Why do LED lights last longer?

What is it about LED light bulbs that makes them last so long?

One of the main benefits for homeowners investing in LED light bulbs is that they last so long – potentially a decade or two without losing their brightness. This means that once you have fitted an LED bulb, this might be your last act – in terms of lighting maintenance – for an extended period of time.

Compare this scenario to that of incandescent bulbs, which could blow at any time. In years gone by, homeowners constantly had to change their light bulbs as one after the next burnt out – which depending on their location could be difficult. It could also be expensive, due to the number of replacements needed over an extended period of time.

Technological differences between incandescent bulbs and LEDs explain the greater longevity of the latter. While traditional bulbs have moving parts – creating heat and light when an electric current is passed through a metal filament – LEDs are a solid-state technology. As such, they are more stable and much less can go wrong.

What exactly are LEDs?

LEDs – or light emitting diodes – are semiconductor diodes which offer illumination when an electric current is applied in the forward direction of the device. Electricity is passed through a chemical compound – crystal – that is excited and generates light. This process can be replicated again and again for years on end without increasing the risk of bulb failure.

The longevity of LED light bulbs does depend on their operational and environmental temperature. Used appropriately, in the right fittings, total failure of an LED is very rare. What tends to happen towards the end of a bulb’s useful life is that its light intensity begins to decline – a process known as degradation.

According to the Lighting Industry Association (LIA), this period of degradation of the original luminous flux “defines the lifespan of LEDs”. The organisation explained that it is “strongly dependent” on the temperature of the light-emitting surface in the semiconductor crystal.

“There must therefore be no build-up of heat in the operation of an LED – the conducting plate or additional heat sink must reliably divert the heat,” the LIA stated. “A too-high environmental temperature will equally lead to a decrease in the luminous flux.”

Longevity expectations

Homeowners can expect their LED lights – used properly – to last for between 20,000 and 30,000 hours – the equivalent of many years of illumination. Light bulb testing has indicated that LEDs can last for up to 50,000 hours in some environmental conditions, meaning customers gain an excellent return on investment.

The savings made by purchasing LED lights include reductions to energy bills – remembering that GU10 LEDs are up to 90 per cent more efficient than incandescent light bulbs. They only require a tenth of the electricity to light your rooms, and as such, can help preserve households’ finances.

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