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Old 03-24-2014, 02:11 PM   #1
aluka
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DIY - LED - drivers


So i have been shopping around for the materials to make a bunch of small LEDS for my 6 pico tanks. I noticed that most of the drivers on ebay doesn't come with a plug. Do i buy that separated? or am i searching the wrong keywords?

If Anyone with experience can chime in that would be great =D If links can't be posted here, feel free to pm me links. Thank you in advance!
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Old 03-24-2014, 02:17 PM   #2
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Generally speaking, drivers often just come with exposed 2-3 wire which is very typical for T5HO lamps. Do you have any drivers that you are considering?

The two sites which i have frequented for information are
http://www.rapidled.com/

and

http://www.ledgroupbuy.com/ whom i believe a sponsor here.
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Old 03-24-2014, 02:23 PM   #3
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Then how do i connect it to something to plug it in? it seems most of the "guides" i found doesn't talk about that part =/. They mostly concentrate on connecting the LEDs and putting it together, when they get to the drivers they just say connect to the drivers, there's no details =/.
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Old 03-24-2014, 03:08 PM   #4
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If the driver takes 120 volt AC then you can just go to a home improvement store and get a wire with plug and connect it up. There is no + and - for AC so just connect the wires. If you happen to get a 3 prong wire/plug, the green is ground and is usually connected to the metal chasis of the device you are hooking up.
If the driver needs DC then you will need to find a DC adapter with the correct voltage and sufficient amperage . Then you can just cut off the plug that comes with it and connect wire + to + and - to -
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Old 03-24-2014, 03:43 PM   #5
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If you have ANY questions about electrical connections or similar, please ask them before you attempt to do anything. Electricity can be dangerous and a "guess and check" mentality is a bad idea.
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Old 03-24-2014, 04:23 PM   #6
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Those drivers are suppose to be placed in an electrical box. But as I've seen in this hobby people do a lot of sketchy things with electricity.
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Old 03-24-2014, 07:13 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pucksr View Post
If you have ANY questions about electrical connections or similar, please ask them before you attempt to do anything. Electricity can be dangerous and a "guess and check" mentality is a bad idea.
Yes, which is why i am asking before buying anything. I am more afraid than you, LOL. =). I am just making a list and will not buy them before i completely understand what i need to do. thank you for your concern tho, =).
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Old 03-24-2014, 07:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deano85 View Post
Those drivers are suppose to be placed in an electrical box. But as I've seen in this hobby people do a lot of sketchy things with electricity.
Oh do i? I just see people mount either inside the LED housing or just hanging out somewhere. Is it dangerous either way? What kind of electric box would i put them in?
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Old 03-24-2014, 08:08 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deano85 View Post
Those drivers are suppose to be placed in an electrical box. But as I've seen in this hobby people do a lot of sketchy things with electricity.
I don't know if that is true. Electrical box connections are required for any connection made with the 120V wiring. In other words, you cannot use those "twist type" connectors on the 120V supply. However, installing a "plug" onto the cable should meet all requirements.

In fact, NEC 410.136(A) seems to explicitly allow for the installation of "exposed components" for LED drivers. The only requirement is that the exposed LED driver must "not be in contact with any combustible material(unless listed for such conditions)." I can't seem to find the listing for common meanwell drivers, but this simply is saying you cannot connect them to the wood of your stand.

If you have a more relevant code reference please provide.
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Old 03-24-2014, 11:11 PM   #10
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Sorry I meant with this style.




Ya the ones with a cord you could just wire a cord end.

For Six tiny tanks id look into using those rolls of leds like hoppy used. You could then use little 12v wall worts and not have to wire any 120v.
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Old 03-25-2014, 12:34 AM   #11
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Even those don't require mounting in an electrical box

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Old 03-25-2014, 02:11 PM   #12
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Here are the rules, as per the NEC, which is the electric code in the US.
1. If you make a connection on AC wiring(the 110V or 220V stuff that runs all of your appliances), then that connection must be made inside an approved container.
a) if you are twisting wires together using those "twist caps", this connection must be made inside of an electrical box(the square or round box found in your walls/ceiling).
b) if you are connection the wire to a terminal(screws that you screw down to secure the wire), then that must be made in an electrical box as well
c) if you are installing a plug onto the end of wires, then that plug must be appropriately sized and rated for the application. You should see a UL sticker on it.
d) You cannot mount these LED drivers directly to wood or other combustible material unless the manufacturer SPECIFICALLY indicates that the LED driver can be mounted in such a way.

So, if you have the normal type of driver that simply has two AC wires coming out of it, then mounting it "in the open" is perfectly acceptable. In fact, if you do decide to install it into a small container, you might be causing problems. These drivers generate heat and they have a rated clearance and venting requirement. Failing to meet these requirements will cause trouble, invalidate your warranty, and possibly create an unsafe condition.
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Old 03-26-2014, 10:28 PM   #13
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Now, as far as your drivers you need to be careful what you are discussing.
Most LED drivers you see on Ebay are designed for flashlights. This means 1 driver for each LED. They also run off of DC. Which means you have to buy an AC->DC converter(known as a rectifier). The output of the rectifier simply needs to match the specifications of your LED driver. The voltage needs to be within the accepted voltage range of the driver, and the rated current of your rectifier needs to exceed the operating current of your driver.(or be very close to it)

Considering that you are doing this for a small tank, you can probably get away with a single LED. This is a problem. Most AC LED voltage drivers require at least 3 and typically more LEDs to operate. If you try to run them with too few LEDs the driver will not operate properly.

Any DC electrical connections you make can be done without concerning yourself with an electrical box. I would recommend that you make a "butt splice". This will be an insulated and protected way of making the connection

Most people around here use an AC->DC type of driver. Meanwell is the brand name but you can find others. These convert AC->DC and also produce the appropriate current for your LED. These typically are designed to allow multiple LEDs to be run off of a single driver.

LEDs are very different from light bulbs. Each LED "steals" a bit of voltage. The more LEDs you have connected, the more voltage they will steal. This is why drivers are rated in milliamps(mA). You choose the correct current for the model of LED you are using. Then you use the voltage to determine how many LEDs you want to hook up. Most LEDs use 3.5Volts(V). If you have 9V you can run 2 LEDs. If you have 12V you can run 3 LEDs.

So, before buying a driver you want to figure out how many LEDs you need and what current you will need to operate those LEDs. Most LEDs have a range of current they can tolerate. Higher current=more heat. However, it isn't quite that simple. If you operate one LED at 700mA and one LED at 1400mA the one at 1400mA will produce 3x-4x more heat. However, it will only be 1.5x brighter. The higher heat will also require a much larger heatsink. These are just things to consider.

Once you know how many LEDs you want to buy and what current you want to run them at you simply can choose an AC LED driver to match your needs. To figure out how many LEDs the driver will run just divide the rated voltage of the driver by the voltage drop of your LED(known as the forward bias voltage).
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