Circuits and Systems, 2011, 2, 352-357
doi:10.4236/cs.2011.24048 Published Online October 2011 (
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. CS
Research on a High-Efficiency LED Driving Circuit Based
on Buck To pology
Renbo Xu1,2,3*, Hongjian Li1,2, Yongzhi Li4, Xiaomao Hou3
1School of Materials Science and Engineering, Central So ut h U niversi t y, Changsha, China
2School of Physics Science and Technology, Cent ral So ut h Uni v ersi t y, Changsha, China
3Hunan Information Science Vocational College, Changsha, China
4College of Physics and Information Science, Hunan Normal University, Changsha, China
E-mail: *
Received June 22, 2011; revised July 15, 2011; accepted August 10, 2011
A high efficiency LED (Light Emitting Diode) driver based on Buck converter, which could operate under a
wide AC input voltage range (85 V - 265 V) and drive a series of high power LEDs, is presented in this pa-
per. The operation principles, power loss factors of the LED driver in this study are analyzed and discussed
in detail and some effective ways to improve efficiency are proposed through system design considerations.
To verify the feasibility, a laboratory prototype is also designed and tested for an LED lamp which consists
of 16 LUMILEDS LEDs in series. Experimental results show that a high efficiency of 92% at Io = 350 mA
can be achieved and the studied driver might be practical for driving high power LEDs. In the last, the over-
all efficiency over 90% is gained through some experiments under variable input and output voltages and
verifies the validity of the designed driver.
Keywords: LED Driver, Buck Type, High Efficiency, Universal Input Voltage
1. Introduction
Among the many artificial lighting sources, high power
LED characterized by high luminous intensity, superior
longevity, cost-effective and less environment impact, is
one of the most competitive to replace the conventional
incandescent lamp and fluorescent lamp and gradually
becomes a commonly used solid-state lighting source in
many lighting applications [1-3]. It has been extensively
used in the offline lighting field, such as automotive il-
luminations, liquid crystal display (LCD) backlights and
street lighting, where multiple strings of LED driving
techniques are often needed. The increased popularity of
high power LED has given a requirement for electronic
engineers to propose a series of driving circuits with high
efficiency and low-cost.
LED dimming control methods could be simply di-
vided into two categories: analog dimming and pulse
width modulation (PWM) dimming regulators [4-7].
Analog dimming method is not a good candidate due to
colour variation, even though it is simple and cost effec-
tive. To avoid colour variation and get accurate current
control over full range, PWM dimming regulators in
which the pulse current is kept constant.
To research the overall efficiency of LED lighting, a
PWM dimming method, Buck converter is chosen in this
paper as shown in Figure 1, and the power dissipation
factors are analyzed with all the particulars, then a de-
tailed LED driver example with high power efficiency is
designed and implemented. In addition to the integrated
circuit(IC), the main components mainly includes a
power MOS switch S, a Schottky diode D, an inductor L
directly connected with the load LEDs and the current
sampling resistor Rs. In fact, the major power dissipation
of Buck converter is on these components. Next to make
a detail analysis of them.
2. Operation Principle and Power Loss
During the time interval of state 1, the metal oxide semi-
conductor field effect transistor (MOS-FET) S is turned
on, current flows through MOS switch S, input inductor L,
storage capacitor C, the load LED strings and sampling
resistor Rs. The power supply stores energy in the induc-
tor L, the storage capacitor C and the free-wheeling diode
R. B. XU ET AL.353
Figure 1. Circuit diagram of Buck converter.
D is off at the moment. During the time interval of state 2,
the MOS switch S turns off. The LED strings power is
provided by the storage capacitor C, and the energy stored
in inductor L flows through the free-wheeling diode D
simultaneously. Then the circuit proceeds back to stage 1
when the MOS switch S turns on again.
From the analysis it can be known that the power dis-
sipation on the power switch S is described in following
Equation (1):
 
Son Son
PIR D (1)
where is conduction resistor of MOS switch,
is the LED strings current and is the duty cycle of
the power switch.
In fact, there is still some power dissipation in the
MOS switch when it operates in high frequency. Espe-
cially when LED constant-current driving circuit is work-
ing in frequency more than 100 kHz, this power dissipa-
tion is quite substantial which can be expressed as fol-
lows [8]:
sGSsINO rd
QVfV Ittf
s is the MOS gate-source charge and GS is
the MOSFET gate drive voltage,
N is the input volt-
age, r, d are the needed time of MOS turn-on and
turn-off respectively,
t t
is the switching frequency.
From the Equation (2), it is clear that the power dissipa-
tion is proportional to the switching frequency. Combin-
ing Equation (1) together with Equation (2), we can get
the total power dissipation as described in Equation (3):
 
SS onS highfreq
INOr ds
VItt f
  
 
in order to decrease the total power dissipation, on one
hand we should choose a MOS switch with a small con-
duction resistance, on the other hand the high-frequency
characteristic of MOS switch should be taken into con-
sideration if the driving circuit operates in a high fre-
Inductor L in the Buck converter which is connected
directly to the load LED strings plays an important role
of energy storage and transformation. As an LED con-
stant current driver, the Buck converter usually operates
in continuous current conduction mode (CCM) so that
most of the system power dissipation is consumed on the
inductor L. Similar to other switched-mode power sup-
plies, the inductor power dissipation can be divided into
two parts: iron loss and copper loss [9,10]. Copper loss is
determined by the output current and inductor DC resis-
tance, and iron loss caused by eddy current is determined
by the switching frequency. The total power consump-
tion of the inductor can be expressed as follows:
where ()
DC is inductor DC resistance, is iron
loss of the inductor.
In the LED constant current driver circuit, using a
large inductor can effectively reduce the ripple current
flowing through the LED strings [11]. However, a prob-
lem arises that it would bring greater power loss due to a
greater inductor DC resistance. Another method to de-
crease the ripple current is to parallel a large capacitor
with the output LED strings [12,13]. But large capaci-
tance means slow frequency response which is not suit-
able in high precision control requirement occasion.
In the Buck converter, the function of the diode D is to
provide a free-wheeling path for the inductor current
when MOS switch turns off. Because of high working
frequency, a reverse fast recovery Schottky diode has
been chosen. When MOS switch is turned-on, the Schot-
tky diode is reverse biased and there is no power dissipa-
tion. When the MOS switch is turned-off, the power
consumption of free-wheeling diode can be derived by:
() 1
PIVD 
where ()
on is the corresponding forward voltage drop
when following through the LED current
It could be seen from the Equation (5) that the diode
power dissipation is proportional to the forward voltage
drop and decreases with the duty cycle increasing. As a
matter of fact, the control chip has a limited output duty
cycle which makes the diode a minimum power loss.
Another way to reduce the power consumption is syn-
chronous rectifier technique [14,15]. The diode is re-
placed by a MOS switch with a low resistance, and the
power loss is significantly decreased even if the LED
output current is high. However, the synchronous recti-
fication is bound to bring a complicated driving circuit,
which needs a balance between performance and cost.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. CS
The last system efficiency factor is the driving chip
and the sampling resistor Rs. With the development of
LED driving IC, the chip commonly adopts a low com-
parison voltage about 200 mV, so the power consump-
tion of the sampling resistor is not great.
3. System Design Considerations
In order to design an efficient LED constant-current
driver, a certain process is given as follows about how to
select components.
According to the LED constant driving current re-
quirements, a suitable driving chip and a sampling resis-
tor should be selected. Referring to the relevant LED
materials of manufacturers, we can get the output voltage
under rated current. As mentioned in Equation (6), the
corresponding minimum input voltage can be chosen
when the chip operating in the allowed maximum duty
If the chip has no built-in MOS switch, a external
MOS switch is needed to choose. Generally speaking,
the higher voltage endurance is, the worse the other cor-
responding characteristics is. Therefore, according to the
working environment we should choose a suitable MOS
switch with an appropriate voltage endurance and with
the conduction resistance and the gate-source charge as
an important choice standard. Next to find out the required
inductance value calculated by the Equation (7) [16]:
LV TDi (7)
where T is a cycle time of Buck converter, and i
the allowed maximum ripple current. The inductor
should have small DC induction resistance and meet
with the frequency requirement. Then, decide whether to
use an output capacitor according to the requirements of
PWM dimming system and circuit volume. In the case of
meeting the ripple current requirements, we should choose
a small inductance due to small power consumption.
A suitable diode should be selected according to the
reverse bias voltage endurance and its frequency response
should be fast enough. Generally speaking, a Schottky
diode with low forward voltage drop can be used in most
situations blew 100 V. Otherwise, we should choose a
fast diode with a high forward voltage drop and a high
reverse bias voltage endurance.
4. Example Design and Experimental
In this section, an LED constant current driver with high
power efficiency is designed and implemented according
to the following configuration:
Input voltage: AC 85 - 265 V (nominal 220 V)
LED string voltage: DC 30 - 60 V
LED current: 350 mA
Expected efficiency: 90%
An LED constant current Buck topology driving IC
SL221 from SYNCOAM with a input DC supply voltage
range from 9 V to 550 V is chosen as a controller and the
schematic diagram shown in Figure 2. And it is used to
drive an LED string with 16 LUMILEDS LED with a 3.3
V working voltage.
The AC 220 V input voltage is converted to
310 V
V after following through the rectifier bridge
and the filtering capacitors. The system output voltage is
52.8 V
ED and the duty cycle is 0.17 calcu-
lated by Equation (6). High switching frequency will
reduce the size of the inductor L, but it will increase the
circuit’s switch dissipation. The oscillator frequency of
SL221 is from 20 kHz to 150 kHz and we choice a typi-
cal constant switching frequency 40 kHz. The timing
resistor should be 620 k and connect to the ground re-
ferring to SL221 manual. During the MOSFET switch is
on, the gate is charged by high-frequency current pulse.
And in order to maintain stability of the internal power
supply voltage, C3 a typical capacitance value 2.2 uF,16
V is recommended.
Next to choose the capacitance values of C1 and C2.
In order to satisfy the stability requirements at constant
switching frequency, the maximum LED string voltage
must be less than the half of the minimum input voltage.
The minimum input voltage is shown in Equation (8):
(min) (max)
2120 V
VV (8)
The capacitance value C1 should be calculated at the
minimum AC input voltage, and the nominal voltage
should be larger than the input peak voltage as shown in
the following Equations (9) and (10):
Figure 2. Schematic diagram of the studied LED driver.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. CS
R. B. XU ET AL.355
(min) (min)
(max) (max)
211.67 μF
VV f
 
(max)(max) (max)
2  
VVV375V (10)
From the mentioned above, we choose a electrolytic
capacitor with 33 uF, 450 V. The stability of the elec-
trolytic capacitor is good. However, it is not suitable for
high frequency ripple current absorption which is gener-
ated by the Buck converter due to large ESR (Equivalent
Series Resistance). So a metalized polypropylene ca-
pacitor in parallel with the electrolytic capacitor is used
to absorb the high frequency ripple current. The high
frequency capacitance 0.47 uF and withstanding voltage
400 V is determined by the following equation:
0.25 0.365 μF
IN s
Next to calculate the inductance value which is deter-
mined by the permissible ripple current and we assume
that the existence of LED ripple current is allowed ±15%
(total ripple is 30%). During the MOSFET is off, the
inductor supplies energy to the LED string as shown in
Equation (12):
LED (max)(max)
where ,max is the ripple current, d is the
off time described as follows:
0.3 o
di I t
dt f
From Equations (12) and (13), the inductance value
can be represented as the following equation:
The standard inductance value 4.7 mH is selected
which is larger than the calculated value, so the ripple
current would be less than 30%. The DC resistance is 3.2
and the inductor dissipation can be derived by the
Equation (4).
MOSFET peak voltage is equal to the maximum input
voltage and the safety margin is 50% described as follows:
MOSFET (max)
1.52562 V 
VV (15)
The maximum RMS of MOSFET current depends on
the maximum duty cycle, so the nominal current can be
expressed as:
MOSFET(max) 0.170.144 A 
II (16)
In order to get the minimum switching power dissipa-
tion, STD2NM60 with rated voltage 600 V and rated
current 2 A is selected. Refer to its manual, the conduc-
tion resistance is 2.8 , , and
8 ns
t25 ns
1.8 n
QC,7.5 V
Next to select the diode. Its nominal peak voltage
should be equal to MOSFET switch peak voltage and
diode average current described as follows:
VV (17)
0.830.291 A
II (18)
So we can choose the fast diode STTH1R06 with a
forward voltage drop 1 V, rated voltage 600 V and rated
current 1 A, and the switching power dissipation would
be low due to the short reverse recovery time 25 ns.
The relationship between the output current and the
sensing resistor can be expressed as:
0.25 0.621
 
I (19)
If the internal threshold voltage is 0.25 V, the result of
the above equation is correct. Otherwise, LD pin voltage
should be used to replace the internal threshold voltage.
In this case, an appropriate standard resistance 0.62 is
From all the above equations, the theory calculated re-
sults are: 0.130 W
P,, 0.412 W
P0.291 W
0.477 W
P, 0.076 W
P. Combining all the power
loss, the theory total power loss is described as:
1.386 W
lossSL D ICRs
In order to verify the feasibility, a laboratory prototype
is designed and tested as shown in Figure 3. The ex-
perimental results are expressed as follows:
17.38 W
LEDs 15.97 WP
()1.41 W
loss real
From the theory and experimental results, it can be
seen that the theory power loss is almost equal with the
measured power loss and the main power dissipation is
on diode D, inductor L and IC due to high input voltage
and the voltage error value between output and input.
However, the power dissipation on the MOS switch is
not large because of small duty cycle.
In order to confirm the LED driver’s universal validity,
a series of experiments under variable input and output
voltages are tested, and the efficiencies are shown in
Figure 4. It is clear that the system efficiency is over the
expected value 90%.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. CS
Figure 3. Photograph of the tested prototype driving system.
Figure 4. Me asured efficiency vs. input and output voltages.
(a) Measured efficiency vs. input voltage; (b) Measured
efficiency vs. output voltage.
5. Conclusions
LED constant current drive circuit efficiency is deter-
mined by several factors, and these factors are inter-
related and influenced. To optimize and improve the
efficiency of the driving system, the circuit performance
and the appropriate components selections must be taken
into consideration. In this paper, a high efficiency Buck
LED driver with AC input voltage range from 85 V to
265 V, which could drive an LED lamp consists of 16
LUMILEDS LEDs, is designed and tested. The measured
results on a laboratory prototype show a high efficiency
of 92% at . Next, a series of experiments
results under variable input and output voltages show
that the efficiency is over 90% and reach the design re-
350 mA
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