How Does Temperature Affect LED Performance?

Ambient temperatures of an interior or exterior setting will affect how certain parts and systems function. Light-emitting diodes, better known as LEDs, are no exception. Temperature can have a notable impact on how these devices illuminate. And since LEDs are now frequently used in vital applications including headlights, the temperature of their environment is no small factor to consider.

For people who wish to buy LED headlights for aviation, railroad, and other industrial applications, the effects of extreme cold, heat, and other environmental factors will matter a great deal. LED locomotive headlights, along with LED landing and taxi lights and other types of LED aviation lights have widely replaced halogen, xenon, and other types of light bulbs. But how does their performance vary and what should LED headlight buyers know about these components and the variable of temperature?

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What To Know When Using LEDs In Critical Capacities

Since their ability to provide very bright light while requiring far less electricity has been greatly improved, LEDs are suitable in settings that require brilliant and reliable illumination. This is why  LED landing lights are now among the norm in the aviation industry, and LED headlights and signal lamps are used in many railroad settings.

Any headlights used in these applications must be able to function even in extreme temperatures and allow for clear visibility despite rain, snow, fog, dust, smog, and other interferences. The problem is, certain temperatures can interfere with this capability if certain factors are overlooked or performance requirements are not met.

The light output of LEDs is considerably stronger in environments where ambient temperatures are cooler. This is because LEDs include a semiconducting element to emit light. The higher temperature of the environment, the higher the temperature of the LED’s current, which affects the performance of its semiconductor and its light output. This effect varies somewhat based on the type of LED. Those that emit blue, green, and white light aren’t as likely to fluctuate with temperature changes. Those that emit red and yellow light are more drastically affected and will lose output as the LED’s current increases and the semiconductor’s temperature rises.

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Is There A Way To Reduce The Impact Of High Temperatures?

Most LEDs that are on the market today include circuits that compensate and adjust for this fluctuation. However, this addition can overdrive the semiconductor when the LED is regularly used in high temperatures, which means the operational life will not be as long as it would be in a cooler environment.

Some manufacturers of higher quality LEDs will utilize insulation and heat sinking materials to better regulate output and preserve longevity by reducing the effects of high temperatures and prolonged heat exposure. Anything that can be done to reduce exposure to heat through other elements of the installation, including fixtures, housing, and other components can also help to maintain light output and extend the LED’s lifespan.

When buying LEDs for a setting where illumination is critical, it’s necessary to account for value over price. Without additional quality and performance measures, such as temperature regulating components, the reliability of the product can be compromised. In transportation, defense, and industrial settings, the result may be a major safety hazard. That’s why it’s always beneficial to source products like LED headlights that are made by trusted manufacturers, which can and should be acquired from authorized distributors.


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