Your LED Bulb May Not Last

Light bulb background
Light bulb background

I’m a penny pincher, so I didn’t want to shell out extra money for an LED bulb, but the packages assured me that they would last for years. I gave in and now my home is full of LED bulbs. I’ve noticed, though, that my bulbs haven’t been lasting years. I fact, I’ve had to change a few of them just 6 months after purchase.

I did some research and found that I’m not the only one with this problem. Many others have been posting their bad experiences with LEDs burnout online.

In 2014, a consumer group called Which? found that out of 230 bulbs they tested, 66 of those failed before the 10,000 hour mark, even though the manufacturer claimed that they would last 15,000 hours. last as long as the label claims. Many of those bulbs didn’t even last 6,000 hours. That’s not even a full year of use.

How do LEDs get their labeling?

In a nut shell, the US Department of Energy states that there is no current testing standard to back up claims of bulb longevity for LEDs. The technology keeps changing, and since the technology is new, it hasn’t been tested for as many years as most manufactures claim their bulbs will last.

Now, that’s not to say that bulb companies are making up what they put on their labels. No, there is a science to their labeling. According to the US Department of Energy, bulb longevity is a “statistical estimate of how long a product is expected to perform its intended functions under a specific set of environmental, electrical and mechanical conditions.” Currently, the Federal Trade Commission does not require verification of performance or lifetime claims that are put on LED labeling, though.

A bulb’s short life may be due to user error

Despite whether a label is correct or not, there are several things that may make an LED not last as long as it should, such as:

  • Exposure to the elements. Water can seep into a bulb and short it out. Most of the time this doesn’t happen, but a faulty seal can let moisture in.
  • Excessive wattage from the socket to the bulb. Have your home’s voltage checked to see if excessive voltage is going through your home’s wires.
  • Heavy vibrations, like an unbalanced ceiling fan, can shake loose parts inside of the bulb, leading to an untimely death.
  • Using a bulb with a dimmer when the bulb isn’t designed to dim can make a bulb flicker or even die out. Yes, not all LEDs can dim.

So what can consumers do?

Always save the UPC and receipts for your bulbs. If they don’t last the amount of time listed on the package, and you’re pretty sure its early death wasn’t your fault, Consumer Reports recommends sending the bulbs back to the manufacturer or retailer for a refund or replacement bulb.


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