How Long do LED Strip Lights Last

How Long do LED Strip Lights Last?

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Have you heard people talk about how much longer LED strip lights last versus other lights, but you’re wondering just how much longer they actually last? In this article we are going to address the question “how long do LED strip lights last?”

For years now, the popularity of LED (Light Emitting Diode) strip lights has increased, both for commercial and residential lighting uses and applications. Compared to halogen lights and the traditionally used incandescent, LED strip lights are superior because they have a long lifespan and require much less electricity.

It may appear like it’s straightforward to buy an LED light strip, but there are several factors you should figure out to ensure you get the right LED strip lights that will last a long time. Additionally, after purchase, there are things you can do (and things to avoid!) that will increase the longevity of your lights. First, we’ll dive into how long LED strip lights are meant to last, and then tips and best practices for you and your lights.

Lifespan of LED Strip Lights

According to several research studies, the estimation is that, on average, LED strip lights last for approximately 50,000 hours which is equivalent to about six years. The studies also show that the LED strip lights at this time (~six years) will only have diminished to 70% of their original light output.

The durability of LED strip lights is affected by many factors such as extra heat, dust, and poor care. These various external conditions have motivated manufacturers to develop LED light strips for various purposes such as houses, roads, offices, gardens, stadiums, vehicles, horticulture, etc.

LED strip lights have no movable filaments or parts that may break, enabling them to have a long lifetime. Unlike fluorescent lamps that begin to flicker or burn out, LEDs gradually and slowly lose their light output. Therefore, in the absence of catastrophic problems caused by things like mechanical damage or power failure, you can expect your LED light strips to last until they are too dim to use.

But what is too dim to use? According to the industry, they have drawn the line that 70% of light remaining or 30% percent light loss is the point where the light is disposable. This mark, usually referred to as the L70 metric, describes the number of hours an LED light will take to decline to 70% from its original light output.

How is L70 Calculated and Lifespan determined?

Many factors such as material selections, quality, and durability affect LED strip light longevity. However, the general rule is that higher driver currents and high temperatures lead to a faster decline in light output.

Since the material selection can differ among LED light strip manufacturers and types, LM-80, a test methodology, was developed to act as the primary standard for light longevity tests. The LM-80 directs the testing of LED samples at predetermined drive currents and temperatures that changes in light output measured in 1,000 to 10,000 hours.

To ensure objective and disclosure of results in a report format, a third-party laboratory carries the LM-80 test.

LED Strip Lights Longevity Characteristics

Temperature Coefficient

The LED lights, made with a semiconductor diode, make them famously recognized and used all over. The volt-ampere characteristics are also similar to the temperature of volt-ampere and semiconductor diodes characteristics.

The volt-ampere characteristics depend on low and high temperatures, and if the temperature rises, the characteristics may shift. Ambient temperature is an important consideration as well because extreme temperatures where the LED strip lights function can shorten their lifespan. See #2 below for more information on ambient temperature and LED stirp lights.

Lumen Depreciation

Contrary to popular belief, LED strip light brightness is not measured in watts but in lumens. Thus, you should consider the number of lumens an LED strip light can produce before buying, and then understand lumen maintenance and depreciation.

Lumen maintenance is the luminous flux (the emitted light you see and its brightness) at any given time in a light’s useful life, and lumen depreciation measures the luminous flux that’s been lost from the light over a period of time.

Lumen maintenance – Wikipedia

Most white LED strip lights achieve light output by illuminating blue LEDs with yellow fluorescent powders. The reasons for LED light strips lumen depreciation may be:

  • The blue LED itself. Blue has a faster lumen depreciation than other LED colors (e.g., yellow, green, and red lights).
  • The specific manufacturer or brand of the LED strip lights. The lumen depreciation characteristics can vary between different manufacturers or brands.

Factors Affecting LED Strip Light Lifespan

1. Power Supply

LED strip lights need a stable power supply to function correctly, just like other electrical appliances. The voltage needs to be regulated and controlled to maximize the LED light strip life expectancy and light output. If you are experiencing fluctuations in voltage in your area, your LED light strips may not last for as long as expected.

2. Ambient Temperature

The life span of your LED light strips is also affected by the surrounding temperature. The outdoor LEDs will be exposed to humid conditions and high temperatures, which will affect their lifespan. Likewise, enclosed LED light strips will experience higher ambient temperature. There should always be enough space for the light produced by the LED light strip to vanish quickly. Failure with this leads to the LEDs internal circuitry getting overheated and prematurely damaged.

3. LED Drivers and Capacitors

Capacitors are the components that store energy for the LED light strips to be used later for lighting. If used regularly, plastic capacitors can serve up to a year. Their lifespan can be shortened by high ambient temperature. Nowadays, LED strip light manufacturers typically use ceramic capacitors since they are tolerant to voltage fluctuations and high temperatures.

4. Heat Sink and Bulb Case Temperature

Another factor affecting the longevity of LED strip lights is the bulb’s case temperature. High temperatures of more than 85 degrees Fahrenheit will shorten the LED’s lifespan. The lights will cease to function if the temperature in the bulb case reaches 105 degrees Fahrenheit. If you want to lengthen the lifespan of your LED strip lights, you must have proper heat management.

5. Usage Durations

Most people ask whether LED strip lights can be left on for 24 hours (overnight). Well, the fact is keeping them on for an extended period will make them dim faster, since you’re getting them closer to that 50,000-hour mark sooner. Have you ever realized that the brightness of LED strip lights declines when they are kept on for a long, uninterrupted period of time? This is because LED light strips are made in a way that they reduce their lighting to regulate their energy consumption.

Therefore, we recommend you use LED strip lights when you need bright lights for a shorter period of time and switch them off when not in use if you are concerned about their longevity.

6. Cooling Down Period

The LED light strip should be given enough time to cool down. Even though LED lights emit less heat and are cooler to the touch than traditional incandescent light bulbs, it does not mean they don’t need any time to cool off. Letting them cool will increase their lifespan.

7. Rapid Switching On/Off of the Lights

Rapid switching on and off of any light bulb is damaging to its lifespan, and this includes LED strip lights. When you do this, the bulb is subjected and expected to withhold voltage fluctuations and doesn’t receive sufficient time to rest before the subsequent use. As a result, the lights get dimmer, and their overall lifespan is shortened.

8. Bad Connection

Faulty connection is another important factor that affects how long LED strip lights last. The following are possibilities that may lead to a bad connection – all of which you should look out for and be cautious of.

  • When they are loose in the socket and keep switching off
  • When the strips have been depressed and screwed in too tightly in the socket tab
  • When there are corroded and worn contact points
  • When there is a loose wire connection

9. High Voltage

If you find that you are burning multiple LED strip lights in a short period or the bulbs are lighting more brightly than they should be, the voltage in your house might be too high. An overpowered main will cause light bulbs to wear out faster than they should. If you have that issue, contact your electricity provider and have it corrected.

10. Ingress Protection (IP) Ratings

The IP rating of an LED light strip (as well as other kinds of lights) is the classification that indicates how well its casing protects the light from outside solid (e.g., dirt) and liquid (e.g., water) particles. An example of an IP rating you may see when shopping for lights is IP65. The first digit (6) measures its ability to protect the light from solid particles. The second digit (5) measures its ability to protect the light from liquid particles.

LED strip lights with a high IP rating (specifically the second digit) are suitable for use in bathrooms, as they have higher water resistance than those with low ratings. A high IP rating is critical for lights you plan to use outside. 

The LED strip lights with a high IP rating are covered by a silicone coating that prevents the entry of water and dust. Various LED lights with different IP ratings are suitable in other conditions. When purchasing strip lights, you should know the IP rating and the usage guide.

Parting Thoughts

How long do LED strip lights last is a question that can be determined by many factors as discussed instead of a random set time by the manufacturer. How you treat your LED strip light, where you use it, power voltages, and other factors affect the LED light strip’s lifespan.

We’re sure you’ll take excellent care of your LED strip lights, though, and do your due diligence before you buy them and set them up. If you do, you can expect to enjoy your LED strip lights for the duration of their lifespan: approximately 50,000 hours or – measured another way – six years.