How Long Do LED Lights Last? Breaking it Down

LED lights are marketed as long-lasting, energy-saving bulbs that we all need to use in our homes and businesses. But in reality, do the Light Emitting Diodes last as long as manufacturers say they do? 

LEDs are touted as bulbs that can have a lifespan of 5 years up to 20 years, and while this is a great way to justify their higher price points, is it also misleading? There is a lot more to consider when it comes to the actual life of an LED, here’s what you need to know. 

LED light bulbs compared to others 

The biggest draw that comes with installing LED bulbs is the long life span, but whilst 50,000 hours sound great, how do they actually compare with other light technologies? It is worth making the switch? 

The life cycles of other light bulbs are:

Compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) typically last 15,000 hours  

Halogen light bulbs will usually last 2,000 hours 

Incandescent light bulbs usually last 1,000 hours 

The price of LED light bulbs will be higher than other bulb options, however, the price has come down since they were first introduced. What’s more, when you consider how less often they’ll need to be replaced the price becomes justifiable, and they require less electricity compared with other light sources too. 

LED Bulbs over time 

It’s important to know that LED bulbs will suffer luminous decay over time, this means that your light output will decrease over a lifespan. 

LED bulbs typically have a high light output decay point which is called L70. This means that once your bulb has reached its expected lifespan, the output will dim as opposed to abruptly not working anymore.  

To put this into perspective, if a LED bulb has a rating of L70 with an expected lifespan of 50,000 hours, once the 50,000 hours have been used, the bulb will then only give out 70% of the original light. So if you have a bulb running at 10,000 lumens for 50,000 hours, after this time the light output will go down to 7,000 lumens. 

LED bulb usage per day 

LED bulbs will often give you expected lifespans in terms of hours in the description, but those hours will certainly diminish quite quickly if you’re using the bulbs in a business where the lights are on all day. 

You can judge the estimated lifespan a little better, based on these estimations of a bulb with an average lifespan of 25,000 hours. 

If you use the bulb for 4 hours a day, you can expect it to last 17.1 years  

If an LED bulb is on for 7 hours every day then it’s likely to last 9.7 years 

If LED bulbs run for 12 hours a day then they’ll likely last 5.7 years 

What affects the lifespan of an LED bulb? 

Not only will the usage of the bulb affect the lifespan of an LED bulb, but there are other factors that may affect how long it really lasts after being installed. These include: 

Surrounding temperatures - if there’s a lot of heat surrounding the bulb then this can shorten the lifespan. This is why it’s best not to mix LED bulbs with other lighting sources in a multi-bulb fixture. 

Electrical stress - You’ll shorten the lifespan of an LED bulb by running it on a higher current that is required. 

Dimmable fixtures - LED bulbs can be dimmable and still last well provided you buy a bulb that is dimmable and you install a dimmer switch that’s equipped for LED lighting. 

Heat sink - Ensure your LED bulb continues for its expected lifespan with a bulb that has a well-designed heat sink. 

How to extend the lifespan of your LED bulb 

  • Ensure they’re kept at a consistent temperature, if they’re exposed to intense heat or cold temperatures this can drastically cut their lifespan. 

  • Stick to the same bulbs in any one fixture, so if you have a multi-bulb light fitting then use all LED or all halogen etc, this consistent source will help to expand the lifespan of an LED bulb. 

  • Turn off the lights when you’re not using them. Leaving the lights on will, of course, shorten their lifespan, as well as increasing electricity costs. Sensor lights are a great way of doing this automatically. 

  • Ensure that your bulb is suited for the light fixture it’s used in, if the wattage or voltage ratings don’t match you could damage your circuits which reduces the lifespan of an LED bulb. 

  • Buy LED bulbs to suit your needs. LED bulbs come in a variety of forms, so ensure that you have the right one for your needs, such as prolonged use, dimmable options and frequent switching cycles.

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