Do LED Strip Lights Need A Heat Sink?

LED strips, LED strips, and LED strips. If you reside in North America, chances are you already have LED strip lights installed.

Considering how popular these lights have become, let’s try to find the answer to one of the most asked questions. Do LED strip lights get hot? And is using heat sinks the solution?

Are Heat Sinks even effective?

The concept of heat sinks dawned in the industrial electronics domain. Today, if you take a PCB board from an electronic device, it will contain a heat sink. Why? Well, the heat sink has amazing heat conductive properties.

So, what happens, when the heat sink is attached to an electronic component? It takes away all the heat. Yes, just like that and as simple as that. In short, heat sinks are effective for cooling down the electronic bits of a circuit.

The LED Strip Lights can even work without a heat sink: Breaking the myth

This may shock some, but yes, LED strip lights can work perfectly without a heat sink. The heat sink is not a necessary tool that is required for the proper functioning of the strips. Chances are that if you have bought LED strips from a well-known brand, you don’t need a heat sink.

Also, the LEDs connected in a strip light are connected in a series connection. As a result, the LEDs will automatically activate a safety system in case of a potential short circuit. But heat sink as a whole adds to the strips’ longevity. 

Why LED Strip Lights get hot in the first place?

The majority of the users still believe that when LED strip lights get hot, it is because of the voltage rating of the strip. In other words, a 24V LED strip will heat up faster than a 12V LED strip. But in reality, no proven evidence backs this hypothesis.

Instead, some proven factors are responsible for the LED strip lights getting hot. The quality of the LED strips is also a major factor in all of this, along with the following factors,

  • Poor Ventilation

In everyday electronics, ventilation plays a crucial role in keeping the temperature under a workable level. The ventilation steps are important as no circuit can dispose of excess heat. As long as a properly maintained heat sink is not used by the circuit.

The ventilation adjustment must be done at the time of strip light installation. If you believe there is no proper way of ventilating the strips, try switching to a heat sink. The sink will dispose of any excessive temperature from the LED strips and keep the temperature cool.

  • Excessive Voltage/Current Load

We get it, and you might think we have just discussed the irrelevancy of the voltage and heating phenomenon. We are still standing by our research-based stance as we are not discussing the functional voltage now. We are talking about the voltage/current that exceeds the maximum functional value.

When something like this happens, the electronics components don’t know how to dispose of excessive voltage/current.

As a result, the excessive voltage/current saturates within the circuit generating heat. If nothing is done to keep the temperature levels at a secure level, the strips can completely blow off, short-circuiting everything.

Taking the Right Measurements for the Heat Sink 

Now you understand how at the time, heat decapitation can be a real issue, especially if the LED strip lights get hot from time to time and on their own. Along with buying good quality LED strips in the first place, using a heat sink is great. 

You need practically zero technical knowledge to combine the LED strips and the heat sink.

Select the appropriate heat sink length and width and combine the heat sink with the LED through a special string. 

For 8-10mm width LED strips, getting a 13mm width heat sink is suitable. For LED strip lengths of 15mm and 27mm, you should use heat sinks having widths of 18mm and 30mm, respectively.

Choosing the appropriate Heat Sink Material 

Before we conclude our discussion, it is better to understand one thing. What are the materials that are used in the making of a heat sink? Globally, there are no fixed criteria for material out of which a heat sink can be made. 

The most widely used heat sink materials are copper and aluminum alloys. But the synthetic diamond is also used for electronics that deal with megawatts of power per day. Considering your requirement, an aluminum heat sink won’t let the LED strip lights get hot. 

Final Note

So now you know exactly why LED strip lights get hot in the first place, right? We also hope that you fully understand the effectiveness of heat sinks to keep your LED strips away from short circuits.

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