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Achieve low-power, safer LED designs

Posted: 28 Jun 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:LED thermal monitoring? thermal management? negative temperature coefficient?

With new LED lights, one of the most difficult, demanding, and costly sections of a design is thermal management. Without sufficient thermal management, the results can be catastrophic, ranging from leaving you in the dark to setting a building afire. This article discusses how to implement negative temperature coefficient (NTC) thermal management to achieve safer LED designs that consume less power.

With traditional filament-base bulbs, any heat generated is from the filament, which is well isolated from direct contact with the bulb. With LED lights, the LED is the source of light and the heat generated by the LED is in direct contact the LED light bulb. The direct contact is a result of how the LEDs have to be attached to the driver circuit.

To remove the heat, thermal dissipation or management is required to move the heat away from the LEDs and driver circuit. The thermal management or removal of heat is necessary to provide LED light that is capable of many hours of operation.

To understand why thermal management is important, consider an application where a replacement LED light is installed in a generic light socket, such as a wall sconce or recessed ceiling fixture, and controlled by an on/off wall switch. This application will have poor heat dissipation, since the thermal dissipation in most standard lights is dependent on thermal convection or air flow to remove heat from the light, and there is no such dissipation in a wall sconce or recessed ceiling fixture.

Using intelligent LED light control to monitor the LED light temperature, implementing thermal management is much simpler and the LED light will be safer since the light can reduce its power as the temperature increases.

View the PDF document for more information.

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