Ambient : (adjective), Definition : Encompassing on all sides; surrounding; encircling. From Latin ambiens , “going around”‎.
What is ambient temperature, and why does it matter?
Thermal analysis* is an essential part of all LED fixture designs. And while it is important to make sure that the LED fixture is well designed to protect from internal overheating, one must also take a closer look at where the fixture is being installed.
The heat outside, in the air surrounding an LED fixture, can be hazardous to fixture survival, reduce light output and cause accelerated system decline.
An LED fixture with a driver, designed for a lifetime of over 100,000 hours at 38˚C/100˚F, if installed in a high ambient environment of 66˚C/150˚F can cause fixture driver failure in just a few months. And an extreme ambient temperature of 100˚C/212˚F can shut down most LED fixtures in less than an hour.
The determination of accurate ambient temperatures combine a balance of environmental factors (seasonal changes in temperatures), system design, fixture power sizes, and a range of usage conditions (day-only work schedules or 24x7 operation). One must first establish some baseline temperature conditions for the space around the LED fixture in the actual installation site. This means getting real-world temperature measurements. You must know how much the LED fixture will heat up if located in that temperature.
* Heat evaluation of LEDs and Drivers in a fixture.
How do you do that?
A good start is actually very low tech and cheap. A professional, non-contact digital Laser Infrared Temperature Gun (-50 ~ 550 ) with HD Backlit LCD display (shown left) can be purchased for under $20.00. You then stand on the floor and point it up to aim the laser at the ceiling where the LED fixture will be mounted. The ambient temperature will show up on the digital display of the gun.
What kinds of Environments need to be checked?
Wherever the Heat Is.
Paper Mills
Steel Plants

Most Commercial & Industrial customers do not know the ambient temperatures in different overhead areas of their plants. With LED fixtures, knowing this temperature data is an important requirement. 

Here are three suggestions.
First: Make the sure that Ambient Temperatures are part of the Specification Requirements when working through the design stages with Architects or Engineers.
Second: Walk through the building. Look up and see what lighting components are near hot ovens, furnaces or other heat-generating equipment.
Third: Use your temperature gun to make temperature measurements on the actual locations where the LED fixtures will be mounted.
Bill Nagengast, Lighting Engineer
Solas Ray Lighting
Holds over 20 patents in the lighting industry.
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