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Drivers or Transformers?

This a good question and is reasonably straight forward, well almost!

First thing is to say is that if you need a driver or transformer, you are going to use this for a low voltage light. In other words, you only need a driver or transformer for a low voltage light fitting. If you have a light fitting that is mains (230v) direct, you do not need a driver or transformer.


So now we know you need a driver or transformer, which one?

Drivers and transformers change mains electrical supply (230v) to low voltage power, generally 12 or 24 volts. Traditionally, low voltage halogen light fittings would use wired wound transformers. These are quite large and heavy, have no circuit boards inside and are said to be ‘bullet proof’ (not literally!). Certainly, the ones we sell are waterproof (not submersible) and can be buried. These are filled with resin to stop any water entering the unit. To add to the mix, there are electronic tansformers but these are not drivers! These would so the same job as the wire woumd transfromers but these are smaller, lighter and as a generalrule, they can't power as many lights. However, with the advent of LED’s most low voltage fittings require a driver. A driver is an electronic circuit board and is much smaller and lighter than a wire wound transformer.

To keep things simple, if your light fittings has a built in LED, you will need a driver. Now, this is where it can get tricky because there are different types of LED drivers. You need to match the right driver to the LED light you have otherwise you could end up with a LED that pulses/flashes or doesn’t work at all. On top of this you need to decide on whether you want to dim the lights or just have them switched on and off.

As a rule, if you purchase a light fitting from our online store, we will always list the correct driver and offer a dimmable driver (if applicable) as an alternative.

What if I want to convert my halogen light fitting to LED?

If you have a low voltage light that uses halogen light bulbs you should be able change these to LED light bulbs (known as retro fit). However, not all LED retro-fit bulbs are the same size so you need to make sure that your LED bulb fits your light fitting before you buy it. At the same time as checking the size of the bulb you need to know what power your transformer is. For instance, if you had 5 lights with 20-watt halogen lamps, you are most likely to have a 100-watt transformer. If you swap the halogen bulbs to LED bulbs, the power consumption will dramatically fall. If the transformer you have is a wired wound version (quite large and heavy), you may have to change the transformer because these should not be used if the power is less than 50% of their capacity eg if the LEDs total less than 50 watts, your 100-watt transformer will have to be changed!

If you know you want a wired wound transformer please click here

If you require a transformer to replace your existing Hunza transformer in the back of a wall light, please click here for an electronic transformer