Outdoor Lighting LED Driver – The Definitive Guide

This is the most complete guide to outdoor lighting led driver. In this guide, we will tell you the types of led driver, and how to choose led driver for your lighting fixtures, and we will also list the top 10 Led driver brands for your reference. Let’s dive right in.

Table of Contents

What is an LED Driver?

An LED driver is an electrical device in an LED circuit that regulates the current flow in the LEDs. With the rise and fall of temperature, the circuit’s current flow fluctuates, adversely affecting the LED’s efficiency and functionality. The LED driver controls the power input and increases life and efficiency.

Why Do I Need a Driver for My LED Lights?

An exciting science is involved in the working of LED lights and the need for an LED Driver. Let’s learn some physics here in the simplest terms.

As the heat is produced when an LED is lit up, the forward voltage Vf (voltage that causes the current flow in the LED circuit) is disturbed. At a high temperature, the voltage decreases, causing the current flow to drop as well. But LEDs need a particular constant current flow to work flawlessly. So, the circuit tries to suck more current and, in the process, is susceptible to burning itself.

The LED driver is a savior for the LED light circuit. This little device has a power output that matches the LEDs’ characteristics and helps in a constant current flow despite the voltage fluctuations. Standard LED lights to operate at low voltage (~1.5-3.5 Volts) and current (max. 30mA). LEDs combined in series and parallel combinations require 12 and 24V input. The LED driver’s job is to convert the high-voltage AC (120-277 V) into the required low DC voltage.

In short, you need the LED drivers:

  • To maintain a constant power flow in the LED circuit by converting high input voltage and current to lower voltage and current
  • To prevent lousy performance and before-time failure of the LEDs
  • To save money and time

What are The Different Types of Outdoor Lighting LED Drivers?

In broader terms, there are external LED drivers and internal LED drivers. LEDs for household applications usually come with an internal driver. In contrast, outdoor LED lighting requires an external driver, which is easier to replace than the whole LED fixture. It saves time and cost. Manufacturers can send the drivers along with the LED lights. If not, they usually send a detailed datasheet that specifies which drivers are required for the LED lights.

The external drivers are divided into ‘constant current’ and ‘constant voltage,’ which mainly differ in how they provide power to the LEDs. Each LED type requires a different driver that fits the specifications. Let’s learn more about these types:

· Constant-Current LED Driver

Constant current LED drivers are for LED lights that require a fixed output current (in amps and milliamps) and a variable output voltage. One current output is defined on such drivers, and a voltage output range will be mentioned. As shown in the figure below, the current is ‘700 mA ‘, and the voltage range is 16-24V ‘. The voltage output of the driver will depend on your LED’s wattage.

These drivers change the voltage in the LED circuit to maintain a constant current throughout the LED system.

mean well constant current led driver 1
mean well constant current led driver 1

· Constant-Voltage LED Driver

Contrary to the constant-current type, constant voltage LED drivers are specifically for the LEDs that need a fixed voltage output (usually 12V or 24V DC) with maximum output current. The constant voltage drivers convert the regular line voltage supply from your wall sockets (120-277V AC) to low DC voltage. The current is regulated using internal constant-current drivers or resistors in such LEDs.

In conclusion, deciding the best type of driver for your LED lights is imperative to avoid loss and occurrence of premature damage and optimize the light output. The following section contains the information needed to choose your project’s best driver type.

constant voltage led driver
constant voltage led driver

How to Choose LED Drivers?

The right choice of the LED driver depends on several factors, such as driver type, size, IP rating, dimmability, etc. There are myriad options and variations on the market, but don’t get confused as we have discussed each important factor in detail.

1. LED Driver Type

As discussed before, there are two types of LED drivers. Which one is best for your LED lighting? Let’s have a look.

  • Constant-current LED Driver: These are best for high-power LEDs to regulate a constant current, resulting in optimized brightness across a series of LEDs. But why? The current vs. voltage relationship of LEDs is unique. The figure below shows that the recent increases exponentially with small voltage increments. We think a higher current will produce high brightness output, but it destroys the LED by increasing the circuit’s temperature. High heat generation directly reduces the life of the LEDs and causes premature circuit burning.

To avoid this, use constant-current drivers that maintain the current to a constant value, thus preventing thermal runaway (a high current causing an increase in temperature) and saving the LEDs.

These drivers are suitable for applications that require high-quality illumination as they help in a consistent brightness output and more consistent results.

voltage vs current cree x lamp xr e series datasheet
voltage vs. current Cree x lamp XRE series datasheet
  • Constant-voltage LED Driver: LED lighting usually involves LEDs in series or parallel combinations, for example, LED linear lights, strip lights, low voltage bollard lights, and bars. A CONSTANT VOLTAGE LED DRIVER IS ADVISABLE when LED series strings are connected in parallel. Such lighting come with instructions to be used with the constant-voltage drivers. Built-in internal constant current drivers and resistors already regulate the current in such lights.

These drivers are suitable for larger-scale applications such as signage and display boards because the results are vibrant. As such, these drivers can be easy to design and cost-effective.

2. Wattage

It is essential to consider the wattage of the LED drivers as they determine the maximum power output. We recommend using an LED driver with a 10-20% higher wattage capability than the LED lighting product. If you connect an LED lighting with the same or higher wattage capability, the driver will wear out before its rated life. For example, if your driver operates at 80W, your LEDs should require 64W or less for longer life and higher efficiency.

3. Output Voltage/Current

It would be best if you matched the output voltage of the LED lighting with the driver. If your lighting has an output voltage of 12V or 24V, the selected LED driver should also have the same output voltage. Connecting a 24V driver with a 12V LED strip light will result in short-term, highly brightened output and premature damage. In contrast, a 12V driver will not light up a 24 V LED.

The same goes for the output current. Be sure to match the driver’s outputs with the LED lights for the best outcome and durability.

4. Input Voltage/Current

Input voltage/current is just as important as output voltage/current. Before purchasing the drivers, check the voltage supply of the area. If your driver can not accept the location’s input voltage, it will be rendered useless as it won’t rectify it to the desired voltage. When choosing the constant current LED driver, you must also check the area’s current supply.

4. Dimmability

Do you need dimmability in your LED lighting project? If yes, then consider investing in drivers that have dimming capabilities. Both types of drivers can be customized to have the dimming capacity, but tell your manufacturers your needs or check the driver’s datasheet to confirm this feature. The dimmers in LED drivers decrease the power supplied to the LED.

We advise you to test the dimmers and the drivers to develop the perfect combination for your project. As technology gets better, there are many options you can choose from to find the best fit for your project.

Here is a free tip for the readers: Always ask for a test sample before making a big purchase. Testing is necessary for large-scale investments.

5. Temperature and Weather Resistance

For outdoor applications, it is essential to check the IP rating. The IP rating gives information about the weather-resistant properties of the driver case. The drivers you select must be waterproof, dustproof, and weather resistant. For more information on the IP ratings, look at the chart below.

ip rating chart courtesy 1000bulbs.com
IP rating chart courtesy 1000bulbs.com

6. Power factor

The efficiency of LED drivers is another crucial factor to consider to increase the life of the LEDs. The power factor is the measure of the efficiency of the driver. Using the following formula, you can calculate the power factor of a driver:

Power factor = Watts / (Volts x Amps)

You can calculate the power factor by dividing the driver wattage by the input voltage and current product. The power factor is judged in the range of 0-1. For higher efficiency, a higher power factor is considered good. Usually, a power factor of 0.9 or above is deemed excellent.

led driver 画板 1

7. Size

The drivers’ physical dimensions are critical because you must ensure they fit in your specified area. The size plays a vital role in the hassle-free installation of the fixture.

8. Class 1 v.s Class 2 Drivers

Keeping in mind the safety considerations, you must check the certifications of the LED drivers.

UL Class 2 drivers comply with UL1310 standards, which means such drivers do not pose any harm, such as electric shock or fire ignition. They are safe to handle and require no safety protection. Class 2 drivers function at 60 watts voltage in dry applications, 30V in wet conditions, less than 5 Amps, and less than 100 watts. Such drivers accommodate a lesser number of LEDs.

UL Class 1 drivers are more efficient because they operate at a higher voltage than UL class 2 drivers, requiring safety protection in handling the fixture. Class 1 drivers can run more LEDs than Class 2 drivers because of the high operating voltages.

9. Surge protection

They say, “Better safe than sorry,” and it applies to everything. LED drivers are the main driving force behind these lights. Its protection is necessary and one of the essential factors when choosing a LED Driver.

An electrical surge can lead to short-circuiting. It is hazardous and can cause fires. In some cases, it can become life-threatening, while the loss of money is guaranteed. An electrical surge is a sudden voltage increase that lasts for an instant. But it can be deadly for the equipment. Natural lightning strikes on distribution lines cause them. Apart from this natural phenomenon, a fault in the circuits and transformers can also cause this abnormality.

A surge protection device (SPD) can be introduced in line with an LED driver. It is going to protect the LEDs from unwanted surges. Thankfully, some LED drivers have a “Surge protection” feature nowadays, or you can buy these separately.

They protect the LED lights, decrease the damage, and reduce the risk. It also saves time on repair work. To protect your investment, you must spend some resources on the LED surge protection feature. It will save you a lot of time and money in the future.

10. Warranty

Warranty is a no-brainer and is probably the most sought-after feature by the customer. You have to save your investment. Look for LED drivers that give some years of warranty. Although LED drivers from reliable companies function for a longer time than the mentioned warranty period, accidents can happen, and you must be prepared for unforeseen events.

Usually, the warranty period of LED drivers is around five years, but it varies from company to company. Each company has different features covered in the warranty, so you need to check out the details.

How To Choose The Correct LED Driver For Your LED Lights

Top 10 Led Driver Brands for Outdoor Lighting

When buying an LED driver, your first instinct will be to choose a trusted brand. Trust that gut feeling because a trustworthy brand brings a reliable product. To help you with that, we will briefly discuss the companies that bring the best quality LED drivers to the market.

Here are some top choices for you to consider.


Founded in 1982, Meanwell is a brand from Taiwan, China. And it’s very famous all over the world. Starting with a recognized power supplier globally, “MEAN Well” produces high-quality LED drivers. They have ranked 2nd in manufacturing LED drivers (according to the 2017 IHS report). They make a wide variety of LED power supplies from 8W to 1000W, but they are more famous at High power Drivers than the low-wattage driver. You can check out what suits your requirement and budget with various models and options. They have a vast stock of most products; you can get speedy delivery within one week. It’s perfect for some urgent projects.

Mean Well LED drivers are widely used for outdoor landscape and facade lighting projects.

mean well
Mean Well



Who has not heard of Philips? When it comes to popularity, Philips has its fair share. It was founded in 1891, which makes it one of the oldest manufacturers in the market.

With age comes experience, and it is reflected in its products. They are a primary choice for lighting products. Philips is a brand legally licensed to “Signify.” Philips LED lights and other lighting products are of excellent quality. The prices are a little on the higher end, but the overall high quality makes it worthwhile. You can buy programmable, connected LED or customized LED drivers. With advanced technology, these are meant to perform great. Their high-tech Xitanium LED drivers are the best in the market. Their application varies from residential to industrial spaces.




OSRAM, based in Germany, is a leading global high-tech photonics company with a history dating back more than 110 years. Primarily focused on semiconductor-based technologies, our products are used in highly diverse applications ranging from virtual reality to autonomous driving and from smartphones to networked, intelligent lighting solutions in buildings and cities. In automotive lighting, the company is the global market and technology leader.

Osram LED drivers are versatile and cover the allocation both indoors and outdoors. They have constant current and voltage options for outdoor drivers and a power range from 20W-250W. It will be a good choice for your high-end projects.




Found in 1956, Tridonic has been a driving force in developing professional lighting for over 60 years. Tridonic is a global leader in professional lighting technology committed to providing its customers and partners with the best total lighting solutions on the market.

As a global driver of innovation in lighting-based network technology, Tridonic develops scalable, future-oriented solutions that enable new business models for lighting manufacturers, building managers, systems integrators, planners, and many other types of customers.

Tridonic products are widely used in the field of vertical lighting applications – in Retail, Hospitality, Office & Education, Outdoor, Industry, and Signage 




It was founded in 2007. Inventronics is a good competitor in the market and produces exceptional LED drivers. Their LED drivers are durable and long-lasting. Inventronics focuses on maintaining quality; hence, its products are up to international safety standards.

Inventronics offers one of the most effective LED driver product offerings in the solid-state lighting industry. They are a leading global brand with over ten years of experience and continue to invest to meet customers’ needs for today and the future. They have an extensive LED driver line from 9W-1200W, including constant-power, high current, high-input voltage, constant-voltage, programmable, Controls-Ready, and various form factors as many other options to provide design flexibility for virtually every application.

inventronics 1



HEP was founded in 2002. It’s a brand from Germany well it’s headquarter based in Taiwan, China. HEP driver was famous for their excellent and stable quality. They specialize in designing and manufacturing safe, energy-saving, and delicate electronic lighting components with significant dimmable lighting innovations. All HEP devices are running through an outstanding quality check process. Multistage test programs in production and final test procedures ensure each item fulfills all functional requirements. Based on their German R&D technology, they have reliable quality. But they also have a reasonable price as they put all their manufacturing in mainland China.




Established in 2006, MOSO is another Chinese brand that brings quality products.  They focus on intelligent pole power system solutions, outdoor road lighting, industrial lighting, landscape lighting, urban rail transit, LED displays, intelligent driving of high-power lighting, and other applications.

They are famous for their high-power outdoor driver. Their production line is similar to the OSRAM outdoor driver range, but they have more options than OSRAM. They are good at the constant current driver but have fewer opportunities for the constant-voltage driver.



So was established in 2011. It is a new Chinese brand that produces various electrical appliances. The LED products are industrial grade and suitable for outdoor lighting.

Like MOSO, the chosen is focusing on outdoor lighting drivers. Their products are widely used in street lighting, industrial lighting, Landscape lighting, and other essential engineering projects and have been sold to more than 100 countries and regions worldwide. MOSO Is one of the leading suppliers of domestic medium and high-power LED drive power products.




Lifud was established in 2007. it’s a new brand in China, but it has quickly jumped to the market’s top tier. This company also produces excellent-quality LED drivers. They have incorporated innovative technology, which is the future. In 2018, they established a wholly-owned subsidiary in Germany, with business covering over 70 countries and regions worldwide, including Europe, America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.

Lifud product covers application scenes, including commercial, residential, industrial, outdoor landscape, LED display, and intelligent lighting. 




Founded in 1990, Eaglerise is an experienced and famous Chinese brand with an extensive manufacturing network.

They produce LED drivers falling into many categories and various models. Their products cover almost all the primary requirements for LEDs in the market. Most of their products are for indoor use, but they also have a range of outdoor and shallow-wattage drivers.

You can have a pretty good idea of all the leading companies in the LED drivers market. Check out all the products you require and the estimated project budget, and you can choose which company suits you best.




By now, you must have developed a sound understanding of what LED drivers are and what factors must be considered before selecting the best kind of driver for your applications. There are various possible solutions, so testing the LED drivers before making the final bulk purchase is advisable.

If you still have questions regarding LED drivers, please contact RC Lighting for further information.

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