I know regular light bulbs burn out, and so do CFLs. but do LED lights burn out too? And do they provide the same level of light throughout their life, or fade like incandescent lights do?
Answer from Green Energy Efficient Homes
LED lights do burn out, but at least in theory they should last far longer than incandescent or fluorescent lights. All lights are rated in terms of the average hours they can be left on before the bulb burns out. While the cheapest incandescent bulbs are rated around 500 hours, and better ones around 800-1,000 hours (and in many locations, standard incandescent light bulbs are not even available for sale any more), fluorescent lights are typically rated at 8,000 hours or ten times longer.
LED house lights meanwhile are supposed to last up to 100,000 hours, although the claims on product packaging are typically much lower, in the 25,000 to 50,000 range. I’m not sure if that is because manufacturers are hedging their bets, or if it’s that there are major quality problems that are bringing down the average, but still, even assuming a typical life of 25,000 hours, your LED lights would last you about 34 years if you use them an average of 2 hours a day. Even if you leave them on 24 hours a day, they should in theory last you almost three years!
One other consideration when considering how fast LED lights burn out is that an LED light bulb is made up of a number of individual Light Emitting Diodes. An individual LED may well last 100,000 hours, but it only takes one of those diodes failing before the bulb can be considered to no longer be working properly.
Compact fluorescent lights are typically rated at 8,000 hours but I have seen CFLs burn out much faster than that. One factor that leads to faster burnout of CFLs is their use in ceiling fixtures. CFLs are not ideally suited to ceiling fixtures, and tend to burn out faster there, for two reasons. First, they are meant to be positioned vertically, with the screw-on base either directly below or above the spiral coils of the bulb. In most ceiling fixtures they are positioned horizontally. Second,their life is shorted by heat, and an enclosed ceiling fixture will allow the heat to build up faster. The other thing I have noticed recently is that as prices have fallen in the last couple of yeras, we have seen a decrease in quality – you get what you pay for. I encourage you to always keep the receipts for any lights you buy – whether fluorescent, LED, or incandescent. If your incandescent or CFL or LED lights burn out well before their expected lifetime, you should take them back and demand a refund. The quality of newer bulb technologies will only improve if people fight back against cheap but poor quality products.
LED lights do burn out, but as I explain in my main LED house lights article, they typically start to fade long before that. In fact LED lights can dip down to less than 80% of their original brightness within 20,000 hours; the drop-off rate may be part of the reason manufacturers are toning down their claims of bulb life. I would submit that in almost every application, LED lights will fade to the point that they are no longer suited to their lighting task, and will be replaced for that reason before the burn out.
One bright point here is that LED lights are much less prone to wear and tear from frequent switching on and off, than are fluorescent lights, so if you do turn off lights whenever you leave a room (even if you might return very soon after), you’ll save energy while not damaging the lights.
I want to know more about LEDs. They are supposed to last 25,000 hours but many of them last not very long.
Can water burn out an led bulb?
Why on a 3x1w led spot does one LED burn out and not the others?
Why do some LEDs stay on for a short while even when the power is off?
Thanks for helping
All but one of your questions seem to point to one conclusion. The wiring in your house is somewhat antiquated. You more than likely are sharing more than one nominal ground on two or more circuits, or even common grounds with nominal. Your AC lines should each have their own separate common, the round hole on your outlet or circuit, or common, the large slit. The small slit carries the actual electricity. A long time ago, about around the inception of alternating current, it was common practice to connect grounds together. Another words; two or more circuits were tied together before the main breaker box or fuse box. This can lead to ground loops: weird anomalies such as lights staying on beyond being switched off and premature light failure. As for location in proximity of water : it all depends on the components that are connected to the LEDs. Another words is the fixture rated for that sort of application. Consult a qualified electrician.
Each circuit should have it’s own common, and nominal ground at the house mains raceway, and should have a main breaker box ground, not guide wire to pole. Usually separate or to water main.
The guide wire is only there to support the AC electricity lines to your home. It sounds to me like you have serious grouding issues on your home electrical system that could even be fatal. Please get this checked out as soon as possible.
Keeping it as simple as possible it sounds to me like you have an issue with your wiring. Some kind of grounding problem that is causing instability in the form of back surges and fluctuations in the electrical current. Hire an electrician.
I installed 10 new LED replacements for halogen down lighter spots 14 months ago in new luminaries. Each one has 15 LEDs and all but one are on the same circuit lighting our kitchen. The other one is on the under-cupboard lights circuit illuminating a dark corner and we often leave these lights on for a few ours at a time. So they’ve been used more than the main circuit.
Now, the one LED on the under-cupboard lighting circuit has suddenly gone really dull. It’s probably outputting about 15% of its original illumination. I can see that one of its 15 LEDs is dead though the others are OK but dim. I wonder if I can expect the remaining bulbs to go soon as well.
One bad bulb does not mean the entire batch are bad, but it does give you an inkling about the quality control of the manufacturer. There are many LED bulb manufacturers out there and the quality runs the full range.
I originally installed a no-name LED bulb in my dining room and they worked well but the lighting level was far below what was advertised on the bulb packaging. My wife complained constantly about not being able to see at the dining room table. Then I replaced them with Philips LED light bulbs, along with those in the kitchen (MR16 for both DR and kitchen) and the living room (PAR20). I went for natural daylight color temperature and they have worked wonderfully. My wife didn’t even notice I’d replaced them until I asked her a week or so after installation if she thought the lighting was okay.
If you use a dimmer switch, you need to replace it with one compatible with the particular LEDs you’re using. It’s possible that extended use of an incompatible dimmer switch can damage the LED bulbs.
Finally remember that the boast of 100,000 hours of bulb life is a best case scenario. On the other hand 14 months is an awfully short time for an LED light to burn out – even if it were on 24 hours a day you’ve barely hit the 10,000 hour mark. You might try contacting the manufacturer by their 800 number and complain – often they will send you a replacement to keep you happy.
I do hope you will be able to help me.
I get a cherry blossom tree light for my daughter. It is had 4 colours on it, all LED. When we switch it on it all was working fine. Then we plug it in to power and left it on for a couple of hours. In our return only green light was on, but all others doesn’t work. Now, when we switching on the lamp, all lights coming up – only green very bright, all others lights is coming up to, but not to bright. In a second they all fading off. Only green light stays nice and bright.
Would you be able to tell me if it is something with a cable or there problem with a Led lights? I can not have another one like that, as they out of stock. My daughter loves them and I would love to make it work.
Thank you very much for your help.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
All the very best wishes.
I’m not an expert on what can go wrong with these lights, but it sounds like something is shorting out and directing too much current to the green light and drawing current away from the other colors. If one of the green lights looks different than the others – brighter, or gets hotter – you could try to replace that, but I don’t really know if it will help. Good luck!
Thank you Robin.
Will try to check all connection first. If it help will be good, if not will go to electrician.
Thank you a lot for replay.
Will LEDs burn less hot?
My dining room chandelier lets off too much heat. Thinking of switching to LED.
LEDs produce far less heat than incandescent or fluorescent bulbs. Incandescent bulbs convert about 10% of the electricity they use into light; the rest becomes heat, LEDs convert most of their electricity into light, which is why it takes far fewer watts to produce a given light output from an LED than from an incandescent bulb. Fluorescent bulbs are somewhere between incandescent and LED in terms of efficiency and heat output.
LED bulbs DO burn out! I like LED bulbs and am replacing my compact fluorescent bulbs. But thus far, I’ve had 3 or 4 fail in the last year. It IS possible that those LED bulbs were cheap off-brand ones I bought at Menard’s. The problem is, many do not have brand name on the bulb itself, so it’s difficult to tell.
It really depends on the brand and the quality of that brand. I had halogen lights throughout my ground floor, and the bulbs that came with the contractor-grade pot lights failed pretty early on – the first one burnt out after perhaps six months, and another would burn out every month or so (out of about 24 lights total). I moved to Phillips LED lights over a year ago and none of them has burnt out. They are on LED-compatible dimmer switches. I’ve seen plenty of no-name LED lights burn out but so far these ones are doing well. (If you click the Phillips link you’ll see a wide selection of Phillips bulbs on Amazon, and what’s impressive is the consistently high reviews they get – mostly 4.5 to 5 stars.)
If you think about it, cheap off-brands are counting on the fact that you can’t easily figure out, when one fails, where you got it or what the warranty is, so they can cut the cost by cutting the quality. It’s worth paying extra for a top brand that stands behind its product. I once had a CFL fail on a Phillips circular CFL (a very ugly bulb for a kitchen table lamp, but back in those days that’s what you had to do to save energy), and I phoned them and that same day they put a replacement bulb in the mail. As they say, you get what you pay for.
When my LED light goes out will I need to replace the entire fixture? I am considering replacing all outdoor lighting with LED fixtures
If the LED light that goes out is part of a string of bulbs, for example, or is otherwise not easily removed and replaced, then you would need to replace the entire fixture. But if each bulb can be individually removed and replaced, no need to replace the whole fixture – different bulbs from different manufacturers should be able to co-exist.
It’s likely the LEDs are not burning out. Keep in mind each bulb has a power supply that must convert AC mains power to DC voltage. So while it may be true that the LED can last 25k hours the power supply necessary to power the LED likely does not last nearly as long. The power supply gets very hot (yes even in LED bulbs) and heat kills electronic components. If a car engine will consistently run for 250k miles but the transmission fails after 50k miles then it doesn’t really matter how robust the engine is, so take the 25k hours lifespan with a grain of salt.
I wonder what happens if I leave led desk lamp on for 10 days, am I risking catching fire?
No, there should be no risk of it catching fire regardless of how long you leave it on.
I leave my led light on above my kitchen sink 24/7. It’s an enclosed ballast, and very small. It never gets hot, and so far this led bulb has lasted for 6 months and is still shining on.
I have one LED downlight that I installed 6mths ago. It was working fine but since 2 weeks ago it always goes off itself after a few minutes switch on. How can I repair it on my own?
The simple answer is, you can’t easily fix an LED light bulb yourself when it stops working, whether altogether or a few minutes after each time you turn it on. The only suggestion I have is to try screwing the bulb in a little tighter, that occasionally helps.
I advise anyone buying LED bulbs to keep the receipt for them as well as the part of the packaging that states their expected lifetime (and warranty if any). That way when one stops working you can contact the retailer, and/or manufacturer, and usually get part or all of your money back or a free replacement.
Surprised many of the reviewed items don’t include lux figures.
Some LEDs are really crappy.
Nothing like having a LED item that looks great and barely illuminates.
Hi! Great article! I was wondering if you could provide some insight for me. How does this apply to Christmas led lights? We replaced our Christmas tree and mantel lights with LED lights and I’m concerned about them dimming. My husband insists on leaving them on all the time and I worry that they will gradually dim and lose their effect. And I know he won’t change them until they completely burn out. How many hours would you say LED Christmas bulbs get before dimming? Thanks in advance for your time!!
I haven’t noticed my LED Christmas lights dimming but they’re only on half the time, for about 3 months a year, and I’ve only had them 3-4 years.
LED lights are supposed to have a 100,000 hour life but realistically mass-produced Christmas lights are going to have quality issues, and some of those lights will burn out sooner. I bought one string of lights that died within a day of purchase – the entire string because of one bulb. I wouldn’t worry about whether leaving them on longer will burn them out sooner, but an easy solution is to get an electric timer and put the lights on that.
We will gone for a month. Can we leave our LED lamp on for a month with our fire hazard?
Yes it should be fine. If you can leave the LED lamp on for an hour without it starting a fire, you can for a month.
I was having an weird thing going on with led bulbs in our bathroom, there are (was) two pendant lights and when you first hit the switch both would come on and stay on for sometimes a long time then one light would go out and may come back on after a bit and the other would do the same so the odd time both would be out. My wife is in wheelchair and one time she hit the door frame and the lights flickered so first thing I checked was the switches, visually they looked fine but when I pulled one out found that there was hardly any spare wire and one mar connector fell off. There was a second marr connector with 4 wires in it and again if I touched it it fell off so I put new connectors on and still acted up the same. Checked connections at the ceiling and they looked fine except there were four wires up there when I expected only the one from the switch, what they are for I have no idea. The light fixture was old and dated looking so I took them down and put up a single pendant fixture that I had been using downstairs for a long time and my brother in law who was helping put one of the led bulbs from the old fixture back in even though I told him to get new ones. Anyways the same thing was happening last night again. Went to bed and first thing this morning asked if he put a new bulb in and he said no just reused the old one so I put a new bulb in and so far works fine. I know that LED’s over time would fade but going on and off was a new one. Again it might be something on the board inside or the power supply acting up. Have you seen that happen before? Old bulbs were Sylvania so not really an off brand or something. Not sure how long we have had them but at least 3 years I would think.
I have experienced this a couple of times. The first time was with the lights in my range hood, which are small JC-type bulbs with the two pointed prongs for the current. Putting one new LED and one old incandescent bulb worked fine, but two LED bulbs the light became dim and flickered. The second time was on the three-way light in my hallway, which has unusual switches both upstairs and down; when I put two LEDs in, they flickered continuously, but with one LED and one fluorescent this problem doesn’t occur (although the light turns itself on sometimes with no warning).
Dimmer switches are another thing that can affect LED performance. And low quality knock-off LEDs are another source of trouble (the LEDs I bought for the range hood were a brand I’d never heard of).
In reply to Denis: Many home air conditioning units use double throw breaker box switches. This is because the unit requires 240 volts instead of 120. If one side of the circuit trips the breaker the other is shut down also. The wire is 3 conducter. The white wire which serves as the nominal ground serves as an extra live wire feed which doubles the total current. 120×2=240 thus the current is doubled and the common ground serves as the nominal ground, the bare copper wire. Problem is on older homes and contractors looking to cut corners, separate individual circuits on separate breaker box switches were made to share the same nominal ground. In older homes there was no common ground, only two wires. Problem is when two or more separate breaker box house main or sub box switches circuits are tied into the same feed nominal ground, when a breaker trips the other circuits can back feed into the shut down circuit defeating the purpose of the breaker box switches to begin with. Even if such an event should occur or not, such faulty wiring could cause fluctuations in the household current and sudden power surges. These type of circuits could also lead to weird anomalies such as things taking longer to shut off, premature death of electronic equipment and lights. In the worst case scenario your main breaker or fuse box is not properly grounded. Any of these problematic circuits could be life threatening in the form of electricution or fire. Why people would have taken so long to answer your question, I have no idea. Maybe they thought you was joking.