When shopping for low-temperature light bulbs, you may wonder whether LED light bulbs versus halogen or incandescent light bulbs have heat differences. Do LEDs get hot?

LED light bulbs get hot, but their temperatures are much lower than other light bulbs. This is because LED bulbs are designed to produce low heat with less energy expending to generate heat.

The hottest an LED bulb might get is 60-100°C (140-212°F).

This article will discuss various lighting technologies, the main distinctions between wattage and heat, and answer additional questions about how hot LED bulbs get.

Heat vs. Light in LED Bulbs

It goes without saying that when a light bulb is plugged in, electricity allows the bulb to create both heat and light.

However, the heat and light get distributed differently depending on the bulb type.

Some light bulbs generate lots of heat and little light, while others do the opposite.

The following table highlights which light bulbs produce excess heat versus light and vice versa.

Type of LightingHeat ProductionLight Production

As you can see, the electricity in LED light bulbs converts 20 percent of electricity into heat and the rest into light production, while halogen and incandescent light bulbs only convert 10 percent of the electricity into light, losing the rest of it into heat.

a bulb with smoke coming off of it with the words 98% of electricity burned is from heat

That’s why non-LED bulbs tend to get very hot to the touch.

Does an LED Bulb Produce Heat?

An LED light bulb produces heat but has significantly more light. Light bulbs heat an element inside the bulb, making it glow to produce light. So naturally, the glow produces heat as well.

LED bulbs are designed so that multiple LED chips connected to a circuit board all light up, producing a certain amount of heat from the bulb’s wattage.

As a result, about 20 percent of the electricity is distributed as heat production with LED light bulbs.

Heat and light production for electricity is measured in watts.

Do LED Bulbs Get Hotter Than Halogen?

Up-close shot of a halogen bulb
Between halogen and LED lights, halogen bulbs definitely get hotter!

LEDs do not get hotter than halogen bulbs.

Most of the energy in halogen bulbs gets lost to heat, producing less light and more heat in the long run.

LED bulbs produce the opposite — less heat and more light. Thus, they do not get as hot as halogen light bulbs.

Of course, all bulbs can get hot, but the LED design is much more efficient than other bulbs.

Do LED Bulbs Get Hotter Than Incandescent?

LED bulbs do not get hotter than incandescent bulbs.

Like halogen bulbs, incandescent bulbs lose most of their incoming electricity to heat. Yet LED bulbs work more efficiently by distributing most of their energy to light and less to heat.

Therefore, LED bulbs are brighter and cooler than incandescent bulbs.

An incandescent bulb will offer a lower glow of light, and the lens must be turned off and cooled down before it can be touched.

On the other hand, LED bulbs distribute heat into the room and generally don’t need a long time to cool off afterward.

Why Do LED Bulbs Get Hot?

LED bulbs get hot because small LED chips inside the bulb convert electricity into light and heat.

Additionally, the heat sink — the bottom portion of the bulb — will absorb and distribute the excessive energy. Still, if it isn’t properly ventilated, the bulb will get hotter than it should.

The need for ventilation means that LED bulbs cannot be used in enclosed containers. This will lead to overheating.

LED fixtures need to have vents to allow for airflow and heat distribution. This way, the heat sink can absorb heat and distribute it properly.

Are LEDs Dangerous To Touch?

Man in white button-down shirt holding illuminated light bulb
While LEDs don’t get as hot as other types of light, you should still be cautious about touching them, especially if you’ve had the lights on for a while.

LEDs can be dangerous to touch if they’ve been on for a long time and do not have appropriate ventilation. Ensure there are vents in the light fixture so that the light bulb doesn’t overheat.

If you’ve noticed that your LED bulb hasn’t been appropriately ventilated, turn it off and let it cool down before unscrewing it from its fixture.

Without this step, the bulb could be quite hot to the touch. LED bulbs can get up to 100°C (212°F), the boiling point of water.

With the proper ventilation, though, LED light bulbs should only get warm and shouldn’t be dangerous to touch. You should be able to unscrew them without any difficulty.

Tips for Efficient LED Lighting

Now that you know LEDs can get hot, here are some tips for their efficient use:

  • Choose the right color temperature: LEDs come in various color temperatures, measured in Kelvin (K). Selecting the appropriate color temperature for different spaces is crucial for creating the desired ambiance and functionality. For instance, cooler temperatures (5000K-6500K) are suitable for task lighting.
  • Proper ventilation: While LED bulbs generate significantly less heat than traditional incandescent bulbs, they still produce some warmth. Therefore, ensure that your LED fixtures have proper ventilation to dissipate any heat generated during operation.
  • Use dimmer switches compatible with LEDs: Dimmer switches allow you to adjust the brightness of your LED lights, providing flexibility in different situations. Therefore, invest in dimmers specifically designed for LED lighting to avoid flickering, buzzing, or reduced bulb lifespan.
  • Avoid overdriving: Overdriving LED bulbs by exceeding their specified voltage can result in reduced efficiency and a shortened lifespan. Always adhere to the manufacturer’s voltage and current recommendations to optimize the performance of your LED lights.

Final Thoughts

LED light bulbs can reach between 60-100°C (140-212°F) depending on the ventilation around the heat sink.

Generally, LED bulbs warm up slightly but aren’t dangerous and are much more efficient than other forms of lighting like incandescent and halogen bulbs.

They convert electrical energy mostly into light — about 80 percent of it — while the other 20 percent turns into heat that gets distributed into the room.

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