Can LED Lights Burn Out?

If you’re just now switching to LED lights or if you’ve been using them for quite some time but you haven’t done much research about them, you might be wondering whether LED bulbs burn out quickly or not. Many people would even go a step further and ask “Do LED lights burn out at all?” And given the marketing and the properties of LED lights, these are actually valid questions. So, let’s explore them here.

Do LED bulbs burn out?

In short – yes, they do. As much as we’d wish them to be eternal, they are not. They are, however, the most long-lasting type of light bulbs out there and, while that doesn’t make them perfect for every situation, it does make them ideal for most residential needs.

How do LED light bulbs work?

Without going into too much detail here, the quick explanation is that “LED” stands for “Light-emitting diodes”. Diodes are miniature semiconductors that light up under voltage. Each LED light bulb is comprised of multiple such diodes which are what emits the light out of the bulb. These diodes are much more durable than the lighting components in incandescent or in fluorescent light bulbs, plus – when one diode goes out, the rest keep working.

How long do LED lights last?

The packaging of most LED light bulbs says that they last anywhere between 25,000 and 50,000 hours, depending on which brand and quality range you’re looking at. However, many professionals would say that they can actually last for up to 100,000 hours in perfect conditions.

The reason a lot of manufacturers seem to be “low-balling” their estimations is most likely two-fold:

  1. to account for possible malfunctions;
  2. to account for the fact that LED lights tend to lose their light-emitting properties over time as their diodes start going out one by one.

In other words, while a quality LED bulb might last for 100,000 hours, it will likely lose 50% or more of its diodes long before that.

This incremental loss of capacity of LED bulbs is one of their drawbacks and a lot of homeowners find it to be annoying. However, even with it accounted for – as most manufacturers do – LED bulbs still last significantly longer than most of their alternatives.

How long do incandescent and florescent bulbs last?

The average incandescent light bulb lasts somewhere between 500 and 1,000 hours, depending on its quality. Fluorescent lights, on the other hand, tend to last up to 8,000 hours or a bit more. Both of these literally pale in comparison with LED lights which, even when they go out earlier than expected, still last much longer.

So, do LEDs burn out? Sure they do! But an LED light bulb will still last you much longer than any other type of light bulb even if its life turns out to be shorter than expected.


Blogger, editor, developer who loves green living. Interested in photovoltaics and solar lighting. Reviewing solar products since 2013.

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