Understanding LED Lifespan

LED lighting has numerous benefits for its users. Everything from improved lighting performance, decreased energy costs, and lowered maintenance expenses. Additionally, LED lights have a significantly longer lifespan than their more-traditional counterparts. However, one of the things happening in the market is that misinformation is spreading about LED lifespans. A recent report published by the department of energy, found lifetime claims for more than half of LED products to be inaccurate.

So, the question becomes, why is this happening? Well, no industry is perfect with its product information and reporting. That said, we would like to use this post to help you better understand lifespan information. So that you can vet potential manufacturers and vendors when selecting your LED lighting products. The worst thing would be to retrofit your facility with LED lighting. Then have your lights fail years before they were supposed to.

LED Life Ratings Versus Traditional Light Sources

What is the Average Rated Life of a Traditional Lamp?

To fully understand the lifespan of a LED we must first understand how traditional light sources are measured. The industry term that has been used to measure traditional lamp lifespan is average rated life. Average rated life is measured in hours and indicates when 50% of a statically significant sample size fails. (This test is based on normal lamp voltage and current standards.)

LED’s Are Measured Differently

Average rated life is not the way that LED lifespan is measured. LED lifespan is measured in lumen maintenance. Lumen maintenance is an approach of measuring the light output of a brand-new light source. Comparing that with its light output after a certain period of time.

For example, L70 and L50 are examples of lumen maintenance. Specifically, L70 benchmarks when a lamp or fixture has 70% light output remaining. A big take back from the DOE failure report is to be sure to look at lumen maintenance and L70 and not just average rate life.

What Does This Mean for My Lighting

So, what does this mean for your lighting and when should you replace your lights for optimal performance? Well with traditional lighting knowing when to replace lights is pretty straight forward. A typical scenario is you go into a room, turn on the lighting and you’ll have a flickering light, or the lighting won’t turn on at all. This is when you know to replace your lighting.

LED’s aren’t like that, unlike a traditional light that will just burn out and won’t work anymore, an LED light will continue to work for long periods of time. However, the lighting performance will degrade over time until it is no longer useful and needs to be replaced. That doesn’t mean that LED’s will never fail, on occasion you will have a complete burnout, or what industry insiders call a catastrophic failure. However, this is the exception and not the rule.

More frequently, LED lighting will gradually degrade over time which will lead to loss of light output or unacceptably large color changes over time. It is at this point, that you need to replace the LEDs in your facility.

How Long do LED Lights Last

Well as we stated earlier LED lighting can last a long, long time, however, that doesn’t mean that you should keep the lighting as long as there isn’t a catastrophic failure with the lights. This is because the light output will degrade over time, both the light output and the color of the lights.

To adequately answer this question we are going to use a real-life illustration. If you purchase an LED light and run it 18 hours a day for 365 days in the year that is a total hour usage of 6,570 hours. At this run-rate, you should expect your lights to hit L70 at 45 months after you have installed them. Now it is not essential to replace your LED lighting at the L70 point, it really depends on the lighting application that you have. Specifically, if you are running a warehouse you could potentially run the lights for a longer length of time. However, if you are running a retail store where color rendering and light output are very important you might want to exchange the lighting at this point.

Conclusion

In conclusion LED lighting is a powerful technology that can help to: decrease maintenance expenses, increase lighting performance, lower energy expenses, and extend the lifespan of your lighting. Understanding your application and your need for accurate color rendering and light output will help you to better understand when you need to update your lighting. To find out more about how an LED lighting retrofit might help your organization reach out to us here at Action Services Group, we look forward to speaking with you.

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