A decade ago when purchasing a light bulb there was just little choice, the incandescent bulb was pretty much all one could get. Recent developments have brought new options with the introduction of LED’s. The light emitting diode (LED) bulb can operate for 20,000 to 50,000 hours, at least five times the length of any comparable bulb. In respect to energy consumption LEDs put all contenders to shame. Whilst purchase cost of these bulbs are a little bit higher, over the lifetime of the bulb dramatic savings can be made.
LED lighting can be used in a huge variety of applications that include simple domestic lighting, street lights and traffic control, building illumination, plant growth and even for curing some epoxy products. The LED has been successfully used in these applications, and many more, but in order to get the legendary longevity out of the LED technology, their critical junction temperatures must be maintained at all times and in all operating conditions. Maintaining this temperature requires careful consideration of their thermal management requirements.
A large proportion of LED applications are deployed in the built environment and in urban settings with the need to adhere to strict noise limitations. It is no surprise, therefore, that over two thirds of LED cooling solutions are based on natural convection passive designs.
Only a few specialist higher power applications may need more sophisticated cooling solutions using pumped liquid cooling or fans to increase the air speed. Therefore, the scope of this article is on natural convection cooling solutions and will describe heat sinks based on die-casting, cold forging and heat pipe assemblies. Aesthetic aspects, which can often be achieved using various surface treatments in different colors and or textures, are also considered, as the solution is often visible.
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