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LED Light Transformers: What Are They and What Do They Do?

LEDs Light-emitting diodes (LED) work by discharging light because of a current flowing through them. Consequently, the LED acts as a semiconductor, and its light is essentially a by-product of the current running through it.

However, LEDs, especially those running in parallel, require the right voltage and current to run properly. If a current run unregulated, it may cause a failure, especially in custom LED PCB assemblies. This is the reason why power supplies such as drivers and transformers are so important.

They can influence the lifespan and efficiency of your LED lighting system. Therefore, you must learn about them. In this guide, we will focus on transformers. We will take a deep dive into how they work and what makes them different from drivers. 

Without further delay…


What Are LED Transformers?


LED Transformers


If you have worked with electronics before, professionally, or as a hobbyist, you may have encountered transformers before. As you know, transformers can transfer electricity from one circuit to another. Additionally, you can use it to step up or step down a current

For instance, you can use it to transform high-voltage currents into safer and more manageable ones. LED transformers work much in the same way.

Generally, they consist of two interconnected coils. The primary coil connects to a power source while the secondary coil connects to the LED(s). The transformer can use the connection between the coils to determine the generated voltage. In turn, it can either increase or decrease the amount of voltage that runs through it. Usually, the primary coil has more windings than the secondary coil. This ensures that the secondary coil has a lower voltage. 

The two most common LED transformers are magnetic transformers and electronic transformers. We will discuss them further down in this guide. However, first, we need to discuss when transformers are necessary.


When is an LED Transformer LED Necessary?


LED Transformer LED Necessary


LED transformers operate with higher wattage outputs. Therefore, while it is better to work with LED drivers for smaller projects, transformers would be the best option to regulate current for more intricate LED light systems with many bulbs or chips.

You can integrate the LED transformers into the light fixture or embed them into the plug as long as it connects between the light source and power source.

But what type of LED transformer should you be using for your project?


LED Light Transformer Types


LED Light Transformer Types


As we have previously mentioned, there are two common types of LED transformers. However, we should mention that there are different environments and use cases that may require a more specialized form of LED transformers. Nevertheless, in this section of the guide, we will cover the types of transformers most available to you.


  • Magnetic Transformers:


These are the most common types of transformers because professionals consider them the most reliable. It consists of a primary and secondary coil. The windings in the secondary coil are less than the windings in the primary coil.


  • Electronic Transformer:


Usually smaller and lighter than magnetic transformers; They consist of a miniature transformer coupled with an inverter. The inverter converts the frequency while the transformer changes the direction of the current. For instance, if you are running a current from a 120-volt power outlet with 60Hz, it will increase to around 20K Hz. While it may be smaller, you should not use this type of transformer for LED lighting.


Others to Consider:


  • Indoor: Indoor transformers tend to be smaller than outdoor transformers. This makes them easier to hide. Manufacturers often equip them with fault protection. Additionally, they are highly effective despite their size.
  • Outdoor: Manufacturers normally build outdoor LED transformers with heavy-duty waterproof housing. Of course, they can withstand rain, dust, snow, etc. You can find some with IP69 ratings.     
  • Dimmable: Because transformers can control frequency and voltage, you can use them to dim or brighten your LED lights at will.


What type of Transformer is Used for LED lights?


LED lights


LED transformers work in the same way most transformers in other electronics work. However, can you use a non-specialized transformer with LED lights? LED transformers do not have a minimal load. Furthermore, they have low power consumption. You would want to use a specialized LED transformer because manufacturers have stabilized them to work safely with light fixtures. 

If you cannot find an LED transformer, you can use a coiled transformer instead. We also know coiled transformers as ferromagnetic or magnetic transformers. We briefly discussed them in the previous section. Nevertheless, if you plan to incorporate them into your light fixture, you should note that they have a charged minimum load. Thus, if it is a 20-Watt transformer, you need to ensure that you are only using it with at least 20-Watt lights.

Additionally, you should note that these transformers can make an audible continuous buzzing noise. Furthermore, they have a higher energy consumption when compared to specialized LED transformers.

Once again, as we have pointed out in the previous section, you should not use electronic transformers for light fixtures because they have large minimum loads. 


LED Transformer Benefits


LED Transformer Benefits


Why should you use a specialized LED transformer instead of a generic ferromagnetic one? In this section of the guide, we will explore some of the benefits of employing specialized LED transformers in your projects.

  • Choice of wattage options: LED transformers to come in all sorts of low wattage options.
  • Waterproof: Most LED transformers, whether they are of the outdoor or indoor variety, come with a waterproof and dustproof design.
  • Versatile: They come in all shapes and sizes, and in most cases, you can use them with almost any rheostat dimmer. 
  • Easy to install: They are surprisingly easy to connect to your light fixture, and you can use them daily.
  • Warranty: Most LED transformers have a 2 to 3-year warranty, depending on where you buy them. 


What Is The Difference Between an LED Driver and a Transformer?


LED Driver and a Transformer

This article’s introduction established that LED drivers and transformers are power supplies with similar functions. For a simple project where you use a basic LED light strip, you may power it with a LED driver

For longer strips, you may be well-served by employing a LED transformer. This is because LED transformers have higher output wattages than drivers. 

In most cases, you can use an LED driver interchangeably with a transformer. However, this depends on the wattage requirements of your project. For instance, a 100-watt dimmable LED driver can only power a circuit or strip whose wattage requirement is 100-watts. Generally, drivers have a 100 to 200-watt power output limit. 

Therefore, if you want to ensure that the color stays consistent in your long LED strip, you should select a LED transformer for your project. It is the best way to maintain the color rendering index of your light project.




Do LEAD light strips, and transformers get hot?


While LED transformers may generate some heat, LED light strips and bulbs generally do not get hot to touch.


How far away should I house the LED transformer?


If you connect a transformer too far from the LED light strip, it may result in a power dip. The distance from an LED transformer to a lighting strip will depend on the light strip’s length. For 1mm electrical wiring, it will require 10m of distance.


Can a single transformer power multiple LED strip lights?


Yes, a single transformer may power multiple LED strip lights as long as the maximum combined wattage of the LED strip lights does not exceed the transformer’s capabilities.


Do I need a special transformer for LED lights?


You do not need a special transformer for LED lights. You can use a coil or magnetic transformer. However, we do suggest that you use special LED transformers because manufacturers optimize them for LED lights. Additionally, they also have lower power consumption.   


Can I use a 12V transformer for LED?


You can use a 12V magnetic transformer with LEDs. You need to ensure that the LED strip is compatible.




LED light fixtures need constant and reliable power, lest they malfunction or fail prematurely. This is why LED transformers and drivers are so important. If you have reached this portion of the guide, you should understand how LED transformers work. Additionally, it would help if you understood why they are different from drivers. Nevertheless, we hope that you have found this guide to be helpful. If you want to learn more about PCB and LED products, please visit our website. As always, thank you for reading.