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Are your LED light bulbs burning out too soon?

LED light bulb

LED light bulbs have a tendency to make grand claims about their lifespan – it’s common to see manufacturers promise bulbs will last 25,000 or even 50,000 hours. But we’ve found many failing well before this.

One of the attractions of LED light bulbs is that they’re supposed to last a long time. And so if you’re shelling out for these bulbs – typically more expensive than other types of light bulb – you’ll want to be sure that they’ll live up to those claims.

But our tests show that not only do many LED light bulbs stop working before the end of their promised lifespan, some don’t even reach the soon-to-be-implemented EU minimum lifespan of 6,000 hours. We discovered bulbs from both Ikea and TCP that failed to reach the 6,000 hour mark for the majority of samples we tested.

Ikea bulb among failures

In the tests – which were carried out by Which? and our European partner organisations – we took five samples each of 46 different bulbs. The bulbs were switched on for two hours and 45 minutes, then switched off for 15 minutes, in a continuous cycle until they burned out.

Five different bulbs stopped working before the 6,000 hour mark for the majority of samples we tested, though the TCP and Ikea bulbs were the only ones which were sold in the UK. Both have since been discontinued.

New EU regulations which will come in from 1 March 2014 say that 90% of any batch of LED light bulbs should last at least 6,000 hours.

Another five bulbs stopped working before the 10,000 hour mark for the majority of samples we tested, despite claiming lifespans of at least 25,000 hours. None of these bulbs were sold in the UK.

In total, 66 of the 230 samples we tested failed before the 10,000 hour mark, though they all claimed they would last at least 15,000 hours.

Has your bulb burned out early?

Ikea said the bulb had passed its own tests and those in a third-party lab. It’s looking into why the bulb failed our test and has removed it from sale in countries where it was still available.

TCP said it was already aware of the problem with this bulb and withdrew it from sale when they discovered the problem. TCP added that it no longer deals with the supplier of that particular bulb and now make their LED bulbs in-house.

We’re in the process of testing the life span of many more LED bulbs, and we’ll update you if we find others that burn out prematurely. But we also want to hear from you – have you bought bulbs that haven’t lasted as long as they should?

Comments

I have an led bulb where the electronic bit is far too hot to touch.

Hello Pete in quality LED power supplies a 20 % over-design is standard to cope with many variables , but we are talking of a power supply that is built into a tiny space inside the bulb not a separate external power supply ?
Quality products are built with a SOT (safe operating temperature range ) in which the design is not over-stressed .
Quality power supplies have a maximum temperature of + 70 degrees C but in an enclosed space of a single bulb it depends on the heat sinking and the quality of the components which in a lot of cases aren’t up to industrial spec .

In your case you will have to check the actual socket to see if the transmission of heat is causing deterioration/damage to it , also the wiring could be affected .
Having said that “too hot to touch ” doesn’t necessarily mean its outside its spec. but if its affecting your socket then I would change it especially if you have other LED bulbs of the same wattage which are cooler.

Elton says:
6 December 2018

Hi
I have been buying the G9 LED capsule bulbs from Morrisons and I have 2 central hanging light fitting with 4 bulbs on each.I have found that rarely a week goes passed without changing at least one bulb. The record is one that lasted just 24 hours. Anyone any suggestions?

Elton , not all LED bulbs are equal here is a lighting professionals opinion and advice on the subject -well worth reading.-
https://www.reminetwork.com/articles/14195/ its Canadian but the same rules apply to any LED bulb.

There is a link to a UL Certification database & Directories ,if Wavechange is still around it might interest him –its free for the basic stuff.

Here is a UL website telling you how to use this information-
https://fcia.org/articles/ULQuickGuide.pdf

Thanks Duncan. It would be interesting if those of us in the UK had access to the equivalent of the UL database.

The best answer for poor durability is to ask for replacement or refund of failed bulbs. If everyone did this the retailers would stop stocking the dodgy ones.

Wavechange -I was beginning to wonder if I said something that upset you as you have been keeping a low profile — I wouldn’t want that to happen .
If I haven’t said it –Merry Christmas !

I’ve just been busy and trying to get out and about while the weather permits. I’ll be back. Merry Christmas to you too.

Most of my LED bulbs are over two years old and so far I have not had a single failure, though I do see plenty of examples of failed lamps on my travels.

Russell says:
2 December 2018

I hate these new so called ‘long life ‘ bulbs. From my experience they are more expensive and do not even last 500 hours let alone 10,000!
It seems a great big con. If the ‘old school’ bulbs lasted years why should these ‘energy efficient’ one last such a short time.
My main use is in central hanging light fittings typically with 6 or more bulbs.
Any ideas – wish I could still buy the old ones, these new ones are not saving the planet but are just lining someones pocket!

Like you Russell I am too down to earth to listen to the “benefits ” of LED bulbs which turn out to be part of the eco lobby to force the public to accept inferior lighting products and tripping down the stairs and nearly breaking my leg just to keep them happy –they are NOT on.

Yes Russell I have an “idea ” Telsa,s new engineering designed plasma light bulbs with electromagnetic filament .
https://www.lightbulbs.com/blog/tesla-light-bulb
and a more natural colour .
Traditional filament light bulbs from Telsa are available from Amazon.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tesla-Traditional-Filament-Globe-Light/dp/B016Y03JWU

Russell says:
2 December 2018

Thanks, Duncan thats really helpful. I will check that out as I am having to replace 16 out of 20 of these new type bulbs – as you say so people can either read or see where they are going!
Russell

I have replaced nearly all the incandescent, halogen and CFL lamps throughout the house with scores of new LED’s and have had no premature failures. I usually buy Philips lamps but have also had lamps from Tesco and Sainsbury’s. Some better shaped LED lamps are becoming available now but I am reluctant to change the recently purchased LED’s for a more suitably shaped lamp as they could still have thousands of hours of life left in them and I no longer want to keep a stock of light bulbs such as I used to. With a multi-branch fitting, if one lamp fails it doesn’t mean total darkness. Some LED lamps look oversized for the shades on traditional light-fittings like wall-lamps and uplighters

The lamps I really don’t like are halogen capsules with the wire contact loops. In my experience these last no time at all and are extremely fiddly to remove from the lamp-holder as the loops get trapped. I had to virtually force and wrench one out today and I was lucky not to leave bits of wire in the fitting as the loops broke as I tugged at the lamp. At least I got it out though and was able to put a new one in. When I have used up the last of the new halogen capsules that I still have I will replace the whole lot with LED capsules, although the colour temperature of LED capsules does seem to vary widely between brands giving an inconsistent appearance if replacing the odd one. I wish capsules had never been invented but having bought quite attractive [and fairly expensive] ceiling light fittings that will only take capsule lamps, replacing them is not an option right now.

I also wish there was a decent-looking LED lamp that would provide the same lumens as the old incandescent 100W and 150W bulbs for central light fittings with a single lamp-holder.

The G9 halogen capsules have wire loops and being mains voltage have long filaments that are extremely sensitive to vibration when hot. Early attempts at producing LED replacements for halogen lamps were physically larger and produced less light, presumably why capsules will remain on sale for the time being. I have not looked at the current offerings. Apart from a bathroom light fixture with multiple halogen capsules I avoided halogen lighting. It annoyed me that well known companies referred to their halogen lamps as ‘eco’ when they were almost as inefficient as the old light bulbs.

I had deliberately avoided LED lamps equivalent to 100W bulbs because of the greater risk of heat damaging the electronic components, but decided to take the risk for one room where the centre lamp is not used much. It was disappointing to discover that it was non-dimmable because lower power Philips lamps of the same design are dimmable.

Having replaced many pendants where the flex and socket have been fried by the heat from 100 and 150W incandescent bulbs, I’m glad that they have gone.

MidiMagic says:
22 December 2018

The light-emitting element is designed to last the huge number of hours mentioned. The power supply components are not.

If there is an electrolytic capacitor in the power supply, it can’t even come close to the rated lifetime. Switching power supplies are also too complicated to last that long just on random failure statistics.

Power surges also can damage the power supply, causing an early failure. So can static electricity. And if lightning hits your power line, you could lose all of your LED bulbs at once.

Aitor Bleda says:
22 December 2018

I had 4 out of six Ikea led light bulbs fail, all the same model. they started blinking at about 3000 hours and none reached 4000.

I still have two, and I have no doubt they wont make it to 4000 hours either.

Eric Bubb says:
26 December 2018

I purchased 12 LED bulbs from Poole Lighting to fit their wall and center light fitting in the first 2 weeks I have replaced 5 LED bulbs completting the set one week before Christmas in the last week I have now had 6 fail over Christmas. I have complained to my energy suppliers and had the meter replaced but the bulbs continue to fail. In a matter of 5 weeks I will have replaced 10 LED bulbs.

K O’Hagan says:
12 January 2019

I bought 21 G9 LED bulbs and three 7 bulb pendant lights from Litecraft in October 2017. Since then I have had to have around 40 replacement bulbs. Barely a week goes by without a bulb failing. Today, after travelling to Litecraft for the dozenth time to replace the latest two duds, I was told that Litecraft would no longer honour their 1 year warranty and that I would now have to start paying for replacements. The manager claimed that there was no requirement for warranties to be offered on bulbs and that the warranty was only applicable from the original date of purchase and did not reset on the day of replacement. I have a feeling that this contravenes the consumer rights act 2015 and thanks to this thread, presumably the bulbs that I have bought do not conform to the EU law that expects 90% of a batch to last a minimum of 6000 hours. Can anyone advise me as to whether or not I have cause for recourse in this matter? Litecraft admittedly are notoriously bad when it comes to refunds and say that they do not allow reruns of products unless it can be proved that it was faulty upon purchase and returned within 30 days. As an aside, when returning a number of dud bulbs in October 2018 we asked that they start to be marked to keep track of the those that were definitely newer and to see if there was a problem with particular pendants.
My instinct is to contact the CEO of the company and make a direct complaint to him but would perhaps prefer in the first instance to have the information to be able to clearly and plainly explain my rights to replacement for free, if in fact these rights apply. Any advice would be much appreciated.

It is interesting that the Litecraft website offers a three year guarantee on many of their LED lamps, though I could not find any further detail.

Under the Consumer Right Act you can, in England, claim against the retailer for six years after purchase. The following document might be useful: https://www.businesscompanion.info/sites/default/files/CRA-Goods-Guidance-for-Business-Sep-2015.pdf It is guidance for retailers and the section that is relevant is the Final Right to Reject. Depending on whether it is less or more than six months since purchase you could push for a full refund or a partial refund, respectively. A partial refund would reflect the amount of use you have had of the product. Best of luck and please let us know how you get on.

Mike Sterland says:
18 January 2019

MiniSun 4w SES globe bulb. Gone through a dozen & none lasted 2,000 hours, never mind the claimed 20,000
Spectrum 7w ES bulb. Failed after less than 5,000 hours with a claimed life of 17,000
I’m losing what I save on electricity on having to replace these relatively expensive, poor quality lamps.

I suggest buying other makes from a local shop, keeping the receipts and taking the lamps back if they fail prematurely. It’s worth keeping the packaging or other evidence of claims of extremely long life. 17,000 hours is nearly two years of continuous use.

DerekP says:
18 January 2019

I’ve just bought a few 5W LED bulbs for £1 each from the “pound shop” section of my local Morrisons.

I cannot say anything about their longevity, but they don’t seem to adversely affect my fm radio.

Problems with durability are more likely to occur in higher power lamps because there is more heat to dissipate.

I wonder if some of the problems with premature failure reported in this Convo are caused by voltage spikes in the mains supply. The 18th Edition of the IET Wiring Regulations has a section on installation of surge protection. A surge protection device can be fitted in a consumer unit if space permits and this will provide protection for electronic equipment including LED lighting. Whereas well made products may already have surge protection built in, there is insufficient space to do this in the cap of LED bulbs.

Martin159 says:
18 January 2019

Last May I replaced all the halogen spots in the house with Ikea Ledare GU10 lamps. I bought 13 (unlucky?) and since then 4 have failed – I doubt they managed to last 500 hours each. I bought them on the basis of Which’s recommended Best Buy status. I disagree, they’re rubbish. Ikea said take them back to the store, which is a 30 mile round trip, each time a lamp fails. I’ll be using more energy in petrol than the wretched things are supposed to save. Finally got Ikea to post replacements but not hopeful they will last longer than a gnat’s crochet.

I presume you are referring to the 400 lumen 6W lamps, Martin. Which? has done a review: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/light-bulbs/ikea-ledare-led-bulb-e27-400-lumen

There is a small error. It is a GU10 lamp and not E27 – that would be a screw-fitting bulb. The review has no reference to how long the lamps lasted but this page does mention how durability is tested: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/light-bulbs/article/how-we-test-energy-saving-light-bulbs

Ikea LEDs have caused problems in the past, as can be seen from the introduction.

DerekP says:
18 January 2019

I replaced all my halogen GU10’s with a mixture of CFL and LED lamps, when I moved in about 7 years ago. None of them has ever failed.

You’re right about the bulb type – Ledare 400 lumen GU10. I still have the packet of one which clearly states 25000 hour life. Anyway lesson learnt, I’ll buy elsewhere if the rest fail as quickly.

Dan Nuttall says:
28 January 2019

Hi
We bought four complete CASA chrome ceiling lights late 2017 and had the electrics tested and lights fitted by a qualified electrician, the first seven light unit started for pulse and some of the lights failed after only three months which we replaced, now in the space of two weeks two more complete units have failed leaving only one unit working, what a pain, they are still under warranty so the shop will replace or refund, but we’re going back to halogen as we can’t be bothered with the agro and expense.