Constant Current vs. Constant Voltage in LED Drivers

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James Prietzel, Product Manager at Intelligent LED Solutions (ILS)

James is the ILS Product Manager for everything related to LEDs and has been with ILS since 2012. James is dedicated to understanding the latest technologies and innovations from leading suppliers in the OptoElectronics world, from optics, to LEDs and to Intelligent LED Drivers.

Constant current (CC) and constant voltage (CV) are two terms commonly heard when discussing LED drivers. These terms distinguish between the two available types of LED driver used in electronics, particularly in LED lighting and other electronic devices.

What is the difference?

The difference is paramount, and your LED application will determine the type of driver you need. The main difference lies in how they regulate and deliver electrical power to the connected load:

  • Constant Current (CC) Drivers: These drivers maintain a constant electric current output by having a variable voltage. Constant current drivers ensure that the current flowing through the load remains steady, even if the load’s resistance changes. CC LED drivers tend to offer a more efficient circuit and better control, when compared to CV LED drivers.
  • Constant Voltage (CV) Drivers: On the other hand, constant voltage drivers supply a set voltage output to the electronic circuit. The current drawn by the load varies based on its resistance.

In summary, constant current drivers are suited to applications where the load requires a fixed current. Whereas, constant voltage drivers are used when a steady voltage level is essential, allowing the current to vary based on the load’s requirements. The choice between the two depends on the specific requirements of the electronic device or lighting system being powered.

Where are they used?

Constant current LED drivers are a popular choice for LED applications and are suitable for use with LED chains or single LEDs operating in series. They are commonly used in applications where the load, such as LEDs, requires a consistent current for optimal performance and longevity.

While constant voltage LED drivers are ideal for a parallel circuit made up of multiple LEDs. Devices that require a fixed voltage input, such as some electronic gadgets and components, use constant voltage drivers to maintain a consistent voltage level across the load. They are best suited for LED modules with either an on board or a current limiting resistor, such as an LED strip. 

What are the products?

Inventronics supply a wide variety of OSRAM constant current LED drivers to Distrelec. Take a look at the range here.

About Inventronics

NB: In May 2023, OSRAM sold its LED Drivers, Lighting Controls, LED Flex and LED Modules business to Inventronics. These products continue to be branded OSRAM but are now owned, designed, manufactured, and developed by Inventronics.

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