LED Bulb Longevity

  Everyone's searching for the fountain of youth.  We're in the same boat but with us, it for light bulbs.  One of the greatest strengths of LED lighting and consequently, a huge source of its savings comes from the longevity of the LED bulb.  If the average American lives to 80 and that's our incandescent bulb, the LED equivalent person would live to about 800.  This incredible bulb lifespan is a function of how LED's are made and try as they might, the new hyped versions of incandescents and CFL's are never going to get close for very simple and intrinsic reasons.  Let's take a look at what you can expect but first, why do they last longer?

The answer is two fold.  One has to do with an electronics term, Solid State and the other has to do with the enemy of all machines in the universe...heat.  First, Solid State.  Solid State means that an electronic component is made out of solid material.  The ability to transmit and use electricity is imbedded in the actual material.  For lack of a better word, it's solid.  What's the alternative?  Electronics that have vacuum tubes, moving pieces, and/or multiple pieces are the alternative and by definition, there's more that can do wrong.  It's actually pretty impressive you can keep any real vacuum at all like in most incandescent bulbs.  LED's do not require moving pieces, vacuums, or filaments to they are very stable and sturdy.  Incandescent bulbs have vacuums and create light by super-heating a filament or small wire or stretch of a substance by running electricity through it.  The filament resists the electricity to some extent and heats up as a result.  If it gets hot enough, it glows and converts the electricity to lumens or light in this fashion.  The fluorescents or CFL's trap gas in a vacuum tube and the electricity excites the gas which then converts the added electrons into photons or light.  There you go again..vacuums.  Think how tough it is to seal a vacuum under the wear and tear of shipping, manufacturing, and the grind of time.  Let's bring in the other factor.  Heat. 

Heat is the ultimate boogeyman in machines, systems, and electronics.  It is essentially lost energy and one of the main reasons that incandescents and fluorescents are so much less efficient than LED's.  They are losing lots of energy in the form of heat instead of light.  LED's do not produce heat (or very little).  It's the most direct conversion of electricity to light that's available on the market.  Heat has another side effect.  It wreaks havoc on structure and order.  In fact, you could say heat is disorder.  It slowly breaks down electronics and the failure of most CFL's and incandescents are the result of hours of heat.  Again, LED's don't create heat and even if they did, there are no moving pieces to break down anyway.   So now that we understand why LED's last longer, let's look at the results.

We'll start with the original technology of light, incandescents which still make up a large portion of lighting in the United States.  The average incandescent bulb can be expected to last between 1100 and 2400 hours on average.  If you use the light 5 hours a day (say for a residence), that's about a year's worth on average.  For a business, it will probably be half of that in terms of how long the bulbs last.  We use an estimate of 10 hours a day and 241 days in our LED light savings which is conservative but the cost savings is still significant.

Next, let's look at fluorescents and CFL's which are just fluorescents in a compact form factor.   The average lifetime for CFL's is typically between 6000 and 15000 hours.  The lifetime for fluorescent strips typically run 10000 hours, similar to CFL's. 

Now, the fountain of light youth.  LED's.  Our LED's can be expected to last 50,000.  We're more than comfortable with that estimate.  We're looking at an average of 50K hours for LED's, 10K hours for fluorescents and, 1500 hours for incandescents.  The LED's bulbs at the time of purchase are more expensive but you have to look at the life of the bulb not to mention the much lower wattage required to provide the same amount of light. 

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