How long do LED lights last? LED Lifespan Explained

LED lights last longer than incandescent, CFL, fluorescent, or other conventional lights. LEDs are praised for their very long lifespan of 50,000 to 100,000 hours. LED lights do not completely burn out rather slowly fades after a defined lifetime.

LED lifespan is typically defined in hours. But how many years an LED with 50,000 hours last? The high number of hours is often difficult for end-users to grasp.

Therefore, in this article, we explain to you how to convert the operating hours into a practical value and compare the service life of LEDs with that of other types of light sources.

Key facts about LED Lifespan:

  • LEDs last up to 100,000 hours (average nominal life)
  • the actual service life depends on the individual period of use. Example: 50,000 hours result in service life of around 16 years with a weekly lighting time of 60 hours
  • LEDs don’t fail, they get darker and darker over time
  • The number of switching cycles also affects the longevity of LED lamps
  • An extremely large number of switching cycles and an unsuitable ambient temperature can lead to a defect in the LED

LEDs, so-called light-emitting diodes, achieve a service life of up to 100,000 hours for demanding professional applications thanks to the latest technology. The LED service life is usually specified in hours and is often referred to as the mean nominal service life. You can find this information on the packaging of the lights. The period over which the service life is spread then depends on the individual lighting duration. Because whether you use an LED light for 20, 10, or only 3 hours a day makes the difference.

What does LED Lifespan mean?

The LED lifespan or lifetime is the figure mentioned in hours which means the light output (brightness) is predicted to drop significantly from the initial output to the point where a replacement is worth considering. LEDs typically do not burn out completely rather fades away over time. Even after say 50,000 hours 90% of LEDs retain 70 to 80% of original Luminosity.

LED lamps fades away after a longer lifetime partly due to slow aging of the LED driving circuitry. Also external factors such as heat, humidity, power supply, and switching cycles affects the LED lifetime.

How is the LED service life calculated?

You can easily calculate how long an LED will last with its expected operating time: Calculate the weekly lighting time of your lighting. For example, this could be 12 hours a day, five days a week. Together this amounts to 60 hours per week and 3,120 hours per year. Now all you have to do is divide the service life of the LED by the annual value. So if the LED lamp has an average product life of 25,000 hours, it will glow for around 8 years in your calculation scenario.

There is a big difference between LEDs and conventional light sources. While lightbulbs, halogen and energy-saving lamps simply burn out as soon as the end of their service life is reached, LEDs continue to shine. Because here the luminosity decreases, so the lamp simply becomes darker. You hardly notice this process in practice because it takes place slowly. But remember: the power consumption stays the same. So you pay the same amount of energy for less luminosity (lumens). We therefore recommend replacing the LED lamp promptly at the end of the calculated service life, even if it still lights up.

Lamp TypeLifespan
(in hours)
Burn Time
(at 60 hours/week)
Light Bulb1000 h0.3 Years
Halogen Lamp2000-4000 h0.6 – 1.2 Years
Energy Saving Lamp10000 h3 Years
LED lamp15000-100,000 h5-32 Years
Lifespan of different types of light

What does 50,000 hours of service life mean for an LED?

Many LED lamps have a declared lifespan of 50,000 hours. If, as in the calculation example above, we assume a weekly operating time of 60 hours, the 50,000 hours are spread over a period of around 16 years.

Does LED light get darker over time?

LEDs don’t just go out at the end of their lifespan, they get darker. To see how much brightness (lumens) there will be at the end of the product life, take a look at the standard for the mean rated life . This indicates how many lumens in percent will be emitted by the LED at the end of its service life. L70, for example, means that 70% of the original lumen value is retained, with the standard L80 it is still 80%. The letter L stands for the decrease in luminous flux. This process is often referred to as degradation.

How many switching cycles does an LED last?

It is not only the service life of the LED chips that has an impact on the service life indicated on the packaging of the light sources. The switching cycles also say something about the longevity of the lamps. In private households there are usually only a few switching cycles per day, so this information is not as relevant here as it is for other applications. A high number of switching cycles can occur particularly in areas of the path where many people are on the move. A prominent example of this are stairwells in large office and residential buildings.

As a rule of thumb you can remember: A lamp has about as many switching cycles as its service life in hours.

What is a switching cycle?

The switching cycle of a lamp consists of switching the lighting on and off . The specification for how many switching cycles a lamp is designed for can also be found on the manufacturer’s packaging.

Can LEDs break?

Yes, LED lamps can break. This happens when the lamp is exposed to an extremely large number of switching cycles , for example due to an incorrectly set motion detector . The ambient temperature also has an impact on the service life of LEDs. When generating LED light, there is usually an extremely low level of heat generation. However, if the LED is installed in such a way that normal air circulation is not possible, heat will build up. The increased ambient temperature can have a negative effect on the service life of the LED and lead to defects.

tip
If you would like to dispose of defective LED lamps or those that have lost too much luminosity, you have various options. We would be happy to provide you with information on the topic in our blog article Can LED lamps be recycled?

5 tips on how to extend the service life of your LED

  1. Pay attention to temperature and humidity:
    LEDs are sensitive to heat – so be careful not to expose the LED lamps to extreme temperatures, because excessive cold or heat, as well as too high humidity, can have a negative effect on the LED service life. Therefore, in the technical data on the product pages, pay attention to which temperatures the respective product is designed for. Usually the humidity should be below 80% and the ambient temperature should be in a range between -20 ° C and 30 °.
  2. Use the same type of lamp in one luminaire:
    Due to the massive heat generated by light bulbs and halogen lamps, it is advisable not to mix different lamp technologies in one luminaire. Switch directly to LED completely, because you will immediately benefit from high energy savings and the particularly long service life. For more information, please read our blog on fluorescent and LED tubes on the same fixture? 5 reasons against it.
  3. Switch off the lighting as soon as it is not required:
    Easy to implement and effective. Because if you only switch on your lights when necessary, the lamps will last longer. This is particularly easy and efficient with sensor-controlled LED lighting .
  4. Use LED-compatible transformers:
    If the lamp requires a transformer, it must be compatible with LED. You can obtain the corresponding compatibility lists from the LED manufacturers.
  5. Install correctly:
    So that the LED can be cooled sufficiently, it needs space for air circulation. If you install the LED lamp in a housing that is too narrow, excessive heat can develop, which in turn has a negative impact on the service life of the LED. A distance of approx. 1 cm around the lamp is ideal so that the cooling can function optimally.

The longer life of LED means less time spent on changing lamps (crucial for hard-to-get-at areas). Also, it’s great for the environment if we need to use fewer lamps and associated packaging, transport energy, and carbon emission.