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What Happens If You Put Too Much Voltage Through An LED

Generally, excess voltage is dangerous. Voltage surges can have a destructive effect on electronic equipment, including LED light bulbs. LEDs often require a certain amount of volts, depending on the type and color of the LED. Most experts recommend 2-3 volts for LEDs. However, you can look it up to be certain. 

This article explains what happens if you put too much voltage through an LED and how to prevent such a situation. 

Are LED Lights Direct Current (DC) or Alternating Current (AC)?

LEDs are intrinsically direct current devices that only pass current in a single polarity. LEDs are typically driven by DC voltage sources using resistors, voltage regulators, and current regulators to limit the current and voltage delivered to the LED. 

What is the Maximum Voltage for LED lights?

VL= LED voltage (4V or 2V for white and blue LEDs). LED currents should be lesser than the optimum allowed for the LED. The maximum current for the standard 5mm diameter LEDs is typically 20mA. Therefore, 15mA and 10mA are ideal values for most circuits. 

LED lights require a certain voltage, such as 24 or 12V. When they run at higher voltages, they become extremely hot. Extreme heat damages the LED lights or the soldering around them. Due to the heat damage LED lights start to dim, flicker, or may die entirely. 

What Happens if You Put Too Much Voltage through an LED?

Simply put, too much voltage kills the LED. As previously mentioned, LED is current-driven and not a voltage-driven device. Therefore, if the voltage deviates more than 10%, the LED bulb is fused off. Subsequently, the electronic parts inside the LED bulb get damaged from the voltage spike. Excess voltage wears out LED drivers and distribution panels prematurely. It also increases service interruptions to the LED lighting. 

LEDs are also high-powered. The more voltage you increase, they will create excess heat, which is not favorable. Excess heat makes the LED produce less lights and cut down on its lifetime. Reduced light is closely related to an unfunctional LED system. 

How Much Voltage is Needed to Power LED?

If you have multiple LEDs in series, then you need to consider all the forward voltages combined. However, if you have a parallel circuit, then you need to consider the forward voltage of the sum of LEDs you have per sting. 

How to Avoid Over Stressing Voltage on LED

Any LED exposed to Electrical Over Stress (EOS) should be considered a device at risk of total malfunction. High energy creates a spontaneous failure in an open circuit. Whenever a new constant current power supply is chosen, it is imperative to assess current ripple and output tolerances. It is also recommended to check the transient spikes during the switch off and on phase, and the hotplug current. These could be silent LED killers that compromise the integrity of the component without any easily noticeable sign. 

It is vital to use power supplies with a capped transient peak during the switch off and on phase to prevent Electrical Over Stress failure. The power supplies should not exceed the LED’s maximum rated current. 

Most importantly, the typical current mixed with the ripple and positive tolerance should not exceed the maximum LED-rated current. Ensuring these conditions are met ensures the power supply voltage does not lead to any Electrical Over Stress. 

Another way to prevent voltage damage to the LED is to use a power supply with short circuit protection. Then equip the LED board using a diode in parallel to the LED string in reverse polarity. A polarized connector is an ideal choice if you connect the power supply to the LED board using a connector. 

How To Determine The Voltage Of My LED Bulbs

To determine the voltage and current of your LED bulb;

  • Look it up in the datasheet
  • Find out the LED voltage using a multimeter with a diode function
  • Connect a battery to the LED and a device called a potentiometer. Begin with high resistance on the potentiometer, then gradually decrease it until you notice sufficient brightness.

Bottom Line

Industry-grade LED lights are designed to avoid such accidents that would be caused by excess voltage. Ensure you check the power ratings on your LED light bulbs before and after purchase to see if you can match the specified requirements. 

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Disclaimer: Our products are ROHS-compliant. This means that we are aware they may contain lead but do not exceed the allowable amounts.