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GU10 LED Drivers

The GU10 LED driver is a converter board that allows you to power a GU10 LED lamp off wall power. The device performs a simple but quite important function, converting constant voltage wall power to a specified output current.

GU10 LED drivers are constant current power supplies. They take an input voltage (generally line voltage) and convert it to a few hundred milliamps constant current. They do this because LEDs are constant current devices.

A GU10 LED, if plugged directly into the wall, would explode. It would attempt to allow infinite current through, until the current created an overload condition. The GU10 LED driver prevents this from happening.

When you plug a GU10 LED into a power source, the LED produces light depending on the amount of current flowing through it. This is very different from how a light bulb works.

A normal light bulb acts as a fixed resistance. When you put voltage across a normal light bulb, low voltage means low current. As voltage goes up, so does current, and the bulb gets brighter. If you use too much voltage, too much current flows. The bulb gets too bright and burns out.

This is why halogen bulbs require special transformers. The halogen bulb voltage transformer reduces the 120V or 220V of wall voltage to 12V or 24V. When 12V appears across the terminals of the halogen bulb, the bulb automatically draws just as much current as it needs to glow. Only if the voltage went up or down would the bulb get brighter.

When driving an LED, the situation is somewhat different. The LED “takes” a certain amount of voltage no matter how much current is available. If the voltage across the LED’s terminals is below that voltage, no light will be emitted. No current will flow. Once that voltage is exceeded, the LED will allow any amount of current to flow. The more current that flows, the brighter the LED gets. If too much current is allowed to flow, the LED will burn out.

Therefore, the amount of voltage supplied by an LED driver is largely irrelevant. What matters is the amount of current that the LED driver can supply to power the LED.

Given a source of constant current, the LED will automatically take just the amount of voltage it needs to glow. That’s part of an LED’s design. Whereas a halogen bulb will take just the amount of current it needs to glow at a certain voltage, the LED reverses this relationship.

Whereas the halogen bulb transformer has to supply a given voltage while allowing the bulb to choose the current, the LED driver has to ensure that — however much voltage is taken by the LED — only a certain current ever flows.

Ensuring this current stays constant is the function of a GU10 LED driver. It will increase voltage if not enough current is flowing. If too much current is flowing, it reduces voltage automatically. Because the LED will automatically choose the correct voltage, by changing the voltage until the current is correct the LED driver finds precisely the necessary voltage to drive the LED.

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