Fans or Heat sinks. Which one is better for your LED Headlights?

Aftermarket LED Headlights are available in various designs and now have many options in color, and output. One thing that most of these headlights have in common is how they are cooled.  Most economical or strong output LED headlights will utilize a fan, and the more efficient options will utilize a passive heat sink as a form of cooling the diodes.

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So what is better to use in your car?

This is an excellent question and we are sure most have come across.  Both are equally beneficial and we do not believe one is bad over the other as they both provide there advantages.

The best option is what caters most to the vehicle, and the driver.

By vehicle, it depends on the vehicle, the bulb size, how the factory bulb is secured, and the overall clearance available.

Here are two examples:

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(Sponsored 2015 Scion FRS by Armani Camacho IG: @frslow_armani)

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(Fellow JDM Astar team members personal daily driver vehicle)

By driver, it comes down to how long you intend to use your LED headlights, how much intensity you are looking for and where you would be driving through that will expose the headlights to different driving conditions such as snow, off road, or extreme weather.

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(Ayrton Senna da Silva was a Brazilian racing driver who won three Formula One world championships for McLaren in 1988, 1990 and 1991, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest Formula One drivers of all time.)

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(Big rig drivers or construction drivers drive and need lighting on nightly runs.)

 

A passive heat sink is the next big thing for automotive LED technology.

Passive heat sink designs tend to utilize a bulky metal heat sink that provides surface area for heat to dissipate through.  New designs offer thermal radiation through bendable fins or braided aluminum strips.  Passive heat sink headlights offer the following advantages:

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(NX Series LED Headlights with full aluminum body with a passive heat sink design)

Durability.  A passive heat sink is only capable to dissipating so much heat.  Due to the rate of cooling, the diodes and internal drivers must be durable and capable of handling higher temperatures.  Since cooling is not as fast, the diodes should be a premium type diode, or branded as to allow the ratio of lumens to wattage to be unaffected.  Branded diodes come directly from popular sources in the United States such as Philips, CREE, and other manufacturers.  The quality is higher is lumen to wattage ratio and efficiency will be high.

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(Philips Luxeon ZES offer high heat resistance and lumen to wattage ratio.)

No mechanical parts.  Heat sinks are made of solid alloy aluminum and some heat sinks may use different grades of aluminum for increasing thermal radiation.  Since there are not mechanical parts moving on the bulb, the LED will not make any noise and run silently.  The headlight can be exposed to off road conditions or conditions where there are lot of back/dirt roads where gravel or any type of debris kicks up.  With a heat sink, there is no concern for moisture to wet the fan and begin to accumulate dust and debris.  If you go mudding with your Jeep and the heat sink is caked on and full of mud then simply give it a rinse and go on about your day.

 

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(6S headlights use a flexible thermal heat sink with no mechanical fans)

Higher efficiency.  With heat sinks cooling rate being slower compared to a motorized fan, efficiency is key with this type of LED lamp.  Usually, the higher the output, the higher the driver power.  The higher the driver power, the more heat stress that is applied on the diodes. Since a heat sink can only provide a limited rate of cooling, the internal IC driver must be able to provide adequate lighting with minimal power consumption as to help maintain heat output to a minimal.  Also, the higher the efficiency the longer the operating times and lifespan.

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(Smart IC drivers offer the best drive power and efficiency for aftermarket LED headlights.)

Fans still hold the title as an optimal option for cooling any aftermarket LED. 

 

These fans definitely have their advantages over heat sink designs such as:

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Intensity.  With a fan that is capable of providing a higher rate of heat dissipation and cooling, there is a wider lighting spectrum in the intensity you can play with.  With a faster cooling mechanism, you can drive more power to the diodes to reach an intensity rating that is substantially higher.  Whether you need stronger lighting for commercial or work usage, or simply want something slick for a stance or show car, mechanical fans are definitely a good choice when seeking the brightest option possible.

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(G4 headlight low and high combo.  Get two sets at a similar cost of a premium set LED headlights.)

Fits any budget! Since high velocity fans are one of the first technologies introduced in the automotive LED lighting industry for cooling and with all the latest innovations that technology has, of course the cost will be lower.  Earlier technologies tend to retain a reduce cost from how they were sold when they first hit the market.  With new options for cooling being introduced, the earlier options will retain a lower value or cost since there is something newer or better available.  This allows anybody to try an LED headlight for their vehicle so if you are not sure and do not want to make a hefty investment but would like to improve lighting and drive safety, this is definitely the route to take.  You will certainly have options that fit any budget!

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(As heat radiates from the diodes, the fan is already extracting heat to maintain optimal temperatures.)

Can handle longer operating times.  Since day one that LED technology was invented, one thing that they have always had in common is the resistance to heat.  LED is just not too fond of heat as they are electronic components and fail in high temps.  They are not built like a filament bulb that translate a majority of the power used to heat, but rather take the power used to convert it to usable light.  With LED having a heat threshold, its essential to the life and operating time that the cooling mechanism is effective and capable of keeping up with heat emitted.  With fans being substantially faster at cooling any type of diode, it is the preferred choice to use in situations where power is driven to the LED circuit for prolonged amount of time.  A good example is a snow plow, or construction vehicles. These scenarios call for a headlight that can cool itself at the same rate that heat is being emitted which only a high velocity fan can deliver.

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(NX Series Headlights for low beam, or high beams that feature a passive heat sink)

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(Turbo Fan Series LED Headlights that push air flow for even faster cooling.)

Here at JDM ASTAR, we provide various options and designs.  We cater to every scenario, car, and driver.  Our various designs have continuously delivered and surpassed expectations for years and going so if there is something that does not work or fit well in your case, you best believe that we will have a solution available that not only caters to your car but caters to your safety and driving needs.

If you have questions about what to use?  Give the guys at JDM a call and they will gladly provide guidance in identifying your driving conditions and recommend a solution that will improve your experience in car lighting.

dav

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