"it is definately not much more than 3A, or else the LEDs would burn out"
I wonder. They can probably take dobule the nominal current for a while, and BTW, put out considerably over 1000 lumens each while doing so.
This could be explained by looking at a few assumptions. Your battery voltage is probably actually more like 12.6 V or even a bit higher, at full charge, which will drive up both the current the LEDs draw and the resulting power. The I/V curve for these devices increases pretty sharply! And - the LEDs are in series, correct?
As Phil commented, power = heat, and is not dependent upon either voltage or current more than the other. In the case of the 100 kV at 20 mA load, what's the source? It could be that what you are driving with has limited current capbility, and the terminal voltage drops drastically under a 20 mA load. Otherwise, you would be dissipating 5 Megawatts!!
Naw, the power being dissipated IS the heat being given off. Remember that law of thermodynamics? Energy shall neither be created nor destroyed. Here elecrtrical energy (the power x the time it is applied to the resistor) is entirely converted to heat.
It's actually even less than that, and it's 90W of power handling. The Cree XM-L datasheet puts 2.5A at 3.25V. (12-(3.25*3))V^2/1Ohm=5W. 5W/9=1/2W per. Better get those resistors some airflow John. You got them wrapped in insulation or something?
@laserdudephil, thanks, but I generally, (except on DX), can only really buy stuff from stores, and constant current switching supplies arent exactly cheap or common. I just used resistors becasuse radioshack carries them for about $1 each.
As for the power dissipation of the resistors, they are sinking a lot more than 1.6W each, and it is definately not much more than 3A, or else the LEDs would burn out. Also, I'm not sure if heat is solely dependent on wattage, I believe current is generally more important (not sure though...) since high voltage at low current (estimated 100,000V@~20mA) should be about 2000W, but the resistor didn't break a sweat.
You didn't include a schematic of your light, so I had to infer from your math bit.
It appears that you are wiring the three 10W LEDs in series, and estimating 9.5V for the set, or ~3.2V each. That sounds correct, so far.
Powering that off of 12V, you need to drop (12 - 9.5) or 2.5V, as you showed.
Then, you place the LEDs in series with a power resistor, and switched 12V battery.
If all the above is true, then the (composite) resistor will see a 2.5V drop, and pass 2.5A. P=IE, for 6.25 Watts total dissipated, or ~1.6W per resistor.
If the 40W of resistor was getting to 200°C, then there it seems like must have been more than 3A in the circuit. If you were dissipating 40 Watts in 1 Ohm, then: P = I^2R, and I = sqrt(40), or 2 sqrt(10), or 6.3 Amps.
Thanks John, I've just checked it out. Did you notice that they only have line voltage drivers for them? Trust me on this, once you start playing with constant current switching power supplies, you'll never look back at those burning hot power hungry resistors and linear regulators. ...and in spite of what I said earlier, do take your time and get a proper BSEE from an accredited university. There are all too many people out there who would take advantage of your ingenuity to the detriment of your youth and education. Best, -Phil
Also, laserdudephil, I would recommend looking at DX.com, as they have some even higher power LEDs, one of them 150W. I'm actually looking to get one of those myself, to make a miniature spotlight. Problem is, I have to find some even stronger goggles first, and a way to keep it cool.
Thanks for all the feedback, I do have one question about engineering jobs and such though, specifically, what kind of jobs are there in building stuff, and what kind of college majors exist for jobs like that? I have recently started looking into colleges and such, and am not sure what to major in (I still have two years, of course, but it doesn't hurt to look ahead).
As for the debate over resistors, yes, more resistors means more power dissipated. It has to dissipate about 30-35W (2.5-3A@12V). Even though the LEDs drop the voltage, the ammout of power dissipated is still big, as when I had 40W resistors (4x10W), they got to about 200C, at which point it started melting the plastic around them. Also, yes, that does dissipate 40W. If you think about it, then it makes sense that the whole resistor block, be it 90W or 10W will always have 3A through it. Since each resistor (for the 4x20W configuration) will contain 1/2 of the ammount of resistive material between the two ends, each will recieve 1.5A@12V. If you put two in series, then each only needs to sink 1/2 the voltage. It is then 1.5A@6V, or 9W per resistor.
Anyway, thank you all for your support and suggestions about this, I really do appreciate it.
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