Any LED flashlight enthusiast who does a little research online will probably come across the term “heat sink” at some point. While this isn’t usually the first feature people consider when shopping for LED flashlights (lumens, anyone?), a good heat sink is actually a pretty important component of a quality LED flashlight.
A heat sink is typically a small aluminum, brass or copper pedestal that goes underneath the LED bulbs in your flashlight. In LED flashlights, light output is directly tied to the heat sink’s ability to dissipate heat. Here’s a look at what it does:
The Importance of Heat Dissipation
Although LED bulbs are highly efficient and produce far less heat than their incandescent counterparts, they do still produce it. The difference is that LED lights are much more sensitive to high temperatures, which can shorten their lifespan and even decrease their brightness within an LED flashlight.
In general, the more lumens an LED flashlight has, the more heat it produces. But the more heat it produces, the dimmer the light becomes. Thus, in order to take full advantage of an LED flashlight’s capabilities, there must be a way to dissipate the heat it generates. That’s where the heat sink comes in.
What Makes a Quality Heat Sink
The more lumens a flashlight has, the bigger the heat sink’s job is – and some are better than others. For example, the size and shape of a heat sink are both important factors in how well it will perform.
Surface area. The more light output an LED flashlight has, the more surface area the heat sink needs in order to draw away the heat. This factor increases when you are dealing with LED flashlights that have multiple LEDs.
Shape. The shape of the heat sink paneling also influences heat dissipation. Flat and thin heat sinks are less efficient than curved and ventilated designs. For example, our proprietary cyclone heat sink system is cone-shaped, which helps mix the heat with cool air and send it flowing out of the LED flashlight (versus leaving it to slowly dissipate).
A quality heat sink not only results in a more powerful beam, but it also extends the life of your LED flashlight. Rather than buying cheaper LED flashlights that wear out quickly because of their poor heat sinks, it’s often more cost-effective to invest in a model that’s more efficient at dissipating heat.