If you’re considering an LED retrofit for your home or commercial space, you probably have a few questions about how long LEDs really last. You may have seen reports of LED lights lasting ten or even twenty years in the wild, but what does that really mean for you and your lighting project?
How Long do LEDs Really Last?
Unlike traditional lightbulbs, LEDs often advertise their life in years. However, it’s important to read the fine print on the lighting box. LED lights are usually rated for a certain number of lamp-hours, which means the actual number of hours that the light is shining.
For the average residential light that is only on two to three hours a day, a light rated for 25,000 hours could reasonably last 10-15 years. However, if you are looking at commercial lighting applications, that same light may last half or a third as long when it is in use 7-8 hours per day. Still, lights designed for full time use are a dependable investment that will last for years to come.
How Does That Compare To Other Lights?
With those numbers in mind, it might help to look at the average lifespan of other lightbulbs to put things into perspective. For instance, the average incandescent lightbulb is only designed to last about 1500 hours, which means you will be replacing it about 15 times before you need to replace a comparable LED.
If you are currently using halogen or fluorescent lights, the numbers are pretty similar. This is good information to have when you’re comparing the cost of those more expensive lights, too. When you add up the total cost of the bulbs plus the power it takes to keep them on, it’s easy to see how an LED swap will result in massive savings over the long run.
Why LEDs Last Longer
In order to understand the true value and benefit of LED lights, you also need to understand how they work. You may have noticed that LED lights are rated at much lower wattages than traditional bulbs. This is because they use about a quarter as much power as a traditional bulb to produce the same amount of light.
The basic components of LED lights can handle this low power flow for a significantly longer stretch before beginning to fail, and when they do begin to fail, they don’t burn out. Unlike an incandescent light that simply stops working when it’s useful life is over, an LED will gradually start to grow dimmer over an extended period of time.
How Do You Know When An LED Needs to Be Replaced?
At first, the minor loss of brightness caused by an LED reaching the end of its life may be indistinguishable to you. In many cases, you won’t notice it until the light has significantly degraded, or if it is surrounded by other lights that are newer. In this case, you may begin to notice that one light out of the group looks softer than the others and needs to be replaced.
For large commercial spaces where uniform lighting is the goal, you may decide to set a maintenance schedule that includes replacing all of the LEDs at once to prevent inconsistent aging across all the bulbs. For instance, changing all of your showroom lights at once when they are nearing the end of their expected life will keep things looking shiny and new.
How to Get the Most Life Out of Your LED Retrofit
An important part of any retrofit is making sure that every circuit is set up properly. Your existing circuitry and lamp bases were designed to draw enough power for traditional bulbs. Unfortunately, sending that much power to an LED will only shorten its life by causing it to overheat.
Appropriately Sized Circuits
Your electrician will need to ensure that each new lighting circuit is laid out in a way that uses the appropriate amount of power for your new lighting design. This may sound like a costly endeavor, but in fact, the amount you will be saving on bulbs and power will more than cover the initial cost of making the switch.
With a retrofit, this may be as simple as switching to an LED bulb that is made to fit directly into your existing fixture. These bulbs are not quite as efficient as a pure LED, but they still retain many of the same benefits.
Automatic Switches and Sensors
Another great way to increase the lifespan of your LED bulbs is by installing automatic sensors in hallways, bathrooms, and other spaces which may not be in use full-time. This will cut down on the amount of time that lights are running and can add years of useful life to each bulb.
If you consider the amount of time that parts of your home or commercial building are vacant, it’s no wonder these sensors cut down on lighting expenses. Even retail stores have begun using sensors in certain aisles to improve efficiency and eliminate waste when there are no customers in the immediate vicinity.
Interestingly, even with the dramatic reduction in power required to turn an LED light on, you may find that these bulbs are still much brighter than your incandescents or CFLs. In this case, installing a dimmer that keeps the bulb running cooler is another way that you can extend the bulb’s life while still getting plenty of light in your room.
Managing Room Temperature
While there are LED lights made for indoor and outdoor use, it is important to match the bulb to the environment that it will be used in. Extreme temperatures and moisture can severely impact the life of the electronic components inside of LED bulbs. Make sure you do plenty of research before you buy cheap bulbs for your outdoor seating area or workspace.
Choosing Quality Lights
It should come as no surprise that even with the benefit of LED technology, you can find vast differences in LED lifespan based on the quality of the product you are buying. With LEDs, it is important to purchase high-quality bulbs that are rated for a long lifespan. You may see some cheap alternatives available, but you will find that the manufacturer of these bulbs hides the shorter lifespan rating in the fine print.
You should also make sure to search specifically for lights that are designed for your application. LEDs fall into several categories, and some of them are made to be on throughout the day while others are made to cycle on and off regularly.
As LED technology has become more prevalent, it is not unusual to hear of bulbs lasting 15-20 years in locations where they are used only a few hours a day. Even lights that are on for the duration of a work day are reaching the 8-10 year mark these days. It’s no surprise that more companies and residential builders are looking to LED lights to save money and hassle in the future.
If you are interested in an LED retrofit for your home or office, contact Legacy Electric today. We can help you choose the right lighting solution for any use case and make sure you will get the best savings.