Technology has rapidly advanced in the past decade or two, and the average home now boasts a plethora of smart devices and tools. One common household item that has gotten an upgrade is the lightbulb. Smart bulbs give you more control over your lighting and are more efficient saving you energy. However, you may wonder if this comes at a cost? Are smart bulbs a fire hazard?
Smart bulbs pose less of a fire risk than normal bulbs because LED bulbs are far more efficient and put off less heat. Although there is little risk of a smart bulb causing a fire due to the heat they put off, a smart bulb can be a fire hazard if incorrectly installed or used with exposed wires.
A significant portion of house fires is caused by lighting and lighting fixtures. It makes sense to be concerned about the risk a smart bulb might pose to your home. That’s why you need to be informed. This article will tell you everything you need to know about smart bulbs as fire hazards and how to mitigate your risk.
- Why Are Light Bulbs a Fire Hazard in the First Place?
- Why Are LED Light Bulbs Safer?
- What Does This Mean for Smart Bulbs?
Are Smart Bulbs a Fire Hazard?
When compared to other light bulbs smart bulbs are much less of a fire hazard. All smart bulbs are LEDs, and LEDs have a much lower fire risk than traditional incandescent or even CFL (compact fluorescent lightbulb) bulbs. Why?
Why Are Light Bulbs a Fire Hazard in the First Place?
Many people don’t realize that the basic light bulb in your floor or table lamp can be a serious fire hazard. As traditional bulbs give off light, they also heat up. A 100-watt incandescent lightbulb can have a surface temperature of between 150 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, which is more than enough to set many materials on fire.
CFL bulbs are better, but they can still be substantially hot with surface temperatures ranging from 100 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit in a 100-watt bulb.
Keep in mind that the wattage will affect how much energy, and thus how much heat, a light bulb emits. A 100-watt bulb will burn hotter than a 50-watt bulb.
LED bulbs on the other hand do not produce these levels of heat which can set nearby objects ablaze. Let’s take a closer look at why.
Why Are LED Light Bulbs Safer?
Incandescent light bulbs create light through a glowing filament. The energy that lights the filament produces heat at the same time. This is why traditional bulbs are so hot to the touch.
LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, produce light through, as the name implies, diodes. The diodes produce light through a flow of electrons that create photons. Photons are visible light, but they do not give off much heat. LEDs thus put off much less heat.
The process of converting energy from one form to another (electrical to light in this case) always results in some heat loss, but LEDs pose so much less fire risk because they are so much more efficient than other bulbs.
An LED bulb converts most of its energy directly to light, while other bulbs lose far more energy conversion to heat rather than light.
Another reason LEDs are less of a fire hazard is again because of their efficiency. Remember that higher wattage means more power and more heat. Because LEDs are so effective, they can give off the same amount of light at a far lower wattage than other bulbs. An LED requires only about 10 watts to generate the small light as a 50-watt incandescent bulb.
The heat that LED lights do create is also handled more effectively. The heat from an LED stays internal while other types of light bulbs emit their heat, which can cause nearby flammable materials to alight. LED bulbs also have a heat sink in their base which pulls any heat that is produced away from the source.
What Does This Mean for Smart Bulbs?
The great news is that all smart bulbs are LEDs. A smart bulb may still be warm to the touch, but it will not reach the scorching temperatures that can catch curtains and other flammables on fire if accidental contact occurs.
Does This Mean that Smart Bulbs Do Not Pose Any Fire Risk?
Because they are LEDs, smart bulbs are not likely to catch on fire because of the heat they give off. However, that does not mean that smart bulbs are completely free of any fire risk. There are other reasons besides heat emission that lighting fixtures can be a potential source of fires.
The lightbulb itself is not the only thing that can cause a fire. Bad wiring can be just as hazardous or even more dangerous than the bulb itself.
Exposed wiring or broken wires can cause a fire no matter how safe your bulb is. You can have an electrician check your wiring if you believe there may be a fault. If you have a problem with mice then you should check your wires since these pests may chew on them and create a danger.
Besides the wires, other things can cause even a smart bulb to start a fire. Here are some common installation mistakes that can lead to a fire.
- Installing a larger watt bulb than a socket is rated for
- Putting a bulb in a place that reaches extreme temperatures such as an attic or a basement
- Overloading an electrical outlet
- Placing your bulb near a highly flammable object
How Can I Ensure that My Smart Bulbs Are Safe?
Even though there is some fire risk involved with smart bulbs, there is no reason to panic. Regular light bulbs actually pose a higher risk, and smart bulbs tend to only be a large fire risk when combined with a faulty system or installed incorrectly.
There are some simple steps you can take to make sure your smart bulbs pose the smallest fire hazard possible.
- Follow the instructions that come with your bulb. Improper installation leads to fire risk, and the best way to ensure that things are installed properly is to follow the manufacturer’s suggestions. In particular, you want to look at the wattage of the bulb, the voltage the bulb can handle, and whether it is approved for being used in enclosed fixtures.
- Do not assume your smart bulbs will not overheat. We have spent a good bit of time explaining why LEDs, and thus smart bulbs, give off so much less heat than other bulbs. This does not make them a lot safer, but this is no reason to be careless. Do not leave your LEDs on for extremely long periods, and do not place them next to flammable objects.
- Be safe with the other electrical components to which your smart bulb is attached. Remember that the bulb is not the only cause of fires started by lighting fixtures. You should also check wires and ensure that the electrical outlet is never overloaded by too many items.
Home Streamliner’s Take
In truth, all light bulbs have a degree of fire risk because they all rely on electricity and produce heat. However, in comparison, smart bulbs have a much lower risk than basic bulbs because they are LEDs.
Keeping your home safe from fire with smart bulbs does not have to be challenging. Simply follow the guidelines for your lighting fixture and bulb to ensure compatibility and remember to cut your bulbs off! You can enjoy all the technological savvy of smart bulbs without worrying about fire!
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