LEDs don’t produce heat. . .Do they?

Now unlike conventional tungsten filament lamps, LED lamps are ‘Cool to touch’ this is because they produce very little radiated heat in the Infra Red (IR) spectrum. It is this type of radiation which heats the surroundings of a lamp and makes them hot.

Great news, this is part of the reason LEDs are more efficient than most other sources of light. However, not everything is peachy in LED land. As most of you will know, anyone who owns a computer, that devices with semiconductor chips tend to have fans and heat sinks to remove the heat. Those semiconductors and the Light Emitting Diodes are made of the same stuff and work in a similar way.

Hard working LEDs generate heat within them and if this heat isn’t removed the device degrades quicker (check Tags on right for LED lifespan), and we can pump more electricity into them to work harder if only we could get rid of that heat.

One of the many early questions when LED lamps first hit the market was, why can’t they be the same size as a normal lamp? Well this is where ‘Thermal management’ comes in. See most of the back of the lamp is currently a fairly sizeable lump of aluminium which helps to dissipate the heat, all those intricate shapes and fins were there not to make them look attractive but to keep them cool. And inside it was more of the same, thermal conducting paste, thermal conducting potting compound for the electronics etc etc. All designed to keep the LED and electronics cool.

So what of it?

Placed in some light fittings where air flow is restricted could serious raise the ‘ambient’ temperature the lamps work in and cause it to fail early. Most downlight fittings and other luminaires are designed for air to flow through them but some are not, so beware of placing your expensive lamps into them only to have them stop working earlier than expected.

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~ by futurelamps on January 10, 2013.

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