Tag Archives: How to

How to Connect LED Modules into AC Network

In my earlier post I went through the procedure of how to physically connect a single LED component into an AC network. The connection was made between COB LED and the LED driver. When connecting LED modules (LED diodes assembled on the PCB board) you do it pretty much the same way with slight differences.

Connecting an SMD LED module into the AC network

As with a COB LED component, you will need a suitable driver for your module (see: how to choose a constant current LED driver).  You connect the positive terminals and the negative terminals of the LED driver and the LED module together to create a closed electrical circuit.

The difference to connecting a single LED component is that you may have to connect several LED modules into the same LED driver. In such case, you have to use series connection. This means that you still have to create a closed electrical circuit formed by the LED driver and these LED modules on the secondary side. You arrange the primary side like you would with single LED components. On the secondary size you connect the positive terminal of the first LED module (leftmost module in Figure 1) into the positive terminal of the LED driver. Then you connect the negative terminal of the last module (rightmost module in Figure 1) to the negative terminal of the LED driver. See Figure 1 below that shows all connections between the components.

Figure 1. Connection of LED modules into AC network through the driver.

How do you make other connections? Series connection means that you always connect the negative terminal of the previous array to the positive terminal of the following array in the chain. See again Figure 1. The output voltage of your LED driver defines how many LED modules you can drive with one driver. In case of Figure 1, one LED driver drives three LED modules. If voltage over LED module is for example 12V, the output voltage of the LED driver should exceed 36V. In the real world, you have to take into account tolerances. So in this case, 40V can be used as target for the driver maximum output voltage.

In the same way, you can connect multiple COB LEDs in series. This may be the case when you need vast amount of light.

How to actually do it?

As for physical connections of SMD LED modules, there are four options:

  1. PCB terminal block connectors
  2. Soldering
  3. Wire-to-board connectors
  4. Board-to-board connectors

PCB terminal block connectors are quite popular. They are soldered on the PCB board in the reflow process (in reflow oven) after the assembly process. You push the wires into those PCB terminal blocks in the same way as you would push the wires into the push-in terminals of solderless connectors in the single COB case.

Figure 2. PCB terminal block connector (2-pole)

Soldering is an option, if there are separate soldering pads reserved on the PCB to solder the wire(s) with tin. Soldering is usually a more cost effective option.

The numbers 3 and 4 are the special cases when you wish to interconnect two modules with each other. I’ll skip them for now and save them for later post.

If you’re interested in aLED’s new, improved LED modules, read more over here.

Feel free to drop a comment if you have questions on this topic.

How to Connect a Single LED Component into AC Network

I have two blog posts for you focused on how you connect COB LED components into the electrical network. I mean, when you have either a single COB LED or an LED module based on SMD LED components assembled on a PCB board.

Compared to traditional lighting, connecting LEDs to the electrical network is a whole new world. LEDs need direct current (DC) to light them, alternating current (AC) will not work. There are also AC modules available but those are not covered here.

In this post I will concentrate on connecting single COB LEDs. In case you are interested in connecting LED modules, I will write about that in my next post.

LED driver

You will need an LED driver, which is actually an AC/DC converter. It converts the AC voltage/current of the electrical network into the suitable DC voltage/current needed by the LED component. You will find the requirements of the LED from a datasheet provided by the manufacturer. If you need help in choosing a driver, you can read our guide.

Figure 1. Example of an AC/DC converter, LED driver. This one is from ELT with dipswitches, which means that you can choose the driving current.

Connecting COB LED into the AC network

In case of COB, you will have to create a closed electrical circuit so that the electrical current can flow through the LED component. A COB LED is basically a diode in its electrical nature: the current can flow only in a forward mode. This means that you must connect the positive (+) solder pad of the COB LED into the positive terminal of the LED driver. In the same way, you connect the negative (-) solder pad of the COB LED into the negative terminal of the LED driver. See the Figure 2 below.


This way, you create the closed electrical circuit that is needed to feed current through the LED so that it gives light. This closed electrical circuit formed by the LED driver and the COB LED is called the secondary side of the LED driver. LED driver feeds the power and current into the closed electrical circuit, and thus through COB LED, on the secondary side.


Figure 2. COB-AC Network


On the primary side, the LED driver gets electrical power from electrical network, AC network. The terminals of the LED driver on the primary side are called line and neutral. They are connected into the line and neutral connections of the AC network. If you have an LED driver with cables, they are usually blue (neutral) and brown (line). Some drivers also have a ground terminal, which is usually connected to the luminaire body with grounding wire. However, the closed electrical circuit is needed also on the primary side; between the network and the driver.

Usually, you will need to use some kind of terminal block to connect the driver into the electrical network on the primary side.

Picture of a terminal block

Figure 3. The example of terminal block to connect the LED driver into the electrical network.

Two options

Finally, as for physically connecting a COB LED into the LED driver, you have two ways to do it:

  1. solder the wires on the solder pads of the COB
  2. use solderless connectors.

In the first method, you manually solder the wire by using soldering iron with high temperature that melts the soldering material such as tin. After cooling, there is a joint between the wire and the COB solder pad. You need two wires, one for plus and one for minus solder pad.

In the second method, you use a solderless connector.

Figure 4. The solderless connector.

The solderless connector does the same effect as the soldered wire. You need the electrical connection also in this method, but you won’t need to solder the wire by melting tin. You just push the wire into the push-in terminals of the connector. Again, positive to positive and negative to negative terminal. They are marked on the connector. Basically these push-in terminals work with a combination of metal plates and springs that then make the connection to the solder pad of the COB LED.

The difference between these methods is, that unlike with soldered joints, in the solderless connector method the springs may loosen a bit over time and loss of contact may occur. Solderless connectors are generally thought to be more expensive than manual soldering.  

In my next post I will go through the steps for connecting LED modules.

How to use Citizen LED simulator

Datasheets are essential part when you compare how different light sources work in your solution. Usually it can be time taking and exhausting to glance at datasheet and find values you are looking for. This gets even harder if you have multiple LEDs or different LED packages, which would mean that you have look at multiple datasheets to get different values.

This is the reason why Citizen has created a Citizen LED simulator. The simulator is very easy to use and makes comparing different LED packages a lot easier. If you haven’t yet tried it or you don’t have the simulator, you can download it for free from our website.

Citizen LED simulator basic view

Citizen LED simulator basic view.

The steps

Follow these steps to use the simulator.

You can choose desired CCT and Ra and selection simulator shows packages and product codes of existing products.

You can choose desired CCT and Ra and selection simulator shows packages and product codes of existing products.

  1. Select the CCT and Ra

First you need to select desired CCT and Ra from condition input field.

You can choose desired CCT and Ra and the selection simulator shows packages and product codes of existing products.

  1. Choose whether you want to search based on the desired lumen amount or driving current

After you have selected color temperature and CRI value, you can choose between driving current (forward current in simulator) or desired luminous flux.

  1. Input the Tc-temperature

Then you can input Tc-temperature. If you have no idea how much Tc is or would be in your solution, values around 60 degrees are realistic to use as many light sources reach temperatures close to that while being used.


In this example, I have chosen that I want my LED to be 4000K, Ra80 Min. And I want to see what options we have to get around 3000 lumens out from luminaire. Luminaire optics etc. will drain around 300-400 lumens in my solution. So I have determined that I need 3400 warm lumens from LED and estimated that Tc-temperature is 60 degrees.


I can see that I have ten different LED packages I can get the 3400 lumens from. In first column after product code you can see what current you should use to get these values. If you don’t have LED driver, in which you can choose output current, it is recommended to then select current value you have LED drivers available in. In this case, 700mA seems to be a good choice as many of the LED’s have driving current close to that.

So I change “forward current” instead of “luminous flux” from the condition input and insert 700mA.

LED packages which give you desired lumens with 700mA. We still have six options to choose from.

LED packages which give you desired lumens with 700mA. We still have six options to choose from.

This will give me a list of LEDs I can use with 700mA driver. And more importantly give me a good overview of LED packages that can give me my desired lumen amount. If you have problem that you can’t find driver with suitable current, you can contact me for help.

In this case, CLU028-1204 would suit my lumen need quite nicely and CLU048-1212, would probably be an overkill for this application. All the other options, might suit my solution although they give roughly 10% more lumens. Whether this is ok, depends really on my application and desired efficacy.

Other applications

Citizen LED simulator is also powerful tool to use when you want to see easily how much lumens you get when driving LED with different currents. Good example is that if you have LED driver which has different current options and flexible LED package, you can use only two components to realize many different lumen packages.

As an example I did this exercise with ELT 42W multicurrent LED-driver and Citizen CLU038-1205 LED package. This driver has option to select different driving currents with dipswitch. If we take Esko’s advice and look from driver datasheet, we can see that output voltage area is suitable from 500mA to 1000 mA.

Below you can see LED characteristics with different current. I have also added forward current column to make this table easier to read. Tc temperature is 60 degrees in all cases.

Table with CLU038-1205 4000K Ra80 LED from 500mA to 1000mA.

Table with CLU038-1205 4000K Ra80 LED from 500mA to 1000mA.

You can also use the LED simulator to estimate the amount of lumens lost due to your luminaire (optics etc.). If you measure LED Tc-point and input the driving current you use to simulator, you should have pretty good estimation that how much lumens you should get out from your luminaire.

If you find out that the loss is too big, the you can either change the LED to a different package or improve the optics of your luminaire.As you can see, you can use this driver & LED combo for a luminaire from ~2500lm to ~5000lm.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

You can download the latest simulator below.

Download COB Selection Simulator


How to choose the right LED?


There are tons of different LEDs even in one manufacturer’s selection so how on earth can you find the right LED for your solution?

In my previous post I discussed about the basic characteristics and operation principles of LEDs. In this post I will discuss about different packages and about the facts that will probably have an impact on your selection.

I will divide LED light sources into three categories:

  • SMD LEDs
  • COB LEDs
  • LED Modules

I will now look more closely on these three categories before we jump into the actual selection.



Citizen CLL600 – Example of SMD LED

SMD LEDs are small diodes used in LED modules. They have to be assembled on printed circuit board (PCB). Generally they allow you to design any kind of luminaire and allow you to make uniform light source. On the downside, SMD LEDs always require them to be assembled on a PCB.





Citizen CLL052 – Example of COB LED

COB = chip-on-board. COB is a small package that combines many diodes as a one light source.  COBs have generally small dimensions and produce a lot of lumens. You can attach COB directly to the heat sink, which allows excellent heat management.  COBs don’t need a lot room in the luminaire fittings and are therefore well suited for luminaires with small room for light source.

LED Modules


Example of LED modules – Linear and rounded

LED Modules are made of SMD LEDs and PCB. LED distributors offer standard modules which in general are made for the common need. For example we have different sizes of linear modules as well as rounded modules. These modules have a certain lumen package which remains the same from LED generation to another. This enables lighting manufacturer to update their luminaires with more efficient LEDs. If you can’t find a suitable LED module for your application, you can always contact a manufacturer and ask them to design a custom module for you.


How to know where to start

The main thing that has an impact on your LED selection is, obviously, the type of luminaire you are manufacturing.  If you are transforming an old luminaire into an LED luminaire, then you will probably have some demands on the physical dimensions of LED.

For example, if you have a T5 or T8 fluorescent lamp, you will need a light source that

a) gives you linear light
b) gives you uniform light
c) fits in to the old luminaire’s body

If you are not restricted by physical dimensions, then you have a lot more options.  For example if you are building a whole new luminaire, the physical dimensions are not so critical. Or at least you get to decide what are the physical dimensions the LED needs to fit into.

COB Luminaire

Luminaire using Citizen COB LED

The other important criteria for LEDs is the amount of lumens you need. You might have an older luminaire that you need to replace, so ideally you would want as much light as the old one produces. So for example, if you have a 120cm fluorescent lamp and it produces 2700 lumen you will want a light source that:

a) fits into the 120 cm long body
b) gives you uniform and linear light
c) gives you  enough light (you won’t necessarily need 2000lm if you have better optical efficiency)

So in this example, you could use for example two modules that are less than 600mm in length and produce 1000lm each. Or you could use smaller modules, for example four modules that are less than 300mm in length and produce 500lm each.  As you may have noticed this selection does not give you the same amount of lumens from light source, but you will still get the same amount of lumens out of the luminaire.

Then there are obviously the color rendering index (CRI) and color temperature (CCT), both of which are mainly depending on the application of your luminaire. For example if you are building a luminaire for a clothing store or an art gallery, you will probably want as high color rendering as possible. On the other hand if you are manufacturing a street light, you probably won’t care about CRI so much.

If you need any help with selecting the LED, or if you disagree with any of my views, you can share your thoughts on the comments below.