How Long Do LED Ceiling Lights Last? (Do’s & Don’ts)

Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by Barry Gray

Do Ceiling Lights Have To Match

In 1879 Thomas Edison patented the trust incandescent light bulb. For more than 120 years, the trusty bulb has served faithfully. As time marched, technology improved, and in 1962, Nick Holonyak, Jr. invented the first LED that produced visible, red light. LEDs have slowly taken over the market, and today they account for 56% of all-electric bulb sales.

LED lights last 500% longer than conventional incandescent bulbs; this means that LED lights can last for up to 50,000 hours before needing replacement. Assuming an LED light is switched on between 18h00 and 24h00 every day, an LED ceiling light would last for 22 years. 

The early LED bulbs were prohibitively expensive, with a single bulb costing $200.00 in 1960 money ($1,500 in today’s process). Only in the 2000s, when manufacturers were able to reduce the prices, did LED become more popular.

Why Do LED’s Last For 50,000 Hours?

Conventional incandescent bulbs produce light by burning a filament mixed with argon,  nitrogen, and krypton. The filament is made from tungsten, and this component evaporates over time. When it has fully evaporated, the incandescent bulb stops working.

Light Emitting Diodes (LED) work in a completely different way. 

An LED is a basic semiconductor device and consists of two layers of material.

  1. The first one contains a positive charge called “holes.”
  2. The second layer contains a negative charge called “electrons.”

When the layers are laid together, they create a “diode.”

When current is passed through the diode, the negative electrons are forced through the positive “holes,” and the positive “holes” are forced against them.

When an electron hits a hole, it combines with the hole. As the electron contains more energy than the hole, to successfully combine with the hole, the electron must lose excess energy. 

The result is photons (a unit of light) are released in a process called  “electroluminescence .”The number of times electrons combine with holes is called the frequency, and it is by changing the frequency that different color LEDs work.

As LEDs have no filament which is consumed by the process of making light, LEDs will work for significantly more extended periods.

What Are The Benefits Of LED Bulbs?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of LEDs?

The Advantages Of LEDs

There are several advantages that LEDs have over conventional incandescent bulbs. These include.

LEDs Last Longer

Incandescent bulbs are very inefficient as they only use 5% of the electrical energy to produce light, with the remaining being released as heat.

Incandescent bulbs that use the filament as a “non-renewable” fuel will fail after approximately 1,000 hours. If the incandescent bulb is used for six hours a day, it gives it a potential lifetime of +- six months.

The process which causes an LED to produce light requires no fuel to be consumed. It makes the process of creating light much more efficient. However, they still have heat, albeit much less than incandescent bulbs, and over time the heat causes the diodes to break down.

The result is that the life expectancy of an LED bulb is approximately 50,000 hours, which is 50 times greater than an incandescent bulb.

It makes LEDs a viable light source in mission-critical applications such as motor car headlights and aircraft instrumentation backlighting. Operating theatre lighting etc.

LEDs Need Less Power

95% of the energy used by an incandescent light bulb is lost through heat. Not only does this create logistical issues, as you need to be careful that the incandescent bulb doesn’t scorch its surroundings,  but it also means that you pay for 20 times more current to produce the same light as an equivalent LED.

In areas with a constrained power utility supply, this becomes a serious concern.

The price of electricity is increasing globally, and any attempts to reduce the impact of these increases is a good practice.

LEDs Are Much Brighter Than Incandescent Bulbs

Although the individual diodes in a bulb produce significantly fewer lumens (a measure of light), manufacturers can pack concentrated numbers of diodes in each unit.

Manufacturers are also able to control the frequency (color) of their LEDs and the wattage used to power the LEDs. It results in a broad selection of LED units.

LEDs Are Very Efficient

LEDs produce less heat,  use a higher percentage of the power to make light, and are considered a very efficient light source.

The way LED bulbs are designed; the manufacturers can control the direction of the light they produce.

It means that LED bulbs can be designed only to light the desired area. The longer focal length built into the bulb lenses means less light “spillage” than incandescent bulbs.

LEDs Produce Less Heat

As discussed earlier, incandescent bulbs only use 5% of the electrical energy to produce light; the rest gets lost through heat.

LEDs don’t produce infrared radiation, and therefore they remain cooler; this means that they offer much greater flexibility than their incandescent counterparts.

It has a particular benefit to the food industry as they can use LEDs to light display food without any heat being produced, which may compromise the freshness of the food.

The process LEDs use to create photons (particles of light) releases heat energy at much lower levels than incandescent bulbs.

LEDs have efficient thermal management and heat sinks, which prevent heat from compromising the output.

Over time, however, the diodes will be affected, which may change the bulb’s brightness or color shade.

If a higher current than stipulated in the LED packaging is used, the temperature will peak, permanently damaging the unit.

LEDs Can Be Produced In Different Sizes

One of the most exciting developments with LEDs is that they can be manufactured in different sizes due to the individual diodes being so small.

It increases designers’ flexibility, and the number of uses for which LEDs can be applied is significantly more than incandescent bulbs. Examples include the backlighting in LED TVs and the backlighting in modern mobile phones.

The Disadvantages Of LED Lights

The advantages of LED far outweigh any disadvantages; however, the most significant drawbacks are

LED Bulbs Cost More

The upfront cost of LEDs is still higher than incandescent bulbs.

The price difference between the two technologies is constantly being narrowed, but it is still a factor.

  1. Cost savings due to lower electrical consumption.
  2. The fact that you would have to buy approximately 50 incandescent bulbs during the lifetime of one LED.
  3. You will not have the inconvenience of regularly replacing incandescent bulbs.

The lifetime costs of LEDs are significantly less than incandescent bulbs.

There Is A Lack Of Industry Standards Relating To LEDs

Even though there are bodies that control LED standards in specific industries, there is no overarching body.

It has resulted in inflated life expectancy claims from different manufacturers and varying luminosity levels being sold in specific categories.

Only purchase LEDs made by established manufacturers prepared to defend their products publicly.

Conclusion

LEDs have revolutionized the light industry. Whether it be a billboard advertising washing powder in Piccadilly Circus in London, the landing lights of an aircraft helping it find the way in the fog, or a Namibian child using an LED phone, Light Emitting Diodes has changed the world in which we live.

The advantages LEDs provide are profound and impact every one of the earth’s inhabitants.

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.