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Why do LED lamps generate so much heat?

June 27, 2012

I have tried almost every new LED lamp out there. Except for one brand, they all generate a lot of heat. I thought LED was not supposed to be hot. I am not talking about the heat spike that can happen with the exothermic reaction, I am talking about heat in general. I’d like to understand more about this.

Answer

Most people talk about the exothermic reaction as the heat of the gel when it cures and want this heat reduced or eliminated. Since you are not referring to the exothermic reaction, the only other heat source is from the light itself. The heat generated by the light would be from the LED bulbs — and they don’t generate very much heat. The more powerful the light — meaning the more watts that the light generates, the more heat will be generated. This being said, if we are discussing an 18-watt light, the bulbs inside will generate more heat than a 6-watt or 9-watt light because the 18-watt light uses more electricity to create the light. There is little that can be done about the heat from the LEDs other than using a lower power light. Some lights have a power converter in the cord that converts the power from alternating current to direct current (AC to DC). The lights that have the AC/DC converter in the cord generate less heat than the lights that have the converter inside the light unit. In an effort to find an LED light that generates the least amount of heat, look for lights that have the AC/DC converter on the cord and not inside the light. 

—  Jim McConnell is president of Redmond, Ore.-based Light Elegance.

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