LED Fixtures Do Melt Snow!

Close Up of LED Fixture at Diamond Ridge Installation

About a month ago there was a story reported around the country that many northern cities had been experiencing problems with their new LED traffic lights. Apparently in some of these cities, the LED traffic lights would not generate enough heat in order to melt the accumulating build up of snow and ice during the winter months. It was also reported in the local news that fortunately this has not been a problem in the Denver metro area with all of the hours of sunshine we typically receive.

Before we actually began using LED fixtures for architectural and landscape lighting, we also wondered how well our new and innovative fixtures would melt the snow. As you can see in the above photo, they do quite well – thank you.

The actual reason that these fixtures melt the snow is inherent in their initial design as well as manufacturing. The main factor that limits the life of the LEDs/electronics is the heat build up inside the fixture. Our manufacturer has placed the LED driver in the mounting stake for the fixture – not inside the fixture itself as have most manufacturers.

In addition, any remaining heat generated by the LED bulb itself is dissipated by means of cooling fins as shown in the Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) thermal model below that was used to design a deck light. As a forner aerospace engineer, my expertise had been in thermal and fluid flow modeling for jet engines, rockets, spacecraft, and solar energy projects – so I tip my hat to the innovative engineers at our manufacturing company!

CAE Thermal Design Model for LED Deck Light

The fixtures are machined out of solid brass (aluminum is also an option) to provide the thermal heat exchange capabilities. Not only are the fins an engineering design feature, they add to the aesthetic appearance of the fixtures as well. By pulling the heat away from the LED bulb itself, the fins and fixture reach an outside surface temperature of 96-degrees F – enough to melt snow.

The design and testing of these fixtures have been on-going during the last seven years. Brass fixtures have a lifetime warranty, and the LEDs and electronics have had a five year warranty. However, we have heard that this warranty may be getting a lot better in the near future – so stay tuned!

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