Choosing a Power Supply for Your LED Strip Lights

If you are buying LED Strip Lights don't forget your power supply. LED Strip Lights rely on a peripheral unit called a power supply, also referred to as a transformer or driver, which is needed to make them work.
Power supplies come in many shapes and sizes, ranging from very basic 'plug and play' units to commercial style transformers which can be hardwired into your mains supply. You will also hear these power supplies referred to as 'transformers.' This is because as well as powering the LED Strip Lights these units are designed to 'transform' the mains 230V AC to a low voltage 12V DC therefore making the supply applicable to the strip lights.
There are a few considerations you need to make when it comes to selecting the type of power supply you need.
Firstly, do you want to be able to plug into a wall socket, or are you planning to hardwire your LED Strip Lights into a light switch?
If the answer to the former question is 'yes' then you will require a standard 'plug and play' driver. This is the most basic supply available and allows quick and easy setup for standard domestic applications via a wall plug power source. The entire unit consists of a black transformer, a kettle-lead with a standard UK mains 3-prong plug and a 12V male connector which attaches to the LED Strip via a corresponding female connector. The entire unit closely resembles a lap top charger and is about 2 metres in length.
For more complex applications or where there is no wall plug available an alternative mains power supply is available. Instead of a kettle lead these supplies feature a length of mains wire which can be wired directly up to the mains supply.
In addition to choosing the type of power supply, you will also need to determine the size of it. These supplies come in varying sizes, ranging anywhere from a low 20watts to many times this figure. These figures described the maximum 'load' that the supply can manage. The 'load' of your LED Strip Lights is calculated by taking the wattage per metre and multiplying it by the number of metres you are using. For example, if the wattage per metre is 7.2W and you are using 10 metres, then the complete load is 72watts. It is important to make sure that this load does not exceed the maximum load on your supply, otherwise you will experience performance issues with your strip lights, such as voltage drop, and reduce the life span of your lights.

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