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LED Lens – Helping to Increase the Illuminating Efficiency of the LED

08 Jan

A lens is an excellent accessory for improving the optical efficiency of light-emitting diodes (LEDs). The criterion for determining an LED lens depends on the application for which the LED is used; i.e., the (target) illuminating body. The characteristics (for example, beam) of the LED will also play a significant role. Lenses are generally manufactured from optically clear materials such as polycarbonate or glass, although colored materials are occasionally used to obtain particular results.  Lenses require curvature on one or both sides in order to achieve the proper effect.

How Lenses Work:

The curved surface of a lens refracts light — it bends light rays and forces them to focus at a different point.  (A full technical explanation of this phenomenon is beyond the scope of this article.)  There are two types of lenses, convex and concave, and each is used to produce a different result.  A convex lens will force light to converge and focus nearer to the lens; a concave lens will force light rays to diverge, or focus farther away from the lens.  This is the same principle as that of the human eye, which contains a lens that focuses light on the retina.

Lenses for Use with LEDs:

When a lens is used in association with an LED, it’s referred to as a secondary optic.  In general, LEDs emit light on a directional basis, and the angle of the beam falls between 15-120 degrees.  This focused use of light allows for greater efficiency when compared to traditional light sources that diffuse light over an entire area, as a lower amount of power can provide a similar amount of light.  However, to use LEDs in a light fixture, this 15-120 degree beam must be concentrated by use of secondary optics such as lenses or reflectors.

Improving Light Efficiency:

The lens position is crucial for optimum light efficiency.  If the lens is too high or low from the LED, then it will not focus light at the correct place.  Ensuring that the lens axis is properly aligned with respect to the LED is also vital to achieve the correct output.  Both measurements must be precisely determined and followed, or the lens will produce light that is fractured or too diffuse. A typical value for acceptable accuracy is within ±0.2 mm.

Panel Lenses:

Lenses can be mounted on panels for a variety of uses.  A traditional method is to mount the LED so it can stick out through a hole in the panel.  Other approaches to installing LEDS include such options as using glue to attach them to panels.  However, this method has a number of drawbacks:  the angle of the LED will be reduced; it is susceptible to issues relating to push-through; and electro-static discharges can pass through the LED and negatively affect components on the circuit board.

 

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