Electrical System Options

1. Off-the-shelf LED driver

An existing LED driver will provide the quickest design time, since it is already available and will come with a reference circuit design. All parts will be tested for EMI and safety regulations and will typically have the lowest per-unit cost in volume.

The drawbacks are that existing LED driver efficiencies are typically in the mid-80% range. Lifetime and operating temperatures may also be an issue, depending on the vendor and the application.

2. Next generation LED driver

As LED lighting is gaining in popularity, more semiconductor companies are turning their attention to optimising LED driver designs. Another option is to partner with one of these companies on the next generation of LED drivers, which will have higher efficiencies and full regulatory approval.

However, waiting for the product development may delay the development of the LED luminaire. Also, smaller companies may not be able to work together with a driver company on an unreleased product.

3. Custom design

As with thermal design, a fully customised electrical system is an option. While it may be possible to get a higher efficacy than by using an off-the-shelf part, there are many potential drawbacks.

The burden of development and regulatory approval is now on the designer. Even after development, the per-unit cost may be higher than an existing solution. Also, keep in mind that driver companies will continue to develop more efficient and cheaper drivers during the LED luminaire development period.

Available development resources and target efficiency will usually drive the decisions for the electrical system. In today’s high-power LED environment, improvements in the overall luminaire efficacy are driven more by the LEDs themselves and not the drivers. It may be advantageous to get a product out sooner rather than trying to wait until the electrical design is perfect.

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