why do led strip lights get hot

Why do LED Strip Lights Get Hot?

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LED strip lights are a stylish and cost-effective way to light your home or apartment. Yet, if you use LED strip lights, you may have noticed a particular issue – in some cases, they tend to overheat.

You’ve experienced it if you’ve ever noticed heat emitting from an LED strip light on a wall or under a desk.

You may have asked yourself, “Why are my LED strip lights hot? Are LED strip lights supposed to get hot?”

The short answer is yes, LED strip lights can heat up under certain circumstances. While LED lights emit far lower temperatures than regular lightbulbs – they can still get hot. The temperature depends on a few factors, such as where the LED strip lights are in your home.

If you want to learn more about how LED strip lights work and how to prevent overheating, you’re in the right place. Stay tuned to learn more about the technology behind strip lights and how they can become hot to the touch.

What Are LED Strip Lights and How Do They Work?

An LED strip light is a flexible circuit board containing many LED light emitters. They operate on low-voltage DC power, which means they don’t take much electricity. That’s a significant reason why LED strip lights have become so popular.

They grant you the ability to light your home without spending too much on electricity.

LED strip lights are also visually appealing and come in various colors and styles.

The peel-and-stick adhesive on the back makes for effortless mounting. That’s why it’s so easy to add LED strip lights to any area of your home, including:

  • On walls
  • Alongside desks and cabinets
  • Under shelves
  • Under the bed
  • Behind computers and TV screens

Even if the surface is uneven or curved, the circuit board is flexible enough to stay mounted. LED strip lights also come with ‘cutlines’ that you can cut with scissors. That allows you to obtain an ideal length for your strip lights.

The brightness of an LED strip gets measured in lumens. A desirable level is at least 450 lumens per foot – as it provides as much light as a fluorescent lamp would.

Wattage-wise, most LED strips operate at either 12V or 24V DC. You’ll want to convert the signal to low-voltage DC for standard wall outlets. That’s most commonly achieved by using a DC power supply.

It’s also possible to connect LED strip lights to a dimmer. You can use either a phase-cut wall dimmer or a DC low-voltage dimmer. RGB controllers are another tool that will allow your LED strip lights to change colors. That can add extra versatility to the look of your lights and the room’s overall feel.

Why Do LED Strip Lights Get Hot?

LED lights don’t emit infrared, which makes standard lightbulbs white-hot. Yet, they still emit energy to create light, which generates heat. Whenever LED strip lights are in well-ventilated areas on proper textures – they won’t get very hot. That’s because only 10% of the energy they emit converts into heat. That’s significant when comparing it to the whopping 90% heat incandescents release.

There are a few reasons why LED strip lights get hotter than usual, and they usually have to do with the surrounding environment. Here’s a look at the top causes of heat building up in your LED strip lights.

Where You Install Them

LED strip lights work best in open areas that have proper ventilation. If you install them in especially tight spaces that don’t get much air, they’ll start to generate heat. For example, if you install LED lights inside a small closet – they’ll get hotter than they would on the outside. The same is true for LED lights installed inside cabinets or drawers.

The more air the strip light has access to, the more it can dissipate the heat it generates.

Bearing that in mind, you should strive to install your strip lights in areas with proper airflow.

In general, kitchens, garages, and bathrooms tend to be the worst for getting LEDs hot. Garages tend to get hot on their own since there’s commonly no HVAC system reaching them. As such, LEDs will heat up quicker than average. Kitchens get exposed to heat and humidity via cooking – and bathrooms are often cramped spaces.

The Surface Under the LED Strip Light

Ideally, drywall is the perfect surface for an LED strip light.

Why’s that?

As a material, drywall isn’t very reflective, so that it won’t bounce back the heat generated from the lights. Wood and plastic, on the other hand, are drastically different.

If you have LED strip lights installed on a wood or plastic wall, they’ll heat up twice as fast.

That’s because wood and plastics are reflective and will cause the lights to heat up quicker. The ideal surfaces for LED strip lights aren’t very reflective at all. Drywall and aluminum are the two best surfaces for keeping the heat at bay.

The Type of Fixture

Another critical factor is the fixture you use to install your strip lights. Clamp fixtures, for example, have no way to dissipate the heat generated from your strip light. That causes the heat to build up and eventually causes damage to your walls.

The best type of fixture for LED strip lights is an aluminum channel. They’re designed to dissipate heat from LED lights – ensuring no heat gets trapped and damages your wall.

How to Prevent LED Strip Lights from Overheating

Since you know why LED strip lights get hot, it’s time to learn how to prevent it. Beyond selecting a proper surface, fixture, and location for your strip lights, there are other ways to beat the heat. These include:

  • Using a heat sink. A heat sink is a device that dissipates heat generated by devices. You can use them for LED strip lights to prevent them from getting too hot. Beyond that, a heat sink will help preserve the performance of your strip lights.
  • Replace old strip lights. Aging strip lights are at higher risk of overheating. If your strip lights have reached their lifespan, replacing them will prevent overheating.
  • Use the correct wattage. Another way to avoid overheating is to use the proper wattage. If your wattage is too high, you’ll use too much power, and your lights will become hot far quicker.

Closing Thoughts

By now – you should have a better grasp of why LED strip lights get hot and how to prevent overheating. LED strip lights are undoubtedly helpful, but proper temperature control is necessary. That’s especially true if you’re using wood walls, clamp fixtures, or tight spaces. A heat sink will go a long way in dissipating excess heat from your strip lights. It’s also a good idea to use the proper wattage and replace aging strip lights.