Have you had issues with your Altair Lighting LED Lantern from Costco? Many home owners bought this outdoor LED wall light only to experience issues, sometimes only months after purchase! This can be frustrating as it is not as simple as just replacing the bulb, in fact, it is not even the bulb that is the issue.
When a light starts to strobe or blink slowly, it usually points to a power input issue. In this particular light, the constant current LED driver has gone bad. Many owners of the light were left scrambling around trying to fix the issue as there are no Altair Lighting replacement parts. Fortunately, we have a great LED driver replacement and a quick fix solution to get your outdoor LED lantern lit back up in no time!
Taking the LED Light Apart
Follow this YouTube video to disconnect the Lamp and locate the bad LED driver:
Once you open the light you will find the internal circuitry that basically includes the bad LED driver and the photocell. The photocell allows the light to come on only at night, saving energy in the daytime when not needed. We can see the part in question appears to be an Espen Technology constant current LED driver, model number VEL12035120H-3.
**Please note: This replacement is for the specific driver stated above. Altair and Espen have many similar models that appear the same but are slightly different. Please make sure your wiring setup is the same as the video and pictures.
To find a replacement driver, we need to note the specs on the driver. Most of them are shown right on the label but by doing a quick search of the part number you can find the specs online. To find a driver that will work, we should find an LED driver in our inventory that closely matches up to the following:
- Input Voltage: 120VAC
- Output Voltage Range: 18-33VDC
- Output Current: 350mA
- IP20 Rated
- Minimum Startup Temperature: -30 °C
The top three specs are the most important as they pertain to power and if they do not add up the light will not work at all. The last two apply to the physical characteristics and the type of environment that the driver can be in. An IP20 rating means it is not very well protected against dust or water at all, but this should be okay as it is secure inside the lamp itself. The minimum startup temperature is important as this fixture will be outdoors and in a cold environment in many cases. This driver has a minimum of -30 °C (-22 °F) which should be fine.
The LED Driver Replacement
We did the leg work for you and found a great replacement for this popular light fixture. The best possible replacement we carry is the APC-16-350. Take a look at the specs to see how they line up.
- Input Voltage: 90-264VAC
- Output Voltage Range: 12-48VDC
- Output Current: 350mA
- IP42 Rated
- Working Temperature: -30 – 70 °C
We can see from the specs that the input voltage will line up as the replacement can handle 90-264VAC and we currently have 120VAC. The output voltage range on this new driver is a lot larger than the old driver. This can throw some people off but this is ideal as it means that this driver works just like the other, but can also handle more if necessary. This could work better as maybe the reason for failure was that the LED driver did not match up right with the LEDs themselves. With a larger output voltage range, this driver is better than the original.
The IP rating is an improvement as it is IP42 rated compared to IP20. This still is not a waterproof rating but is a better rating and is more isolated than the Espen driver. Lastly, checking the operating temperature range we can confirm that this has the same minimum temperature of -30 °C so there should not be any issue there.
We saved the best for last, the best part is you can purchase this driver for just $9.99 (free shipping). See how below!
Replacing the driver in your Altair Lighting LED lantern
- Before starting, we need to make sure we have the right parts. Purchase the APC-16-350 here by selecting the 16 Watt, 350mA Current model.
- Follow the video above to disassemble the light.
- Disconnect the quick connector from the LEDs and cut the connector off (with some extra wire) from the ESPEN driver. This way we can use the quick connector on the new driver as well.
- Disconnect all the wires from the ESPEN and take it out.
- To connect the APC-16-350, locate the white and black wires coming from the house. Take the white wire from the house, along with the white wire from the photocell and connect them both with the blue wire from the APC-16-350. The black wire from the house should be going directly into the photocell. So now take the red wire from the photocell and connect it to the brown wire coming from the APC. You can use wire nuts for this.
- Now connect the output of the APC to the quick connect you took off the ESPEN. Wire nut the Black to the Yellow and the Red to the Red.
- Mount the driver with a Mounting Zip tie.
- After this the wiring should be all set, plug in the quick disconnects. Assemble the lamp, and test this baby out.
Your light should be up and ready to go. If you experience any issues with this I would double check your connections first, then second feel free to contact us and we can help troubleshoot the issue for you.
How does a driver go bad like this?
One of the big selling points of LED lights is how they last ‘forever’ and don’t need to be replaced. When something like this happens, users tend to blame LEDs, labeling them as a scam that does not work the way they are intended. Well, the problem is not with LED technology, it is with the designs and parts chosen to build the products.
With this lantern, it was not the LEDs that went bad, it was the power source. Now this can be one of two things. First, the driver is listed with wrong specs and the driver operates differently than it says. Another option is the designer of this light accidentally chose a driver that was not appropriate for the LEDs they used.
This is one reason I said it is nice that the APC-16-350 can handle a larger range. This allows some room for error in which this driver might work better for the LEDs because the original design chose a driver that was too small.
Another potential issue came to me after I talked to many customers that have been troubleshooting this light. Many mentioned that the lights started to act up once it got cold out which leads me to believe that the driver is not protected enough from the cold. Whether that be because the IP20 rating is lower than it should be for an outdoor lamp or that the minimum temperature isn’t quite accurate, we do not know. All we can say is to not blame LEDs when this type of stuff happens, it is normally an internal part that has failed.
As with anything, the finished product is only as good as the parts it is made up of. Luckily, we have some awesome replacements so never hesitate to ask us to help get your light up and running again!