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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?

john Melvin says:
10 February 2020

A further comment.
AMAZON have just refunded the cost of my 4 dead
Paul Russell 15 watt LED 6253 lamps.
I need to find my old 100watt ones now.

Johnny M

I have outdoor units 4 units , put them up in 2018, 1 failed in 2018 summer the other 2020 Feb. I find it infuriating that I cannot change the bulb, it come on only when movement is detected. Therefore short period of times.
I am now going to replace the failed unit with a tungsten halogen unit, at least for 2 pounds I can fit a new bulb.
These do not work and are a fraud, they are not ecological as I have to throw awy the units as it is NOT recyclable.
I worked in lighting when the halogen were introduced, these LED are no more n less than a money making system for someone. I took one apart and NOTHING can be replaced. . .. .

We have 10 led light fittings in the kitchen/dining room which were fitted 3 years ago. I have replaced every single light bulb at least twice, using cheap ones and more expensive branded ones, it makes no difference. In the bathroom in May 2019 the electrician fitted 4 shower room safe lights, one of which has just failed this week. I am sick of the inconvenience and expense for what is obviously a huge con played on us by the EU energy efficient watchdogs who must be rubbing their hands with glee at the level of sales caused by continuous replacement.

Mark C says:
23 September 2020

Two of my ten Eveready brand GUI 10 5w Led bulbs have failed so far in less than 1000 hours. I have spent 10 times the the electricity saving on low energy bulbs.

ikea yet led 200lm. Lasted less than 2 years of light use

mike says:
12 October 2020

similar issue. bought 20 watt led pir floodlight less than 6 months ago from b and q . My uncle informs me it is has failed . failure more on all the time but at a very low illumination level. seems to be a not uncommon problem and is infuriating since nothing is recylable. these leds are a waste of time an d money

You can make a claim against the retailer under the Consumer Rights Act, Mike: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product The guarantee may provide additional benefits. B&Q are generally very helpful in my experience.