In a LED bulb light and heat sources are well separated

the Heat Management of LED bulbs and other types of bulbs

Every bulb that emits light is also a space heater. Some at the top (or luminaire), some at the base (or junction), some also remotely at the converter (or adaptor.) Some do it 'full time' very inefficiently, some do it 'part time' only and in a somewhat more efficient way. The big question still remains. What is the ratio of heat and light emitted and what to do with them? A good light and heat mix has a proper heat dissipation system where heat management is essential. LED bulbs included.

TED light bulb shiningAnd don't think that bright LED lights enjoy an exception in this respect. Because we do face the same dilemma with them. In fact, they would be neither energy efficient nor resource efficient without it. Without it and due to overheating a LED crystals would die very quickly.
Conventional light bulb
Bright LED bulbs
Heat sinks
Retrofit problems

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the conventional light bulb

Light and heat mix vs energy efficiency

A conventional light bulb is a luminaire heat emitter. And a bulb luminaire is at best only 70% effective.

This happens for at least two reasons.

Every bulb that emits light is also a space heater.
The only difference is how they separate heat and light; whether heat departs at the top or at the bottom.

But this also follows that old conventional bulbs don't need much designated heat sinking, because heat simply dissipates at the luminaire. For this same reason the bulb socket is not designed to be a heat sink.

Truth is, for high output old bulbs there is a kind of added heat sink in the form of mechanical fans that is used occasionally to force cooler air though more for comfort than anyting else.

That's where high efficiency modern bulbs enter. They fit the picture but it does not necessary make things less complicated.

Because the higher the efficiency the higher a ballast energy it will need to start the arc (that results in the actual glow you see as light) and also, to regulate even gas ionization within the bulb so it doesn't go out of hand.

Also, the ballast has to have an even higher resistance to make sure that the much reduced resistance of the red hot wire does not short the circuit.

The point to remember in this: the higher the efficiency of the light source the more you need it to waste on the ballast to get that bright light going.

And this same ballast may actually consume up to 20% of the electrical power going into your light fixture.

In other words, energy efficient light sources may convert power to light with higher efficacy, but there is a considerable trade-off of using extra energy on the ballast.

As a result, cost versus operation output is very weak for old type bulbs

It's not rocket science to calculate your wasted operating costs with a conventional bulb. 70-90% savings on your monthly bill is what an energy efficient light source can save for you. That's essentially saving 70-90% of money paid for not getting any light output whatsoever in return.

Bright LED light and heat management

A case for heat sinking for LEDs that are base heat emitters

Of course the problem with a bright LED ligth is NOT effiency. They are extremely good in that department. In fact the power that reaches the LED unit is converted to light with such efficacy that you don't really feel heat there.

But before it reaches there it passes the junction, or the base of the LED. Here you need a resistor for the said reasons - to regulate the current - and that's where problems may start if heat sinking is not resolved well.

Granted, if it was just a single 5mm LED unit it would inded produce much less heat altogether,  but much less light also. And when you pack a good number of those units in the bulb to get good light out of them they become considerable heaters at the base. This is no more evident than in bright LED bulbs composed of dozens of high-efficiency LEDs.

As discussed, a conventional socket is not designed for dissipating heat. It is the glass luminaire of your globe that was designated for that purpose.

Good LED bulbs have those funny looking radiator fins on your LED bulb that are there for a purpose.

Light And Heat Mix problems In Retrofits

drop-in or screw-in bright enough LED bulb will likely run very poorly and ultimately melt and die, if added heat sinks are not integrated with the bulb.

Possible scenarios if you buy a cheap LED that does not create a proper light and heat mix

  1. Your LED bulb goes into a melt down from its own heat; OR

  2. Your cheap and weaker LED units need to be overdriven to produce decent light. This will reduce operating life and make your LED performance unpredictable.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs are taking good advantage of the limited heat sinking afforded by bulb sockets, having more or less the same heat dissipation model as incandescent bulbs.

When you don't want to consider heat sinking they are ideal replacement bulbs.

Really bright LED replacement bulbs >>

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