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Are your LED light bulbs failing too soon?

LED light bulb

We’ve previously reported that LED light bulbs are falling well short of their bold lifespan claims. Our latest tests suggest they’re getting better, but can you really expect them to last 25,000 or even 50,000 hours?

You’ll see a lot of LED bulbs claiming to last for 25,000 hours or more. And compared to compact fluorescent bulbs, there’s no doubt that they’re more durable. But too many LED bulbs don’t last for even half as long as they should.

Last month we shared our test of 410 LED light bulb samples. We revealed that 75 of those (18%) failed within 10,000 hours, even though they all claim to last much longer.

We also tested 185 of those 410 bulbs for a longer period – all of them claimed to last at least 15,000 hours, but 69 (37%) had failed by that point.

Your LED bulb experiences

The data wasn’t a surprise to many of you. BJ is disappointed with his LED bulbs:

‘I purchased six LED bulbs for my kitchen. After four days one had stopped working and another had two LEDs in a second had failed. Also in the same purchase I bought an ES LED bulb for the hall. Half the bulbs (banks of LEDs) went out after 45mins. Not impressed.’

John was similarly frustrated:

‘I have purchased 30 LED bulbs over the past year as I have been replacing conventional bulbs with LEDs as and when they fail. Out of the 30, five have failed and one has developed a horrible green hue. That’s a 20% failure rate in bulbs that vary between a few months and a year old. Retailers have generally been very good about replacements, but it’s hassle and surely the point of LEDs is to save energy AND to save time/money in replacing bulbs.’

Which? Convo regular John Ward isn’t keen on spending over the odds for LEDs:

‘If LED’s were just a bit dearer than CFL’s I would take a chance and install them everywhere, but at £7 – £20 each for the popular types, their endurance very unpredictable, and possibly going to pop far too soon, I shall stick with what I have.’

Signs of improvement

Our results show that LED bulbs are getting better, however. Looking just at older bulbs, 28% failed by the 10,000 hour mark. For the latest batch, made up of bulbs produced since new tougher EU regulations were brought in, that was down to 6%.

We’ll have to wait to see whether there are similar improvements for the newest bulbs reaching 15,000 hours – they haven’t reached that point in the test yet. We’ll continue to measure how long LED light bulbs are lasting, and we’ll update you on what we find out.

Tell us about your experiences with LED bulbs. Have you noticed a difference between older LED bulbs and those you’ve bought in the last year?

Mike Lambert says:
8 January 2018

I have had repeated failure of Modo GU10 units, fitted by an electrical during a complete rewire of my house. Surprisingly, the replacements I got from Poundland are doing great……


A quick look at the reviews on the Amazon site would have put me off Megaman Modo lamps.

Which? did not test this type but another Megaman lamp performed well last year.


The February 2018 magazine has a review of LED bulbs and on page 67 there is advice on some common problems including premature failure, flickering and DAB radio interference.

One point is that LEDs in enclosed fixtures can overheat, particularly if next to old-style bulbs. I have bought numerous LED bulbs and not one has had this advice on the packaging.


A friend has been keen to replace a set of halogen lamps in the kitchen and I suggested that they bought one to see if there was a problem with radio interference. He did buy one but bought one online rather than from a shop.

It did not take long to fail, though three of the LEDs remained working. Looking at the lamp it’s a thin disk with a dozen LED chips on one side and five components on the back – a bridge rectifier to make it work on AC or DC and four SMD resistors – for anyone who is interested. The resistors are under-rated and blackened and charred and there are no fuse or other safety device.

The lamp was purchased via the website of a rather well known company they trust and was supplied by one of the many smaller companies that supplies the goods. If you would not buy electrical goods from a street market then is it a good idea to buy online from an unheard of company?

eddie lovett says:
19 June 2018

Is the problem not really caused by the electricity power supply ? We have many spikes constantly occurring and with over and under voltages all the time.


Hi Eddie – I suspect that high voltage spikes are one cause of premature failure of LED and CFL lamps and have commented about this in other Conversations. If more than one lamp fails at the same time this is very likely to be caused by a voltage spike.

One of the problems is that it’s difficult to accommodate spike suppression in the small space of a lamp cap. There is no excuse for not using spike suppression in lamps with a separate driver, such as 12V LED lamps or sensibly designed fixtures where the LEDs and driver are separate and the risk of overheating of both is reduced.

I don’t know what voltage limits a mains LED lamp can handle. I’ve used 12V LEDs from a specialist supplier and they work fine between 10 and 30V.