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Electronic Theatre Controls Inc

Can LED Compatibility Be Known Without Testing?

When someone asks whether a given LED is compatible with their system, there are two different questions being asked - Does this system supply what the LED needs to work? - but also, Is this LED going to perform in a way that fits the site's needs? These questions have very different answers.

  • Figuring out whether an LED performs in a way the site needs cannot be known without testing, even if the outputs of the control system are known to match up with the inputs of the luminaire as determined above. LED dimming is unfortunately not as simple as with incandescent - dimming is no longer a physical interaction between power and heat shedding, but a program made with circuit boards and chips. Any design change can have a major impact on actual performance, so performance cannot be known ahead of time and similar products won't necessarily perform the same.
    • This reality is why we provide testing as a free service, and always recommend it whenever possible. This guide is a great resource in knowing how to send test samples, and what actually needs to be sent.
  • Figuring out whether a system supplies what the LED needs can almost always be figured out from the datasheets of the products involved. Knowing an exact luminaire spec can make a reference against an ETC control very simple, and determining whether two products are compatible on-the-page is usually simple without testing.
    • Terms like TRIAC dimming, leading edge (LE) dimming or forward phase dimming suggest the LED could work with D20-style modules, or ELV-style dimmers programmed to operate in forward phase.
    • Terms like ELV dimming, trailing edge (TE) dimming or reverse phase dimming suggest the LED could work with ELV-style dimmers.
    • Nonspecific terms (like simply saying dimmable or line voltage dimmable) usually mean the LED could work with any D20-style or ELV-style dimmer.
    • LEDs that specify 0-10V dimming can be dimmed with a 0-10V controller, which still requires a switched power source.
    • LEDs which do not explicitly state they are dimmable, or state that they are not dimmable cannot be dimmed.


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