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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
Guest
Ranulph Hudston says:
12 September 2017

Sunbeam model 30411826 – 11W, 806Lm, 2700K – I didn’t get even a year of infrequent use out of a couple of them.

Philips model 9290002268 – 11W, 830Lm, 2700K – I put 8 of them in the overhead lamps above the kitchen cabinets two years ago. Two have already failed – the bases crack and then they go out.

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I hope you the retailer will replace the failed lamps. It might be worth checking the bases of the surviving Philips lamps for signs of cracking, presumably due to overheating.

So far I have had no failures of the various makes and types of LED lamps, probably mostly Philips.

Guest
michael mccafferty says:
18 September 2017

I am aware that LED claims are totally bogus and in particular the outdoor security light section of the market. I have been trying to find a suppliers who will guarantee them for at least half the lifespan claimed in there advertisements without success. I have had at least six 50W security lights in the last year and none have lasted more than a few months and would guess total usage on each has been approximately 20hours. Having checked on line I can see I am not alone in this. It is disgraceful that claims of several thousand hours life span is not true and legislation should be introduced to protect customers who are fooled in to believing these claims. It is not worth taking legal action given the low cost of these items and this is well known by the suppliers and manufacturers. However it would be beneficial for someone to take action on behalf of the growing amount of customers complaining of this.

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I presume that you are referring to LED security lamps that are equivalent to 50W incandescent lamps. I agree that the claims are disgraceful and I’m surprised that the Advertising Standards Authority has not taken action to ask for these claims to be removed from advertising and packaging. You could try making a complaint: https://www.asa.org.uk/make-a-complaint.html

I have not yet had any problems, but if I do have several premature failures in future I will make a complaint.

I agree that products should be guaranteed for at least half the claimed lifetime and have made a similar suggestion myself in this or another Conversation about LED bulbs.

Guest
Tim Jackson says:
21 September 2017

I bought 6 Osram LED ‘classic A 60 dimmable’ lamps for my dining room, although there is no dimmer, just a switch. Over the following two years or so, four of them have failed. This is in a normal domestic setting, unlikely to be running more then four hours a day. I have other (non-dimmable) LED lamps elsewhere in the house which are no problem. The nature of the failure is not that they go out, but that they occasionally start flashing on and off rapidly. Usually only one lamp at a time in the 5-lamp fitting will do this, the others remain lit as normal.

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Tim – the driver circuit for dimmable LED lamps is not the same as that for non-dimmable types , different types of eqaualisation diodes etc are used as well as many manufacturers having their own ideas on the right circuit , there is no “industry standard ” on dimmable LED,s . Normally the controller (dimmer ) gives out pulses of power that are less than 100 % of full electrical power or not more than it . Instant switch on can , if the AC sine wave is switched on at its peak produce over 300 V AC for a fraction of a second enough, long term to break down any electronic component not designed to stand this peak voltage . Therefore the current chain will be unbalanced and more current applied to some parts than it is designed for.

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Tim, may I suggest you contact Osram with the make and model of your dimmer, and details of the Osram lamps. I am sure they will assist.

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He said -quote- “although there is NO dimmer-just a SWITCH “-end quote malcolm so my post stands.

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Tim has said that he is not using a dimmer but using dimmable lamps. This gives the option of using a dimmer in future, and it is important to use one designed for LED lighting.

I would start by contacting the retailer because the contract is with them, but it is worth informing manufacturers of problems.

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The circuit for dimmable led lights is not the same as non-dimmable Wavechange and components used are also not the same. If I can I will dig up a circuit diagram . I am not talking about the controller. I do agree that for more info contact Osram but if they are made in the Land of Built to a Price I might have trouble getting their exact circuit.

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Thanks for the correction, wavechange. However, my advice still stands; contact Osram. They have a base in the UK and are more likely to be able to advise than the retailer.

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Thanks also for your correction, duncan. As below, my advice to find out what is happening is to contact Osram.

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I know the circuitry in the lamps differ between dimmable and non-dimmable lamps differs, otherwise they would all be dimmable! I bought an Osram LED made in Italy but others were made in China.

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Tim seems to want to know why this happens (or maybe he doesn’t and it is just a comment). But if he does, the best people to ask are the manufacturer – technical services.

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For both Wavechange and malcolm (and maybe Tim ) a technical insight very detailed, with schematics into dimmable LED operation -again its from my favourite country on the web -the USA – Digi-Key is a very well respected US company : https://www.digikey.com/en/articles/techzone/2014/jul/ics-answer-the-challenge-of-dimming-led-lamps–in-triac-driven-circuits

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Sorry, the URL does not work. I doubt that all manufacturers use similar circuitry in their lamps.

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Ah digi -key have changed it to their home website , not allowing direct access to this info I got there direct under disguise. Sorry Wavechange.

Guest
bishbut says:
22 September 2017

I buy most of my LED bulbs at Poundland only small wattage as yet but have not had any fail The one that did fail was bought elsewhere At just a pound each it does not cost much to replace if one fails I have had them still working after being dropped and the outer glass broken