LED Strips Are So Hot Right Now

Sometimes there will appear a figure that flies in the face of reason, and challenges everything you think you know about a subject. Just such a moment came from [Chris Taylor] at Milton Keynes Makerspace when he characterised a set of LED strips, and the figure in question was that he found an LED strip creates the same amount of heat as its equivalent incandescent bulb.

We can hear your coffee hitting the monitor and your reaching for the keyboard to place a suitably pithy comment, because yes, that’s a pretty unbelievable statement. But it’s no less true, albeit that the key to it lies in its details. If you have a 100 W incandescent bulb, 88% of the energy is radiated as light and infra-red, leaving 12 W heating the bulb itself. To get the same light output from an LED meanwhile we’d only need 17 W, of which 11.9 W would be left to heat the LED. Which means that an LED strip can get as hot as an incandescent bulb with equivalent light output, and he’s run some tests to prove it.

If you’ve worked with LEDs, you’ll know that they get hot. But to learn that they have the potential to get as hot as their incandescent equivalents is something of a eye-opener, and should demonstrate the need for adequate thermal mitigation. It’s easy to take them for granted, and we’ve taken a look before at some of their safety pitfalls.

Disclosure: [Jenny List] is a member of MK Makerspace.