Has your LED driver not worked as expected lately? It could be time to replace it. Or perhaps another component of your lighting system might need repairs. Only a licensed professional can assess your system and decide what’s wrong. Even so, having an idea of the potential problem can help you plan for possible solutions and budget ahead for potential costs. What exactly is an LED driver, how does it work, and how do you know if it’s time to get a new one?
What Is an LED Driver?
This driver is a power supply unit that regulates the current and voltage going to your LED lights.
What Are Common Signs That Your LED Driver Needs Replacement?
Sometimes drivers stop working with no apparent signs that something is amiss, but more often than not, there are warning signs if you know where to look. If you notice even one of these signs in your lighting system, contact a professional to evaluate the problem.
1. Your lights are either too dim or too bright.
Underdriving happens when the dimmer switch does not send enough power to your lights, causing them to be much lower than you intend. Overdriving creates the opposite effect: Too much power goes to the LED lights, causing them to become too bright. The inability to properly regulate the voltage going to the lights can negatively impact their lifespan. Consequently, you could end up needing to replace other components more quickly if you do not replace the LED driver.
2. Your lights have a flickering or strobing effect.
When an LED Driver starts to fail, it can cause the lights to flicker or strobe. While this might not seem like a big deal at first, it can become annoying over time ― not to mention dangerous if you’re trying to work in an environment where the flickering lights reduce visibility. Flickering and strobing lights can also induce seizures in some people with photosensitive epilepsy.
3. You can hear a humming noise coming from the dimmable driver.
Incandescent and fluorescent lights often emit a buzzing sound. LED lights and components do not have the moving parts that generate this sound. However, an LED driver could start to hum if it’s not working correctly. If the humming noise is faint, you may be able to ignore it for a while. However, if the humming noise gets louder or more pronounced, you should replace your dimmable driver as soon as possible.
4. The LED driver is hot to the touch.
Like all electronic devices, LED drivers generate heat when used. However, they should not get too hot to the touch. If your driver is hot enough that it’s uncomfortable to keep your hand on it for more than a few seconds, there is something wrong. This issue could be due to a defective driver or another problem with your lighting system. In any case, you should have a professional look at it as soon as possible. Note that excessive heat is always a fire hazard.
5. The LED Driver is sparking or emitting smoke.
These are clear signs of trouble and could spark a fire. In the presence of smoke, it might be difficult to tell exactly what has led to the problem, but you should address it immediately. When things have gotten to this point, DIY solutions are out of the question. Call a professional electrician to assess the system and determine the best way forward. This is also a fire hazard.
6. Your LED driver is leaking liquids.
Liquid might seem like a safetyr hazard to encounter, but not when it comes to electricity. You may have a leak in the building that has caused water to get into the system. Condensation from nearby air conditioning units and vents could also be to blame. If you discovered moisture with outdoor systems, double-check whether the driver has an IP rating for water resistance. Caribou carries a complete range of weatherproof LED drivers for these applications.
7. The LED driver has visible physical damage.
Drivers can react unpredictably to physical damage. Sometimes, it might not cause problems at all, but the risk is hardly worth it. Any LED drivers sparking or emitting smoke likely are physically damaged. Damage could occur during shipping and handling or the installation process. Construction activities and upgrades could also cause damage. Vandalism or deliberate sabotage are two worst-case scenarios.
8. The warranty on the dimmable driver has expired.
LED drivers, like all components in a lighting system, have a lifespan. Your LED driver could last anywhere from a few years to a decade and will likely outlast the warranty. When the warranty expires, that doesn’t mean you should immediately replace it. However, it is a good idea to start planning for a replacement in the near future.
9. Your LED driver is overloaded
One of the most common problems is overloading the driver when extending the previous installation of the LED strip. Getting the right driver capacity is extremely important because this could damage your product and can also be a serious fire hazard. This can also result in the voltage being too low for the last strings if the connection is in series. It is recommended to load up your LED Driver to 80% capacity to ensure your LED Driver runs cool during operation. For example, if you have a 150W LED Driver, you should load this to a maximum of 120W.
10. LED lights stop working entirely before the end of their lifespan.
LED lights have varying lifespans. Some companies give years as estimates, but it comes down to usage hours. Even so, after a few years in business, you likely know how long your LED lights usually last. If your lights die prematurely, particularly if an entire section tied to one driver goes out, it could be the problem. Replacing the driver could extend the life of your lights.
11. You discover that you have an uncertified dimmable LED driver.
Your LED driver must have RCM certification. If you use a European brand, it could have a CE certification instead, which is good, but still not valid for use in Australia. These certifications provide peace of mind that the LED Drivers underwent rigorous testing to meet safety standards, especially regarding fire prevention.
12. You have ruled out all other potential causes for issues in your lighting system.
Troubleshooting lighting systems can take time. If you have already crossed all other options on the list and the driver is all that’s left, it’s worth replacing it to see if that will solve the problem. When purchasing a replacement, be sure to consider compatibility. Sometimes LED dimmable drivers are incompatible with the systems they are paired with, but they will continue to work for a time. However, simply replacing an over-stressed driver will only lead to needing another replacement soon. Higher-wattage units often give the most compatibility options, such as the Caribou 24V 320W Series. When replacing a driver, the general rule of thumb is the total load should be within 30% and 80% of the driver’s wattage capacity.
How Do You Replace a Dimmable LED Driver?
If you’ve determined that you need to replace the LED driver for your lights, the process is actually simple. However, it is highly recommended you engage a professional Electrician to do the job.
How Can You Find a Good Replacement Dimmable LED Driver?
There are countless sellers on the market, but few can match the variety, quality and expertise provided by Caribou Lighting. Contact us now to discuss your needs with us.