Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) have progressed in recent years from emitting indicator level lighting to emitting enough light for illumination applications. This has opened a new field for LED applications, resulting in significant advantages over conventional light sources and creating some application challenges unique to LEDs. Conventional lighting methods provide little guidance for LED thermal problems since these usually involve a very high temperature source, such as a filament or an arc, and radiant heat transfer dissipates the thermal energy. LED junction temperatures are limited to much lower values and hence the heat transfer system cannot depend upon radiant energy transfer. This means the cooling methods for lighting now shift from primarily radiation to conduction and natural convection, and this paradigm shift lighting designers must recognize when moving to LEDs. In this paper, the development of a LED-based spot module heat sink in a free convective cooling system is discussed. The rationale for choosing a cylindrical tube, longitudinal fin (CTLF) heat sink is shown, as is the performance of five different configurations of the heat sink in various orientations. The requirement for using heat sinks in various orientations comes from lighting applications, where the light may be installed in various directions, such as vertical up, vertical down, horizontal, or at almost any other angle. Heat sink test results are plotted for Nussult number versus standard and modified channel Rayleigh number, showing a similar correlation to the parallel plate heat sinks investigated first by Elenbaas. A different correlation for the isolated-plate limit section is proposed for CTLF heat sinks, as well as a proposed area of operation on these Nu-Ra curves for orientation-insensitive heat sinks. Finally, explanations for the different levels of sensitivities observed in different areas of the Nu-Ra curves are offered.

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