LED headlights are more popular than ever, but they shouldn’t be treated the same as traditional halogen bulbs. Your old headlights were typically hot – so should you expect the same for LEDs, or do they need to be kept cool? Let’s find out if LED lights get hot and what temperature keeps them happiest and functioning.

LED Headlights and Heat

Halogen headlights require heat to function correctly, but heat is no good for LED headlights. When your LED headlights get too hot, the juncture between different components weakens, producing weak light. Like a computer hard drive or lemonade on a summer’s day, LEDs should be kept cool for optimal performance. The good news is that LEDs only produce around 20% as much heat as halogen bulbs, but even that heat can ruin performance.

How LEDs Stay Cool

There are two unique ways LEDs stay cool, active cooling and fan systems, or passive cooling and heat sink systems. Let’s learn about both and which one is superior.

Active Cooling

Actively cooled LED headlights utilize a fan to help keep the LED headlights cool. If your LED headlights produce a substantial amount of light, you’ll need the power of an external fan to keep your lights cool. Active cooling’s fan can cool the most powerful of LEDs, but the large fan doesn’t always fit into headlight casings and can gather dust and debris if driven through dirty environments.

Passive Cooling

Passive cooling headlights use a heat-sink system that redirects the heat from the LED to a separate part of the vehicle. For most LED headlight kits, a passive cooling system is enough to keep the LEDs cool and happy. Because they take up less room, passive cooling systems can easily fit into headlight casings where active cooling systems may have trouble.

Which LED Headlight Cooling System is Best?

The best cooling system is the one that correctly matches your LED headlights. LED headlights are pre-manufactured with either a passive or active cooling system that works best for the light so most of the time the choice is out of your hands if you like the headlight’s other qualities. If properly maintained both cooling systems will get the job done right so unless you’re purchasing powerful headlights, you’ll be fine with either a passive or active cooling system.

Keep it Cool

It’s easy to keep your LED headlights cool if you pick the right light and monitor it for any issues. Active cooling uses a fan while passive cooling requires a heat sink to get the job done but both works if matched to the right vehicle and needs. Head online or talk to a local body shop to get the right LEDs with the right cooling system to always see what’s ahead of you.