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Why Are LED Lights Not Suitable for Enclosed Fixtures?

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While you can use LED lights in traditional lighting applications, you may be wondering why are LED lights not suitable for enclosed fixtures. If you want to change old bulbs into energy-saving LED lights, yet you have safety concerns, we’ll look into the right way of using LEDs in fixtures.

Why Are LED Lights Not Suitable for Enclosed Fixtures? 

LED lights are not suitable for enclosed fixtures because heat is the enemy of LEDs. Excessive heat in a ventless enclosed fixture can cause LED bulbs to fail. If you insist on using LED lighting, the bulbs may flicker, turn off after a couple of hours, or start to smoke up.

Here are some considerations when making the shift to LED lighting for enclosed fixtures so that you can enjoy savings in energy bills.

What Happens When You Use LEDs in Enclosed Fixtures 

LEDs contain a semiconductor that generates heat, which needs to dissipate in order to keep a bulb’s long life. Similar to other circuitry, these chips are highly sensitive to excess heat. Unlike traditional bulbs, LED lights don’t have energy restrictors that can regulate too much heat. 

Black colored lighting fixture

While LED lighting uses a heat sink to draw heat away from the diodes, an enclosed fixture will trap the heat inside, surrounding the bulb. However, enclosed fixtures block ventilation by restricting airflow and raising ambient temperature. In effect, the bulbs may overheat and shorten the bulb’s lifespan. 

An enclosed fixture is any airtight lighting application or fixture where the light bulb is encased in a way that lacks ventilation or blocks proper airflow. Common enclosed lighting fixtures include:

  • Porch lights with a plastic or glass bottom
  • Lensed recessed light fixtures 
  • Enclosed mason jar light fixtures
  • Dome or globe-shaped ceiling light 
  • Shine-down spotlight 
  • Semi-flushed enclosed lights 
  • Lounge or bedroom mood lighting
  • Track headlights 
  • Pot, can, or recessed lights with a glass front and trim

Risks of Using LEDs in Enclosed Fixtures

For residential homeowners, the use of LED lights would consume 75% less energy than traditional incandescent lamps. While you can still use LEDs in enclosed lighting applications, this is not without any risks. These are four major consequences of using LED lights in enclosed fixtures.

  • Flickering: Bulb may flicker after a few days. 
  • Dimming: Light may become dimmer eventually. 
  • Color change: Significant change in the color gradient. 
  • Shut off: Bulb may turn itself off after a few hours. 

While LED lights are not necessarily fire hazards, using them in enclosed spaces to the point of overheating reduces efficiency and risks fire. In addition, the heat may melt a fixture’s plastic parts.

If you continuously operate the light and it starts to overheat, you also risk getting blisters when you touch it.

LED Lights Rated for Enclosed Fixtures

An enclosed fixture-rated LED light can last for more than 7 years of constant use before the need to change. 

When shopping for regular LED bulbs, you may see a warning note that states: ‘not for use in totally enclosed or recessed luminaires and fixtures’. On the other hand, an enclosed rated bulb will specify: ‘suitable for totally enclosed fixtures’.

If you still want to continue using LEDs in an enclosed fixture, it would be best to look for bulbs rated for such applications. Some of the features of enclosed rated LED bulbs include

  • Electronic chips that can withstand temperatures up to 150 degrees Celsius to continue working for a long time. 
  • Chips that can regulate the current, power output of lumens, and temperature to prevent the light from overheating. 
  • Bulb body with a ceramic heat dissipation technology (CHDT).
  • ENERGY STAR scores to ensure the product has been tested for light output management.
  • Watt equivalent or actual wattage is drawn by an equivalent incandescent bulb.
  • Larger lumen numbers to emit more light. 
  • The bulb includes a hollow housing base design to encourage airflow and maintain a cool temperature. 
  • Bulb base or connector type. 
  • Dimmable features and correlated color temperature. 
  • Recyclable and non-toxic materials (no mercury).

Best Fixtures to Use LED Lights

If you want to save up to $75 on your annual bill, you can try replacing your five most frequently used light fixtures with ENERGY STAR-rated LED lights.

As LEDs dominate the lighting market, different kinds of fixtures become available for people to make the shift to LED lights. The advantage of using LED lights is that they aren’t like the traditional bulky bulbs.

Gold and red pendant lamps hanging from ceiling

More than that, LED lights now come in a variety of home and industrial products. These are among the most common types of LED light products.

  • Table and floor lamps
  • Vanity lights
  • Kitchen under cabinet lighting
  • Porch and other exterior lights
  • Parking garage lighting
  • Modular lighting
  • Staircase accent lighting
  • Decorative wall lighting
  • Backlight for appliances
  • Holiday lights
  • Light strips
  • Car lighting
  • Signage and advertising lighting
  • Photography lighting
  • Surface-mounted fixtures

Related Questions

As we finish discussing the suitability of LED lights in enclosed fixtures, let’s talk a bit more about LED lighting-related topics. 

Can You Use Halogen Bulbs in Enclosed Fixtures? 

Halogen bulbs are generally okay for enclosed fixtures. Halogen bi-pin and J bulbs can burst, so you can only use halogen bulbs in an enclosed fixture as long as there’s some form of shielding. 

Is LED Lighting Better Than Halogen Lights?

LED tubes are typically rated for 50,000 hours, while LED bulbs can withstand 25,000 hours of operation. LED bulbs can use 80% less energy than halogen bulbs. However, LED bulbs can be expensive upfront, although the cost over time lets you save energy and prevent frequent lamp replacements.

Can You Use Smart Bulbs for Enclosed Fixtures?

You can use a smart bulb in enclosed spaces as long as it’s rated for enclosed fixtures. Since smart bulbs come in different sizes, shapes, configurations, and colors, they are good for single-light fixtures or groups of light fixtures.

Conclusion

LED lighting can be pricey, so make sure not to use it in enclosed fixtures that lack ventilation. Otherwise, you will end up with flickering lights and waste precious money. As long as you use correctly enclosed rated LEDs, you can safely use LED lights and enjoy lower maintenance costs.