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Understanding LED Heat Management

Hear from our experts on Everything LED Lighting

What sets LEDs apart from traditional lights on the market isn’t just their unique shape, use of diodes, and long lifespan. Unlike the majority of bulbs on shelves today, LEDs manage their heat output in a different way. Can you spot the differences in the photo below?

light bulb heat output

As you can see in the photo above, these traditional lights not only emit light but also a lot of heat. The top bulb and bottom right bulb are incandescent and CFL lights. Their hottest points are ones we often come in contact with when replacing them. The reason for such a high concentration of heat is due to their need for heat to turn on and stay on. Incandescent and CFL bulbs can use as much as 90 percent of their energy just creating heat, only leaving 10 percent to create actual light. LEDs use a whopping 70-80 percent of their energy to create pure, bright light.

LED Heat Management

You may be wondering why LEDs manage heat differently than traditional bulbs. While incandescent lights require heat to turn on and stay on, LEDs run quite opposite. Heat is the enemy of LED lighting and can, in fact, be their biggest downfall.

In order to avoid heat damage to the diodes, which can cause early failure in bulbs, LEDs are manufactured with heat sinks. Yet, just because LEDs don’t require as much heat to operate as traditional bulbs, this does not mean that they don’t produce heat at all. Not all of LEDs energy is converted into light, therefore the heat that is produced must be wicked away by means of conduction, convection or radiation. The proxy, which the LED chip is attached to, draws heat away from the chip and into the heat sink.

Heat sinks are often created with fins and grooves. They do not simply hold onto heat but release it into the ambient environment. Yet, not all heat sinks are created equal. Performance of heat sinks is based on material, shape, surface finish, and mounting method. If you encounter an LED light with a plastic, fan operated heat sink, put it down and walk away!

Find Great LEDs at Sitler’s!

You will find quality LED lighting manufactured with top of the line heat sinks at Sitler’s LED Supplies. Learn more about our products here! If you are interested in a free walk through and evaluation, request a quote today or give us a call at (319)-519-0039.

Posted in LED Lighting Basics

Tagged LED, LED Basics, LED heat management, LED heat sinks, LED lighting, LEDs