Is the 50,000 hour LED life a fantasy?

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how crazy is this
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Is the 50,000 hour LED life a fantasy?

The 50,000 hour life claim for LEDs seems to be common. Perhaps based on some sort of reality? Perhaps technically correct as if an LED would function without other components? Perhaps it is the lifetime as expressed in hours since it left the factory?

Am writing this from my office that I completed in December of 2015. Light the office with 4 LED A19 light bulbs. Every single bulb has failed. Some more than once. No where near the claimed life span. Memory is not entirely clear on when I started using LED bulbs in general but know for a fact in my office. Given the number of hours on, I am pretty sure even the oldest bulb I have ever bought would be within the 50,000 hour mark. Have bought Cree, GE, Phillips, Fieet, and Great Value brands. Failures with all of them. Doubt I have bought a bulb that even comes close.

Any reason to believe the 50,000 hour claim? Any reasonable estimate of what real world life is? My experience is that it does not seem to make much difference between the cheaper brands and the name brands. (Well maybe that isn’t quite true I think some of the cheap ones may have failed a bit quicker although some have also lasted comparatively well.) Anyone buy bulbs that have went the distance? I am nearly certain that I have yet to buy a single one that has lasted anywhere near 50,000 hours.

Hank33
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I only have a couple of LED light bulbs and what I know so far is that these suckers have terrible heat dissipation. All that sealed electronics makes it run like a sauna room. I’m pretty sure it gets quite hot inside those housings and I think that’s why those LED bulbs burn out faster. Usually, LED’s need a heatsink, especially those bigger wattage commercial units so I can imagine a sealed bulb not doing too well.

Lightbringer
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LEDs (as in chips, emitters), rarely fail. Except for “infant mortality” (something wrong in manufacture, they fail often within hours of use) or being overcooked, they’ll last nigh forever.

Light output does decrease over time, though. If you give it a fixed 1W, it may start out at 150lm out of the box, then decrease to 140, 130, 120, etc. as the years drag on.

Most will be considered “failed” when output drops to 70% of initial (used to be 50%). So that might take 25,000hrs or more.

But that’s only if staying within mfr spec. Overdrive it, and it can degrade faster, obviously.

 

Now bulbs will flat out pop (whether quietly just stop working, start stinking and then fail, or go out in a blaze (!) of glory), because other components will fail, likely the largish filter-caps which don’t like heat or inrush-currents too much.

09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

SIGShooter
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My thinking has always been that it’s not the LED’s failing in light bulbs, etc but rather the driver or some other component on the board. Modded flashlights or other over-driven devices excluded of course.

NeutralFan
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It seems the failure rate on the LED bulbs are better than the CFLs, but still not as reliable as the old incandescents.

But like others have said, it’s not the LEDs that die prematurely, it’s the components that power the LEDs that have failed.

I’d rather use my flashlight around the house than turn on the lights.

zoulas
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SIGShooter wrote:
My thinking has always been that it’s not the LED’s failing in light bulbs, etc but rather the driver or some other component on the board. Modded flashlights or other over-driven devices excluded of course.

Agree, the led does not fail, its the electronics underneath it that fail.

Scotty321
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The only difference I’ve “mentally” noted with LED bulbs’ lifespan over the years, is that if it doesn’t specifically say on the box “for enclosed fixtures” (or something to that affect), and I put it in an enclosed fixture, it burns out very quickly… especially if there are multiple bulbs in the enclosed fixture.

I stopped picking up LED bulbs at my local Lowe’s because all of the 60w equivalents (at the time) said “not for enclosed fixtures.”

So far, the longest running LED bulb I’ve had is a 100 watt equivalent I have in my kitchen. It’s probably been in there for 10 years and used at least 8 hours per day. That fixture is completely open, and it is a single bulb light so no other bulbs to amass heat. My bedroom light is enclosed and has three bulbs. The “not for enclosed fixtures” LED’s last a few months, and the “enclosed” LED’s last a few years.

zoulas
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Considering how much they cost a fortune how long they last, I doubt anyone will be filing a warranty claim.

Can you picture the phone conversation: Hi I purchased an led bulb from you 18 years ago and the led was supposed to last 50,000 hrs and it only lasted 43,000 hrs. Can I get my $2 back.

Screwdriver
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I had a Marantz receiver recapped about 14 years ago. I replaced the incandescent lights that lit up the front with LEDs. The unit stays on 24/7, unless I go on vacation, and then I usually power down everything in my home. I haven’t noticed any output degradation of the LEDs.

dts71
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Most bulbs (like the incandescent) are designed to fail – they want to sell more rather than offering 50.000h.
Depending on how they are used, the number of switch cycles or less sensitivity to heat might be more important than the lifetime in hours.

RollerBoySE
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dts71 wrote:
Most bulbs (like the incandescent) are designed to fail – they want to sell more rather than offering 50.000h. Depending on how they are used, the number of switch cycles or less sensitivity to heat might be more important than the lifetime in hours.

“The world’s longest-lasting light bulb, burning since 1901, and almost never switched off.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centennial_Light
(Almost) Everything CAN be built to last, or not.

ValuseekeR
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I have an led bulb and led noghtlight that are going on 15 and 10 years, respectively. Agree though that most of the standard household replacement bulbs you buy these days are total junk and that it’s likely other components that fail.

RobertB
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This LED bulb has been running on my front porch for 6 straight years. I’ve never turned it off. That’s over 52,000 hours. I don’t remember what brand bulb. I had a cree in there for 4 years that failed, and replaced it with this one.

raccoon city
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RollerBoySE wrote:

“The world’s longest-lasting light bulb, burning since 1901, and almost never switched off.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centennial_Light

That's about 1,051,200 hours!  8^)

rngwn
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RollerBoySE wrote:
dts71 wrote:
Most bulbs (like the incandescent) are designed to fail - they want to sell more rather than offering 50.000h. Depending on how they are used, the number of switch cycles or less sensitivity to heat might be more important than the lifetime in hours.
"The world's longest-lasting light bulb, burning since 1901, and almost never switched off." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centennial_Light (Almost) Everything CAN be built to last, or not.

 

I believe that's before the cartels decided to hamstring the bulb's lifespan to make more money, and go after everyone who dares make the bulbes more durable than it's "supposed" to be.

 
Dalamar
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Most LED failure is the driver, commercial Edison-socket bulbs have 1/4th the cooling they need an inferior drivers. Usually electrolytic or fuse death

LEDs dying natural death experience color shifts (quite significantly) and dimming.
My monitor LEDs have put in 60k+ hours and the color calibration of the formerly Pro one is actual garbage; i fear how bad the led that was garbage out of the box with low contrast will be in just 2 years…

I only like high CRI. Collection:

Fireflies NOV-MU 21 4500k E21A

Fireflies ROT66 219B SW45 D220

Fireflies E07 Copper 219B SW45k? (odd/higher lumen bin with lower r9 and higher cct?)

Fireflies E07 219B SW45k

Fireflies E07x Pro sst20 FA4 4000k 

 

Varmint removal:

Convoy M21A C8 ver SST20 4000k (5a)

Convoy S2+ SST20 4000k  FB4 (3200ma)

Memes:

BLF GT94

Emisar D18 660nm SST20 

 

 

CRI test dump https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1kcl_uOhgfpR4RSsa8F4b-UUVP9mkL6Cr...

dts71
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rngwn wrote:

RollerBoySE wrote:
dts71 wrote:
Most bulbs (like the incandescent) are designed to fail – they want to sell more rather than offering 50.000h. Depending on how they are used, the number of switch cycles or less sensitivity to heat might be more important than the lifetime in hours.
“The world’s longest-lasting light bulb, burning since 1901, and almost never switched off.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centennial_Light (Almost) Everything CAN be built to last, or not.




I believe that’s before the cartels decided to hamstring the bulb’s lifespan to make more money, and go after everyone who dares make the bulbes more durable than it’s “supposed” to be.

 

I read that the bulb as we know it today was initially designed for 2000h but over time it was redesigned for 1000h.
The Russians choose to improve on it to 8000h.

BlueSwordM
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The LEDs themselves can indeed last 50-100k hours as long as they’re kept at the usual 85C temp.

The main bottleneck is the heatsink solution, particularly for the driver Smile

My very own high current Beryllium Copper springs Gen 3:
http://budgetlightforum.com/node/67401
Liitokala Aliexpress Stores Battery Fraud: http://budgetlightforum.com/node/60547

iamlucky13
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I think the most used bulbs I have are probably around 15,000 hours so far. I’ve had some die before that which were replaced under warranty, and some others that were used in enclosed fixtures even though they weren’t rated for it that I did not try to make a warranty claim for.

zoulas wrote:
Considering how much they cost a fortune how long they last, I doubt anyone will be filing a warranty claim.

Can you picture the phone conversation: Hi I purchased an led bulb from you 18 years ago and the led was supposed to last 50,000 hrs and it only lasted 43,000 hrs. Can I get my $2 back.

If they warrantied it for 50,000 hours, they are legally bound to honor the warranty.

Usually, however, numbers like that are the expected life, not the warranty. Also, 50,000 hours is more common for fixtures that have built-in LED’s instead of replaceable bulbs. Bulb life expectancies typically range from 10,000 to 25,000 hours.

For example, Home Depot’s cheap Ecosmart bulbs advertise an 11,000 hour life expectancy. The warranty is 5 years. “Typical” use of 3 hours per day works out to about 5500 hours after 5 years.

They have a nicer Cree bulb that rated for 25,000 hours. The warranty is 10 years.

For what it’s worth, the few bulbs I’ve had die I had little trouble getting replaced. I had a 3-way Cree bulb that died after about 6 months. Home Depot replaced it even though they said that technically, I should have contacted Cree after the 30 day return period expired. The replacement has been fine for a couple of years. I had an entire 4-pack of Feit bulbs die within a few months of each other. Feit sent me a short list of questions about how the bulbs were used, but once I responded, sent the replacements without issue. Those also have lasted several years without issue.

lfb
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I saw this video from Nichia and remembered about this topic. Basically they test the led for a fraction of lifetime and make an extrapolation.

Vegas LED Fan
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CREE is in the business of making LEDs but I haven’t seen any bulbs actually made by them. A CREE LED bulb is likely one made by one of many manufacturers but using genuine CREE LEDs.

I agree the electronics are the weak link in bulb production. The other may be the design of the bulb most purchased by US consumers. It is the traditional A19 envelope similar to all of the old Edison incandescent bulbs. All of the LEDs are arranged on a circular plate at the base of the envelope with the electronics located just below the plate. Most of the bulbs I purchased when I converted my home to all LED are “corn bulbs”. You can get them in higher wattages/lumens because there is no constraint about space on a circular plate. In some of the smallest bulbs the electronics is located beneath the LED array. In others is is located in an inner core encircled by rows of LEDs, So far I have had to replace only two corn bulbs over several years in spite of using many of them throughout the house.
You can see the electronics in the base of this bulb used to replace halogen bulbs. They have 120V AC versions of the same bulb.

Corn bulbs are also available using chip-on-board LEDs for even higher output.