Why You Can't Use Certain LED Bulbs in Enclosed Fixtures

Why You Can't Use Certain LED Bulbs in Enclosed Fixtures

By oeo2018 • Mar 27th 2018

If you have ever reached over to turn the light off before going to bed and accidentally grazed your arm on a flaming hot incandescent light bulb, you'll know it's the stuff of (minor) nightmares. One of the reasons LED lighting is the lighting of the future is it's energy efficiency. Being so energy efficient means giving off less wasteful heat.

This is not to say that LED lighting gives off no heat. Unfortunately the laws of physics still apply. One of the few times this can provide a potential problem is when it is used in enclosed fixtures.

What Are Enclosed Fixtures?

‘Enclosed fixture’ is a general term for many of the lighting uses we see on a daily basis. Different lighting fixtures will have different purposes, whether practical, aesthetic or both. With open fixtures, there is room for the light to breath.

Enclosed fixtures are lighting fixtures which keep a tight seal around the light source. This could be for many reasons, such as keeping water out or simply to protect the circuitry underneath. However, even with LEDs, the lighting is also a heat source and in enclosed fixtures the light has less space to spread out.

When the heat doesn't spread out, it has to go somewhere, so it goes back in. This results in more heat being passed along the LED bulb itself. The LED is unlikely to be hot enough to explode, but it can overheat over a period of time. This means they do not last as long, losing some of the efficiency and cost effectiveness we buy them for in the first place.

Does this Mean Incandescents and Florescent Lighting are Better?

While LED lighting used in enclosed fixtures may bring up some potential heating problems, this is nothing compared to the energy inefficiency of CFLs and incandescent light bulbs. The use of ballasts and other energy restrictors stop these types of bulbs from overheating, but they are necessary as without them they would explode. LED lighting needs to regulate current like any fixture, it just manages to use less to get better results.

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Can Any LED Bulb be Used in an Enclosed Fixture?

Unfortunately, due to the heat entrapment of enclosed fixtures, not all LED light bulbs can be used. Or perhaps it is better to say that they should not be used. It may still be possible to use your regular LED bulb in the enclosed fixture, but with a shortened life span and the potential for premature dimming. This is the case for most home fixtures, but industrial lighting will be different and may raise other safety problems.

However, this doesn't mean there is no solution. There are many LED light fixtures which are perfectly fine to be used in enclosed fixtures.

These LED light bulbs are specially designed to be used in tightly fixed encasements and housings without overheating the bulb. They will better regulate the temperature by regulating the current, prolong the life of the LED and provide a better LED experience. There are also LED alternatives which can replace the whole enclosed fixture with an LED light fixture which will last longer and not use as much power in the process.