Jack Shandle writes:
LED-based lighting has many advantages including a small footprint, exceptionally long lifetimes and excellent lighting efficacy in lumens per watt. As LEDs have become popular, the challenges of designing with them have become more evident – with thermal management topping the list.
The challenge begins with the source itself. High-powered LEDs do not generate infrared radiation, which is the primary way competing light sources dissipate energy that is not visible light. Instead, 75 to 85 percent of energy used to drive an LED is converted to heat, compared to 42 percent for a typical linear fluorescent, 37 percent for a metal halide bulb, and only 19 percent for an incandescent light source. In LED-based system designs, this heat must be conducted from the LED die to heat sinks, the circuit board, housings or luminaires. In addition, power dissipation in other parts of the system, such as the power supply, must be minimized.
ABCs of LED Thermal Management - [Link]