LED Bulb Lifespan vs. Warranty

I picked up a $35 LED bulb that’s allegedly equivalent to a 75 W incandescent, replacing a 100 W equivalent compact fluorescent bulb that an X10 relay switch couldn’t turn off cleanly, for a torchiere floor lamp. ‘Nuff said about early CFL failures.

It has both upward and downward facing LED chips that light up the diffuser and ceiling in equal measure. Both strings are visible from the side due to the heavy molded plastic lens around the chips:

LED Bulb
LED Bulb

Some interesting bits from the package:

Home Depot LED Bulb Warranty
Home Depot LED Bulb Warranty

A 22.8 year lifespan at three hours per day works out to 24.983×103 hours. I wish I could have heard the arguments about whether they could claim a 23 year lifespan…

At the same duty cycle, the 5 year warranty covers 5.479×103 hours. Huh.

The URL at the bottom leads to some general info, but nothing you didn’t know already.

It works well enough, but at $35 it’s really a capital investment that I suspect will never actually pay for itself…

20 thoughts on “LED Bulb Lifespan vs. Warranty

  1. just a couple weeks ago, i upgraded all of my bench lights to the 5000k version of the above. i wanted to find the brightest,whitest LED light that would fit into my existing desk lamps for more work light and a cooler room. surprisingly enough, i checked ebay and amazon, but home depot had the cheapest and brightest light available in the A19 form factor. $35 was expensive, but it is waay cheaper than buying new lamps.

    1. We have a pair of cold-white Ottlites at our reading chairs, but a warm-white ceiling wash seemed better.

      I think it’s that old sense that real light comes from burning wood…

      That said, when the warm CFLs in the Basement Office can lights crap out, they’ll turn into daylight LEDs; assuming I can find something that won’t mind living upside-down in an open can fixture.

      1. Depot sells spot LEDs, and the 40 “Watt” porch light has spent a year LED down.

        1. Sold! (When the time comes, anyhow.)

          They deterred me with all manner of warnings about not burning base-up, back when they were new and even more staggeringly expensive; maybe I’m just behind the power curve.

        2. Just pulled the extra bulb from the stash. It’s a Cree 9.5W (60 “Watt”), suitable for damp locations, 2700K. The front porch CFL hasn’t died yet and it’s a pain to replace, but when it does…

      2. The Home Depot version of the Cree CR6 is a fairly nice light. I put the 5000K version in my kitchen, and generally like them. A few have developed a flicker, though, despite not being on a dimmer.. still need to see what happens when I call the warranty phone number. http://www.homedepot.com/p/EcoSmart-6-in-9-5-Watt-65W-Daylight-5000K-LED-Flood-Light-Bulb-Downlight-E-ECO-575L-50K/203423169#.UmlGiStDs9T

        Pricing varies depending on utility company rebates. Cheapest prices in the east early this year were in New York, and I picked up a set in Saratoga Springs at $24/ea. They’re back to the standard price of $36 now though, but are $27 in Philly.

        1. back to the standard price

          The only thing I know for sure: whatever price I pay, I feel like a sucker…

  2. Cree’s offering 10 year warranties on many of their LED lights. It may be one of those “it’s worth it to have to pay off some warranties for the advertising benefits” deals, but that’s still pretty cool. I ended up lighting the kitchen with them during the renovation because I have inadequate power there and no easy way to run a new circuit, so twice the light on 2/3 the power of the original was a pretty attractive proposition.

    1. It’s all fluorescent right now, albeit with electronic ballasts so there’s no flicker, but …

      We’re certain the next owners will have fun redoing the layout. I am done with that.

  3. I’m still not happy with the price for LED lamps for general purposes, but we’re considering them for niche applications, like the porch lamps (CFLs at 0F have an interesting turn-on curve).

    I’m noticing that a lot of truck and bus tail lights are using LEDs. Judging by the failure patterns, cheapification is already well underway, though they do tend to be graceful in decline. Starting to see failures in the traffic signals, too, with green being the most common color to fail.

    1. failures in the traffic signals

      In addition to those I’ve documented here, the massive intersection just south of our house now sports two completely failed red signals, plus several of the usual single-string green failures. Overall, I’m unimpressed with LED reliability.

      1. The original LED material was fragile, making silicon look robust in comparison. I’m not familiar with the newer high output LEDs, but the compounds that handled the other colors were scary fragile. I suspect you could shorten the life of a lot of LEDs with poor handling during assembly. That’s what robots are supposed to be good for, but if the manufacturers/programmers aren’t paying attention, somebody’s going to pay.

        For what it’s worth, we still have an early ’90s Osram CFL that’s been in use 4 hours a day.

        1. A big chunk of the failures are from companies that don’t know how to robustly heatsink (or go cheap on it.) This from fairly extensive failure analysis at work.

          1. robustly heatsink (or go cheap on it.)

            This thing is surprisingly heavy: there’s actually some metal in it! The channels between the fins don’t extend through the lens assembly, so there’s no convection air flow, but that’s probably a Good Thing preventing dust from clogging the channels.

            I can’t judge the emitter size through the lens distortion, but they look to be a bit more rectangular than 5050 chips. They’re mounted on white PCB (likely a flex film), above and below a metal flange.

            If it weren’t a $40 unit, I’d pop the plastic cap over the barely visible Torx bolt and take it apart…

  4. There is an additional capital savings if you take the cost of going and shopping for a replacement for a blown CFL or incandescent lamp. Of course it is always added to a shopping list but even the fuel and time cost added and divided over many items is still significant enough to change the equation.

    1. the cost of going and shopping

      I’m definitely turning into an agoraphobe: if I can’t get there by bike, the store might as well be on the far side of the planet.

      On the other paw, I feel no guilt whatsoever about a special trip to pick up a single item when I take the bike… I’m even willing to haul the trailer!

      But, yes, you’re right; even the hidden costs of “free” shipping add up. Obviously, all we need are 3D printers that produce whatever we want from a bin of our own recycled junk! [grin]

    1. Absolutely!

      I’ll stipulate you can’t get from 22.8 years to all five digits of 24.983×103 hours, but doesn’t that look ever so much more, ah, scientific?

      Somewhere behind that astonishingly precise “22.8 year lifespan” stands a discussion among an engineer with a stack of experimental measurements, a marketer with a burning desire for large integers, and a lawyer with knowledge of advertising regulations. Engineering notation encapsulates that tension: where did all those tedious digits come from and, listen, why don’t we just round up to claim a “23 year lifespan”?

      At least, that’s what I was thinking; maybe I should have sprinkled on a few [irony] tags.

    1. QST recently reviewed several LED lamps and found that, yes, they can chew up HF reception. Their advice boiled down to:

      • stick with brand names
      • don’t get cheap junk directly from eBay (they phrased it differently)
      • be ready to return offending lamps

      I’d expect CFL lamps to be even worse, but I don’t have any data…

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