Do LED Lights Produce Heat?

Many of us want a light, bright room, particularly in areas of the home that lack natural light. Unfortunately, light often brings heat, and this can create problems. However, you can address this potential problem with LED lights.

Although, strictly speaking, LED does produce some heat, far less energy used is wasted producing heat. This means that LEDs are not only more energy-efficient, but they are far easier to use in heat-sensitive areas of your home without compromising the light, bright aesthetic.

Do LED Lights Get Hot?

Some marketing claims that LED lights don’t generate any heat, but this is not strictly true.

Any appliance that uses electricity will generate heat, so all types of bulbs produce heat. However, LED bulbs consume far less energy compared to other kinds of bulbs, so they generate far less heat.

The temperature at which the LED housing will operate is influenced by the fixture and room temperature. So, you may have LED lights that appear warmer in some rooms of your home compared to others.

The bulb contains components that change your home’s high voltage electricity to the lower voltage needed by the LED chips. Due to this, LED lights are more sensitive to heat compared to other types of bulbs.

Be warned that some cheaper bulbs carry warnings that they should not be used in a fully enclosed fixture.

This is because heat can build up, shortening the lifespan of the LED bulb components. So, if you want to use a fully enclosed fixture, you will need to choose a bulb that is rated for the full enclosure, or you could void your warranty.

Generally, the fact that LEDs produce lower heat makes them a solid choice for task lighting or any areas where heat could pose problems.

Imagine what it would be like to create a home gym and find that you’re sweating under the lights before you even start working out.

In this scenario, LED lights would be a better choice, as you can fully illuminate your room without making it feel like a hot box.

LED vs. Incandescent Heatincandescent bulb

Before I can compare LED and incandescent bulbs, you need to have a basic understanding of these two types of lighting. As I touched on above, LED lights have different components compared to traditional bulbs.

Also read: Why Do LED Lights Make A Clicking Sound?

Unlike LEDs that contain diodes that convert current into light, incandescent or classic bulbs produce light by heating the wire filament. The metal wire you can see inside the glass bulb is surrounded by a vacuum or inert gas.

The main advantage of incandescent lights is that they are cheap to manufacture and, therefore, more affordable to purchase. These bulbs are readily available in a variety of voltages, adapting to different outputs and currents.

Unfortunately, incandescent lighting has the worst energy efficiency. Approximately 90% of the energy consumed goes into generating heat, which of course comes with another risk of potentially causing a fire.

Yes, it’s true!

Less than 10 % of the energy used by an incandescent bulb is used to produce light. So, if you want that light, bright room, you can imagine how much heat will be created with incandescent lighting.

Another downside of incandescent lighting is that the average bulb only lasts approximately 1,200 operating hours.

So, you’ll need as many as 100 bulbs to equal the lifespan of just one LED light. Clearly, the slightly higher purchase cost of LED lights is easily outweighed by the impressive lifespan.

The simple truth is that LEDs not only produce less heat, but they have a longer lifespan and greater efficiency compared to conventional incandescent bulbs.

Which Light Bulbs Produce The Most and The Least Heat

Still not convinced? If you’re still not sure that LED lights are the best choice for your home, let’s compare which light bulbs produce the most and least amount of heat.

Type of Bulb Percentage of Energy Used Producing Heat
Incandescent bulbs 85%
Fluorescent bulbs 40%
Fluorescent tubes 20%
Halogen bulbs 80%
LEDs 20 – 50%

As you can see, LEDs may not produce the least amount of heat.This varies on the type of LED bulb and its energy rating. Anyway they are far more efficient compared to halogen or incandescent.

Although fluorescent may produce less heat, many people don’t like the effects of this type of lighting.

Fluorescent lighting tends to be very cold, and many people dislike the flickering effect that people tend to associate with fluorescent and can encourage headaches in those prone to migraines.

Furthermore, halogen produces light 360º, which means that they also point light up towards the ceiling, wasting energy.

Typical Lifespan

As we touched on above, like all electronic items, heat can cause wear and tear. In fact, incandescent bulbs contain a filament that heats up to produce light. Unfortunately, heating and cooling can cause significant wear, compromising the lifespan of the bulb.

This is another way that we can assess how much heat is generated by different types of bulbs.

As you can see in the table below, the typical lifespan of incandescent bulbs is far lower compared to LEDs. One of the main reasons why LEDs last longer is that they are exposed to far lower temperatures.

Type of Light Bulb Typical Lifespan
Incandescent 1,200 hours
Fluorescent 8,000 hours
LEDs 25,000 hours

As I highlighted above, LEDs easily have the longest lifespan of all types of bulbs.

The frequent heat of incandescent bulbs ultimately compromises the lifespan. In contrast, the same LED bulb can continue to operate, as they produce far less heat.

Light Output of Different Bulbslight output

So, if an LED bulb is producing less heat, you may be thinking that it produces less light. This often causes confusion, particularly when you’re shopping for bulbs as they seem to have vastly different wattages.

We’ve all been there, standing in the store with different bulbs in hands, wondering which is the right one for the fixture. You may wonder how a smaller wattage LED can produce the same light as a high wattage incandescent bulb.

This can be explained by the different ways that the bulbs function. As we touched on above, incandescent bulbs have a filament that heats up and produces light, which requires more power.

However, LEDs contain diodes to create the light, so you can choose a lower wattage LED and enjoy the same brightness.

Although this may seem confusing, there is a simple comparison to help demonstrate how you can swap out your incandescent bulbs for more efficient and less heat producing options.

Brightness (lumens) Incandescent (watts) Fluorescent (watts) LED (watts)
500 40w 12w 6-7w
750-850 60w 18w 8-10w
1000-1400 75w 22w 12-13w
1500-1700 100w 30w 15-20w
2700 150w 50w 25-28w

So, if you’re currently using a 60w traditional, incandescent bulb, you would need an LED bulb that is 8 to 10 watts to deliver the same amount of light, while reducing the heat output of your lighting.

Final Words

While LEDs do produce some heat, they are still far cooler compared to traditional incandescent bulbs.

Unless you’re creating hydroponics set up or indoor grow room that would benefit from the light and heat, it is not likely that you’re going to appreciate your lighting wasting energy producing heat.

  • So, are you considering upgrading the lighting in your home?
  • Have you thought about how less heat from your lighting could benefit your room?

Share your plans for LED lighting in the comments section below.

10 thoughts on “Do LED Lights Produce Heat?”

    • Hi David,

      I have an article on flickering LED lights. Although this is not specific to the trailer the problems are usually the same regardless. In a nutshell, I would check the connection first. Also I would check if you don’t have any voltage drops. Flickering might occur when power source is unstable.

      Hope this helps.
      Eugen

      Reply
  1. I have an outdoor light receptacle that has a 60 watt limit for an incandescent bulb.
    Can I put in a 38 watt Led bulb (equivalent to 300 watt incandescent), or will the Led generate too much heat?

    Reply
    • Hi Mark,

      In theory you can put the 38W LED bulb as it falls below the 60W. LED bulbs generally generate much less heat compared to incandescent, but just to be safe, I would probably test the bulb and see how hot does it get. Also, I would inspect the fixture itself to make sure it has enough ventilation and room for heat to dissipate, as even partially enclosed fixture can cause bulb to fail.

      Eugen

      Reply
  2. My new LED 150 watt built in torchiere gets hot! i am shocked since i have many LEDs and it was a big part of the reason i bought it, and it wasn’t cheap.

    So this might be normal?

    I finally realized, as long as I get the wattage i need, i can get a regular lamp and put an LED in it. dah. :O)

    Reply
    • Hi,

      Thanks for the question. 150W is a lot of power generated for LED so yes I would expect it to be quite hot. A lot also depends on how well ventilated the fixture is and how well heat sink is designed. I mean, if the light is in quite tight space then it will be much hotter compared to the well ventilated fixture.

      Yes, LED can be fitted in regular lamps easily, however, I would correct you a little bit. As long as you get the light output you need within the wattage allowance you are good to go. The reason for that is if you get wattage right for the fixture and say you put 60W LED into the 60W fixture designed for incandescent bulb, you get a LOT of light out of it that is most likely unnecessary as 60W LED is considered as flood light rather than regular light bulb.

      Cheers
      Eugen

      Reply
  3. Hi, my wife wants to have the least heat producing light bulb on the floor lamp that lights the music notes when playing the piano. So, I used a soft white LED 9.5w 800 Lumens bulb but she still finds this bulb too hot for her. What can you recommend?

    Reply
    • Hi Bobby,

      LED bulbs produce the lowest amount of heat from all the light bulbs, so I am not sure what sort of advice I would give you here other than look for bulb with proper heat dissipation sink. Alternatively, the fixture itself can have poor heat management.

      Eugen

      Reply

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