Hot Bulbs: The LED and Heat Relationship

Since people need to touch and handle bulbs from time to time, they wonder if LED light bulbs get hot. The answer is that they do, but not as much as CFL, Halogen, and Incandescent light bulbs.

Since the LED light bulb’s technology is one of the newer, more efficient ones, its high-powered lighting is able to produce light at a lower temperature than the material used in the other light bulbs, which is a hot filament. The LED light bulb’s outside surface gets hot, but still remains 20% cooler than the CFL bulbs.

How hot can LED bulbs get?

The temperature of a LED bulb largely depends on several factors such as its components and other external factors such as airflow and room temperature. During development and testing, the heat sink of a fully lit bulb ranges around 60 degrees Celsius to 100 degrees Celsius.

In some tests, the compact LED bulbs produced the hottest temperatures because they bear the absence of airflow management, even if they have a lower power and lower light output.

The bulbs, which employ a design that incorporates airflow management, are kept cool because convection airflow technology that cools the bulb by enabling the air to flow in and out of the heat sink.

For these reasons, some LED bulbs should not be used in enclosed spaces because they may run the risk of overheating.

It is normal for the heat sink to get hot, and if you touch anything that’s above 50 degrees Celsius, it will rapidly feel hot when touched with bare hands.

The nerves of our fingertips and their pain sensors automatically protect us from a temperature that brings the skin protein to a point where it could get cooked, which is referred to as ‘protein denaturing or unfolding’.

Starting from 57 degrees Celsius and up, this reaction causes the body to have a reflex to quickly remove the body part from touching anything that has a temperature of over 50 degrees Celsius. Because of this, even if the LED bulb is not too hot, it will be perceived by our bodies to be really hot.

To be on the safe side, it is still best to not touch the heat sink or any hot part of any kind of light bulb even the efficient LED bulbs with heat sinks at a lower temperature.

Light bulb positioning matters

The positioning of the light bulb is very important because this factors in how a light bulb is able to cool itself. When angled straight up or down, the light bulb will operate cooler when tilted sideways.

The straight up or straight down position enables the light bulb to cool more effectively by allowing the air flow via hot convection to go through more of the length of the bulb. The positioning of the light bulb is definitely a necessary thing to consider, although it has to be tested within the prescribed operating temperature.

Safety Testing Procedures

In trusted brands and manufacturers, the certification processes involve an array of laboratory testing and are usually employed on all light bulbs. Included in these procedures is testing the safety of lighting products and checking the different components used to see if they can tolerate the high temperatures utilized in the bulb’s creation.

Also, to ensure that the light bulbs can withstand hot temperatures in enclosed areas, a sealed heat box test is done. In more advanced LED bulbs, as an extra feature for protection, a self-protected power supply is installed.

This feature lets the bulb independently switch off when it reaches a temperature ranging from 105 degrees Celsius to 115 degrees Celsius.

LED bulbs vs. other light bulbs

In comparison to other light bulbs, LED light bulbs run at much cooler temperatures. There are other kinds of light bulbs that can get smoking hot, so don’t even consider laying a hand on the other kinds of bulbs when they are turned on.

With a temperature of 181 degrees Celsius, halogen and incandescent light bulbs were tested to run the hottest, while some glass areas on a CFL light bulb can get hot up to 131 degrees Celsius.

In all circumstances, do not touch a halogen or incandescent bulb when they are lit. The majority of LED light bulbs can be handled by a plastic diffuser while avoiding burning the hand of the person handling it.

However, touching the heat sink of the LED bulb should never be done.