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Selecting the Right Potting Material for LED Driver

Pulished:2019-08-20Number:loading...Source:Shanghai Spark Technology Industrial Inc.

Background:


Due to increasing energy regulations and cost restraints, the world is gradually converting from traditional lighting to LEDs with characteristics of long life spans and energy savings.  However, many are not aware that these innovative light sources require specialized devices called LED drivers to operate.  LED drivers (also known as LED power supplies) are similar to ballasts for fluorescent lamps or transformers for low voltage bulbs: they provide LEDs with the electricity evergy and the stability they require to function and perform at their best. 


LEDs require drivers for two purposes:


1. LEDs are designed to run on low voltage (12-24V), direct current electricity. However, most places supply higher voltage (120-277V), alternating current electricity.  An LED driver rectifies higher voltage, alternating current to low voltage, direct current.  The output current usually range between 250uA – 50A.


2. LED drivers also protect LEDs from voltage or current fluctuations. A change in voltage could cause a change in the current being supplied to the LEDs.  LED light output is proportional to its current supply, and LEDs are rated to operate within a certain current range (measured in amps).  Therefore, too much or too little current can cause light output to vary or degrade faster due to higher temperatures within the LED. 


In summary, LED drivers convert higher voltage, alternating current to low voltage, direct current. They also keep the voltage and current flowing through an LED circuit at its rated level.


Issues LED Drivers face:


Since the cost of LED is much higher than traditional lighting solutions, it is important to extend the life cycle of LED’s.  When an LED stops operating before the end of its rated lifetime, usually it is the driver that fails, but it can usually be saved if the driver is replaced.  So it is beneficial to have external LED driver than internal LED driver.


Some of the elements LED Drivers face which are bad for the driver:


Heat:


Drivers often fail prematurely due to high internal operating temperatures.  High temperature over time causes capacitors onboard to fail.  If the driver’s case temperature (usually the highest temperature point on the driver) while in use is too close to the max operating temperature, then it will have a shorter lifespan.  The graph below shows the correlation between operating temperature and life span of a LED driver.

折线图


Moisture and Dust:

Since the ballast and fluorescent lamp era, the best driver design is to protect the driver from outside elements.  Elements such as moisture, acid, alkali or even various dust particles can always deteriorate the performance of a driver, especially with specific applications in industrial or outdoor lighting.  

There is a Ingress Protection (IP) Rating that standardizes environmental protection levels within the driver.  Refer to the chart below.

IP等级表

Potting compounds:


In the current LED market, most dust and water proof drivers incorporate some kind of potting compound to separate the driver control board from the outside world.  Potting compound can also help drivers resist to shock and vibration.  

There are many UL and RoHS compliant potting solutions on the market such as silicon rubber, epoxy resin and asphalt based potting compound.  Out of all the solutions, the best solution in terms of cost and manufacturability is asphalt based potting compound supplied by Shanghai Spark Technology Industrial.

Shanghai Spark compound has been around for over 20 years and it is widely used around the world.  It is estimated to be in 85% of the ballasts sold worldwide.  It’s products are qualified by UL and RoHS and REACH compliant.

Shanghai Spark encapsulating compounds are formulated for the demanding high performance requirements of the electrical and electronic industries for such applications as the potting of LED drivers, electronic ballasts, capacitors, power supplies, relays and other devices with high heat dissipation requirements. Shanghai Spark products provide higher flame retardancy, increased high-voltage insulating characteristics and improved thermal management over currently available materials, significantly reducing the operating temperature of potted internal components - thus extending the life cycle of electrical devices.

Asphalt based potting compound is a hot melt material.  Hot melt is easy to use, fast to set, and provide great gap filling. It can be easily removed for repair and rework.  It has good heat resistance (>123C softening point) and good solvent resistance.  The compound has a good viscosity when applied at an elevated temperature and they set at room temperature.  After potting, the compound has a fast average set time of 60 seconds and an unlimited depth of application. This is a very cost-effective material.

This chart summarizes the advantages of Shanghai Spark potting Compound in comparison to other potting solutions:

方案对比表


Summary:


Many questions arise when trying to select an appropriate potting compound for your application.  Shanghai Spark asphalt based potting compound can mostly likely met your LED driver need by providing high dielectric strength, conduct heat, lengthen life span and lower your cost.


There are other inferior asphalt based potting compounds in the domestic market.  Beware that non-Shanghai Spark compounds are corrosive, noxious in smell, contains heavy sedatives and bad quality.  Please contact your Shanghai Spark representatives if you have further questions.

END

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