LED and CFL Bulb Reliability: Another Data Point

Spotted in a soon-to-be-rebuilt rest area on I-87 north of Kingston NY, a chandelier stuffed with old-school CFL bulbs of various vintages:

NYS I-87 Rest Area - CFL chandelier
NYS I-87 Rest Area – CFL chandelier

The yellowish dome on the far right might still house an incandescent bulb, but I can’t tell from here.

Judging from the high color temperature and even illumination, the chandelier next to it has 16 newish LED bulbs:

NYS I-87 Rest Area - LED chandelier
NYS I-87 Rest Area – LED chandelier

What’s of interest: both chandeliers have two dead bulbs and, perhaps, the center floodlight of the LED fixture had died, too. We don’t know how long they’ve been in place, other than that the LEDs are certainly more recent, but a 6% failure rate is nothing to brag about.

From what I’ve seen, the reliability of both CFL and LED bulbs is greatly overstated and certainly do not justify preemptive replacement of a working bulb of any vintage.

5 thoughts on “LED and CFL Bulb Reliability: Another Data Point

  1. Yes LEDs… Very energy efficient if you don’t count the converter and make sure the temperature of the die doesn’t rise above room temperature. And they will last forever, as long as the heat sink is sufficiently large to keep them near room temperature. But instead everything is packed into a plastic enclosure, sometimes with simulated heat fins. And it has to look like a regular light bulb apparently. Just that that shape was used with incandescent bulbs to keep the heat in.
    Oh, and the datasheet will list maximum efficiency for let’s say 350mA and note that you can run them at 1A, so the bulb manufacturer will run them at 1A and make the whole thing a throw-away item.
    My favorite: You buy a box of LED light bulbs and then find a note not to use them in enclosed fixtures.
    Wonder how long it takes till the building industry and light designers figure out that you could actually have really cool looking thin fixtures that don’t have to look like current light fixtures at all. Took the automobile only 10-20 years till they didn’t look like horseless coaches, but I’m afraid through-away LED bulbs are cheap enough that it will take another 50 years.

    On a side note:
    “The yellowish dome on the far right might still house an incandescent bulb, but I can’t tell from here.”
    – very disappointing to learn, that you don’t carry a spectrometer with you wherever you go.

    1. There’s definitely a clash between architecture and thermal management, but it should settle down after a while.

      I have seen pancake-flat ceiling and wall fixtures, so there’s hope!

  2. I just retired a 9.5W LED bulb where the power supply seemed to be cutting out at random. This was part of a large buy about 10 or so years ago. Not sure how long that bulb had been in service. I’m now writing the start-date when I install such. Makes for interesting data points.

    1. After a decade, the caps have surely dried out!

      I used to think writing the date on things was my secret shame, until I discovered some of my cousins did it, too. Must be genetic …

      1. I’ve been doing that for various items that take a certain time to deplete. Stuff like the dishwasher gunk comes from Costco, and it’s useful to know that it lasts 4 months when the Costco-interval is 6.

        Sharpie for the win!

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