Shopping for power supplies can be difficult because there are so many different options and many different regulations you must follow depending on where your project is located. While you work on your project you might come across certain regulations that may require a Class 2 or a Class II power supply. Now, these two classifications may sound similar in conversation, but they mean two completely different things. However, both are important classifications dealing with the safety of the power supply and the user. Class 2 refers to the wiring requirements and power capabilities, while Class II refers to a power supply’s internal build and insulation.
NEC Class 2 Power Supply
For a power supply to be labeled as Class 2 it must meet the standards laid out by the NEC (The National Electric Code). These standards cover the wiring requirements and power limitations of the power supply in order to reduce the risk of shock or fire. Here’s an overview of those requirements.
Class 2 power supplies must be constructed with In-Wall Rated wiring meant for permanent installation, inside walls or floors, where they may be surrounded by insulation. These wiring requirements help prevent cracking or melting of the wire. Without these requirements, the power supply can potentially become a dangerous fire hazard.
The more important part of the NEC Class 2 standard is the power limitations of the power supply. LED Power supplies can take 120V of power and convert it down into low-voltage 12V or 24V power. In order for the power supply to be Class 2 compliant, 12V drivers must be 60W and under and 24V drivers must be 96W and under. These limitations are in place to lower the risk of electric shock or overheating from excessive currents.
However, for larger projects such as home remodels or commercial space builds, a large amount of power is needed to power multiple lights. You can install multiple 12V 60W Class 2 LED Power Supplies or you can install a high wattage multi-tap power supply like a 12V 240W Class 2 LED Power Supply. High wattage multi-tap power supplies, like a 12V 240W power supply, contain 4 separate 60W outputs. Each output has its own circuit breaker so if one of them were to experience a power surge the other outputs won’t be affected. Using a large power supply, when it’s needed, is a more affordable solution and easier to install than multiple power supplies.
Class 2 power supplies are often identified with the words “Class 2 Power Supply” on the label of the power supply.
IEC Class II Power Supply
For a power supply to be considered Class II, which is different from Class 2, it needs to follow the design laid out by the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission). This code is necessary to protect the user from electrical shock. With Class II power supplies, there are two layers of insulation, or a single layer of reinforced insulation, between the user and the internal current carrying components. In these types of power supplies with two layers of insulation, the first layer is often referred to as “Basic Insulation”. Basic insulation is the insulation that you see around the wires coming out of the power supply. The second layer is usually an insulating case around the power supply. Class II power supplies can be identified on the label by a symbol of a large square with a smaller square inside of it.
Class II power supplies are common products that come in direct contact with the public. Some examples of Class II power supplies are your laptop or phone charger with a two-prong plug. Class II power supplies don’t require a ground connection (3 prong plug) to protect against electrical shock. They don’t need the ground connection because the power supply is grounded within the product’s casing.
Knowing the difference between two power supply options can help ensure the right product for the job. Head over to SuperBrightLEDs.com for all of your lighting solutions, and call the knowledgeable staff with any questions at 866-590-3533.