, it will not just automatically go out -- generally the amount of light it emits will gradually lessen and it will not be as efficient as it once was. However, that's not to say LED lamps never fully go out -- it can happen, it's just not very frequent.

What happens when LED fails? ›

The most common way for LEDs (and diode lasers) to fail is the gradual lowering of light output and loss of efficiency. Sudden failures, however rare, can occur as well. Early red LEDs were notable for their short lifetime.

How long do LED drivers last? ›

The driver is the heart of the LED light, and driver life can range from 10,000 to over 50,000 hours, depending on the design features, heat sink efficiency, capacitor construction, and overall quality.

Can you replace LED driver? ›

An LED driver of the same type (Constant Current or Constant Voltage) may be replaced with a similar driver.

What is the function of LED driver? ›

LED drivers are electrical devices that prevent damage to LEDs by regulating the forward voltage (VF) of the LED that changes with temperature, avoiding thermal runaway while delivering a constant current to the LED. LED drivers also aid efforts to meet new energy requirements (e.g., Energy Star).

Do LED drivers burn out? ›

To work correctly and have a reasonable lifespan, LEDs require the right amount of wattage. Too much will cause them to burn out, while too little will prevent them from working at all. But the driver components can also be stressed by power-hungry LEDs.

Can I use LED without Driver? ›

Because LEDs require a constant DC of 12v or 24v, LED drivers are required in all LED systems (except those which are specifically developed to be controlled by mains voltage power supplies such as mains voltage tape or LED bulbs).

Does polarity matter for an LED driver? ›

LEDs are electrically polarised and will only operate correctly when their positive terminal (also known as the anode) is connected to the supply positive and their negative terminal (also known as the cathode) is connected to the supply negative. LED connection polarity must be strictly observed!

What is the proper resistance for an LED ohms? ›

The resistor must have a value of at least 183.3 Ω. Note that the voltage drop across the resistor is 5.5 V.

How much resistance should an LED have? ›

LEDs typically require 10 to 20mA, the datasheet for the LED will detail this along with the forward voltage drop. For example an ultra bright blue LED with a 9V battery has a forward voltage of 3.2V and typical current of 20mA. So the resistor needs to be 290 ohms or as close as is available.

How many ohms does an LED have? ›

For a typical white LED that requires 10mA, powered by 12V the values are: (12-3.4)/. 010=860 ohms. To use several LEDs in parallel, sum the current values.

What happens if LED troubleshooting is not blinking? ›

If the LEDs will not light up at all, then this could be down to a faulty power supply. Solution: If you have several power supplies, then try a different power supply onto the same strip to see if this now works. If it does, then you have a faulty power supply and will need a new one.

Can LED screen be damaged? ›

Display panels on LED/LCD televisions are made of multiple thin screens with dark liquid crystal material in between. The panel is covered on the outside with a film to protect from shattering. Panels are very fragile, and can be easily physically damaged.

How do you reset LED? ›

To begin with, make sure that your LED light is plugged into an outlet. Next, press and hold the button on top of the power cord for at least 10 seconds. After this time has elapsed, release the button and wait approximately one minute for it to turn off automatically before unplugging it from its outlet.

How do you test a lead with a multimeter? ›

Test the leads

To "ohm-out" your leads, place your DMM in the resistance (ohms) function, plug the leads into the DMM and touch the probe tips together—red to black. The meter should read about 0.5 ohms or less for good quality test leads.

Does LED need voltage or current? ›

LEDs are constant current devices with a forward voltage drop. This means the voltage supply must exceed that drop in order to allow current to flow, and by controlling the current, you control the intensity.

What to look for when replacing LED driver? ›

If you are replacing an existing LED driver, then you can check the output details that are printed on the LED driver you are replacing. If you are not replacing a LED driver, then you will need to check with the manufacturer on the required current / voltage required to power the LED downlight.

Does an LED driver need a ground? ›

There is no earth connection required for the functionality of the LED Driver. Earth connection is recommended to improve following behaviour.

What happens if you put too little voltage through an LED? ›

No, low voltage will not damage an LED light as they are a diode, meaning, if you don't supply enough voltage, proper light won't be emitted. This is partially way dimming switches work so well with LED lighting. In fact, running an LED light through a lower voltage could in fact increase its lifetime.

Can I use higher wattage LED driver? ›

Choose a driver with a max wattage higher than the wattage of your light. Do not pair a driver with a light that exceeds the driver's maximum wattage or with a light that uses less than 50% of the driver's maximum wattage.

What is the minimum load for LED driver? ›

Power Supplies Australia recommends a load of about 90 ~ 95% of the rated output. Any less than that and the dimming performance of the LED driver will be less than satisfactory. LED driver loaded to 100% - Smooth and even dimming.

Does voltage matter for LED? ›

No. Diodes are current devices. They have a voltage drop that you should take into account in your circuit, but they are current driven and as long as you limit the current appropriately, and cool the diode if needed (for high power LEDs), then there is no supply voltage limit.

What is LED ghosting? ›

Ghosting is when LEDs can faintly glow even when the light switch is off. This is caused by leakage of current and is a common problem seen with neon illuminated switches. The LED Illuminated switches are designed to eliminate this phenomenon when used with LED bulbs and fixtures.

What happens if you wire an LED backwards? ›

LEDs, being diodes, will only allow current to flow in one direction. And when there's no current-flow, there's no light. Luckily, this also means that you can't break an LED by plugging it in backwards. Rather, it just won't work.

What happens if you run an LED without a resistor? ›

When hooking up an LED, you are always supposed to use a current-limiting resistor to protect the LED from the full voltage. If you hook the LED up directly to the 5 volts without a resistor, the LED will be over-driven, it will be very bright for a while, and then it will burn out.

What causes LED diodes to fail? ›

Mechanical or thermal stress, as well as a reaction with outgassing materials can cause failures in the internal construction of an LED.

Can LED fail short circuit? ›

Electrical leaks, short-circuits and electrical leaks that involve short-circuits are some of the more likely faults that occur in LED devices. Unlike faults in conventional incandescent and fluorescent lights, these faults involve short-circuits and can place a burden on the drive circuit.

What is the lifespan of a LED driver? ›

The driver is the heart of the LED light, and driver life can range from 10,000 to over 50,000 hours, depending on the design features, heat sink efficiency, capacitor construction, and overall quality.

Can LED drivers be replaced? ›

An LED driver of the same type (Constant Current or Constant Voltage) may be replaced with a similar driver.

Can LED work without Driver? ›

Do all LED lights need a driver? All LED strip lights should be connected to a driver. The only exception is LED lighting that is specifically developed to be controlled by a mains power supply such as mains voltage tape or LED bulbs.

Is LED driver voltage or current? ›

LEDs run on low voltage, direct current electricity, yet outlets typically supply electricity that is high voltage with alternating current. The main purpose of an LED driver is to rectify this higher voltage alternating current into the low voltage direct current electricity that LEDs are designed to handle.

What is the lifetime and reliability of LED driver? ›

In this application, the minimum lifetime will be 100,000 hours—almost 11.5 years of continuous operation—versus 50,000 hours. Likewise, if the average case temperature is 65°C/149°F, the lifetime of the SOLOdrive 360A will be 200,000 hours.

How many LEDs can you run with a driver? ›

How many lights can one driver power? Drivers are not limited by the number of LED lights they power. They are restricted by the total wattage of the LED lights they power.

How long does an LED ballast last? ›

The good news is that a typical ballast will generally last about 20 years, so you won't have to worry about replacing them very often. However, cold environments and bad bulbs can factor into the mix, causing the lifespan of the ballast to decrease significantly.

Is an LED driver the same as a ballast? ›

Fluorescents use ballasts, while LEDs use drivers. (LED drivers can be considered ballasts as well, but most documentation prefers 'drivers' or 'power supply' to avoid confusion with fluorescent ballasts.) Both ballasts and drivers do more than simply charge up their respective lights.

What does a LED driver do? ›

An LED driver is an electrical device that regulates power to an LED or a string of LEDs. It is a crucial piece to an LED circuit and to operate without one will result in system failure.


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