Are LED Lights Safe in Enclosed Fixtures?
Some LED lights can be safe for use in an enclosed fixture. Additionally, as long as the fixture doesn’t have rubber gaskets that restrict proper heat escape, or you use an LED light with a proper heat sink then you should be fine.
LED lighting is becoming more and more common in everyday applications. One use of LED lights is in enclosed fixtures that may or may not be good for an LED. Depending on what type of LED you are using can greatly impact the life expectancy and safety of the bulb.
While LED lighting is very efficient, physics still apply. LED bulbs can still get relatively hot. The heat output of LED’s can vary based on a variety of factors including heat sink designs, airflow, size of LED, and room temperature. However, typically they stay around 54°F (30°C) (source).
Although, there can be heat sinks that might reach temperatures greater than 100°C. So, it can be important to read the safety instructions, and ensure you are installing LED’s in their proper applications.
What are Enclosed Fixtures?
Enclosed fixtures are lighting fixtures that keep a seal around the light source. The seal can be for a variety of reasons including, but not limited too: waterproofing, dust-proofing, or even protecting the circuitry.
While it is important to keep the LED chips and circuits safe, it can be dangerous to restrict airflow to the bulb itself. Typically LED’s don’t get hot enough to explode or cause damage. However, heat can reduce their life expectancy and efficiency over-time.
Examples of Enclosed Fixtures
- Car headlight bulbs
- Outdoor LED step lighting
- Patio lights
- LED security lights
- Outdoor sconces
Can Any LED Bulb be Used in an Enclosed Fixture?
In short, yes you can most likely use any LED bulb in an enclosed fixture. However, you should ask yourself “should you use any LED bulb in an enclosed fixture?”.
You should consider what type of LED bulb you are installing in an enclosed fixture, so you aren’t risking the efficiency or lifespan of the bulb. Although there are some industrial applications in which you might risk safety using the wrong type of bulb (please refer to safety instructions for proper installation).
There are specially designed LED bulbs that are made for use in tight or enclosed areas. For example, a lot of these bulbs are used for car headlights or fog lights. In this application, headlights are water-tight to prevent any moisture build-up. So, it is important that LED’s have proper heat-dissipation.
These types of LED lights will often have a heat sink outside of the enclosure to ensure proper dissipation. In the above picture, you can see where the red gasket is. After the red gasket, you can see the heat-sink.