Challenges and Considerations in LED PCB Design

Key Takeaways

  • LED PCB designs are different from other circuit board designs due to excess heat generation.

  • Thermal limitation is a core problem in LED PCB design.

  • LED component placement, thermal capabilities, capacitive coupling effects, and performance are accountable when measuring the quality of an LED circuit board.

 LED lighting systems

LED PCBs are the foundation of LED lighting systems

Modern residential and commercial lighting systems favor affordable and long-lasting lighting sources. LED is the preferred choice for housing, automotive, and outdoor lighting systems due to the output lumens and efficiency. LEDs are mounted on printed circuit boards with a power circuit incorporated on the board. LED PCB designs are different from other circuit board designs due to the tendency for excess heat generation in these types of boards. LED PCB design makes use of aluminum PCB material, heat sinks, and other structural materials to remove thermal energy from the lighting board. In this article, we will explore LED PCB design challenges, considerations, and types. 

Why Are LED PCBs Used?

LED PCBs are the foundation of LED lighting systems. LED light sources offer the following benefits:

  1. Compact size: The compact size of LEDs aids in applications such as computers, smartphones, automobiles, floodlights, and traffic lights. 

  2. Lower power consumption: Most residential lighting uses LED to save power. LED lights can bring power consumption down by about 80%.

  3. Longer lifespan: LEDs have 25 times more lifespan than traditional light sources. 

  4. Mercury-free: Traditional bulbs have a high environmental impact due to the presence of mercury and require special disposal procedures. LEDs are mercury-free, so they can be disposed of easily, with less environmental pollution compared to traditional lights. 

  5. Efficiency: Compared to incandescent light, LEDs produce less heat. The energy consumed by LED lights is utilized for lighting rather than heating. 

Traditional bulbs release around 90% of energy consumption in the form of heat. In LEDs, the heat dissipation corresponds to about 20% of the total energy consumption. However, even 20% heat generation poses a serious hazard to LED circuits. There are certain challenges that need to be addressed in LED PCB design. 

LED PCB Design Challenges

LED PCB designs must address the following challenges that are faced by LED lighting systems:

  1. Temperature: Heat generation in LED PCBs increases the temperature of the board. Without proper thermal management measures, high temperatures can severely impact the lifespan of LEDs as well as their color. 

  2. Lifespan: LEDs are well-known for their long lifespan. However, the temperature rise in LED circuits can bring down the lifespan. 

  3. Color of LED light: LEDs are used in applications for delivering particular colors. With the increase in temperature, color variations are observed in LED lights. 

Thermal limitation is a core problem that needs to be addressed in LED PCB design. In critical LED applications, careful temperature control needs to be implemented to ensure bright LED lights with a long lifespan and high efficiency. 

LED PCB Design Considerations

Among the LED PCB design considerations, there are a few aspects that need to be given top priority.

  1. Cost vs. quality: While designing LED PCB boards, cost and quality are major concerns and both are interdependent. LED component placement, thermal capabilities, capacitive coupling effects, and performance are accountable when measuring the quality of the LED circuit board. 

  2. Number of layers: The board can be manufactured as a single-sided, double-sided, or multilayered board. Depending on the application, the number of layers in the LED PCB board will vary. 

Types of LED PCBs

Common types of LED PCB designs include:

  1. Single-sided LED PCBs - For simple circuits, single-layer LED PCBs are best. 

  2. Double-sided LED PCBs - For better current handling capacity, heat dissipation, and stability, two-layer PCBs can be used. Double-sided PCBs can employ through-hole mounting as well as surface mount technology for placing components. 

  3. Multilayered LED PCBs - For constructing solid hardware LED lighting systems, multilayer PCBs are best. As the number of connections and circuit complexity increases, LED PCBs are designed as multilayer boards.  

LED PCB design should be carried out in such a way that the circuit board provides advantages such as compactness, light weight, dimensional stability, good thermal capabilities, affordable pricing, high efficiency, low power consumption, and good integration into interface assemblies. Cadence software can help you in designing LED circuits in single layer, double layer, or multilayer PCBs. Cadence provides circuit design software for designing LED circuits and can offer support for all applications, from small to industrial-scale projects.

Leading electronics providers rely on Cadence products to optimize power, space, and energy needs for a wide variety of market applications. If you’re looking to learn more about our innovative solutions, talk to our team of experts or subscribe to our YouTube channel.

About the Author

Cadence PCB solutions is a complete front to back design tool to enable fast and efficient product creation. Cadence enables users accurately shorten design cycles to hand off to manufacturing through modern, IPC-2581 industry standard.

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