The longer a light source is used, the greater the economic advantage and the green footprint. Depending on the system design, minimal decrease in luminous flux over time is a normal process, the components are getting down. When this process is really slow, the system is staying maintenance free for a long time.
LEDs are better than a lot of light sources in already many applications. To keep the system working properly, you have to watch some points carefully when designing or choosing LED systems.
How Heat Affects LED Lights
High temperatures effect the life cycle and luminous flux of a LED. Heat sinks prevent the system of getting too hot. Too hot means, the allowed ambient temperature of the LED is exceeded. The cooler the ambient temperature, the longer the LED is working efficiently and the lighting quality is staying at a high level.
In the world of LED, there are two types of heat sinks, passive and active. Passive heat sinks are larger, and the idea is the large heat sink directs heat away from the LED face to allow it to operate at an optimal temperature. Active Heat sinks are ones that include one or more fans. Both work well. Active Heat Sinks allow for a smaller foot print. They also perform very well inside an enclosed fixture, moving the air away from the LED face to the outside fixture, thus increasing the size of the heat sink.
Heat is the primary killer of all things electronic, and LED is no exception to this. Some products, like our LED Retrofit Kits, use a large fan and a thernocouple mounted on the face of the LED head to monitor heat. If the thermo-couple detects heat above a desired level, it will automatically start to dim the LED head until the temperature drops. It then will raise the light levels to normal levels once the heat conditions are resolved. So not only can you solve the heat problems with good heat sink design, you can use electronics and logic to monitor and protect LEDs from the destructive nature of heat. Click here to learn more about our smart LED retrofit technology.
Mechanical tension during the manufacturing, assembling or just handling the LED effects the operating lifetime or even worse destroys the LED. Pay attention to ESD, electrostatic discharge, which causes a very short but high current pulse. The LEDs as well as the LED driver can be damaged by ESDs with a few volts. To avoid such issues, make sure you are working with a reputable firm who tests all their products fot at least 24 hours. Any issue created during manufacturing should be caught during the testing period.
LEDs and LED modules are produced and driven within a specific current range. You have the possibility to supply the LED according to its features (see datasheet) with different currents from 350mA to 1000mA, as an example. A lot of systems drive the LED at the upper end of the current range. But pay attention, the lower the current the less energy is released, the lower the heat production and the more efficient the system is working. In the end the LED module is operating much longer too.
Products that have less LEDs but are driven at a higher current will not last as long as those products that have more LEDs and are driven at a lower driver current. It costs more to design and build a light like this, but it will pay off in the long run.
The LED itself is quite strong according to damp surroundings, but the metal parts, connections and electronic devices are getting damaged really fast. They start to corrode, so it is better to protect the LED system carefully against humidity. LED lights that are IP rated against water and wet conditions will work well in high humidity environments. Look for IP65-IP68 rated fixtures if you are in a high humidity location.
LEDs being operated under different conditions like coastal climate with a high salt content, in factories that are producing chemicals or using chemicals to produce or treat products as well as indoor swimming pools are sensitive to handle together with LEDs. LEDs are made for these areas but only packed carefully into a closed housing with a high IP rating.