The Importance of a Properly Engineered Thermal Management System in an LED fixture

led thermal management system

The Importance of a Properly Engineered Thermal Management System in an LED fixture

Most of us think we’re in the lighting industry when in fact we’re actually in the electronics industry.  Our electronics just happen to light up.   In the electronics industry thermal management is paramount because if you don’t get rid of the heat you will end up with land fill. Over time, excess heat can degrade the performance of that circuitry, lower the lumen output of the fixture, and reduce the useful lifespan of an LED fixture. Transferring that heat away from the LEDs increases its light output and lifespan, and LED heat sinks that are integrated into the fixtures themselves are the most effective and efficient means to accomplish that transferal.

Lighting Generates Heat and Heat Destroys Electronics

Unlike incandescent light sources that pass electricity through a solid filament or fluorescent fixtures that excite gases encased in tubes, LEDs generate light with semiconductor technology that energizes electrons, which then emit light energy when they drop from an energized to a lower energy state. Heat will be generated at the LED junction that emits the light, which will typically be at the base of the LED diode. Integrating an LED heat sink directly into this thermal cooling path increases heat transfer efficiency.

Electrical motors and other appliances that are powered by electricity use heat sinks to remove excess heat. Copper and aluminum are common materials used in heat sink construction. The challenge that LED engineers faced was to take this common technology and reduce it in size and scale to work with LED fixtures that are smaller than electrical motors. As with heat sinks for larger systems, most LED heat sinks are designed with multiple fins or other projections that extend away from the LED fixture and add extra surface area for conductive or convective cooling of the fixture.

Our engineers push LED heat sink efficiency even further with thermally conductive adhesives that join the heat sink to the LED junction circuitry. The wrong adhesive can act as a thermal insulator and trap heat in the junction rather than allowing it to conduct out to the LED heat sink. A heat sink that is not fully integrated into an LED fixture or that uses a bad adhesive will not be as effective or efficient as LED heat sinks that are designed, built, and integrated into the LED as part of the bulb and fixture itself.

We’re Setting the Bar High for LED Fixture Engineering

SpecGrade LED has pioneered many of the advancements in LED heat sinks. Our company has developed proprietary thermal bonding techniques that create a unified LED light with thermal control that is part of the fixture itself. SpecGrade’s fixtures also use combinations of different materials, LED heat sink shapes, exterior finishes, and mounting materials that all combine to create unprecedented thermal control of its fixtures. This technology improves the lumen output of the fixtures and contributes toward their superior lifespans, which in many cases exceeds 100,000 hours of continuous use in even the most extreme conditions. It also enables more of the electrical energy input to be converted into light with less heat loss, which increases the overall efficiency and superior economics of SpecGrade’s products.


SpecGrade LED has a network of representatives and affiliates throughout North America who can provide more information about the significance of the  LED heat sinks that we integrate directly into our fixtures.

SpecGrade’s LED products are used in warehouses, manufacturing plants, airports, sports arenas, parking lots, distribution centers, hazardous mining operations, indoor agricultural facilities, and other locations that benefit from advanced lighting technology and fixture longevity.

Please call 888-725-2889 to speak with one of our LED heat sink specialists.