LED lights are slowly taking over the market because of their lower energy requirements and their higher life span. However, consumers have also some doubts about safety when it comes to LED lights.
So, can LED lights catch fire? LED bulbs do not generate enough heat to start a fire. This is because they are designed to use almost all their power sources solely for light emission. Because one of the main reasons for a bulb to catch fire is overheating, LED lights are safer than incandescent lights are.
Many people also wonder if it is safe to leave their LED lights on 24/7. There is actually a lot to deciding how long to keep you LEDs on and you can apply some preventive measures to avoid a fire outbreak.
LED Lights Safety
If you are using LED lights in your home or want to purchase them, you need to know that LED lights are more sophisticated than incandescent bulbs. You will have to install them properly if you don’t want fire hazards.
You also need to understand that LED bulbs require drivers to give out the appropriate amount of electricity. Now, the purpose of this driver is to regulate the mains voltage lowering it to a certain amount for compatibility purposes.
However, LED drivers are a bit complicated, and any heating problem that may occur will probably come from using inappropriate components. Now, I will list some general LED lights safety guidelines for your convenience. They include the following:
- Always go through the LED manufacturer’s specifications as this will enable you to use only compatible components.
- You will find out that some LED lights come with preinstalled drivers. Make sure you read the manufacturer’s specifications.
- You should make sure that there are no obstructions in the heat dispersion system of the light fixtures. You will need to avoid enclosed fixtures such as lamps to cover the bulb in plastic or glass instead of open-air. If you must use an enclosed fixture in your home, make sure you purchase “Enclosed Fixture Rated” LED lights.
- Always go for electric parts, such as light bulbs that are ETL listed or UL listed. These standards make sure that the products have high quality.
Is Leaving LED Light on A Fire Hazard?
Sometimes, we tend to leave the lights on for so long, and this is considered a fire hazard. You may not encounter any harmful consequences when you do this, but it is generally not advisable. You should know that most fire hazards that occur in homes are due to festive and decorative lights. And it is a result of leaving these lights for long periods.
When fire hazards occur with Christmas trees, it is often because of the very flammable material used in wrapping them. Therefore, to be safe, you should not leave your lights on for long periods. It would be best if you tried using timers and other similar devices to help you switch on the lights when the time is right for you. Doing this will also help you save some money on utility bills.
However, you may wonder if LED lights are safer than other kinds of light bulbs when left for so long. Well, since LED lights do not get as hot as incandescent lights, the likelihood of contact fires occurring is low. However, if mistakes were made during the light’s installation process, then it may occur. But if you had everything installed the right way, then you shouldn’t worry about the lights starting a fire.
Can String LED Lights cause Fire Accidents?
You need technical knowledge to be able to install string LED lights properly. Since it includes a couple of LED lights stringed together, more heat is involved. And this means that the probability of a fire outbreak is slightly higher with this LED light type. The major issues with strip lights include power cord failures and overheating.
Now, to ensure safety in your home, you will have to install these string LED lights properly. I will share a few guidelines to help you. They include:
- You need to know that LED string lights usually come in low-voltage (12V or 24V) or line-voltage (120V). The low-voltage ones come in 5 meter spools while line-voltage string lights come in spools of 50 meters. Low-voltage string lights need a power adaptor.
- Make sure you use the correct power adaptor for the wattage and length of striplight you intend to use.
- You should also keep in mind the numbers of LEDs present on your strip. The more LEDs you have there are on the strip, the higher the heat generated. Make sure to use proper cooling systems for your LED strip light.
- Finally, ensure that the strip lights have enough space to enable the effective dissipation of heat. It would be nice if you also got rid of any safety hazards nearby, such as heaters.
How long is it safe to keep my LED Bulb On?
As long as your LED bulb is installed correctly, with the correct wattage, and no obstructions hindering its dissipation of heat, you can always leave it switched on.
You should know that switching LED lights on and off does cause deterioration. LED lights deteriorate as a result of high temperatures. If you take measures to manage heat factors efficiently, your LED bulb would not be a fire hazard.
Nonetheless, as I mentioned earlier, you should always use sensors or timers to manage your lights. It will help you regulate the lights automatically and save your LED light’s lifespan.
It would be best if you used motion sensors for the lights outside instead of leaving them switched on. Using sensors also helps to reduce utility bills. Generally, if you want to save utility bill costs, consider leaving the lights on for about 12 hours at the most.
Why is my LED Light bulb Smoking?
Ideally, LED light bulbs should last for up to one hundred thousand hours (approximately eleven years). You just need to make sure that the bulb is under perfect conditions.
But like traditional light bulbs (such as CFL and incandescent), a couple of factors can lead to early damage. These factors may include material deterioration and damage to the packaging due to thermal, electrical, mechanical, or chemical stress.
When LED fails, the light usually dims with time or burns out entirely. Your LED lights can also fail suddenly as a result of structural or electric damage. When this happens, it usually burns out completely.
The LED light bulb consists of many parts, but the main one is the LED-chip – a semiconductor responsible for light generation. This chip comes with N-type and P-type semiconductors with a transition layer between them.
In order to discover the exact cause of your LED’s failure, you can put it in an electron microscope. According to some research studies on the various ways that LEDs fail, the two main causes are electrical or thermal stress.
When failure occurs due to thermal stress, it is usually due to cyclical heat in the LED. The rise in the internal temperature that occurs gets so high that it exceeds its maximum rating.
There are two common causes of electrical failure in LEDs. They include:
- Electrical overstress (EOS) damage: EOS usually happens when a current or voltage level gets higher than the rating for longer than 100 to 1000 nanoseconds while you are the LED light. According to some authors in a study, electrical overstress damage can result from lightning strikes or voltage or glitches in connection to power or ground. EOS may destroy the wires in the LED package or even the whole LED chip. And this is a very serious problem when manufacturing and handling.
- Electrostatic Discharge Breakdown (ESD): There is a transition layer between the N-type and P-type semiconductors of the LED chip. This transition layer is called a PN junction. In the Electrostatic discharge breakdown, the junction may breakdown when there is an excess flow of current, which increases the local temperature. The heat produced can damage the junction and cause short-circuit or leakage.
LED packaging is used as the electrical connection between the external circuit and the LED chip. It helps to protect the LED chip from electrostatic discharge breakdown. Usually, a GaN-based chip is packaged with some other materials such as silicone glue, an epoxy lens, phosphor coating.
These materials deteriorate slowly and can result in the failure of your LED package. For instance, you may experience open circuit or heat dispersion issues due to interface delamination between the layers that make up the LED chip.
Many researchers are constantly carrying out studies to understand LED bulbs’ failure mechanisms to find out ways to improve their reliability. They are mostly focusing on the area of improving the dissipation of heat by the LED packaging structure. When the heat dissipation is done efficiently, it will prevent the accumulation of heat and the temperature rise in the LED chip.
In addition to that, thanks to research, you can use ESD protection circuits to protect your LED against ESD failures. The current due to an electrostatic discharge bypasses the LED and then flows through the protection circuit instead.
Though LED light bulbs may eventually fail, they are undoubtedly reliable alternatives to other light devices such as incandescent and halogen bulbs. And their reliability is likely to improve over time.
Can LED Lights Explode In Enclosed Fixtures?
Using enclosed fixtures is another area where you need to proceed with caution. In enclosed fixtures, the LED light is covered with lamps, instead of leaving it open. These lamps (usually made of glass or plastic) seal the light, thereby preventing airflow. Common examples may include bathroom ceiling lights and outdoor wall lights.
In cases like this, it is important that you keep a tight seal around the diode. When you do this, it will help you prevent your LED bulb from getting damaged due to rain.
However, when there is no airflow, heat tends to build up more easily. LED lights are very likely to fail slowly through a process called lumen degradation if there is no proper dissipation of heat. They also tend to fail catastrophically through a process called thermal stress explosion due to improper heat dissipation.
For the aforementioned reason, most LED lights are incompatible with enclosed fixtures. But, in recent times, many manufacturers have discovered this issue and have found out how to fill the market gap.
And this is why you can go to purchase LED lights and see ones that say ‘Enclosed Fixture Rated.’ Therefore, if you need an enclosed lighting device, and you are not sure if your LED bulb will be safe in an enclosed fixture, you should not take the risk.
LED light’s structure that can help in avoiding fire accidents
The heat given off by electronic products is the major reason for fire incidents due to any electronic device. LEDs get heated up only at a particular part and not in the entire electronic product. LEDs have a small inbuilt part in their body, known as the heat sink. What this heat sink does is to help draw in all the heat to one single part of the lights or bulbs.
The heat sink stops the whole electronic device from heating up. As a result, LED lights have a longer life span since the heat is contained. The heat sink keeps the LED bulb cool for the most part of the time when it is being used, thereby preventing the whole device from being damaged.
Because the heat is usually not spread through the entire product, the LED uses less energy to produce heat and most of the energy for the production of light. LED lights are 20 percent cooler than the traditional types of lighting devices.
In these traditional devices, almost 60 to 95 percent of the power source is used for heating, and this is why they have a short life span. Because they use increased power for heating, they are a fire risk.
The Benefit of using LED lights instead of traditional lighting devices
Incandescent bulbs, CFL bulbs, halogen bulbs, or other traditional lighting devices produce heat with most of the power directed to them. On the flip side, with LED lights, almost all of the power sources are utilized for light emission. Halogen tubes may produce the heat of up to 1200 degrees, and this is an extremely dangerous limit. If you leave this unchecked, it may result in a serious fire accident.
If you are using CFL bulbs, you would have noticed that they produce way less heat than many other traditional lighting devices. However, they do give off more heat than LED lights. CFL bulbs are likely to cause fire risks when they get to the end of their useful life. They do not cause as much fire damage as the incandescent bulbs or the halogen bulbs.
LED lights produce an insignificant amount of heat – too small to cause a fire outbreak. But traditional lights such as halogen lights have started fires that cost so much money.
LED lights have heat sinks that help to make sure that the product does not get too hot. They can be used in enclosed spaces since they barely produce heat. They are also well-suited for use in small spaces.
On the other hand, incandescent bulbs give off so much heat that people sometimes use them to heat up reptile enclosures and even for poultry incubation. The incandescent lights can also cause fire outbreaks, but they are safer than the halogen bulbs.
Preventive measures to help you avoid fire breakout due to lighting devices
There are steps you could take in order to prevent fire breakouts due to your lighting devices. I have listed them below for you. So, if you are concerned about your lighting devices starting a fire, you should follow the guidelines below.
- You need to know that electronic lighting devices emit light by using power. And power circulates to these lighting devices with the help of an electric circuit, which heavily depends on cables and wires. Therefore, it is crucial to check the wiring before you insert any lighting device.
- You should place the lights in an exposed area rather than an enclosed object.
- You should try to avoid using light fixtures as they may cause pent-up heat thereby becoming a fire hazard.
- Make sure that you connect the bulbs with the resistor in series and not in a parallel connection, When you connect them in parallel, it may result in overloading.
LED lights are safe alternatives to traditional lighting devices such as incandescent lights. However, you would have to take precautions during installation, as mistakes can cause overheating. Though you can leave your LEDs on indefinitely, it is advisable to use timers and sensors.
In all, it is worth knowing that LED lights are the safest option when it comes to choosing lighting devices for your home.