Heat Destroys Electronics : Why Your Lights Need an LED Heat Sink

Heat Destroys Electronics : Why Your Lights Need an LED Heat Sink

LED lights are known for producing substantially less heat than older technology like incandescent bulbs and HID lights.  Since LED lights are often cool to the touch, they can be placed in situations not normally conducive to hot-burning lights, including aquariums, vehicles, and modern indoor growing environments. But while LEDs produce much less heat than their predecessors, the electrical semiconductors that generate light produce heat of their own.

As with all light sources there is degradation over time. It is recommended that you choose grow lights with a reliable solution for thermal management to lessen the level degradation.  Learn how SpecGrade LED grow lights mitigate heat with proper thermal suppression and a sophisticated LED heat sink.

How Heat Destroys LED Lights

People often forget that LED fixtures are, in fact, simply electronic devices with a power supply. This naturally creates high temperatures in and around the light, which are known to cause damage to electronic devices.

As the junction temperature increases within the fixture, the forward voltage decreases and causes the output of PAR to drop gradually over time. Slowly the light produces less Photosynthetically Active Radiation for properly growing plants, gradually altering the spectrum output, and the harvest yields similarly suffer as a result.

This sustained and steady degrading of the LED fixture due to unrestrained temperature increases will shorten the overall lifespan of the instrument. Since these high junction temperatures cause LED deterioration, this can clearly be a costly problem. That’s why it is so important to have sufficient thermal management systems built into LED grow lights.

LED Thermal Management Solutions

One way that LED grow light manufacturers mitigate this excess heat is to build clunky mechanical fans into the light to blow heat out of the internal housing. These fans use the same electrical supply as the LED circuit board, thus increasing the energy consumption of the light and/or diverting a portion of that energy away from photon production to power the fan. Additionally, these fans often face mechanical failure due to the dirt and dust in the atmosphere of a greenhouse or grow room, resulting in costly maintenance and downtime.

The alternative, although slightly more expensive, is a fully passive thermal management solution like the LED heat sink built into every SpecGrade LED Grow Light. Instead of relying on a fan to blow hot air away from the fixture, our lights are constructed with a carefully-sculpted ⅜” thick aluminum substrate that connects the LED light source to outside elements of the fixture, serving as a pathway for excess heat to travel out away from the sensitive internal electronics of the light. This aluminum substrate dissipates the heat across its surface and pulls it away from the circuit boards and drivers, lowering the operating temperature of the light and reducing the damage done to its electrical components.

Superior LED Heat Sink Construction

The best LED heat sinks have a large surface area to dissipate heat more broadly, since thermal transfer takes place at the surface of the substrate. In order to keep the form factor of our LED grow lights as conservative as possible– to prevent shadowing and excess weight– SpecGrade heat sinks are shaped with an array of sculpted fins. This allows a single fixture to stack substantially more surface area into the LED heat sink and maximally reduce operating temperatures.

The challenge for our engineers was to space the fins evenly enough to allow for proper air ventilation while including as many fins as possible along the ridge of the fixture. We were able to find the perfect balance and still create a truly effective instrument for any grow environment.  The durable powder-coated finish furthers heat dissipation while allowing for water-resistant IP65 rating for damp environments. Combined with a discrete multi-channel flow through cooling effect where the circuit board meets the LED junction, the Linea and Verta grow lights offer a truly superior operational performance with industry-leading low temperatures.


Learn more about our advances in passive thermal management systems and LED heat sink technology by speaking with a lighting engineer at SpecGrade LED. Call us today!