Comparing How Long LED Lightbulbs Last

Let’s face it, we all know that LED bulbs are much more efficient and longer lasting than their incandescent predecessors, but are all LED bulbs created equally? I decided to take a look and see what differences (if any) there are in how long led light bulbs last when comparing different manufacturers.

It should be noted from the start that manufacturers don’t actually leave one of their light bulbs plugged in and simply wait around to find out its lifespan. With ranges between 15 and 25 thousand hours, this would be an awfully long-winded process!

Instead, lighting manufacturers use a process called the LM-80 test. This is a standardised test throughout the industry that allows manufacturers to test their lighting under shorter time periods and then extrapolate out the data to reach a conclusion on how long their lights will last in the real world.

It’s probably fair to say it’s not perfect but with every manufacturer carrying out the same standardised tests, at least it is consistent.

LED lighting I installed on some hard to reach stairs
Some simple LED lights I installed. When the position is awkward to reach it’s nice to know these LED lights should last for many years.

“We can see [from the research] that when looking to purchase the longest-lasting LED lights that we can, the biggest influence on how long the light bulb will last is not wattage, but the manufacturer’s brand.”

In the table below I have taken 3 of the most common brands of led light bulbs that I could easily source from B&Q here in the UK. It is by no means an exhaustive list of manufacturer brands, but I very quickly realised a slight problem with the data that they give you.

Table Comparing How Long LED Lights Normally Last

BrandType of
LED Bulb
Number of
Hours Lifespan
Table comparing LED bulb lifespan in hours

Data collected from LED specifications on B&Q website

As we can see, they provide general data such as 15,000 or 25,000 hours. Whilst this is useful as it helps us to easily see if we are getting good value for money (paying more for a bulb with 15,000 hours is likely to be an unwise financial decision) I was a little disappointed that the LED lifespan given was not more specific. Never mind, there were still a few interesting discoveries.

I discovered that interestingly, the wattage and equivalent wattage does not influence how long an LED light will last. My guess before would have been that the higher the LED wattage, the shorter the life of that LED would have been, but it appears this is not the case.

We can see from the table above that when looking to purchase the longest-lasting LED light bulbs that we can, the most significant influence on how long the light bulb will last is not wattage but the manufacturer’s brand.

Out of the three brands compared Diall and Calex specified their LED lights will last 15,000 hours. Philips specified theirs would last longer giving a figure of 25,000 hours. That’s a whopping difference of 10,000 hours.

From a personal point of view, this has made me much more likely to pay the additional cost for the ‘premium brand’ knowing I am getting a much longer lifespan. Cheaper brands sourced from non-reputable suppliers can also cause problems such as nuisance circuit breaker tripping.

Providing values in hours may not be the most helpful way to understand the difference in running hours so I produced the simple table below showing how many extra months and years these hours equate to.

Table Converting LED Lifespan from Hours to Days

Specified Lifespan
Illuminated for 8 hours a dayIlluminated for 10 hours a dayIlluminated for 12 hours a dayIlluminated for 14 hours a dayIlluminated for 16 hours a day
15,0005 years 1 month4 years 1 month3 years 5 months2 years 11 months2 years 6 months
25,0008 years 6 months6 years 10 months5 years 7 months4 years 10 months4 years 2 months
Table showing how many years LED lights last on average

I was quite surprised when the hours were broken down into real-world numbers like these. If used for 8 hours a day the 25,000-hour choice equates to a massive 3 years and 5 months extra run time when compared with a 15,000-hour choice.

Perhaps people will argue that the increased cost of the longer lifespan LED light bulbs (I’ll link to the page on Amazon here so people can go and check out prices for themselves) means that it is actually not economically better. However, this argument wouldn’t take into account the environmental factor.

LED bulbs contain electrical components and are classed as WEEE waste. Getting rid of and recycling all our unwanted electrical consumables is becoming yet another problem in our battle against not completely ruining this environment we inhabit.

As we all make the switch to LED to save energy, it seems to me at least that we should be being careful about our choices as even amongst what is already a much more efficient energy choice, there are further energy savings that can be made.

I also discovered on my journey that the colour of the LED used has an impact on lifespan. I’m diving into this a little deeper and writing a separate post on the topic. When it is done I shall link to it here. For now, I’ll leave readers with one bonus question answered.

Bonus Question….

Do LED Bulbs Really Last For 20 Years?

This is a question I see popping up quite frequently and seems to have become a sort of urban myth surrounding LED usage so I thought it was worth addressing (get that google search traffic yo).

From our research above it transpires that the majority of common LED bulbs do not last for 20 years. The longest lifespan in hours of the LED light bulbs readily available is 25,000 hours. If we were to use the light for only 4 hours a day this still only equates to a lifespan of 17 years.

For a 25,000-hour lifespan LED light bulb to last at least 20 years the most it could be turned on for each day would be an average of 3 hours per day. An unlikely option, but maybe a target to aim for if you are super keen to reduce energy consumption and eke out the longest lifespan from your LED bulbs!

Dave Nicholas

I have worked as a professional electrician for many years and like to use my experience to help others in any little way I can.

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