LED Tip 15: Fans are Good

Some LED solutions use fans to help cool. Some use a larger heat sink. What is better? Should you be concerned about fans?

MyLEDLightingGuide has been in the business of selling LED solutions since 2008. Many of our solutions use fans, and many of our solutions have large heat sinks. Is one better than the other.

Understanding Active Cooling

A fan is nothing more than active cooling. It circulates air over the heatsink, removing the hot air and in the case of an enclosed fixture like a shoebox light, distributes the heat to the fixtures shell. This technique allows the utilization of a smaller heat sink. In some cases, the LED solution would not fit inside the existing fixture if a passive no fan solution was used. Think of laptops, computers, gaming systems, and most electronics today. Most if not all use fans, so this idea of using fans to remove heat is not new. In all the years of selling LED solutions, we have seen only 1 fan failure, so the idea that fans fail is not reasonable.

Understanding Passive Cooling

Passive cooling is fan-less heat sink, so to compensate, the heat sink has to be larger. The best way these solutions work is when the LED board is using the fixtures casing as a heat sink. Think of UFO high bay or parking lot light. Using a board that is not integrated with the fixture is not a good design (unless of course you use a fan to help move the heat).

The take-away

Do not be concerned about the use of fans. Fan technology is very robust, and typically will outlast the life of the LED product. If you have an open fixture in a dusty environment, then a passive solution might be a better option.

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