Light Emitting Diodes, otherwise known as LEDs, make use of relatively little energy, light up very quickly, and last for a very long time. They’re a great option when you need full illumination for a reasonable cost. They last longer than traditional lightbulbs, but how long do LED light strips last in the end?
LED strip lights can last for about six years, but several factors contribute to their longevity, including how often they’re used and the product quality. Metrics like ‘L70’ exist to track estimated LED lifespans.The adhesive backing will probably fail (and need replacement) before any LEDs do.
LED strips are certainly a convenient option for lighting a wide variety of spaces. But you should always consider how long something’s going to last before you decide to purchase it. Let’s take a more detailed look at the lifespan of LED light strips and the factors that determine how long they’ll function.
How Long Do LED Strip Lights Last?
LED lights like this example from X (on Amazon) act quite differently from fluorescent and incandescent bulbs over time. While fluorescent and incandescent bulbs tend to flicker and go out at some point, LEDs lose their light output very slowly.
The advantage of this is that certain failures that arise as a result of mechanical damage or power surges aren’t an issue. The LEDs on your LED strip will always be considered somewhat usable until they can no longer be used, and the way LEDs fail is by dimming over time, not flickering out and failing all at once.
You might be wondering, “How dim is too dim?” There are quite a few answers to the question. However, in the industry, it is widely accepted that either a 30% loss of light capacity or a leftover of 70% of light capacity remaining is the point.
This is usually known as the L70 metric. The L70 metric refers to the number of hours an LED light would take to diminish to only 70% of the original light output capacity.
How L70 Is Calculated
Several factors such as quality, material selection, and durability play a direct role in determining the longevity of the LED. However, a single accepted and believed notion is that light output declines faster under higher drive currents and higher temperatures.
There is a certain test methodology known as LM-80. This test methodology was designed to stipulate the primary standard for light longevity tests because materials selection can vary widely among LED manufacturers and types.
Third-party laboratories are where the LM-80 tests are usually carried out or conducted because the aim is to achieve objective results. The results are then published in a report format.
It is a set standard that all reputable LED manufacturers have to perform this test, and it is also expected that a reputable LED strip supplier carries out this same test for you, especially if you’re purchasing in bulk.
The downside of testing the lifespan of an LED is that it consumes a lot of time. For instance, a 10,000-hour test requires around 14 months to be conducted even if the LEDs are illuminated 24/7.
For an industry that is fast-paced like the LED lighting industry, this is basically forever. It would take almost 6 years to conduct continuous testing of a product to the full 50,000-hour claim.
Because of this, TM-21, an extrapolation algorithm, was designed. The job of this algorithm is to take control of the LM-80 samples over the first several thousand hours and then spit out a projected lifetime number. It is this number that would then be reported on specification sheets and warranties.
Aside from the fact that it can dim over some time, an LED is subject to begin a shift in its color life if the materials used in production degrade at different rates. Although the LM-80 tests usually report the color shift extent, it is very rarely mentioned in KED strip specifications.
What Is Delta U’V’?
You will be pushed to find documentation on the acceptable level for not just your application but also for the industry at large.
If you can get your hands on the LM-80 test reports of an LED manufacturer or a metric known as “delta u’v’, you will have an idea of color stability by bearing in mind that a delta u’v’ over 0.003 is considered noticeable to the human eye.
Normally, delta u’v’ under 0.006 over the lifetime of the LED products is considered suitable for a high percentage of indoor lighting applications. But you may want to pick a product that has better color stability over time, especially for applications that are more demanding like museums and lighting artwork.
Even though the longevity of the LED is usually the most talked-about topic when it comes to LED strip lifetime, there are more important topics to focus on. For instance, the adhesive and power supply are also likely to fail, and when they do, they fail woefully.
The adhesive backing on the LED strip may be vulnerable to certain environmental conditions including humidity, dust, and sunlight exposure. These things can cause the adhesive to degrade over time and the result of this is that the LED strip will start falling off of its installed surface.
Why Do LED Lights Last so Long?
LEDs have a much longer lifespan than incandescent light bulbs. This is because they are as much as 90% more effective. The reason for this is that none of their working parts is designed to break or burn out over time.
An average LED light is known to be very robust. They do not contain any glass that can break and have no part of them that can wear out. They also aren’t made from fragile glass that can easily break. What this means is that they have a much longer lifespan than regular light bulbs.
Their manner of light production is somewhat unique and it makes them stand out because it’s a very vital ingredient of their longevity. They are made of substrate semiconductor materials and have two specific two doped regions, P – positive and N – negative.
The electrons jump to higher atomic energy states the moment the current passes through the PN junction. The light is emitted in the form of protons when the electrons return to the ground state.
This consumes very little amount of energy since it is very little heat generated and it is known as electroluminescence.
Factors That Determine the Lifespan of LED Strip Lights
There are several factors that can have a direct effect on the lifespan of an LED light. These factors include the frequency of use, the application, the area, the temperature, the current, as well as how the light is used.
Therefore, the fact that manufacturers stipulate a lifespan on the packaging does not necessarily mean that you should take it as the exact estimated life.
The manufacturer usually gives an estimate based on the LED being used under normal conditions instead of trying to stipulate the exact lifespan.
Let’s take a look at four of the most important factors determining the lifespan of an LED light strip.
1. Exposure to Extreme Heat
LED lights are usually very vulnerable to heat, just like most electronic devices. They are normally designed to be used at a temperature of about 65-80˚F, even though they can also be used outdoors, in a shed, or in a garage.
Most LED lights would function best when the temperature is below 75 degrees. Exposure to too much heat means that the semiconducting element’s temperature within the LED will also increase. This usually has the effect of accelerating the degradation rate of the diodes.
2. Daily Usage
Even as you already know that LED light bulbs are designed to last much longer than incandescent bulbs, you should also play your part as a user.
This means that you should ensure that you put out the indoor lights before going to bed, and you should also turn off the outdoor lights in the morning. Turning off the lights when they’re not in use will help make them last quite longer.
3. Electrical Currents
An LED light will usually respond to an extremely high electrical current. In this case, it will shine brighter in response to the current by trying to make use of all the energy entering into the circuit.
This will bring about a reduction in the bulb’s lifespan, but it can also cause the light fixture and the LED circuit to burn out due to overheating.
4. Heat Sinks
There is a component known as a heat sink that is normally used in LED lights. What the heat sink does is absorb and disperse heat, thereby cooling the internal components and the device’s circuitry.
This ensures that LEDs with high-quality heat sinks normally last longer than identical LED lights with low-quality heat sinks.
Can You Leave LED Lights on 24/7?
LEDs do not produce unnecessary heat and you can use them 24/7. The strip lights are suitable for big, narrow areas such as kitchen counters.
However, on most occasions, you should carry out stress tests before exposing your light to prolonged use.
Do LED Strip Lights Use a Lot of Electricity?
Compared to incandescent light bulbs, LED strip lights do not consume a lot of electricity. The light density and the strip light length are usually what determine the consumption. A typical 5-meter strip will cost less than $3 per year, on average.
Light bulb electricity measurement is usually done by KWh. An LED bulb makes use of 127.5KWh over its 15,000-hour lifespan. Incandescent bulbs, meanwhile, will consume a whopping 900KWh of electricity over 15,000 hours.
The cost of electricity per kWh depends on where you live, of course. In the US, the average cost is 13 cents per hour. So, with that rate, an LED bulb’s electricity cost will only be $16.58, while, on the other hand, an incandescent bulb would cost a whole lot more: $117 to be precise. That is almost 7 times as much on your energy bill.