How LED Lights Stay Lit Even in Extreme Conditions

    September 8, 2015

LED lighting is getting more and more popular every day. Its adoption in virtually all markets is growing due to increased efficiency, efficacy and longevity. This adoption extends further than just homes and offices where conditions are cool, comfortable and consistent. LEDs are finding their way into much harsher environments, too. 

Think of an offshore oil platform exposed to the heat, wind and water. Decision makers in these environments value LEDs because their lifetime can be measured in decades, not months. Hanging off the side of an oil platform to change a lightbulb can be a risky task, and if you can cut down the frequency in which your customer has to do it, their ears will certainly perk up. 

That said, as an LED manufacturer, you know that your customers value performance. It’s vital for your LEDs to work properly regardless of the elements. They must be able to withstand the rain, wind, and extreme heat of the outdoors, as well as exposure to indoor challenges such as dirt, dust, moisture and hazardous factory chemicals and environments. 

Overcoming Challenges

Despite their many pluses, LED lamps have two inherent challenges over legacy lighting for use in extreme environments: the LEDs themselves are less resistant to moisture than traditional lighting sources, and they run most efficiently when cool. Since LED street lights are expected to last decades instead of years, even in rainy Seattle or scorching Arizona, how are manufacturers overcoming these hurdles? 

It starts with proper package design, which is critical to providing all of the required customer benefits. The right packaging ensures that diode chips and LED drivers operate optimally and export visible light efficiently. But it’s not an easy job, as electrical, optical and mechanical elements must be considered alongside design.

For every type of LED package, from circuit board mounting to sub-assemblies to higher-level assemblies and completed luminaires, adhesives and sealants can play an important role. For example, in luminaire assembly, adhesives are used to attach the lens to the luminaire, providing a tight seal that prevents moisture and contaminants from entering the assembly. For serviceable designs, use of liquid gasketing provides easy access but retains a completely weathertight, contamination-proof seal. The benefits of adhesives and sealants will be even greater for future designs as LED lighting units (and their packages) get smaller and lighter with each new generation. 

Shock Treatment

Vibration and shock are also considerations in harsh environments. Proper damping and mechanical design are required to maximize strength, joint integrity and rigidity over a long service life. Adhesives and sealants provide the right blend of flexibility and toughness to allow for long-term protection from the shock and vibration that your designs will face. Modern adhesives and sealants perform over a large range of temperatures and provide excellent chemical, humidity and UV resistance, too.  

Potting materials provide a great level of protection from damaging impacts or the effects of short and long-term vibration. Taken as a whole, adhesives and sealants help with all of these real-world challenges. When harsh environments are expected, LED manufacturers are now increasing the use of adhesives, whether as a primary assembly and sealing method, or augmented by screws, rivets, or clips.  

Increasing Use of Plastics

Plastics continue to play a greater role in LED assembly. Polycarbonates provide excellent thermal properties and impact resistance, and adhesives are an excellent choice for plastic assembly. The right adhesive technology, carefully selected to match the individual characteristics of specific plastics, metals or glass, can obtain optimum performance like no other joining technique.   

In LED assembly, Henkel adhesives and sealants help to ensure a long life for LED lighting devices, even in applications exposed to the harshest conditions. 

Want to Learn More?

Henkel offers free engineering consultation, testing and teardown analysis of your designs. Improved performance, cost reductions and longer service life are some of the benefits. Contact us now.

About the Author, Matt Donelan

Matt Donelan is a Market Development Director for Henkel North America based in Rocky Hill, Conn. His responsibilities cover the Electrical and Optical segments including Lighting, Wire Harnesses, and Electric Motors. Matt has over 20 years of experience at Henkel in both marketing and product management positions. He also has design, test, and manufacturing engineering experience in the aerospace, optical, medical and electronics industries. Matt holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from The University of Connecticut and an MBA from the University of Hartford.

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