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How Long Do LED Lights Last?

Close up photo of a modern LED strip blue light in a black background.

LED lights are a great addition to your home lighting system. They are well known for their long lifespan. Manufacturers often provide the expected lifespan on the packaging. However, that lifespan has a wide range from 5 to 20 years. Therefore, the estimate from the manufacturer does not give direct insight into how long the light actually lasts. 

Manufacturers do not provide information about how to prolong the life of LED lights. There are many factors, such as frequency of use, the current, and heat, that impact the life of a LED light.

Many of us have moved to use LED lights in our homes, but we are left with the question of how long they will last. Continue reading to find out more information to answer that question. 

What Are LED Lights?

Close up photo of a light LED bulb being hanged aesthetically.

The term LED means Light Emitting Diode, which means they emit light once an electrical current runs through it. They are considered to be semiconductor devices. These lights are different from fluorescent and incandescent lights.

In addition to lasting longer, they are versatile and more efficient. They are a directional source of light because they emit light in a specific direction. Incandescent lights emit heat and light in every direction. 

How Long Will LED Lights Last?

You already know that LED light bulbs last much longer than traditional incandescent light bulbs. This longer life is because they do not have a filament or gas as more conventional bulbs do. Instead, as a semiconductor, LEDs generate photons when electrons are injected into them. 

You can expect an LED light to have an average lifespan of about 100,000 hours. If you use your LED lights for eight hours each day, every day of the year, you could still use these light bulbs for 20 years before having to replace them.

This time frame, of course, has many dependencies. The construction of the LEDs matters because they are not the same. The way the LED is integrated into the fixture makes a difference in how long the light lasts. 

What Impacts the Average Lifespan of LED Lights?

A man changing a LED light bulb with a new one.

LED lights are a robust and durable source of lighting. They are more similar to a piece of electronics instead of a more traditional light source. They are able to handle vibration and being knocked around. In addition, LED lights put out less heat than a traditional light source. 

There are, however, many factors that impact the lifespan of LED lights. Therefore, when using your LED lights, you must understand these factors to get the most life you can out of them. 

Temperature

When LED lights are exposed to extreme heat, it may reduce their expected lifespan. Remember, these lights are more like electronics, and all electronic devices break down in extreme heat. LED lights work best at room temperature, which is typically about 65 degrees to 80 degrees. You will find that LED lights work best around 75 degrees.

When LED lights are exposed to extreme temperatures, the elements contained within the light increase in temperature, which causes a degradation of those elements, which reduces the lifespan of the lights; however, extreme cold does not have the same impact on lights. When the ambient temperature is cooler, it helps to keep the elements inside the light at a moderate temperature. A lower temperature can help extend the life of your LED lights. 

In addition to reducing the ambient temperature, another way to extend the life of your LED lights is to turn them off when not being used. This includes turning off your interior lights when you go to bed. You should also turn off exterior lights when you wake up in the morning.

Reducing the time the LED lights are on can drastically improve their lifespan of them. However, anytime the LED light is on, you are reducing its life. An easy way to reduce the time your lights are on is to use a smart lighting or scheduling system. 

A major difference between LED lights and halogen or incandescent light bulbs is that turning your LED lights off and on does not impact your life. 

Current

Close up photo of different blue light LED bulb sizes.

Another condition that limits the lifespan of your LED lights is when they run on a higher current than is intended. This is because they have a specific current range in which they should operate. This is the rate at which the electricity is flowing through the circuit.

When the current is too low, there is not enough energy for the light to have the intended output. As a result, the light typically lasts longer because it is not functioning at full capacity, but the light is dull. 

Conversely, when the current is too high, the light shines brighter but reduces its lifespan of the light. Both the circuit and light fixture can overheat, and the circuit burns out. 

Application 

When combining LED lights with heat sinks is a great way to absorb some heat. A heat sink is commonly used with electronic devices to help cool their internal components. A heat sink device also absorbs and disperses heat which ultimately helps to cool it.

This also helps LED lights last longer. In addition, a heat sink protects internal circuits from ambient temperatures that are incredibly high. This is a great way to use LED lights in hotter climates. 

What is an LED Light Strip?

Close up photo of a woman installing a LED light strip under her kitchen cabinet.

An LED light strip is a long, flexible circuit board with LED lights that are surface-mounted. It provides a glow to a room. They are often referred to as ribbon lights. This type of light usually has adhesive backing for simple installation. 

This type of lighting is often used for decorative or accent purposes. For example, think of any undercabinet lighting used to illuminate a countertop; most likely, it was an LED light strip. These particular lights run at a low temperature and can last a long time as a result.