If you buy an item via links on this page, we may earn a commission. Our editorial content is not influenced by commissions. Read the full disclosure.
There are lots of advantages to using LED strip lights. They last for decades and use far less electricity than incandescent bulbs. LED strips are also affordable, versatile (you can place them anywhere), and compatible with smart technology.
While it’s true that they generate far less heat than an incandescent – LED strip lights can still get hot.
How hot do LED strip lights get?
In general, high-wattage LED strips will get 20 – 30 degrees hotter than the room temperature. So, if it’s 74 degrees inside, your LED strip lights may reach 94 degrees or 104 degrees. Certain factors contribute to how much heat a strip light will generate. These include its wattage, wiring, and location in your home.
If you want to learn more about what causes LED strip lights to heat up, you’re in the right place. Stay tuned to discover what to look for in a strip light to ensure it won’t get too hot. Along the way, we’ll provide temperature estimates for some of the leading LED brands.
Understanding LED Efficiency Value
An LED light is far more efficient and runs much cooler than an incandescent bulb. While LEDs are touted for their energy efficiency – that doesn’t mean they don’t produce heat. In fact, it’s not yet possible to produce light without generating at least some heat.
Lightbulbs have efficiency values expressed as percentages to visualize this.
The percentage lets you know how much of the electrical energy gets converted into light vs. how much gets expelled as heat.
Most LEDs have efficiency values ranging between 30% and 50%. So, for an LED with an efficiency rating of 30%, out of 100 watts of input – 30 watts become light, and 70 watts become heat.
At face value, that may not seem very efficient at all. That is until you compare it with the average efficiency value of an incandescent bulb.
Incandescent bulbs average an efficiency value of 10%. That means only 10 watts become light, while a whopping 90 watts get wasted as heat
As you can see, while we’ve still got a long way to go to achieve 100% efficiency, LEDs have greatly improved upon the efficiency of incandescent bulbs. As such, an LED strip light won’t get near as hot as an incandescent bulb will. Yet, it’s not uncommon for LEDs to get warm to the touch – especially under certain conditions.
Do LED Strip Lights Get Too Hot for People and Pets?
If you have small children and pets around the house, the last thing you want is for them to burn their skin on an LED. Whenever a light’s temperature surpasses 104 degrees, it will feel hot to the touch when exposed to bare skin. If the temperature rises past 122 degrees – it moves past the threshold for skin burns.
It’s crucial to note that specific LEDs can exceed 122 degrees under certain conditions. That’s why you’ll need to understand how hot the LED lights you choose can get.
If your strip lights are in a location that won’t come into contact with anyone – you won’t need to worry about it. But if your strip lights will be around pets and small children, you’ll want to invest in lights that don’t get too hot.
Factors That Cause LED Strip Lights to Get Hot
Not all LED lights get as hot as others, and there are many reasons for that. Many factors contribute to how much heat a strip light will produce, some of which may surprise you.
How your LED strip light is wired will contribute to its heat production. You should seek out low-voltage LEDs if you don’t want to contend with much heat.
In general, the higher the voltage, the more power and heat the light generates. That heat must dissipate somewhere, so it gets released into the surrounding air.
So if heat is a concern for you, go for a 12-volt LED strip light instead of a 24-volt one. It will produce far less heat since it doesn’t produce as much power. If you’re going to install strip lights in a tight spot without much ventilation, you should go with low-voltage lights.
Cheap LED strip lights with low-quality materials will get hotter than higher-quality ones. That’s because these cheap materials do a poor job of dissipating heat.
We don’t recommend buying cheap LED strip lights, as they can easily overheat and possibly catch fire. Cheaper LED lights will also have lower efficiency values. As you know from before, they’ll waste a lot more energy releasing heat instead of creating light.
If you want to avoid these issues, you should seek high-quality LED lights with proper materials. As the adage says, you get what you pay for, and LED strip lights are no exception.
Much like the voltage, higher-wattage LED lights will produce more power. As such, they must dissipate the excess heat they generate. When shopping for LED strip lights, you should always pay attention to the wattage.
Beyond that, it’s wise to know the average temperature for the location you intend to use them. If you’re going to place them in a hotter area, you’ll want to buy LEDs with lower wattage.
Temperature Estimations for Top Brands
Now that you know what goes into making LED lights hot – let’s look at some top-rated brands online.
Philips Hue Bluetooth Smart Lights
A top seller on Amazon, Philips is a reputable brand that produces high-quality strip lights. This model has a low wattage of 19 watts, which is great for running at low temperatures. If your home stays at 74 degrees, this light should get no hotter than 94 degrees – and that’s under extreme circumstances (tight spaces with poor ventilation).
Wyze Light Strips
Another best-seller online, Wyze LED light strips, are affordable yet reliable and high-quality. At 24 watts, it runs a tad bit hotter than the Philips model. Yet, its heat shouldn’t rise more than 20 degrees above your home temperature.
Waveform LED Strip Lights
Waveform is a trusted brand that’s known for higher-wattage lights. As such, their lights tend to become very hot in use. They’re best for isolated applications away from humans and animals. They’ve measured a 54 degree rise over room temperatures in the past, which is considerable.
Closing Thoughts: How Hot Do LED Strip Lights Get?
By now, you should have a better understanding of what causes LED strip lights to heat up. When shopping for new lights, pay attention to the overall product’s voltage, wattage, and quality. If you’re looking for lights that don’t get too hot, look for low-voltage, low-wattage lights. If heat isn’t that big of a deal for you, it’s okay to use lights with higher wattages and voltages.