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APPLICATION NOTES

In order to make your LED solution a simple, positive and valuable experience, we have provided information about compatible Transformers and Dimmers.

Transformer/Power Supply Compatibility

Please consider the following when selecting a transformer:

  • 12V DC Constant Voltage Driver: A constant voltage driver (SMPS) is a stable source for voltage and current built for electronic components.  Like an electronic transformer, it has additional circuitry for regulating voltage and current.   Hence, not only is the output precise, but under a range of load situation, the output remains constant with no minimum load requirement.  As such, it is suitable for premium electronic devices such as computers, cell phones and camers. American Illumination’s low voltage LED engines will operate with the highest brightness and power efficiency when utilizing a 12VDC Constant Voltage driver.  American Illumination recommends using a constant voltage driver. (Note: Do not use a constant current driver)
  • 12V AC Magnetic Transformer: Our low voltage LED engines are typically compatible with magnetic transformers, but these are heavier, less efficient, and emit noise in the forms of voltage spikes and inrush current. Magnetic transformers are basically ferromagnet core inductors built for resistor load such as bulbs, motors and household appliances. Depending on power line activities, voltage spikes or transients from the AC input will pass through to the secondary, and the energizing and collapsing of the magnetic field in the coil may produce instantaneous in-rush current that draws 5-10 times their normal load current.  Although most traditional magnetic transformers have basic over-current protections, these transient activities may affect the reliability of sensitive LED components.  Therefore, when using a magnetic transformer, American Illumination recommends using a surge protector before the LED engines such as Light Plugz.
  • 12V Electronic Transformer: American Illumination’s LED engines may not be compatible with the low-end electronic transformers or electronic-magnetic AC transformers that are built for a resistor loads such as halogen lamps. This is due to the fact that high voltage input to this type of transformer is first converted to DC, then uses high frequency modulation to chop up the wave form.  By manipulating the On vs Off duration in each cycle (Duty Cycle), an average desired voltage is achieved.  As a result of the high frequency Pulse Width Modulation, the Duty Cycle represents a higher efficiency than the magnetic transformer.  Due to this high frequency switching, toroid transformers are used and as a result, in-rush current (when first energized) can be as high as 80 times the normal load current.  As the magnetic field collapses and re-energizes in switching, high frequency voltage spikes are generated.  Because these low-end electronic transformers are built with little or no voltage/current regulation, it may damage the sensitive solid-state components. In addition, a toroid transformer requires a certain amount of magnetic flux to function effectively. As such, some electronic transformers require a minimum load, which might be much higher than the actual power consumption of the LED.  Symptoms of incompatibility include: no light output, flickering, strobing, random shutdown including premature LED failure.  American Illumination cautions against using Halogen type electronic transformers.
  • Normal LED DC Constant current driver: American Illumination’s low voltage LED engines already have a built-in constant current driver (self-ballasted), so an external constant current driver is not required and not recommended.

Dimmer Compatibility

Light Plugz, Light Stripz, and Light Blockz are compatible with some dimmers, including MLV, ELV, and PWM dimming methods.  Some dimmer and transformer combinations may present a conflict. Due to the variegated ways a dimmer can be constructed and the lack of an industry standard, American Illumination recommends actual thorough testing with a dimmer in various conditions to ensure compatibility with our LED products. Please contact us at info@american-illumination.com or by phone to receive the latest dimmer/transformer compatibility chart.