Why the LED driver will fail? There are ten reasons (2023)

LED driver has been widely used in many industrials includes the lighting business and you must be upset about lots of LED driver fail

Basically, the main function of the LED driver is to convert the input AC voltage source into a current source whose output voltage can vary with the forward voltage drop of the LED.

As a key component in LED lighting, the quality of the LED driver directly affects the reliability and stability of the overall. Based on LED driver and other related technologies and customer application experience, this paper analyzes the failures of lamp design and application:

1. The range of variation of the LED lamp bead is not considered, resulting in low efficiency of the lamp and even unstable operation.

The LED lamp load end is generally composed of a number of LED strings in parallel, and working voltage is Vo=Vf*Ns, where represents the number of LEDs connected in series. The of the LED fluctuates with temperature. In general, at a constant current, becomes low at high temperatures, and becomes at low temperatures. Therefore, the operating voltage of the LED lamp at high temperature corresponds to and the load voltage of the LED lamp at low temperature corresponds to VoH. When selecting an LED driver, consider that the driver output voltage range is greater than VoL~VoH.

If the maximum output voltage of the selected LED driver is lower than VoH, the maximum power of the may not reach the actual power required at low temperature. If the minimum voltage of the selected LED driver is higher than the driver output may exceed the working range at high temperature. Unstable, the lamp will flash and so on.

Why the LED driver will fail? There are ten reasons (1)

As shown in Figure 1, the red curve shows the power derating curve of the LED driver’s load as a function of ambient temperature at 120Vac input. When the ambient temperature is below 50 °C, the drive allows 100% full load. When the ambient temperature is up to 70 °C, the drive can only to 60% load. When the ambient temperature changes between 50-70 °C, the drive load will follow. The temperature rises and decreases linearly.

The blue curve shows the power derating curve of the LED driver’s load as a function of ambient temperature when 230Vac or 277Vac is input. The principle is similar.

Why the LED driver will fail? There are ten reasons (2)

As shown in Figure 2, the blue curve shows the curve of the LED driver’s output power as a function of input voltage at an ambient temperature of 55 °C. When the input voltage is 140Vac, the load of the driver allows 100% full load, and the input voltage is lowered. If the output power is constant, the input current will rise, resulting in increased input loss, reduced efficiency, and increased device temperature. Individual temperature points will be May exceed the standard and may even cause device failure.

Therefore, as shown in Figure 2, when the input voltage is less than 140Vac, the output load of the driver is required to decrease linearly as the input voltage decreases. After understanding the above curve and the corresponding requirements, when selecting the LED driver, it should be considered and selected according to the actual ambient temperature and input voltage, and the margin should be appropriately set. the LED, avoid introducing some indicators that do not conform to the principle of working characteristics, and avoid the indicators far exceeding the actual demand, and avoid excessive-quality and waste of cost.

3, do not understand the working characteristics of LED

Some customers have requested that the input power of the lamp be a fixed value, fixed by 5% error, and the output current can only be adjusted to the specified power for each lamp. Due to the different working environment temperatures and lighting times, the power of each lamp will vary greatly.

Customers make such requests, despite their marketing and business factor considerations. However, the volt-ampere characteristics of the LED determine that the LED driver is a constant current source, and its output voltage varies with the LED load series voltage Vo. The input power varies with Vo when the overall efficiency of the driver is substantially constant.

At the same time, the overall efficiency of the LED driver will increase after thermal balance. Under the same output power, the input power will decrease compared to the startup time.

Therefore, when theLEDdriver application needs to formulate the requirements, it should first understand the working characteristics of the LED, avoid introducing some indicators that do not conform to the principle of working characteristics, and avoid the indicators far exceeding the actual demand, and avoid excessive-quality and waste of cost.

4, failure in the test

There have been customers who have purchased many brands ofLEDdrivers, but all samples failed during the test. Later, after on-site analysis, the customer used the self-internal voltage regulator to directly test the power supply of the LED driver. After power-on, the regulator was gradually adjusted from 0Vac to the rated operating voltage of the LED driver.

Such a test operation makes it easy for the LED driver to start and load at a small input voltage, which causes the input current to be much larger than the rated value, and the internal input related devices such as fuses, rectifier bridges, The thermistor or the like fails due to excessive current or overheating, causing the drive to fail.

Therefore, the correct test method is to adjust the voltage regulator to the rated operating voltage range of the LED driver and then connect the driver to the power-on test.

Of course, technically improving the design can also avoid the failure caused by such test misoperation: setting the startup voltage limiting circuit and the input Undervoltage protection circuit at the input of the driver. When the input does not reach the startup voltage set by the driver, the driver does not work; when the input voltage drops to the input under-voltage protection point, the driver enters the protection state.

Therefore, even if the self-recommended regulator is used in the customer test, the drive has self-protection function and will not be invalid. However, customers must carefully understand whether the LED driver products purchased have this protection function before testing (taking into account the actual application environment of the LED driver, most LED drivers do not have this protection function).

5, different loads, different test results

When the LED driver is tested with an LED lamp, the result is normal. When the test is carried out with an electronic load, the result may be abnormal. Usually, this phenomenon has the following reasons:

(1) The output voltage or power of the output of the driver exceeds the working range of the electronic load meter. (especially in CV mode, the maximum test power should not exceed 70% of the maximum load power, otherwise, the load may be over-power protected during loading, causing the drive to not work or load.)

(2) The characteristics of the electronic load meter used are not suitable for measuring the constant current source. The load voltage position jump occurs, causing the drive to not work or load.

(3) Because the input of the electronic load meter will have a large internal capacitance, the test is equivalent to connecting a large capacitor in parallel with the output of the driver, which may cause unstable current sampling of the driver.

Because the LED driver is designed to meet the operating characteristics of LED luminaires, the closest test to actual and real-world applications should be to use LED bead as the load, string on the ammeter and voltmeter to test.

6. The following conditions that often occur can cause damage to the LED driver:

(1) The AC is connected to the DC output of the driver, causing the drive to fail;

(2) The AC is connected to the input or output of the DC/DC driver, causing the drive to fail;

(3) The constant current output terminal is connected with the modulating light, causing the driver to fail;

(4) The phase line is connected to the ground line, resulting in no output of the driver and charging of the outer casing;

7, the phase line is wrong

Generally, the outdoor engineering application is a 3-phase four-wire system. Take the national standard as an example. The rated working voltage between each phase line and the neutral line is 220Vac, and the voltage between the phase line and the phase line is 380Vac. If the construction worker connects the input of the drive to the two-phase lines, the power input to the LED driver exceeds the standard and the product fails.

As shown in the figure above, V1 represents the first phase voltage, V2 represents the second phase voltage, and R1 and R2 represent the LED drivers normally installed in the line. When the neutral line (N) on the line is disconnected, the drivers R1 and R2 on the two branches are connected to the 380Vac voltage in series. Because of the difference in input internal resistance, when one of the drivers is charged to start, the internal resistance becomes small, and the voltage may be mostly applied to the other driver, causing its overvoltage damage to fail.

Therefore, it is recommended that the switch or circuit breaker be broken together on the same distribution branch, and not only the neutral line can be disconnected. Do not place the distribution fuse on the neutral line. Avoid contact with the neutral line on the line.

8, the grid fluctuation range is beyond the reasonable range

When the wiring of the same transformer grid branch is too long and there is large power equipment in the branch when the large equipment starts and stops, the grid voltage will fluctuate drastically, and even the grid will be unstable. When the instantaneous voltage of the power grid exceeds 310Vac, the drive may be damaged (even if there is a lightning protection device, because the lightning protection device is dealing with pulse spikes of several tens of uS level, and the power grid fluctuation may reach several tens of mS or even several hundred mS).

Therefore, special attention should be paid to the large-scale electric machinery on the street lighting branch network. It is best to monitor the fluctuation range of the power grid or the power supply of the separate grid transformer.

9, the line frequently trips

The lights on the same branch are connected too much, resulting in overloading of the load on one phase and uneven distribution of power between the phases, causing the line to trip frequently.

10, drive cooling

When the drive is installed in a non-ventilated environment, the drive housing should be in contact with the lamp housing as much as possible. If possible, apply thermal grease or thermal pad on the contact surface of the housing and the lamp housing to improve the heat dissipation performance of the driver, thus ensuring the driver’s life and reliability.

In summary, the LED driver has many details to be aware of in practical applications. Many problems need to be analyzed and adjusted in advance to avoid unnecessary failures and losses!


What causes an LED driver to 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.

How do you tell if an LED driver has failed? ›

If the LED driver has failed there will be zero volts on the output. If there is a short circuit the output of the ELG-240-C2100A will be zero or close to it. You can measure the resistance across the output of the ELG-240-C2100A with the power turned off. It should be a very high value.

What causes an LED driver to overheat? ›

LED overheating can be caused by many rather obvious design factors such as inadequate heat sinking and excess LED power. But a well-designed LED luminaire can be equally overheated by installing it in an environment for which it was not designed…

How long should an LED driver 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.

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.

What happens if you overload a LED driver? ›

LED lights require a certain voltage, such as 24 or 12V. When they run at higher voltages, they become extremely hot. Extreme heat damages the LED lights or the soldering around them. Due to the heat damage LED lights start to dim, flicker, or may die entirely.

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.

Can you replace LED driver? ›

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

How do you stop LEDs from overheating? ›

Increase Ventilation: Increasing the ventilation in your room or space can naturally lower your room's stuffiness and temperature. With more ventilation and a cool breeze, your LED lights will be cooler than if they had no airflow.

How do I protect my LED driver? ›

To prevent LED drivers from being damaged by those reasons, the designers usually do two designs in the LED drivers.
  1. Design a high margin for the input voltage range. ...
  2. Design input OVP latch off circuitry.
Dec 15, 2021

Which driver is best for LED lights? ›

We recommend choosing a driver with a wattage capability at least 10% higher than the wattage the LED tape requires to ensure a longer lifespan. For example, 5m of 6w LED tape requires 30 watts. We would recommend using a driver with an output capability of 33 watts or more to power this tape.

Why are my LED lights failing? ›

Reasons often include a faulty power supply, loose connections, a faulty circuit design, or even damage due to water ingress caused by rain. Whatever the reason is for your LED lights not working and whatever the tell-tale signs are, there's usually a solution to the issue.

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.

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.

How do I choose a replacement LED driver? ›

Use an LED driver with at least the same value as your LED(s). The driver must have a higher output power than your LEDs require for extra safety. If the output is equivalent to the LED power requirements, it is running at full power. Running at full power may cause the driver to have a shorter life span.

What can damage LED lights? ›

Top Reasons of LED Light Damage and How to Avoid it!
  • Cause 1 – Volatile power supply. ...
  • Cause 2 – Input voltage requirements. ...
  • Cause 3 – Fault of large power LED beads. ...
  • Cause 4 – Issues with expoxy resin and curing agent. ...
  • Cause 5 – Issues with electrical leakage.
Dec 17, 2016

Can I connect 2 LED drivers together? ›

Yes, it is possible to put LED drivers in parallel.

What voltage are LED drivers? ›

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 is the maximum voltage for LED? ›

Typically, the forward voltage of an LED is between 1.8 and 3.3 volts. It varies by the color of the LED. A red LED typically drops around 1.7 to 2.0 volts, but since both voltage drop and light frequency increase with band gap, a blue LED may drop around 3 to 3.3 volts.

What is inside an LED driver? ›

The LED driver is a self-contained power supply which has outputs that are matched to the electrical characteristics of the LED(s). This helps avoid thermal runaway as the constant current LED driver compensates for the changes in the forward voltage while delivering a constant current to the LED.

How many LED drivers do I need? ›

The driver you need depends on how many bulbs you want it to power multiplied by the wattage. It's also advised the total wattage of all bulbs combined doesn't exceed 80% of the transformer's wattage. So if you choose to power 4 x 4W MR16 bulbs (16W total) from one driver, you'll need a 20W driver.

Are all LED drivers the same? ›

Unlike fluorescent ballasts, LED drivers are not standardized, so they are not interchangeable. They can vary in terms of output characteristics, electrical safety rating, input voltage, programmability, temperature rating, electromagnetic interference (EMI), dimming interface and form factor.

Is there a universal LED driver? ›

The Zurik® Universal Driver is the ultimate power supply for flawless dimming capabilities in any type of project. Offering a wide voltage input range, it is perfectly compatible with single channel LED products.

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 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.

Can LED drivers be replaced? ›

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

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.

How do I choose a LED driver replacement? ›

Here are the steps to determine the best LED driver for you.
  1. Decide if you need a constant current or constant voltage LED driver. ...
  2. Identify the Input Voltage of the LED product. ...
  3. Identify the Power Consumption of the LED product. ...
  4. Determine what type of LED Driver you may need.

Do LEDs fail short or open? ›

At higher currents, especially with LEDs which use a bond wire for the top connection, they fail open. At lower currents, diodes fail with a short due to overheating of the semiconductor. At higher currents, especially with LEDs which use a bond wire for the top connection, they fail open.


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