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Constant Voltage vs. Constant Constant

What type of LED driver do I need?

With all the different variations of LED power supplies, finding the right LED driver for your LED lighting installation can be more difficult than you may think. There are many factors to consider when looking for the best solution that meets your specific installation needs. If you need help finding the best power supply for your installation, please refer to our LED power supply buying guide here. Understanding the power requirements is an important start but understanding the difference between Constant Current and Constant Voltage can help you avoid costly mistakes.

Constant Voltage:

Constant voltage LED drivers are designed for a single DC (direct current) output voltage. The most common examples of these types of power supplies are 12VDC or 24DC. LED lights will often specify the voltage they are rated for. Constant voltage LED power supplies are powered by standard line voltage (120VAC), which is the typical output found in wall outlets in a home. These types of LED power supplies convert the alternating current voltage (VAC) to a significantly lower direct current voltage (VDC). However, the voltage will always remain consistent (either 12V or 24V) regardless of the current load. Constant voltage drivers are best for installations where longevity and efficiency are needed.

Constant Current:

Constant current LED power supplies are designed with a fixed output current and a variable range output voltage. These drivers work by fluctuating the voltage along an electronic circuit; this allows the current to remain constant throughout the LED lighting installation. With a higher current rating, LED lights will seem brighter, however if unregulated, the LEDs will draw more current than it is rated for. This will result in a drastically reduced LED life-span and premature burn out due to excessive heat. While constant current is great for high power LEDs, because of the increased brightness, these LED power supplies tend to decrease the life of the LED system.

Example Constant Current Label

Which is best: Constant Voltage or Constant Current?

Why Constant Voltage?

Constant voltage on the other hand tends to be slightly more expensive are far more energy efficient and use higher rated electrical components. The LED drivers using constant voltage are far better at heat dissipation and require an extra circuit to deliver the appropriate wattage to the LED lighting system. These factors result in a more efficient and longer-lasting LEDs. These power supplies specifically designed to be used with LED tape light, strip lights, puck lights and LED linear bars. Ultimately, constant voltage LED drivers pair perfectly with undercabinet LED installations as they are the most energy efficient and protect the lifespan of the LEDs.

Why Constant Current?

Constant current LED power supplies work best with high powered or very large LED lighting installations, not typically found in homes. These types of LED drivers are great for high powered LEDs or if LED lifespan is not a concern. As previously stated, these power supplies allow for brighter LEDs, but because the current is unregulated. Without a current limiting device, the LEDs draw more current, which increases temperatures, hotter LEDs means less efficiency and a shorter lifespan.

If you still have questions about which type of power supply is best for you check out our How to Choose a Power Supply post or reach out to us at support@armacostlighting.com

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How to Pick the Right LED Tape Light Kit for Your Home

Hassle Free Accent Lighting

WHY LED Strip Light Kits?

Accent lighting is a great way to bring custom style and brightness to any room in your home. Historically, these types of projects could be challenging, costly and time consuming for homeowners often requiring the help of professional contractors. With the advent of LED lighting and more specifically LED strip light kits, the issues with “self-installing” accent lighting become a thing of the past. These lighting kits are an easy-to-use, low cost and quick solution to professional quality accent lighting. Installation can be done within 30 minutes and, generally, does not require an electrician. Simply peel the backer from the 3M adhesive, place the tape light where desired, plug in (or hardwire see below), and enjoy hassle free accent lighting. Check out the options below for more information on our LED tape light kits.

Low-Voltage and Energy Efficient, means that the LED lighting kits are safe and easy to work with. Many of the RibbonFlex Home LED tape light kits come with the option to directly plug in or hardwire the LED lighting.

Remove end caps to direct wire (wire not included)
Remove end caps to direct wire

RibbonFlex Home LED Tape Light Kits

Selectable White LED Tape Light Kit

The RibbonFlex Home Tunable White LED Tape Light Kit is a fully assembled, highly versatile accent lighting LED strip light kit. This is the perfect solution for anyone looking for ability to select the white-color temperature that is best for them. Using the RF (Radio Frequency) powered remote, users can select the white color between Warm (2700K) and Bright (5000K). The RF remote control works through doors and walls without requiring line of sight and can be used to control up to three installations for larger, custom setups. The tunable white kit features 16ft of fully dimmable LED tape light that is cuttable, re-connectable and can be hardwired or plugged in. The kit includes one reel of LED tape lights, pre-installed LED power supply, two connectors for bridging gaps, two mounting clips and an RF remote control.

AC Dimmable LED Tape Light Kit

Dim-to-Warm LED Tape Light Kit

RibbonFlex Home Dim-to-Warm Tape Light Kit

The RibbonFlex Home Dim-to-Warm LED Tape Light Kit is a fully assembled LED strip light kit that offers unparalleled dimming control. At full brightness, this kit offers a Soft-Bright (3000K) white light; when dimmed, the color temperature gradually transitions to a glowing warm white (1800K). This kit is great for those looking for a warm, dynamic lighting option. Similar to the other kits, the 16ft of LED tape light can be cut, re-connected and comes with the option to plug in or directly hardwire. The kit includes one reel of LED tape lights, pre-installed LED power supply, two connectors for bridging gaps, two mounting clips and an RF remote control.

“when dimmed, the color temperature gradually transitions to a glowing warm white”

Soft-Bright White LED Tape Light Kit

RibbonFlex Home White Tape Light Kit

The RibbonFlex Home Soft Warm White (3000K) LED Tape Light Kit is the perfect solution for anyone looking for a simple, inexpensive, professional option. The strip light kit is fully assembled and ready to install right out of the box. Featuring 16 feet of easy to install LED tape light that is dimmable from 100% to 0. The LED strips can be cut and reconnected for custom installations and come with connectors for jumping corners. The kits RF (Radio Frequency) remote can control up to three kits and, unlike cheaper options, this remote works through walls and around corners. The kit includes one reel of LED tape lights, pre-installed LED power supply, two connectors for bridging gaps, two mounting clips and an RF remote control.

RibbonFlex Home Multi-Color + White Tape Light Kit

The RibbonFlex Home Soft Warm White (3000K) LED Tape Light Kit is the perfect solution for anyone looking for a simple, inexpensive, professional option. The strip light kit is fully assembled and ready to install right out of the box. Featuring 16 feet of easy to install LED tape light that is dimmable from 100% to 0. The LED strips can be cut and reconnected for custom installations and come with connectors for jumping corners. The kits RF (Radio Frequency) remote can control up to three kits and, unlike cheaper options, this remote works through walls and around corners. The kit includes one reel of LED tape lights, pre-installed LED power supply, two connectors for bridging gaps, two mounting clips and an RF remote control.

RibbonFlex Home Warm-White LED Tape Light Kit

RibbonFlex Pro White Tape Light Kit

The RibbonFlex Pro Warm-White LED Tape Light Kit is the ideal solution for anyone looking for professional grade under cabinet lighting that is easy-to-install and hassle free. The pro strip light kit comes fully assembled and can be extended with RibbonFlex Pro Soft Bright Tape Light (142210<Link>). The RF remote can control up to three strip light kits and allows for 100% to 0 dimmability. What makes this kit stand out from the rest is the fact that it is the only kit in the line up that can be extended with other RibbonFlex Pro tape light strips. Additionally, this kit uses professional grade, premium quality components and lasts for 65,000 hours or over 7 years of continuous use. The 8 feet of LED strip light can be cut and re-connected for custom installations or bridging gaps. The kit includes one reel of LED tape lights, pre-installed LED power supply, two connectors for bridging gaps, two mounting clips and an RF remote control.

In the end, each LED strip light kit offers a hassle free way to add accent lighting anywhere in your home. If for some reason the kits above do not fit your specific needs, Armacost Lighting also offers component based kits, that are designed for larger or more custom installations. You can check out all Armacost Lighting has to offer HERE. For questions, comments or concerns feel free to reach us at support@armacostlighting.com.

Don’t forget to check out our other blog posts for more LED lighting knowledge. Follow Armacost Lighting on social media to stay up on new product offerings and specials.


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How to Dim LED Strip Lights

LED strip lights are a great solution for any lighting project calling for low-voltage lighting. While these lights are great at adding additional brightness to any room, sometimes there is a need for dynamic brightness control.

For instance, LED tape light installed as under cabinet lighting in a kitchen can be used to enhance visibility and brightness in the room. However, there are times when full brightness may not be necessary. Having the ability to dim the LED lighting lets the user determine the exact level of brightness needed.

Unlike standard A-style bulbs, which are often non-dimming, RibbonFlex Pro LED Tape Lights & LED Tape Light Kits are designed with dimmability in mind. These products feature the technology needed to be fully dimmable from 0 to 100% brightness. With that in mind, there are a few different methods for achieving fully dimmable LED strip lighting.

Option 1: Armacost Lighting LED Tape Light Kits

The first and easiest method is to look at the Armacost Lighting LED Tape Light Kits. These strip light kits are designed to be easy-to-install and come with the components needed for dimmable LED lighting right out of the box. While each kit offers slightly different functionality; all of the Armacost Lighting RibbonFlex Pro & Home kits are fully dimmable.

Option 2: Traditional Wall Dimmer + Dimmable Power Supply

While LED light kits are convenient, they are limited in that there is very little customization available. For a custom, or component based dimmable LED lighting solution where a traditional TRIAC in-wall dimmer is preferred, it must be used in conjunction with a universal AC dimmable power supply.

In-Wall Dimmer & Dimmable LED Power Supply Installation
Typical In-Wall Dimmer & Dimmable LED Power Supply

In this LED tape light setup the dimmable LED power supply reduces and rectifies the 120V AC signal to 12/24V DC signal that is compatible with the LED strip lights. The LED driver is able to interpret TRIAC dimming signals from the TRIAC in-wall dimmer to adjust the brightness of the lights.

This solution may require some professional expertise, if you are uncomfortable with electronics or need help feel free to reach out to Armacost Lighting Support or contact a local electrician

For more information about how to select the right LED driver for you, check out: How to Select an LED Power Supply

Option 3: Low-Voltage DC PWM Dimmer

A third option to dim LED strip lights is to use a standard power supply with a DC PWM (pulse width modulation) dimmer. The benefit to using PWM dimmers and non-dimming power supplies is that it does not involve wiring to a standard dimmer switch (which often times involves new in-wall wiring). Using a DC PWM dimmer with a standard LED power supply avoids in-wall wiring for nearly all installations and is a simpler and more flexible way of achieving dimmability. Dimming on the DC side of the power supply allows for a variety of dimmer types from which to choose, these include manual dial, remote control, capacitive touch and touchless.

Typical LED Driver Installation with Low-Voltage Dimmer
Typical PWM and Standard LED Power Supply Installation

In this installation the PWM Dimmer is installed between the LED tape lights and the standard power supply. The LED driver is then plugged or hardwired directly into the 120V AC output.

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How to Select an LED Driver

How To Pick a Power Supply

Selecting the Right LED Driver

Installing LED lighting is a low-cost and energy efficient way to add accent or task lighting anywhere in your home or business. A critical part of installing custom LED lighting is choosing the LED driver that meets your needs. While this may seem like an easy task, it can become a little more complicated than one may expect.

Understanding power supplies begins with reviewing some specifics about LED power supplies. When talking about or searching for LED power supplies, remember that LED power supplies, LED drivers, LED AC/DC adapters and LED transformers are all the same thing and can often be used interchangeably. These essential components transform high voltage AC to low voltage DC to power LED tape light, strip lights, puck lights or other accent/task lighting. The main purpose of an LED driver is to convert 120 volts alternating current (AC) from a wall outlet or residential wiring such as RomexTM to low-voltage direct current (DC) that is needed to power LED lights. By regulating the electrical current, the power supply ensures optimal and safe functionality.

Four Factors to consider when selecting an LED power supply:

  1. Wattage / Consumption
  2. Voltage/ Current
  3. Dimming vs. Non-Dimming
  4. Indoor or Outdoor (weatherproof)

Selecting Wattage:

To select the correct LED power supply for your installation it is important to calculate the required power consumption of the lighting components.  

In order to determine the best LED driver for each specific installation, one first needs to calculate power usage/consumption, also known as wattage. Unlike cheaper, lower-end power supplies Armacost Lighting’s pro-grade LED power supplies do not require a 20% de-rating “buffer” or compensation. Simply calculate the wattage needed and select the Armacost power supply that meets the system’s required load. For example, if the LED lighting installation calls for 45-watts of power select a 45-watt LED driver. Determining the proper wattage varies depending on the type of LED lighting being installed, For LED strip or tape lights, use our wattage chart.

For LED puck, landscape and task lighting, simply calculate the total wattage by adding up the usage needs for each item. For example, 6 PureVue puck lights at 3 watts each would be a total of 18 watts This example would use at least a 20-Watt power supply.

LED Driver Installation

Voltage

When installing or replacing LED lighting installations make sure the power supply output voltage matches the LEDs rated voltages. Verifying the voltage needed will help to make sure your LED lighting runs properly and prevent damage or poor performance. LED lighting products will specify what input voltage needs to be used, but if not refer to the individual product listing, installation instructions or contact us at support@armacostlighting.com for specific questions regarding voltage.

Large LED tape or strip light installations must take voltage drop into consideration. With LED tape lighting, voltage drop occurs once the installation reaches a certain length or distance from driver. Once this length has been reached, there is not enough voltage to fully power some of the LEDs towards the end of the strip. The voltage drop depends on the LED tape lights’ density and voltage.

Armacost Lighting products generally require either 12 Volts or 24 Volts. Refer to the installation guide provided with your specific products or contact us with any specific questions.

Dimming vs. Non-dimming:

Armacost Lighting’s LED power supplies safely convert 120-volt AC power using high quality, professional grade components that are designed to last. They are offered in both dimming and non-dimming options, as well as 12V and 24V for custom installations. Understanding the difference between dimming and non-dimming power supplies, ultimately comes down to personal preference and if the LED lights in the system allow for dimming. Nearly all Armacost Lighting LED accent and task lights allow for dimming.  If having dim-ability via a traditional wall switch is preferred, check out our selection of Universal Dimmable Drivers available in both 12V and 24V. If, conversely, if the system calls for dimming on the DC side of the driver or on/off functionality only select a Standard Driver.

Armacost Lighting’s LED power supplies use integrated microprocessors to optimize performance, prevent hum and eliminate pop-on and pop-off. Because we use professional grade components and designs, our line of drivers have been the preferred choice for professionals and homeowners for over a decade. Both the 12-volt and 24-volt universal LED power supplies are compatible with virtually all 120 volt AC dimmer and lighting controls, including wireless, and standard dimmers. The power supplies will work with both forward phase (leading edge, triac, incandescent) and reverse phase (electronic, ELV, trailing edge) AC dimmers.

Indoor and Outdoor (Weatherproof):

The last, but still very important, piece of the puzzle is to consider the installation environment. LED power supplies operate better and last longer when they are installed in areas for which they are designed. Refer to the installation manual for specs including maximum operating temperature, IP ratings and best practices for placement. Ideally you never want to install an LED driver in a location with no or poor ventilation. Without proper ventilation, the power supply’s components are not able to self-regulate and begin to fail.

When looking for devices that are rated for outdoor use, look at the IP rating noted on the device or in the installation guide. Many of the Armacost Lighting LED drivers are rated IP66, which means they can be installed in either dry, damp or wet (not submerged or direct moisture) locations.

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