LED lights have become very popular in recent years. So, it is natural to ask “do LED lights lose brightness over time?” You might have heard this often. But, do you know if is it a myth or reality?
Obviously, we cannot answer in a single phrase. Instead, we have to do some research to reveal the truth. I will explain everything in detail so that you can understand the phenomenon. You are requested to stay with me.
Table of contents
- How do LED Lights Work?
- Understand the LED Rating System
- LED Lights Lose Brightness Over Time: Myth or Reality?
- Are You Interested in Knowing Why LED Lights Lose Brightness?
- How to Know Lifespan of Your LED has Ended?
- How to Prevent Loss of Brightness?
- Do LED Strips also Lose Brightness Over Time?
- Does LED Color Affect Loss of Brightness?
- FAQs About LED Lights Brightness
- Concluding Thoughts
How do LED Lights Work?
Traditional incandescent bulbs have a heating filament. It burns and the rest of the bulb is illuminated. The filament is very delicate. It gets heat and becomes weak over time.
As a result, the bulb fuses or stops working. On the other hand, LED light bulbs do not have any filament. Instead, they use a semiconductor called diode to produce light.
Understand the LED Rating System
I read the research that said human vision fades faster than a bulb. In comparison, lights dim slowly. Expert says that the human eye can detect the lumen difference after 20%.
The rating system is an estimate of the number of hours a LED bulb will produce maximum light. Mostly, the L70 rating system is used to determine light dimming. However, L50, L80, and L90 ratings are also used.
A LED bulb that has faded past 70% can still produce light. But, it is no longer fit for illumination. After 70%, the brightness degrades very fast. Watch this video for further details.
LED Lights Lose Brightness Over Time: Myth or Reality?
Generally, speaking, everything dies after completing its lifespan. So is the LED light bulb. They gradually dim because of lumen degradation. At a certain point, the bulb will stop giving light altogether.
The life of light can be determined by the L70 rating. It tells how many hours the bulb can last before it hits 70% of full light.
For example, a LED features 50,000-hour life. You can keep it ON 24/7 for 6 years. Is not it extremely long-lasting, efficient, and reliable?
Are You Interested in Knowing Why LED Lights Lose Brightness?
The bigger question is WHY this happens? There are a number of factors that contribute to the dimming process. Some of them are controllable while others are natural. Let us know what are the major causes.
1. Manufacturing Flaws
As I mentioned earlier LEDs use semiconductor that is made from Gallium Nitride. Threading dislocation occurs while the bulbs are manufactured.
This distorts the structure of the semiconductor to some extent. Resultantly, its efficiency is affected and some parts do not produce light even in a new bulb.
These dislocations or manufacturing faults become worse as the bulb ages. So, light output is decreased and eventually stops.
Excessive heat deteriorates LEDs faster. It not only reduces the lifespan of the bulb but also the color. Most of the LEDs have a built-in heat sink to dissipate excessive heat.
Thus, the diode is saved from overheating. The ambient temperature should not exceed 60°C. Heat negatively affects the internal components of the bulb.
A negative correlation exists between heat and lumen output. It means an increase in temperature decreases the lumen output and vice versa.
3. Other Factors
Many other factors also contribute to the dimming of lights. For example, quality is the major factor. Low-quality and cheap bulbs fade earlier than high-quality products.
There are various brands in the market. Choose the number one and the most reliable brand of your region. Moreover, maintanance levels also enhance life.
Cleaning the bulbs to avoid dust build-up increases their lifespan. Likewise, fitting them properly and turning them OFF when not in use also helps.
How to Know Lifespan of Your LED has Ended?
If your bulbs are dimmer, it does not necessarily mean they have reached the end of their lifespan. There can be other reasons for dim light. Let us learn how to determine this fact.
Test #1. Observe Light Quality
You can tell by counting the age of your bulbs. Further, the lightning effect and quality can also tell you if the lifespan is about to end.
The light starts flickering or strobing. A change in color or tint also indicates lifespan is ending.
Test #2. Try Another Fixture
For example, the fixture is bad or the wiring is loose. One of the best tests is trying your light bulb into 2 or 3 different fixtures. If output improves, the bulb is fine.
However, if it remains dim in other fixtures too, its lifespan is about to end. Hence, it is time to replace your bulb.
Test #3. Check the Dimmer
Moreover, you should check the dimmer switch of your LEDs. If it is faulty, your light will malfunction. Always use the compatible dimmer that is made by the same brand. A universal dimmer cannot work efficiently.
Test #4. Use Light Meter
You can confirm using a light meter. It can be purchased for almost $50. Light meters are of different types and have varying prices depending on their purpose. Watch this video to learn the usage of the light meter.
How to Prevent Loss of Brightness?
Now, you know the causes of dimming. So, you can take preventive measures. Here are some useful tips to prevent the loss of brightness over time.
- Install the LED bulbs properly and fit them firmly into the fixture.
- Clean your bulb regularly to avoid light dimming.
- Keep your LED bulbs cool and prevent overheating. Turn OFF your lights when they are not in use.
- Switch the lights ON alternatively to give them resting time. Do not rely on a single bulb always if you have multiple in your room.
- White LEDs are especially vulnerable to heat damage. Because they have a phosphor coating to generate white light. Heat is very harmful to this coating and breaks down it.
- Check the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding the power supply and voltage. Provide proper and adequate power to prevent premature dimming.
- Bulbs also degrade by switching ON/OFF frequently.
- Minimize the level of vibration by fitting the bulb securely into the fixture.
- Purchase high-quality LEDs. They last longer and are more efficient than cheap bulbs.
- Prefer longer colors having wavelengths such as red and green instead of blue and white.
Do LED Strips also Lose Brightness Over Time?
LED strips are made on a bit different rules. They have multiple diodes in a series. Thus, if one diode fails, the entire strip will expire. They also suffer voltage drops over time.
Moreover, LEDs can also change color. Mostly, they are colorful and available in 5-6 hues. They can turn yellow as they age.
So, simply speaking, strips also lose brightness but the process is a bit different from bulbs.
Does LED Color Affect Loss of Brightness?
Some colors dim fast than others. For example, blue and white LEDs dim faster than others. Because they have short wavelengths and are vulnerable to lumen depreciation.
Ultraviolet and blue photons are more energetic than other colors. So, they damage the diode easily.
Moreover, the photons cause color changes in the phosphor coating of the LEDs. In contrast, longer wavelengths such as red or green dim slowly.
FAQs About LED Lights Brightness
If you want to get more knowledge, read the following commonly asked questions that may also come to your mind.
What to do with a dimmed LED bulb?
There are two options. Either you can recycle the dimmed light bulb or throw it in the trash. Recycling can be done by a local technician or by a company. However, it may not be worth it because of the high cost. So, you can throw the dimmed LED in the trash but with extra care so that anyone is not harmed.
How long can LED lights last?
LED lights can last up to 100,000 hours. Their minimum lifespan is 5 years and the maximum is 20 years. It depends on the material, quality, and maintenance.
Why LED light bulbs are preferred over incandescent?
LEDs are more highly efficient than incandescent bulbs. They use a little amount of energy but give higher lumen output. They use a diode that is highly efficient in terms of performance and power usage. In fact, LED bulbs use 75% less energy as compared to normal bulbs.
What is the biggest disadvantage of LED lights?
The biggest known disadvantage is that LED bulbs emit more blue light as compared to normal bulbs. Blue light can affect your circadian rhythm, sleep cycle, and sleep quality.
In short, LED lights also lose brightness over time. But, they do not dim too fast and early as other types of bulbs do. Also, LEDs do not fail fully just reduce lumen output or change color. So, you can use them still if you want low brightness anywhere in your home.