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How Long Should LED Bulbs Last?

How long are energy-efficient LED bulbs supposed to last? A new document from the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America helps you figure it out.

We know LEDs are more energy efficient, but how long are these bulbs supposed to last? The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES) is addressing that question with the publication of a new document that helps you project the lifespan of LED light sources.

The document, entitled Projecting Long Term Lumen Maintenance of LED Light Sources (TM-21-11), is based on procedures found in the Society's Approved Method for Measuring Lumen Maintenance of LED Light Sources document (LM-80-08).

According to the IES, "LED light sources provide a very long usable life but light output gradually depreciates over time. TM-21-11 provides the method for determining when the 'useful lifetime' of an LED is reached, a point when the light emitted from an LED depreciates to a level where it is no longer considered adequate for a specific application. Lumen maintenance of LEDs can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and between different LED package types produced by a single manufacturer."

In other words, there are lots of variables. It's another piece of information for integrators to use when selling lighting control.

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Article Topics

News · Home Automation and Control · Lighting · All topics

About the Author

Jason Knott, Editor, CE Pro
Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California.

5 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Bill@neopro  on  10/14  at  02:26 PM

Long, long before the theoretical LED light output becomes a factor, the quality of manufacturing and power supply design will kill your expensive LED bulb. I have been using various LED bulbs for a couple years and the only environmentally redeeming quality they have is that you are not putting hazardous materials in the landfill when you throw them in the garbage.

Posted by Bill@neopro  on  10/14  at  02:28 PM

...As is the case with CFL bulbs

Posted by Allen  on  10/14  at  07:19 PM

I just had a Pharox LED died after less than two years in use for maybe 2-4 hours use per day and many days with lots of light it would be even less.

The site claimed the would last 20 or 25 years but this was not the case with this bulb, it was however under three year warranty.

The company at first asked me to return ship it from Canada at my cost which I disagreed with. After posting a Youtube video of the defective bulb it wad within 1 hour someone from the company offered to ship me a new bulb.

Posted by MrSatyre  on  10/17  at  12:10 PM

You just can’t win. Incandescents use too much juice and get too hot. CCFLs contain mercury and are made under questionable QC parameters abroad. LEDs are also made without strict adherence to manufacturing and materials specifications. I have had better luck with CCFLs outlasting LEDs, however.

Posted by JamesM  on  10/21  at  03:14 PM

I agree with Bill. The related drive devices will fail from heat long before the light emitting diode junction does.

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