The Truth about LEDs and Heat

One of the big selling points of LEDs is that, unlike traditional lighting, they don’t produce heat. Heat isn’t light, so the energy that converts to heat is a waste. While it’s true that LEDs are cool to the touch, they do generate unwanted heat — it’s merely within the device itself. How can they produce energy that’s lost as heat, and still be so energy efficient? Let’s take a look at the truth about LEDs and heat.

Meet the Heat Sink

High-powered LEDs are designed with heat sinking features that efficiently remove heat for effective thermal management. The LED heat sink properly conducts heat away from the LED so it can be cooled or dissipated in one of three ways:

• Conduction — Heat is transferred from one solid to another
• Convection — Heat is transferred from a solid to a moving fluid (most commonly air)
• Radiation — Heat is transferred from bodies at different temperatures via thermal radiation

Without an efficient thermal management system, the diode will be damaged, leading to changes in color, a lowered life expectancy, and reduced light output. In other words, all of that internal heat will severely compromises the integrity of an LED if it isn’t managed.

Why are LEDs Cool to the Touch?

If you’re reading this and thinking an LED can’t generate that much heat, because lamps stay cool to the touch, you’re right and wrong. Just 5% of light emitted by an LED is converted to heat, which means the vast majority becomes light. LEDs produce this heat internally, where little deformities affect the diode’s crystal elements. And because LEDs don’t generate heat through infrared radiation, like traditional lights, the bulb itself doesn’t get hot.

One More Thing

The higher quality the LED, the more efficiently it manages heat emission. An effective heat sink paired with high reflectivity inside the bulb, plus high quality diodes and other internal components, all play a role in the energy efficiency of an LED — another reason to opt for reputable manufactures. If you’re considering an LED retrofit to enjoy the benefits of more efficient lighting, Have Lights Will Travel in Nevada and California can answer all of your questions. Contact us today for recommendations.