Understanding the difference between Linear, Buck, Boost and Direct Drive drivers

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Nightbird95
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lagman wrote:
HKJ wrote:

Nightbird95 wrote:
I was also somewhat ‘relieved’ because the driver of the BLF Starry Light flashlight I bought through group buy failed and I replaced it with a Nanjg 105c driver. I now feel safer using the light with 4 AA NiMH because its total voltage of 4.8 volts when fully charged is way below the 6 volt limit of the 7135 chip. Smile

There is also a power and temperature limit on the 7135 chip and this is usual reached way before the 6 volt limit. Luckily the chip will protect itself and just reduce the current when it gets to hot.

Basically you are wasting the power of one AA battery into the driver. Not the most efficient solution but it should work as long as the driver doesn’t overheat. If you want to reduce heat losses you could use a dummy AA cell to reduce the voltage a bit. That would make your light a 3xAA light. Smile The light should be as bright. Maybe that it will start reducing current a bit earlier at the end of discharge though. 7135 chips start reducing current about 0.2V above the LED voltage.

Noted lagman and thanks for this info. If only we can buy a similar driver (I tried but they’re not selling) then it would be much simpler.

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Cereal_killer wrote:
Nightbird95 wrote:
Thanks for sharing this lagman. I know how to swap drivers but I really don’t understand how these drivers differ from one another – until I read this.

I was also somewhat ‘relieved’ because the driver of the BLF Starry Light flashlight I bought through group buy failed and I replaced it with a Nanjg 105c driver. I now feel safer using the light with 4 AA NiMH because its total voltage of 4.8 volts when fully charged is way below the 6 volt limit of the 7135 chip. Smile

Just an FYI 4s NiMH is 5.3v fully charged.

Oops! So its still safe on the 4 NiMH, right? Or should I follow lagman’s suggestion of using 3x NiMH instead.

Nightbird95
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Nightbird95 wrote:
Cereal_killer wrote:
Nightbird95 wrote:
Thanks for sharing this lagman. I know how to swap drivers but I really don’t understand how these drivers differ from one another – until I read this.

I was also somewhat ‘relieved’ because the driver of the BLF Starry Light flashlight I bought through group buy failed and I replaced it with a Nanjg 105c driver. I now feel safer using the light with 4 AA NiMH because its total voltage of 4.8 volts when fully charged is way below the 6 volt limit of the 7135 chip. Smile

Just an FYI 4s NiMH is 5.3v fully charged.

Oops! So its still safe on the 4 NiMH, right? Or should I follow lagman’s suggestion of using 3x NiMH instead.

But if the chip automatically reduces the current when it gets hot then there should be no problem right? Sad

HKJ
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Nightbird95 wrote:
Cereal_killer wrote:
Just an FYI 4s NiMH is 5.3v fully charged.
Oops! So its still safe on the 4 NiMH, right? Or should I follow lagman's suggestion of using 3x NiMH instead.

4xNiMH starts at about 5.8 volt, but will very soon drop to around 5 volt (Depending on load).

Here is my test of some NiMH batteries:

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

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HKJ I’m not at all doubting any info you post but I have a light (pukelight v1) that uses 2 parallel strings of 4s NiMH and it runs at 5.3v fresh off the charger, dead they’re around 5.1v, why the difference?

 RIP  SPC Joey Riley, KIA 11/24/14. Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.

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I have multiple 4s AA lights (and the one 2s4s) running 7135 based drivers and they all work perfectly and have yet to overheat.

 RIP  SPC Joey Riley, KIA 11/24/14. Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.

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Cereal_killer wrote:
HKJ I'm not at all doubting any info you post but I have a light (pukelight v1) that uses 2 parallel strings of 4s NiMH and it runs at 5.3v fresh off the charger, dead they're around 5.1v, why the difference?

That sound like the charger is undercharging the batteries or maybe they rest a long time before you measure them.

I assume you measure the final voltage without any load on the batteries, that will be higher than loaded voltage.

Cereal_killer wrote:
I have multiple 4s AA lights (and the one 2s4s) running 7135 based drivers and they all work perfectly and have yet to overheat.

You might not see that they overheat, it is very difficult to see if the brightness drops 30% and when you add a ammeter you add some extra resistance, i.e. the voltage to the 7135 will be lower with less risk of overheating.

The risk of overheating depends on the number of 7135 places close to each other and their contact to a heatsink (I.e. flashlight body).

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

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what i would like to know is the difficulty in creating a single li-ion boost driver for single high Vf emitters (xp-g2, xm-l2 etc). i know the discussions with lightmalls fell through. what could have been the technical causes? large drop out, low efficiency?

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islisis wrote:
what i would like to know is the difficulty in creating a single li-ion boost driver for single high Vf emitters (xp-g2, xm-l2 etc). i know the discussions with lightmalls fell through. what could have been the technical causes? large drop out, low efficiency?

 

Something like this: http://lygte-info.dk/review/DriverTest%201A%202.7-5.5V%20Buck-Boost%20UK...

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

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thanks hkj. i know buck-boosts like this are available. of course i mean i would like to know the inherent problems of a boost driver for to meet Vf at high current (>4A). i see your reviewed driver regulated well at 1A, and that boost mode was more inefficient than buck mode.

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islisis wrote:
thanks hkj. i know buck-boosts like this are available. of course i mean i would like to know the inherent problems of a boost driver for to meet Vf at high current (>4A). i see your reviewed driver worked well at 1A.

It is no problem to make a boost or buck driver, but combining to a buck/boost is a problem. There exist only a few chips that can do it.

The problem is that you basically need two switchers sharing one inductor, this requires multiple transistors. As long as all the transistors are in a chip it is fine, but a led driver does not have place for external transistors for higher power.

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

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a mass market driver with boost should be buck+boost, and i can understand the complexities of such drivers. good explanation also! but the driver in dicussion with lightmalls would have been boost only (DD at Vin>Vf). in other words, a specialised driver for lights which can withstand DDing an emitter (i.e. 5A+).

at high current would a boost driver never reach the required efficiency to work from a single li-ion? or something else, like lack of commercial ics? i can’t even find any mass produced step-up voltage converters for this range and output.

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DavidEF wrote:

Same sorta issue here, referring to disadvantages of linear drivers:
Quote:
You can’t use this if you have multiple batteries in series.

You said above that the 7135 can’t take over 6v, but if the cells in series add up to 6v or less, couldn’t you use them? I’m thinking of Cr123, NimH, and alkaline cells, and there are lots of others. I suggest adding the designation Li-Ion thusly: …multiple Li-Ion cells in series. (I would also change “batteries” to “cells” to be correct in terminology.)

I agree, I changed the OP accordingly. Thanks! Smile

My English isn’t perfect but I’m trying to improve it. If you see something that doesn’t sound right or is just plain wrong, please feel free to point it out! Smile

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HKJ wrote:

islisis wrote:
thanks hkj. i know buck-boosts like this are available. of course i mean i would like to know the inherent problems of a boost driver for to meet Vf at high current (>4A). i see your reviewed driver worked well at 1A.

It is no problem to make a boost or buck driver, but combining to a buck/boost is a problem. There exist only a few chips that can do it.

The problem is that you basically need two switchers sharing one inductor, this requires multiple transistors. As long as all the transistors are in a chip it is fine, but a led driver does not have place for external transistors for higher power.

Buck-Boost drivers are also less efficient than just a Buck.
If he wants to drive a XM-L2 at 4A or more he should consider having two Li-Ion cells in series to get 7.4V and using a buck converter… However it will be bulky to be able to withstand 4A.

My English isn’t perfect but I’m trying to improve it. If you see something that doesn’t sound right or is just plain wrong, please feel free to point it out! Smile

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Nightbird95 wrote:

But if the chip automatically reduces the current when it gets hot then there should be no problem right? Sad

Again, as long as the input voltage is below 6V even with fully charged cells, the driver won’t fail. But it will be wasteful and run hot.
Let’s do some maths:
Your 4*AA are at about 5V during discharge.
The LED needs about 3.3V
that means that the driver needs to lower the voltage of 1.7V!
3.3/5=66% efficiency! That’s not really good… And that means that 37% of the power is lost in the driver and heats it up.
Use a dummy cell and efficiency will go up, reducing the heat in the driver and you’ll still have the same brightness.

My English isn’t perfect but I’m trying to improve it. If you see something that doesn’t sound right or is just plain wrong, please feel free to point it out! Smile

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islisis wrote:
at high current would a boost driver never reach the required efficiency to work from a single li-ion? or something else, like lack of commercial ics? i can't even find any mass produced step-up voltage converters for this range and output.

The general problem with a boost drivers is that it always need more input current than it delivers as output current.

Efficiency varies with design, but because the current is high it will have high ohmic losses.

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

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HKJ wrote:

The general problem with a boost drivers is that it always need more input current than it delivers as output current.

Efficiency varies with design, but because the current is high it will have high ohmic losses.

i see in tests of some high discharge cells that outputs of 10A @ >3V are sustainable, so i assumed in theory a boost driver could continue to regulate on a single cell. if the loss is primarily ohmic then i presume it is linear. the size constraints make it difficult i guess.

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Just a FYI/opinion:

Advantages of the direct drive drivers are also that there is no tint shift between turbo and low. Or at least very very little. True constant current drivers show a huge (to me, it might be individual) tint shift so the color of things look "off" in lower modes. I especially notice this with high CRI emitters and very cool white emitters. 

And the draining of the battery does change the tint a little but it is almost unnoticeable over time. What is not unnoticeable is the rapid decline in light. At least rapid enough for me to notice it and get another battery ready to load.

 

And I disagree with the first line of the conclusions. The one about 1 li-ion and 1 emitter.

For the above reasons.

~ Ledsmoke ~

Dutch humor:

[quote=djozz]

 I do not think that the BLF-community ben

lagman
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Ledsmoke wrote:

Just a FYI/opinion:

Advantages of the direct drive drivers are also that there is no tint shift between turbo and low. Or at least very very little. True constant current drivers show a huge (to me, it might be individual) tint shift so the color of things look “off” in lower modes. I especially notice this with high CRI emitters and very cool white emitters. 

And the draining of the battery does change the tint a little but it is almost unnoticeable over time. What is not unnoticeable is the rapid decline in light. At least rapid enough for me to notice it and get another battery ready to load.

 

And I disagree with the first line of the conclusions. The one about 1 li-ion and 1 emitter.

For the above reasons.


A linear driver can use PWM to make low modes. In that case there is no tint shift.
It’s the linear drivers that are truly constant current, even in low modes that cause a tint shift. That’s the disadvantage of constant current driver, the advantages are a better efficiency and no flickering.
A driver like this one is linear, which is good because the brightness will not vary when the battery discharges. But it also uses PWM to make lower modes. So no tint shift.
In my opinion this is better than a direct drive drivers because the brigtness stays constant. I don’t see any advantage to the cheap direct drive drivers that have a 0.2ohms resistor to limit current to safe levels…
I have to admit that I may be biased because I personally don’t care about tint shift, but I really care about the improved efficiency of true constant current drivers. I may add a sentence about tint shift and PWM to clarify things out.

My English isn’t perfect but I’m trying to improve it. If you see something that doesn’t sound right or is just plain wrong, please feel free to point it out! Smile

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@Islisis, i think you are right, the size is the problem, nothing else.

some of my actual experiments and reviews:
UF-T20 review and mod —->http://budgetlightforum.com/node/30186#node-30186
My EBRZM, over 1 million cd thrower—-> http://budgetlightforum.com/node/30274#node-30274
Ervin’s try (2nd. Annual BLF Scratch Made L

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I don’t think I ever posted in this thread to thank you lagman, but I do point people over here every little while. One of these days I’ll make some suggestions of my own for sprucing things up, but I think you’ve done a good job!

Still fine, still on a break. One day I’ll catch up with you folks! previous wight catchup Wink
list of my drivers & variants (A17DD, FET+1 stuff, WIP stuff, etc)

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As my post starts by pointing out. It is an opinion.

I always accepted the inevitable: My batteries run out. 

~ Ledsmoke ~

Dutch humor:

[quote=djozz]

 I do not think that the BLF-community ben

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How does the new Cree MT-G2 and XHP 6v+ emitters affect things

I notice that the article calls out single cell and single emitters a lot but I think it might be more accurate to limit the ideas to Voltage over and under the emitter requirements. Point being that with the MT-G2 emitters there are lots of standard designs that are exceptions to the single cell nomenclature.

$.02 worth

(“It’s good that most people can’t remember their previous lives. Otherwise
things would be a lot more complicated than they already are.”
Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo)

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A long time ago I said that I’d like to contribute. Sorry for the wait folks. Today I took an hour or two and did some editing.

While I think more than half of lagman’s text has been rewritten, the significance of the edits varies. Some editing was rather heavy, some just minor reformatting. One or two things were incorrect in minor ways or simply misleading. It’s still not perfect, and it might have gotten slightly more technical but I think it’s an improvement. The overall structure is still lagman’s!

Much of my editing was to make the guide more compatible with discussing drivers for 6v and 12v LEDs. I removed a lot of mentions of LED voltage being ~3v. I also added context in other places where 3v or a single li-ion is used as an example. I also added detail and context where I thought it most appropriate.

I did my best to keep it short and sweet. I left out plenty of things. Unfortunately I was unable to avoid increasing the word count by about 75%.

I welcome any feedback on my edits or the overall state of the guide…

lagman wrote:
Smile wight remix Smile
A long time ago I promised I would do a topic to explain to the interested layman the difference between Linear, Buck, Boost and Direct Drive drivers. Well, here it is.


Direct Drive

Direct Drive ‘drivers’ are often referred to as DD or FET drivers. This is the simplest (and sometimes cheapest) design.

As the name implies the it creates a direct path to the LED, just like old incandescent flashlights. A DD setup can be created without a driver by eliminating the driver and simply using a switch to connect an appropriate combination of battery(s) and LED. Today this is extremely uncommon. Normally a driver is used to provide modes (High, Low, Strobe, etc) and other functionality such as Low Voltage Protection.

The DD driver contains a control chip and type of transistor called a MOSFET (or FET for short) which is able to turn the LED on and off as directed by the control chip. The modes are achieved by rapidly switching the LED ON and OF. This is called PWM – we’ll discuss the subject of PWM in more detail later in the article.

DD drivers are found in high powered ‘hotrod’ flashlights, daily driver flashlights from quality manufacturers, and cheap bottom-of-the-barrel flashlights. High end DD drivers are often used by people who want to make extremely powerful flashlights that pull 6A or more. When DD drivers are found in low-end flashlights they often contain a much weaker MOSFET which is either unable to handle a high amount of current or simply unable to allow a high amount of current to flow. Often a bank of resistors is added in order to limit current in these drivers to levels considered safe for the cheap MOSFET (or other weak components).

In a direct drive flashlight, the input (battery) voltage must be equal or higher than the LED voltage (‘forward voltage’). The white emitters used in the flashlight hobby are typically considered to be ‘3v’, ‘6v’, or ‘12v’ emitters. These designations indicate an approximate idea of the voltage the LED may need, not a precise one! For example (as of this writing, Jan 2015) ‘3v’ emitters often require between 3v and 4v for proper operation, while 6v emitters often require between 5.5v and 7.5v.

In order to use a DD setup of any kind you’ll need for the input voltage to be slightly higher than the LED’s required voltage (the ‘forward voltage’). For 6v emitters this typically means two lithium ion batteries in series, for 3v emitters this typically means one lithium ion battery. A single alkaline (~1.5v) battery or NiMH battery (~1.2v) will not be able to power any of these LEDs through a DD driver.

In all cases DD setups will cause the amount of current at the LED to vary based on battery voltage. This is somewhat like a traditional incandescent flashlight, but the use of an LED causes the output curve to be much more noticeable.

The performance of a good DD flashlight is very closely linked to the performance of the battery installed in the light.

Advantages:
Cheap.
Possible to achieve extremely high drive current.
No power significant losses in driver (for high end DD drivers).

Disadvantages:
Current varies greatly with battery voltage!
If a resistor is added to limit the current, the efficiency may be lower than a linear driver.
Voltage of the battery must be higher than the LED voltage but not too much above. Proper LED and battery selection are very important.


Linear


This is the equivalent of a direct drive flashlight with a resistor to limit current… But smarter.
The only difference is that the resistor value is constantly adjusted to make a constant current. How is that possible? Well, that’s the job of the linear regulator. Many linear drivers use 7135 IC’s as linear regulators. [The 7135 is available as a 350mA part or a 380mA part. We will discuss only the 350mA part for the purposes of this article.] Each IC will supply a constant 0.35A to the LED. A driver with four 7135 chips will supply a constant 1.4A to the LED.
This is also a very simple design. In the picture above you can see the controller (that produces modes) surrounded by 7135 chips.

Don’t forget! Even though this is slightly more flexible than a DD driver, it’s basically still a resistor to limit the current! This type of driver can never increase a lower voltage input to give the LED the voltage it needs! Like DD drivers, Linear drivers require a higher input voltage than output voltage.

Linear drivers are often a good fit for flashlights using single LED and single lithium ion battery. Ideally the battery may have a ranging from 4.2v (fresh) to ~3v (discharged). An LED which is a good match for this setup may require around 3.2v to 3.5v, allowing for the linear driver to maintain a regulate current (‘maintain regulation’) for a good portion of the discharge.

Quick maths: What is the efficiency of a Linear driver?
Well, the linear driver has a variable resistance that burns off any excess power to reduce the voltage to 3V for the LED. That means that with a fully charged battery the efficiency will be lower than when the battery is discharged.
Efficiency=VLED/VBattery
Fully charged: Efficiency=3.3V/4.2V=78%
Half discharged: Efficiency=3.3V/3.7V=89%
Almost discharged: Efficiency=3.3V/3.3V =100% (Approximation, not taking into account all the parasitic resistances.)

When the battery voltage becomes too low, the linear driver will reduce the resistance to its minimum, to power the LED until the end (but dimmer).

In all cases the output voltage of the linear driver will be lower than the input voltage. There is a margin by which the input voltage must exceed the needed output voltage, this margin is referred to as the “dropout voltage”. For example, the dropout voltage of a single 350mA “7135” IC may be 0.12v. In this case with an LED which needs ~3.3v the 7135 will lose regulation at around 3.42v. At and below 3.42v the 7135 will simply give the LED the input minus 0.12v, so once the battery is depleted to 3.10v the 7135 is only able to supply 2.98v because 3.10 – 0.12 = 2.98.

“Why can’t I use a linear driver to supply a ‘3v’ LED from two lithium batteries in series??”
Let’s do the maths:
Efficiency=3.3V/7.4V=45%!!! More power is wasted in the driver than fed to the LED! That will reduce battery life and the driver will overheat. On top of that the 7135 chip will fail above 6V… The 7135 IC is rated for approximately Vin – Vout = In general input voltage should be no more than a volt or two higher than the required output voltage.

Further reading:
AMC7135 datasheet

Advantages:
Simple
Robust
Efficient if used in a single-cell single-LED configuration for 3v LEDs (or 2-cell config for 6v LEDs)
Constant current for much of the discharge of the battery

Disadvantages:
Voltage of the battery must be higher than the LED voltage but not too much above.


Buck


This is also called a step down driver and is part of the SMPS (Switched Mode Power Supply) family.
It is easily recognizable thanks to the big inductor. Sometimes the inductor is a black surface mount device while other times the inductor may be a large colorful toroid (donut shape) with copper wrapping:

This is a more complicated design. I won’t go into details as it is well explained on Wikipedia .
In a nutshell, it uses an inductor and other components to step down the voltage. Compared to a linear (7135) driver, the Buck driver will have a fairly constant efficiency, even with a battery voltage much higher the LED voltage. It can be used to power a single LED from a significantly higher input voltage. For example, a ‘3v’ emitter could be powered from 2 or more lithium ion batteries in series. Efficiency is typically between 75% and 90%. That depends largely on the quality of the design.

This type of circuit is used widely in consumer devices because of it’s efficiency. It may be found in PCs, TVs, Smartphones, Tablets, etc. Most of those devices use a ‘voltage controlled’ buck circuit, while for our purposes a current controlled buck circuit is almost always utilized.

In operation current controlled buck drivers share many similarities with current controlled linear drivers. Like linear drivers, buck drivers can only decrease voltage, so they also require a higher input voltage than output voltage. Current controlled drivers monitor the output current and provide whatever output voltage is necessary to achieve that current… within their abilities. Buck drivers are also similar to linear drivers in that they have a dropout voltage. For many buck drivers this can be much higher than we are used to with linear drivers. It’s common to see dropout voltages in the order of 0.5v to over 1.0v.

Typically buck drivers are used in scenarios where input voltage significantly exceeds output voltage. In this way the dropout voltage is never approached, allowing the buck driver to maintain tight regulation throughout the discharge of the batteries. Due to their good efficiency the use of multiple batteries may extend runtime vs a linear driver where less batteries would be used.

Like the other driver topologies (such as linear and ‘DD’), cheap buck drivers are also available. Typically these cheap drivers provide no Low Voltage Protection. Without proper care this configuration can easily damage batteries! For example: an LED which needs 3.3v being driven by a buck driver with a 1.0v dropout using two lithium ion batteries in series. The driver may be able to power the LED until the two batteries measure only 4.3v total, or 2.15v per cell. This is well below the maximum safe discharge level for a lithium ion cell. Therefore in the case of a cheap driver with no LVP ‘protected’ cells should always be utilized along with any other appropriate precautions.

At extremely high currents buck drivers can misbehave in technical ways, damaging LEDs. Special design considerations are required in order to minimize things such as ‘output ripple’, startup or shutdown spikes, and other factors.

Advantages:
Can be used with batteries that have a voltage much higher than the LED voltage. For example three lithium batteries in series will produce about 11V. In that case you need a Buck driver to drive an LED that needs ~3V.
Good efficiency
If well designed it can produce a low mode which is truly free of PWM. That’s good for sea sickness and for the LED efficiency. (More on that below)

Disadvantages:
More expensive.
Voltage of the battery must be significantly higher than the LED voltage.
Bulky.
Cheap buck drivers may be able to overdischarge cells.
Potential for badly designed or misused buck drivers to damage LEDs at high currents.


Boost


This is also called a step up driver and is part of the SMPS (Switched Mode Power Supply) family. Like a buck driver, the boost driver is easily recognizable thanks to the inductor. Sometimes the inductor is black. This is similar the the Buck driver but as its name implies it will increase the voltage.

This type of driver is often used in flashlights which have one or two AA/AAA batteries. Two AA batteries in series will have a voltage range of approximately 2v to 3v. A 3v LED might need ~3.3V, so in order to drive it from 2xAA the voltage needs to be stepped up. There is no other solution!

I measured the efficiency of a single AA flashlight and typically found:
At the battery: Vin=1.2V ; Iin=2.2A
At the LED: Vled=3.2V ; Iled=0.35A

Let’s do some maths:
Efficiency=(Vled*Iled)/(Vin*Iin)=(3.2*0.35)/(1.2*2.2)=42%!!
That’s really bad! Well yes, but it’s hard to step up a voltage as low as 1.2V… The efficiency is better at 2.4V (2*AA). That means that if you choose a 2*AA flashlight you’ll get more than twice the runtime for the same brightness! That’s definitely something to consider.

The boost topology is also sometimes used to power a string of LEDs. For example 3× 3v LEDs in series will need about 10v. A boost driver may be able to drive them from a single lithium ion battery.

Boost drivers which are used with higher input voltages (such as 3v, 10v, 20v, etc) are often able to achieve much higher efficiencies than their low-input-voltage relatives. It’s possible to achieve similar efficiencies to buck drivers in the right scenario, such as driving 30v worth of LEDs from a 16v source.

Advantages:
Can be used with batteries that have a voltage lower than the LED voltage.
If well designed it can produce a true PWM less low mode. That’s good for sea sickness and for the LED efficiency. (More on that below)

Disadvantages:
More expensive.
Doesn’t work if the battery voltage is higher than the LED voltage.
Bulky
Cheap boost drivers may have rather harsh PWM.


What about PWM?


PWM means Pulse Width Modulation. It’s a way to control the brightness of a flashlight by rapidly switching it on and off. If it doesn’t switch rapidly enough (PWM frequency too low) it can be unpleasant to the eye. The picture above was taken while rapidly moving the flashlight to show the effect.
Something that is often overlooked is that an LED receiving PWM will be less efficient than the same LED receiving an equivalent constant current. Why is that?

Well, as you can see above, the lumen output is not linearly dependant to the current. Let’s take an example:
Driver 1 is driving the LED at 2800mA at full mode. This driver also has a medium mode that is a duty cycle of 50%. That means that half of the time the LED is OFF and it’s half of time ON. We will get half the lumen of the full mode: about 500 lumen. On average it’ll consume 1400mA.
Driver 2 is also capable to drive at 2800mA. When in medium mode however, it uses a constant current of 1400mA. The average consumption is the same as Driver 1. The lumen output however will be about 600 lumen! That’s 20% more lumen.
All this to say that in a flashlight which uses constant current on all modes the LED will operate at a higher efficiency than in a flashlight which uses PWM. If the driver efficiency is the same between the two lights the constant current flashlight will be more efficient!
*******

In conclusion, some basic suggestions:
If you have a flashlight with a single 3v LED and a single lithium ion battery then get a Linear driver.
If you have a flashlight with one or two NiMH/Alkaline batteries, then you must use a Boost driver.
If your battery voltage is much higher than the LED voltage then get a Buck driver.

*******

If you want to see the same thing explained by someone else, I invite you to read this.
Thank you for reading this. I hoped it was helpful to you and if it was please say thank you! Smile

Still fine, still on a break. One day I’ll catch up with you folks! previous wight catchup Wink
list of my drivers & variants (A17DD, FET+1 stuff, WIP stuff, etc)

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Thank you wight! I've read through the wiki but this is better.

wight
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Thank lagman. The initial writeup took the most time and effort.

Still fine, still on a break. One day I’ll catch up with you folks! previous wight catchup Wink
list of my drivers & variants (A17DD, FET+1 stuff, WIP stuff, etc)

lagman
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I see that my thread is not dead yet. Smile
Thanks to you all for the support!
You did a good job wight. It is true that I didn’t take into consideration multiple LED dies like the new Cree XPH. That being said the theory remains the same.

I have one minor point on which I disagree though:

Quote:
-On top of that the 7135 chip will fail above 6V… – The 7135 IC is rated for approximately Vin – Vout =
I think it is wiser to consider the “recommended operating conditions” which is 6V instead of the “absolute maximum rating” which is 7V. But in any case two lithium batteries in series will have a max voltage of 7.4V which is sure to damage the chip.

My English isn’t perfect but I’m trying to improve it. If you see something that doesn’t sound right or is just plain wrong, please feel free to point it out! Smile

wight
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lagman wrote:
I think it is wiser to consider the “recommended operating conditions” which is 6V instead of the “absolute maximum rating” which is 7V. But in any case two lithium batteries in series will have a max voltage of 7.4V which is sure to damage the chip.
Thanks lagman.

Let me make sure you have a good handle on actual 7135 operation / implementation: There are two voltage specifications for the 7135. “Input Voltage (Vin)” and “Output Voltage (Vout)”.

  • Input voltage is measured in the normal way, Vdd – GND = Vin. [Since GND is zero we may simply say that Vdd = Vin.] When we are powering this from an MCU you may expect for “Vin” for the 7135 to be in the 2.0v to 5.5v range. We typically regulate the voltage to our MCU at less than 5.5v using an LDO or Zener and the Vdd pin is powered by the MCU. For this reason we may generally ignore the Vin specification as we are always in the “normal” range.
  • Output voltage is measured in this way: Out – GND = Vout. [Again, since GND is zero we may simply say that the voltage at the Out pin = Vout.] Vout is the voltage left over after the LED (Vf), so in order to get Vout we do Vbat – Vf = Vout. In an 2s Li-Ion (2× 4.2v) powered 8.4v MT-G2 light the input voltage will be no higher than 8.4v and at 3A output we may expect an LED Vf around 6.4v. So Vbat – Vf = 2.0v. Again, no problem.

So operating the 7135 in high voltage lights is not a problem. The key (as I’ve tried to express) is the amount of “extra” voltage beyond LED Vf you have. Running an XM-L on 2s Li-Ion is actually within spec for the 7135 in terms of voltage! The problem remains that the wattage would be far too high in that scenario.

Still fine, still on a break. One day I’ll catch up with you folks! previous wight catchup Wink
list of my drivers & variants (A17DD, FET+1 stuff, WIP stuff, etc)

lagman
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Ok, I agree with you. I wasn’t thinking that the VDD of the 7135 chip is powered by the MCUSmile

My English isn’t perfect but I’m trying to improve it. If you see something that doesn’t sound right or is just plain wrong, please feel free to point it out! Smile

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