I've seen "Constant Current" and "Constant Voltage" being used when describing LED Strips and Drivers. What does this mean and how do I know what's best for me?
Constant Current LED Drivers are designed for a fixed output current (amps) and can be ideal for operating LED Strips which are also manufactured to maintain a designated Constant Current. Generally speaking, Constant Current LED Strips, particularly Single Colour types, can operate at Low Drive Currents, whilst maintaining the highest brightness. Constant Current can maintain stable amperage and therefore proves useful under certain conditions.
Constant Voltage strips can work perfectly and without any problems when care is taken. The issue is that if you like to run more than 5m in series you need to make sure that you won’t have a lot of voltage drop, as the strip will dim down and can be susceptible to damage due to high amperage, as a result of thin wires or incorrect calculations for voltage drop. If you are a professional installer and you need very high brightness, CV might be the way forward, if you are ready to spend more time installing longer runs.
We only use CC strips for single colour requirements at this time and these are powered with very high CRI LED chips (Ra>90), able to operate at 14.4 watts per metre up to 10 metres and 4.8 watts per metre at 20 and 30 metres. CC strips usually need a special CC driver/controller to operate but not in Hi-Line's case, as we have designed our CC strips to work only with CV drivers/controllers.
You can view our range of Constant Current strips HERE. We must add that one isn't necessarily better than the other in terms of CV vs CC, with both relying on a set of factors, but CC is worth exploring if you are in a situation where you can only feed one end of your run, up to about 20m in total length. If you are able to power both ends (up to as much as 30m in this case) then performance is even better. In general, Constant Voltage strips offer higher brightness and power but are limited by how many metres can be installed in series, thus requiring them to be wired in parallel (usually every 5 metres) back to the power source.