© Illustration | Gernot Walter

Small lights with big claims

Small, energy-saving and simply good: Anybody who wants to be taken seri­ously in the lighting tech­nology field is switching to LEDs. With proper cooling, this also works long-term

LED tech­nology is fully in line with the trend right now. We encounter little light-emit­ting diodes more and more in daily life. For good reason: LEDs are signif­i­cantly more energy-effi­cient than light­bulbs or halogen lamps – even in energy-saving form – and even have longer service life. More­over, they have an attrac­tive appear­ance and can be inte­grated into modern designs in many ways due to their small size. But where there is light, there is not just shadow, but also heat. In order to dissi­pate this heat, manu­fac­turers gener­ally use cooling elements made of aluminium. “At high light inten­sity this strictly passive cooling quickly reaches its limits,” explains Jochen Wolber, Export sales Manager Fans at ebm-papst St. Georgen.

A view beneath the lamp­shade: the Philips street lights

If the lamp is to shine more brightly, the cooling element also needs be enlarged to provide more capacity. “But for many users, this is out of the ques­tion,” said Wolber. After all, not only the design would be extremely limited by this, but the weight of a lamp would increase massively – both an absolute criteria for elim­i­na­tion for many appli­ca­tions. As it was in the case of Philips: the elec­tronics firm is currently upgrading existing street lights throughout Europe to LED tech­nology as part of a retrofit. In the existing hous­ings of the lanterns, there are now new insides. The dimen­sions must not change at all. There­fore, the product designers decided in favour of working together on an active cooling variant with ebm-papst: a small fan dissi­pates the addi­tional heat, and the cooling element retains its compact size.

The core prin­ciple is well known, as cooling computer hard­ware func­tions in this manner. “That, however, didn’t help us much”, Wolber admits. “After all, these appli­ca­tions don’t have an espe­cially reli­able repu­ta­tion on the market due to the exis­tence of many cheap prod­ucts.” In terms of dura­bility above all, poten­tial customers must first be convinced of the quality of ebm-papst prod­ucts. But even the 90,000 hour service life of the street lamps required by Philips is fulfilled without prob­lems by the axial fan imple­mented – even in the open air.

The LEDs in the indus­trial lamp for Posco

It affects indus­trial lamps even more. The Korean steel giant Posco hangs these in its plants. The dust whirling around does not just ensure that the LEDs with 17,000 lumens at approx­i­mately 230 watts have to light extremely brightly. Further­more, the dust has partly magnetic prop­er­ties and would quickly attack the elec­tronics and bear­ings of the venti­la­tion system without the neces­sary coat­ings. Working together with ebm-papst, the devel­opers inte­grated a func­tion in the fan to reverse the direc­tion of rota­tion. If required the air flow could clean an inte­grated dust filter. “Such customized devel­op­ments are not an excep­tion for LED tech­nology, but rather the rule,” explaines Wolber. “We can’t simply reach in the drawer and pull out the finished fan.”

Spots for art &. co.

Even appli­ca­tions that at first glance appear simple bring their own chal­lenges. A series of spots from light specialist Zumtobel hang in museums and retail stores, for example. The ambi­ence is, of course, much easier to cope with. However, these lamps have an overall round shape – the tradi­tional square-cut fan housing thus had to be adapted to this form.

The variety of these appli­ca­tions shows how wide the field of appli­ca­tions for LEDs is. “And we find ourselves just at the begin­ning of the devel­op­ment,” empha­sised Wolber. In his opinion, the market will grow even more signif­i­cantly if the trend of energy-saving lighting spreads world-wide. ebm-papst esti­mates the growth in the coming years will be about 35 percent.

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Axial compact fans

High air performance with moderate pressure build-up