Can LED Bulbs Be Used In Enclosed Fixtures?

Can LED Bulbs Be Used In Enclosed Fixtures?

October 24, 2020

Enclosed light fixtures are very stylish and are in many homes around the world. You can see incandescent light bulbs and other types of bulbs inside of an enclosed light fixture, but can an LED light bulb be placed inside of one of these light fixtures? An enclosed light fixture can be defined as one that does not have an opening for air between the light bulb and the outside air. The bulb is completely covered and unable to be seen inside the fixture. The truth is simple, but there are many factors contributing to the answer to this question. 

The Truth

At the forefront of our minds should always be safety, regardless of if it is what we want to hear or not. With safety in mind it is not recommended that LED light bulbs be placed into an enclosed light fixture. An enclosed light fixture can trap heat which is a fire hazard. So, even though enclosed light fixtures are great stylistically, they are not the best choice for ensuring the safety of you and your family. While most LED lights are not safe to be enclosed, there are some specifically rated for enclosed spaces. These special LED bulbs have carefully crafted parts to keep you safe from fires and other hazards. Luckily, there are some further explanations of what makes LED light bulbs unsafe for use in enclosed spaces and some other options you can use to replace an enclosed fixture. 

LED Heat Production

While LED lights do not produce as much heat as its other light bulb competitors, the incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs, it does produce some. If you place your hand near an LED light bulb, you will feel slim to none. However an incandescent bulb will be significantly warmer. Actually, incandescent bulbs release 90 percent of their energy produced as heat. Regardless of the heat produced, any heat contained in an airtight space is a disaster waiting to happen. Heating up the fixture itself and the air inside of it could produce so much pressure that the fixture could eventually burst and break. To avoid any of these dangerous hazards it is best to just avoid these completely closed fixtures when possible. 

LED Light Production

Many people feel that LED lights are brighter than other types of light bulbs. The brighter appearance is due to many factors, but one of the main factors is from the way LED lights create energy. As previously mentioned LED lights do not let off as much thermal energy, as heat, as other types of bulbs. Because the energy is being conserved it is instead being released as light energy. Not only does this make the light more efficient, it also makes the light very bright. While the bright light can be great for many things, it can sometimes just be too much. Luckily, there are things that you can do to minimize the brightness and still get the added benefit of cost and energy savings. 

Why Use A Fixture?

Lighting fixtures seem like just an extra expense. So why do people continue to invest in them? Keeping a bare light bulb may seem like the easy thing to do, but there are many perks to using a light fixture. The main two pros are style and practicality. 

Style

Light fixtures allow you to express your personal style and continue the theme that you have in your home. For example, if your decor style is the Victorian era, it may not be very cohesive to have a plain light bulb sticking out from your wall. Light fixtures can use different materials, designs, and colors to coordinate with your personal style while adding light to your home. When choosing a style for your light fixture, consider the colors and other themes that you already have in your home to make it the most cohesive look possible. 

Practicality 

In addition to style, light fixtures also provide a dash of practicality. Light fixtures diffuse the light from your light bulb so that the light is not blaring into your eyes as you are trying to have a conversation with your loved ones. A light fixture can also direct the light where you would like it to go. If you would like to highlight a piece of art, the light fixture can be shaped to guide the light upon the art to showcase it in the best possible way. By providing shade and direction to your light, light fixtures are very important. They are especially important with LED light bulbs because their light naturally appears brighter than other types of bulbs. 

Safe LED Fixtures

If you would still like to have a light fixture, but understand that an enclosed light fixture is not a safe option, there are still many options for you. Overall a light fixture is considered safe if there is air flow to and from the light. As the air flows over the bulb it removes any heat that has been created and removes it from the fixture to prevent anything dangerous from occurring. That being said, any light open to the air is safe, which leaves you with an abundance of choices. Materials can have a large impact on the way a light looks and feels so it is wise to consider the materials before purchasing a light fixture for your LED light. 

Solid Materials

Solid materials include ceramic, metal, glass, stone, acrylic, and more. All of these hard materials are perfect for wall sconces or pendants. Solid materials are very durable and safe when it comes to heat. There are many options including design, color, and opacity. Because these materials range from translucent to opaque you are able to really control the amount of light that comes through without having to completely close off the light. There are also options with these materials to form it to look like it is enclosed without it actually being enclosed. By having a metal ring around the light and dropping the material to go over the bottom of the bulb, but not enclose the top, you can have the look without the safety issues. Solid materials are very versatile and give tremendous options to fit your goals. 

Fabric Materials

A fabric material is most commonly used in light fixtures such as lamps or sconces. The materials can vary in style and design, but are typically of a thicker material. Fabric material shades are safe overall ,but do have an increased chance of catching on fire if the lamp overheats or has a spark from the bulb or wiring. With adequate circulation there is a very minor chance of this occurring, but it is a possibility. Overall, fabric lampshades are very inexpensive and can offer you a great way to mix up your style. They also provide you a way to filter your light and even alter the color of the light to fit the mood that you are trying to achieve. 

When it comes down to it, the best thing to do is not use LED light bulbs inside of light fixtures. If you do use an LED light bulb inside of a fixture ensure that it is specifically rated for enclosed fixtures. If you are not one hundred percent sure of its rating do not take the risk. LED light bulbs are very versatile lights and can save your family a lot of money and energy. Making the switch is inexpensive and definitely worth it in the end. If you are looking for the perfect light fixture for your LED, follow these simple guidelines to make sure it is right for you and will keep you safe. 

Sources:

https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/save-electricity-and-fuel/lighting-choices-save-you-money/led-lighting

https://www.familyeducation.com/life/fire-prevention/household-fire-hazards

https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Top-fire-causes/Electrical/LED-lighting