Switching to LED lights is a wise decision, as these light fixtures are known to produce the same light output years after installing them. This is why they’re widely used in residential and commercial applications, including schools and hospitals, where lights are turned on most of the time. But how long do LED lights last?
Over the years, LED lighting technology has improved drastically, making them a better and more energy-efficient option than traditional light bulbs. As a result, the expected lifespan of these bulbs increased, allowing users to worry less about replacing them.
Moreover, they don’t just stop working all of a sudden like incandescent bulbs. Instead, the light output gradually decreases, giving you as a user time to think of a replacement.
In this article, we’ll calculate the life expectancy of LED light bulbs and highlight the factors that can affect their life span. So, keep reading to learn more about this topic.
How Long Do LED Bulbs Last
The bulbs burning out or simply stopping to work is users’ most common issue with lighting fixtures. Luckily, LED lights excel in this arena as they don’t burn out the same way traditional lights do.
LED lights will live up to 10 years, with a life expectancy of 10,000 to 50,000 hours. But even after 100,000 hours of operation, these light bulbs will still emit light, even though it’s weaker.
This happens as the light emitting diode fails. Still, they would continue to use electric power and produce light output even towards the end of their life as long as they’re connected to the power supply. This is known as luminous decay.
LED manufacturers will often list the life expectancy in terms of years or hours. However, you should use discernment, as the actual life span depends on how often the light source will be used. Good quality LED bulbs are expected to last for up to 50,000 hours of use, outliving other light sources like metal halide, halogen, and incandescent bulbs.
This is good news for users, as other lighting fixtures are less expensive. However, in the long run, LED lights prove to be more cost-efficient, as you don’t have to worry about replacing them that often.
Nevertheless, the number indicated on the bulb isn’t a solid guarantee that your LED bulbs will last that long. However, it proves that 50% of the tested sample of bulbs were able to survive that long with no issues.
How is the Service Life of an LED Calculated?
LED manufacturers claim that LED fixtures will last up to 25 times longer than other traditional lighting sources. However, this differs from one application to another.
For example, when used at home, an LED light can last longer if it’s used in an area where the family doesn’t spend much of its time. On the other hand, outdoor LED lights will last less because they’re used all day long. The same happens when they’re used in a warehouse or hospital, where they can be turned on 24/7.
A simple way to calculate the average lifespan of your LED fixtures would be to calculate the average number of hours the lights are turned on per day.
For example, if you turn on your LED lights for 5 hours per day, that would be a total of 1825 hours per year. If the manufacturer mentioned that the LED bulb would last for 25,000 hours, this bulb would actually last for 13.6 years. However, the same bulb will only last for 5,7 years if it’s turned on for 12 hours per day.
LED Lifetime and the 70% Rule (L70)
The 70% Rule or L70 is the time the chips in the LED light bulb will take to produce 70% of its original light output. Most users won’t notice a difference in the performance of the light fixture until the bulb is operating at this value.
Older LED bulbs had a lower L70 value due to the yellowing of the clear epoxy material in the semiconducting electric element. However, with newer technology regarding improved heat sinking and temperature management, this problem was taken care of, and manufacturers were able to provide good quality LED bulbs that would last a lot longer.
Recently some LED bulbs have been marketed with a claim to last for 300,000 hours to L70. This means that a bulb used for 12 hours per day will be able to emit 70% of its light output after 68.4 years of operation.
This comes as a huge advantage of LED bulbs compared to other light sources, like halogens that last for 20,000 or incandescent light that lasts for only 1000 hours. Moreover, the slow dimming of the light is another advantage, as users won’t experience a sudden failure.
What are the Factors that Affect the Life of LED Bulbs
LED lights are considered one of the most significant achievements in the lighting industry. Yet, with their marvelous claims, a few factors will affect the actual life span of your LED fixtures.
LED bulbs contain heat-sensitive chips and heat sinks. Therefore, when exposed to temperatures higher than 85°C through continuous operation, the life expectancy of an LED bulb will decrease.
A heat sink is a beneficial technology that absorbs the heat energy from the LED luminaire and dissipates the heat into the ambient air. Buying an LED lighting fixture from a reliable source guarantees that you’ll have a functional heat sink that helps the bulb operate longer.
It’s true that LED bulbs are weather-tolerant, and this explains why they’re widely used in outdoor applications. However, the bulbs’ performance will be affected if they’re continuously subjected to intense heat. This is why it’s always recommended to install LED lights in locations where the air can adequately cool them and allow the heat to dissipate.
LED light fixtures need to be connected to a reliable power supply as this maximizes their light output and life expectancy. However, when operated above their recommended power requirements and at higher currents, these long-lasting light fixtures will last a lot less.
LED bulbs require a high-quality driver to control and regulate the voltage, so buying a well-built LED bulb with a reliable driver is highly recommended.
The LED chip is a semiconductor made of layers that allow the protons and electrons to flow freely, so the LED bulb can emit light. LED manufacturers are currently working to produce chips made of gallium nitride, which is highly resistant to heat.
LED bulbs come with tempting claims that suggest that they can last for years after other traditional lighting sources have failed. Yet, the life expectancy of these lighting fixtures depends on how long you’ll be using them and the conditions in which they operate.