LED Bulb real-world life

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FollowspotDude
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LED Bulb real-world life

I’m curious… how reliable have LED bulbs been for all of you?

I’ve been using LED bulbs since they first became available. Overall, I like them. However, real life expectancy has often fallen short from the rated/box label life expectancy, sometimes by a large margin.

I’ve had failures from Feit, Cree, Philips, and a few others. Age does seem to make a difference, but it’s different by brand. With Feit I’ve seen a lot of infant mortality, wherein the bulb dies within the first 60 days. I’ve had up to an 80% failure rate on these so I stopped buying them.

I have some ancient, flicker-y LED bulbs which have been in use every night for 15+ years and they’re still going.

At the same time, I had plenty of failures of the original Cree bulbs (metal heatsink + glass/rubber globe). Usually when these failed only about half the LEDs went out or became flicker-y. Cree’s plastic ventilated models were more reliable but still had failures. Their recent ones have been quite reliable so far.

With Philips, I find their oldest LED bulbs to be the least reliable, with their newer ones being solid.

In contrast, with CFLs, I find the older (15+ year old) bulbs were solid, whereas the stuff produced today is absolute junk and doesn’t ever come close to reaching the rated life.

AmbientSix
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It’s the drivers that are complete garbage I think. Even the official Cree bulbs fail on me. Auto manufacturers seem to have the same problems, too. You can always tell a Cadillac or Merc in the distance. One light is always failed. And if the remaining light dances around you know it’s a Cadillac. They chose a completely idiotic PWM frequency that makes the light appear to bounce around like crazy as the bumper shakes on a smooth highway. I bet all the budget flashlight drivers are leagues more reliable to be honest.

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cetary
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The Archipelago filament lamps I’ve been running for years in open fixtures have been very reliable. Their only failing was some of the filaments breaking off during house moves which isn’t a fault of the bulb. The TCP’s I’ve been using in open fixtures in my bathroom have been reliable for several years. I also purchased three Sacto lamps for a friend’s bathroom. Those are running in semi-enclosed fittings and have been reliable for over the past half year.

Vegas LED Fan
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I bought all of my bulbs from China because I don’t like the A19 design used here for E27 and candelabra base bulbs. Many have been in use for 3 years now and I have had just one fail. The replacement was about 3 bucks so it wasn’t a big loss.

wle
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I use a lot of cheap white LEDs and I would say about 10% of them fail in a year or two
either they flicker intermittently, or just go dark

That is a high fail rate but then they only cost about $1
some i got [sunbeam] for 50 cents, those fail about 30% of the time

wle

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thefreeman
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Zero failure here, the oldest led bulbs must be 10 or so years old, most of the house has been on led bulbs since 6~7 years ago. Must be around 40 lights total.

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Are you having the same issues with your light? Read on.

LED bulbs may seem like the perfect lighting solution for all lighting needs, but in some circumstances it is very important to know what brightness level LED bulbs will actually provide. At its core, an LED bulb is a light source that provides a constant amount of light as opposed to a real-time light source. This means that you’ll get a brighter and longer lasting light than if you had a genuine light bulb. For example, say you needed to turn on your kitchen lights only once a day. Blushing

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Budda
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so far so good with philips HUE

All my reviews, in italian and english, here: Lumenreviews.com

Scallywag
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Had good luck with Philips. Own a ton of Duracell branded stuff, but only because I always got it dirt cheap with 25,000 hour ratings and five year wareanties. Have had to use the wareanties a fair bit on the newer stuff. For failures with the older stuff, I only had DOAs or eventually killed a porch lamp after 4 years – but that probably exceeded the 25k hour rating…

My Satcos have indeed been commercial grade and rock solid.

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Am having good experience with Costco-sourced “high CRI” soft white dimmable Feit bulbs and floods. These are “budget bulbs” so my expectations were set accordinly.

Bought a new home ~ 3 years ago and swapped out all the “incan” and CFL lighting in ceilings, outdoors and stand-alone lamps with the LEDs. I know this is a short-term result but have enjoyed only 2 failed bulbs and consistently good/uniform lighting hues.

So far, expectations exceeded.

There will always be more darkness than I have lights.

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I’ve had excellent luck with Philips & Sylvania. But a lot of this rests on the model & supplier. There are fakes out there.

Generally, I’ve had very mixed luck with Chinese branded LED bulbs. I’ve bought a few off of Amazon. Life expectancy has generally been LOWER than incandescent! Makes no sense to me. So with one dead LED bulb, I busted it open… and found the most shoddy example of workmanship inside, disguised by a decent quality shell. A sham. Screw ‘em.

So I stick with trusted brand names AND from trusted sources. One “value” purchase I did make was of Sylvania LED bulbs from the dollar store. $1.25 each. Nice warm tint and no visible PWM. I’ve been using one on a timer, so my apt has light at various times while I’m out in the evenings or weekends. Two years now and the bulb is still working just fine. I bought 3 “high hat” Philips LED bulbs with a nice warm tint off of Amazon. Had them for 4 years at this point and they’re still holding up. Dimming function works great & they can tolerate very low settings before cutting off.

BTW, thanks for the tip on Feit. I’ve seen that brand at Loew’s Hardware. Will avoid it.

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I used to work in electric supply, so my house was almost all CFL’s, where they fit. Now I have almost everything converted to LED. I will only buy name brands if possible, and only 2700 to 3000K color. I guess I’ve lucked out, because all the Feit G25 and G40 I have in my bath, fan lights, and chandeliers have been running well for at least 5 years now. The only caveat is they are all on dimmers, and none are running full tilt.

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Feit – one box of 4 all failed within a couple months. Feit sent a box of replacements. They’ve been running fine for the past year or two.

Philips – a pair of their cheapest bulbs from 5 years ago, used in enclosed fixtures, which I’m not sure if they were rated for. These slowly dimmed over the course of 3-4 years to the point they were visibly dimmer than other lights, so I replaced them. These were in our kitchen, and because of limited window light there but regular occupancy, they have a lot of hours. I’m sure they were well over 5,000 hours, and might have been over 10,000 hours. That’s short for LED’s, but on par with CFL’s.

Hyperikon – Most of the bulbs out of a box of 4 will occasionally have a brief flicker. It is a minor annoyance, so I haven’t bothered asking if they can be replaced under warranty.

I’ve got a variety of other LED’s that have been in use for in some cases close to a decade without issues.

Edited to add – the first two LED bulbs I bought are still working. The very first is in a box of spares in the garage, because it is very directional and only 40W equivalent. The second, a Utilitech I bought at Lowes in 2013 (which I also saw sold under the Feit name) is still in a fixture in the guest bathroom, having been demoted from the front porch light (which was often all day on during the winter so we could see when coming home from work) after years of use in favor of a high CRI bulb.

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xevious wrote:
Dimming function works great & they can tolerate very low settings before cutting off.

For me, this has been highly dependent on the dimmer switch itself. I started by of course eliminating old-style dimmer switches and replacing them all with new, LED-compatible dimmer switches. Double checked all the ratings and wattages and made sure I was meeting all the specs everywhere. I’ve got one model that works fantastic. It gets low enough that the moonlights on my flashlights are useful. I have another dimmer, of a different style, by the same brand. It does alright on one switch with 8 BR30-style LED bulbs, but another switch with only one does terribly. And all the others I’ve tried aren’t even worth a mention.

I’ve mostly had good experience with Feit. The early CREE bulbs in particular were among the worst I ever dealt with. In general, I’ve noticed that the majority of failures I’ve dealt with (and this includes replacing bulbs under warranty when I worked somewhere that sold them) were, to borrow some terms used earlier in the thread, “infant mortality” or “stillborn”. But certainly a lot of brands out there have the cheapest possible driver components.

At one point I was discussing with a guy on the commercial sales end, and he said it had been figured out how to make crappy LED bulbs cheaper than incandescents (or nearly so), so “big box stores” were buying the largest quantities they could and pushing them just on the energy savings front. Never mind that you’d be lucky to get 1000 hours out of the drivers, couldn’t dim them, visible flicker (like CFL), audible hum, horrible tints, etc.

So far I’ve only bought bulbs rated for 25,000 hours or more. A couple actual commercial SATCO bulbs rated at 50,000. My local electric utility has been very generous with incentives to swap.

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xevious
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Scallywag wrote:
xevious wrote:
Dimming function works great & they can tolerate very low settings before cutting off.

For me, this has been highly dependent on the dimmer switch itself. I started by of course eliminating old-style dimmer switches and replacing them all with new, LED-compatible dimmer switches. Double checked all the ratings and wattages and made sure I was meeting all the specs everywhere. I’ve got one model that works fantastic. It gets low enough that the moonlights on my flashlights are useful. I have another dimmer, of a different style, by the same brand. It does alright on one switch with 8 BR30-style LED bulbs, but another switch with only one does terribly. And all the others I’ve tried aren’t even worth a mention.


Interesting. I had no idea the dimmer switches can be different enough to present compatibility problems. I’m using old dimmer switches meant for incandescent and they’re working fine. But perhaps it was a matter of getting lucky. If they didn’t function right, I’d have very likely blamed the bulbs, not even thinking the dimmer could be at fault. Thanks.

I had stayed away from 120v LED bulbs for in-house fixtures for a long time, because I absolutely could not stand the emitter tints that were offered. It seems that the LED industry finally caught up. Some of the warmer bulbs are excellent. The Philips BR30 compatible LED bulbs I’m using are rated at 2700K.

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I started looking into LED bulbs ten years ago and i’m still not sure what’s good or not.

The first bulbs i bought in a hardware shop where expensive, had crappy tint, flickering, low output and would fail in a matter of month with low usage.

Then i tried quite a few chinese bulbs. Some are really bad and i feel lucky i did not create any disaster with them. Some have been running good for years. I still buy some higher power ones for special appliances and i pay the price, but they still dont last very long.

I’ve had Ikea bulbs fail after a year with very moderate use – three of them almost in a row.

I have bulbs from so many sources i don’t usually remember where they come from. Overall the failure rate is impressive with cheap bulbs but sometime you can get lucky – the LED bulb lottery. You get what you pay for… but then how much are they supposed to cost and how accurate are the ratings on the package?

I started to install more expensive Philips GU10 lights a few month ago. Nice tint and high CRI. Time will tell.

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A while back I bought a pile (50? 80? lost count..) of GE LED bulbs. Most were “60W equivalent” 800 lumen 2700K A19 bulbs. https://www.gelighting.com/led-bulbs/e26/ge-led-soft-white-60w-replaceme... I got them at crazy 90% off sales at under $1 each, most around $0.72 or so (cheaper than incandescents!), instead of the regular price around $7 each. Some dimmable, most not.

I got a few of their more expensive “HD” bulbs too, which I thought must be mostly marketing, before I learned about high CRI LEDs. It made a small difference when compared back to back, but probably unnoticeable to most.

A couple of higher lumen (1200? 1600?) 5000K “daylight” bulbs went in the garage. It looks awful when moving from a 2700K environment, but the brightness and color temperature are actually kind of nice when working on something.

I also found some filament-style Philips candelabra “40W equivalent” dimmable 2700K (300 lumen, 4W, 40mA) bulbs with yellow tinted glass. They work well and have a pleasant soft glow. At around a dollar each in 3-packs at dollar stores, I cleaned them out.

The Philips work ok on a regular resistive dimmer in the kitchen, but the dimming is non-linear, and they don’t like low brightness, where they make a slight buzzing and sometimes flicker. But it’s much better than the GEs which buzz more loudly and strobe if dimmed.

One note is that they all say “not for use in totally enclosed or recessed luminaires”. That has kept me from replacing some incandescents, although I still risked some LEDs in a couple of enclosed locations.

If they last the 13 years they claim (15k hours, generous math of only 3 hours of use per day), I should be good for lighting for a couple of decades. Now I don’t know what to do with all those incandescents. We actually still had a case or two of spares before I went on this LED madness.

P.S. I just checked my invoice and we’ve had them 1.5 years. Wow time flies. None have died yet.

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xevious wrote:
Scallywag wrote:
xevious wrote:
Dimming function works great & they can tolerate very low settings before cutting off.

For me, this has been highly dependent on the dimmer switch itself. I started by of course eliminating old-style dimmer switches and replacing them all with new, LED-compatible dimmer switches. Double checked all the ratings and wattages and made sure I was meeting all the specs everywhere. I’ve got one model that works fantastic. It gets low enough that the moonlights on my flashlights are useful. I have another dimmer, of a different style, by the same brand. It does alright on one switch with 8 BR30-style LED bulbs, but another switch with only one does terribly. And all the others I’ve tried aren’t even worth a mention.


Interesting. I had no idea the dimmer switches can be different enough to present compatibility problems. I’m using old dimmer switches meant for incandescent and they’re working fine. But perhaps it was a matter of getting lucky. If they didn’t function right, I’d have very likely blamed the bulbs, not even thinking the dimmer could be at fault. Thanks.

I had stayed away from 120v LED bulbs for in-house fixtures for a long time, because I absolutely could not stand the emitter tints that were offered. It seems that the LED industry finally caught up. Some of the warmer bulbs are excellent. The Philips BR30 compatible LED bulbs I’m using are rated at 2700K.

Replaced my 4× 30w halogen kitchen bulbs with LED bulbs, dimmer is old style, made an annoying buzz and dimming was not smooth

Through the course of improving the kitchen, I changed the fitting and put in more powerful LED bulbs to make the kitchen brighter, dimmer works slightly better- I assume due to the greater load from the new bulbs, but still needs replacing.

Having started the journey to investigate the correct dimmer to purchase, it appears there are two types: ‘leading edge’ (old style, for incans) and ‘trailing edge’ (more modern, has a lower electrical load threshold, so can dim LID bulbs correctly).

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I only use philips LED bulbs, haven’t had a single failure yet.

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xevious wrote:
I had stayed away from 120v LED bulbs for in-house fixtures for a long time, because I absolutely could not stand the emitter tints that were offered. It seems that the LED industry finally caught up. Some of the warmer bulbs are excellent. The Philips BR30 compatible LED bulbs I’m using are rated at 2700K.

You’ve reminded me of the tint that used to exist on anything Duracell-labelled with 4000K CCT.

We joked the box was green… because the LEDs were green!

As for the dimmers, I’ve since learned that manufacturers may offer a list of bulb models that they actually tested with the dimmer. In my case, it was a pretty limited list, and seemed almost more like a list of “hey these guys paid us a buck to go on this list” than anything. It was also a bit out-dated… go figure.

Early on it was easier for me to find bulbs rated for enclosed fixtures – though often with an asterisk about reducing the bulb’s lifetime by up to half. This changed, for me, when the Energy Star ratings got stricter about enclosed fixture ratings, and they wouldn’t give the Energy Star approval to bulbs claiming enclosed fixture compatibility that didn’t meet much stricter standards for it. But of course rather than adapt, everyone just added “Not rated for fully enclosed fixtures” to the packaging and kept the Energy Star logos – especially because the Energy Star approval was typically required for any sort of electricity company incentives.

My house is almost all 5000K bulbs. 2700K/3000K put me to sleep now – and it’s especially bad if I try to read under them. I’ll go over to someone’s house and they have 2700K bulbs around, and it’s hard not to pass out on their couch. Also everything is “80 CRI minimum”.

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EasyB
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cetary wrote:
The Archipelago filament lamps I’ve been running for years in open fixtures have been very reliable. Their only failing was some of the filaments breaking off during house moves which isn’t a fault of the bulb. The TCP’s I’ve been using in open fixtures in my bathroom have been reliable for several years. I also purchased three Sacto lamps for a friend’s bathroom. Those are running in semi-enclosed fittings and have been reliable for over the past half year.

These LED filament style bulbs are interesting. Each filament is many LEDs (~28) in series mounted to a transparent substrate. You might think the design is gimmicky, just trying to look like an incandescent bulb, but there might be some nice advantages. Maybe better light distribution pattern and simpler electronics. Since the electronics tend to be the first failure it really could help their reliability.

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gravelmonkey wrote:
xevious wrote:

Interesting. I had no idea the dimmer switches can be different enough to present compatibility problems. I’m using old dimmer switches meant for incandescent and they’re working fine. But perhaps it was a matter of getting lucky. If they didn’t function right, I’d have very likely blamed the bulbs, not even thinking the dimmer could be at fault. Thanks.

I had stayed away from 120v LED bulbs for in-house fixtures for a long time, because I absolutely could not stand the emitter tints that were offered. It seems that the LED industry finally caught up. Some of the warmer bulbs are excellent. The Philips BR30 compatible LED bulbs I’m using are rated at 2700K.

Replaced my 4× 30w halogen kitchen bulbs with LED bulbs, dimmer is old style, made an annoying buzz and dimming was not smooth

Through the course of improving the kitchen, I changed the fitting and put in more powerful LED bulbs to make the kitchen brighter, dimmer works slightly better- I assume due to the greater load from the new bulbs, but still needs replacing.

Having started the journey to investigate the correct dimmer to purchase, it appears there are two types: ‘leading edge’ (old style, for incans) and ‘trailing edge’ (more modern, has a lower electrical load threshold, so can dim LID bulbs correctly).


The only indoor incandescent bulbs I have left are my 5 kitchen recessed lights with 45W PAR30 Krypton Halogens that give a nice color, which last me about 7 years each, which I had bought a case of 12 when I installed them 14yrs ago. Now I am looking for something comparable that’s dimmable, and in high CRI.
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I bought 20 of the Luminus BR30 LED bulbs sold at Costco. had 6 of them fail on me within 2-3 years. not happy about that. they wouldn’t outright die at first just flicker on and off for 2 weeks before finally failing. replaced them with Philips. hopefully it does better.

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EasyB wrote:
cetary wrote:
The Archipelago filament lamps I’ve been running for years in open fixtures have been very reliable. Their only failing was some of the filaments breaking off during house moves which isn’t a fault of the bulb. The TCP’s I’ve been using in open fixtures in my bathroom have been reliable for several years. I also purchased three Sacto lamps for a friend’s bathroom. Those are running in semi-enclosed fittings and have been reliable for over the past half year.

These LED filament style bulbs are interesting. Each filament is many LEDs (~28) in series mounted to a transparent substrate. You might think the design is gimmicky, just trying to look like an incandescent bulb, but there might be some nice advantages. Maybe better light distribution pattern and simpler electronics. Since the electronics tend to be the first failure it really could help their reliability.

I’ve only got a couple filament bulbs that were free from the local utility.

The light dispersion depends on the orientation of the filaments. If they are all vertical, there won’t be much light distributed to the top and bottom. If they are at angles, the distribution can be fairly omnidirectional, but the base has a sharply defined shadow. Features of the fixture can also can more defined shadows than frosted bulbs. I put one in an outdoor light that is styled like a classical streetlamp. The frames between the individual panes of glass cast very definite shadows. Perhaps I should get a photo comparing filament style with frosted.

My conclusion is the large effective emitting surface of a frosted bulb really does help with even lighting in more ways than one.

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The biggest limitation to LED bulbs’ lifespan is honestly the driver itself, and to an extent, the heatsink design+where the light itself is put in.

The components that usually fail the first are the large electrolytic caps, and in some rare ways, some of the MOSFETs actually die because they’re not thermally managed.

Heatsinking and placement is also a big issue.

No matter how good the driver is, if heatsinking is poor, the light will die earlier than wanted, and in an enclosed fixture, a light without enough heat dissipation and heatsink thermal mass will die quicker.

My very own high current Beryllium Copper springs Gen 3:
http://budgetlightforum.com/node/67401
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I get LED bulbs from Dollar Tree.

They're warm white, and they work great, but I don't remember the brand.