LED news and insight from our technology editor Steve Bush, who has been messing with LED lighting for more years than he would care to remember.
LED Life Expectancy
LEDs have a general life expectancy of 50 000 hrs. If you use your lights for 10 hours a day, this should be 13.7 yrs. If this is correct, then LED’s are definitely an investment, even the top of the range bulb would work out to cost 2.55GBP per year. Add that to the saving you would make on energy and you’ve got a very cost effective bulb!
However, there are times when, even high quality, LED products can last as little as a year. The problem with these can be attributed to a large number of things, here are a few main causes:
Heatsink – Designing a heatsink is a fine science. Some heatsinks do not have the correct amount of surface area, some do not take into consideration about the gaps between fins to enable air flow. Some have horizontal fins, when they are positioned vertically. The main design fault with the latter, being that heat rises. Rather than dispersing the heat away from the bulb, the heat coming from the lower fins heat the upper fins even more.
Capacitors – Most, standard, electronic capacitors are made from a plastic. These have an average life time of around 1 year, if used regularly. Capacitors are part of the circuit in every LED driver. Now a number of companies are making their capacitors from ceramics, giving them a much longer life expectancy.
Environment – LEDs are usually designed to work in our country, and in our climate. If they are used in a hot country, or enclosed area, the heat around them can easily surpass the heat they were designed to withstand, shortening their life time.
To get LEDs to their full potential, these factors, among other considerations, must be taken into account.