LED lighting early failure

I would be happy to add a quantitative analysis. This article just notes my experience with ongoing early failure across LED brands and fixture types. {: .alert-box}

I was an early adopter of fluorescent and then LED lighting throughout home and lab lighting fixtures. However, I made the changeover progressively, where the ROI is balanced. I saw a decade ago people dumping several thousand dollars in relamping their home with LEDs, with poor ROI because they went overboard and didn’t balance carbon vs. ROI. A startling downside I experienced across the years and fixture types, through today is high early failure rate of 120 Vac LED lighting.

Fluorescent → LED

I do not have the penultimate lighting, the low-voltage LED lighting. I have the dimmable 120 Vac LEDs, which do not dim nearly as low as incandescent, low-voltage LEDs, or smart LED luminaires. I have obtained a few inexpensive brands, as well as the leading brands like Cree and Phillips. About 15 % of these bulbs have failed within the first 4 hours of use. The rest have not failed.

Incandescent → fluorescent

In the early 2000s, first in my parent’s home and then in my own house, I put CFLs only in the most used light fixtures. I put in the well-regarded lamps from companies like Phillips that had a decent spectrum, not the bluish / garish cheap lamps. My goal was a six-month ROI, as I believed efficiencies would improve and that better dimmability via low-voltage LEDs would eventually come about.

I knew not to put CFLs in places of infrequent use or short use associated with excessive on/off cycles. I put them in places I spent a lot of hours like my dining room, workshop, garage and for exterior lighting. About 13 of these CFLs still work and they are being used by me today, in infrequent use applications. Only one of them smoked on failure, the others just quit working after years. I don’t recall any early failure of the few dozen CFLs I had.

The well-known CFL penalty in cold weather certainly applied for the exterior CFLs. They were not rated for below-zero Fahrenheit starts and so during the very coldest weather I would leave them on continuously (during the day too). Since there was less than 10 hours of daylight, I didn’t figure it too wasteful averaged over the month or year.

Perhaps because of my use case (long hours and 1-3 times/day on/off cycle) my CFLs lasted well beyond the warranty period. I have nearly twenty year old CFLs still working in infrequently used luminaires. I have replaced all CFLs used more a few hours/week for energy savings.