I thought the idea of LED is, that the light bulb has a very long life and uses very little electricity.

I have not invested in full LED lighting but tried the LED bulbs, you screw in your normal sockets and I have to replace them pretty frequently.

They also tend to lose a lot of their performance over time.

Specifically, I have had something like that in my house:

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But I have also tried a lot of other bulbs, some of which were LED. I always have the same problems with all new school bulbs:

  • When you switch the light on, it takes time to reach its full brightness (this problem seems to occur less in recent times)
  • The light gradually loses its brightness, which is maddening and forces you to replace the bulb, before its broken. The maddening part is, that it is never the same level of brightness, you are either on a continuous progress to less bright, or make a big jump in brightness when you replace the bulb.
  • They cost a ton of money. I could live with that if they'd perform better.
  • They never seem to achieve the warm light of a 100W old school bulb, even if you buy the expensive stuff.

So, what am I doing wrong here? Do I have wrong expectations or am I buying the wrong equipment?

  • Welcome to Sustainable Living! I have completely different experiences with LED. All LED bulbs we bought are still working fine; light is at full brightness instantaneous and no noticeable performance loss over time (oldest bulb is about 9 years old now). One cheap dimmable LED we bought does give blueish, cold light, but the brand bulbs give warm light. – THelper Dec 9 '18 at 7:29
  • 1
    Can you back up the anecdotes in the question with any data? Do you have evidence supporting a particular claim of the useful lifespan of some line of LED products (or LED products in general)? There's really no answer to the question as written now - your anecdotes are your anecdotes and the conditions you describe are relative and unquantified. – Jean-Paul Calderone Dec 9 '18 at 12:18
  • Are you purchasing mostly dimmable LED's? These can be hit or miss. I purchased some yesterday that take a moment to start up. Others I've had make terrible buzzing sounds. – LShaver Dec 9 '18 at 15:36
  • I am not sure about that, I have tried out the ones with the orange sticks inside and some with milky glass. No idea if they are dimmable as I don't have dimmable light switches. Is there a model, which is a sure bet? I don't mind spending money on more expensive products. – user1721135 Dec 9 '18 at 20:10

Consumer tests have shown that there are good and bad LED lights; indeed some of them do not reach their advertized life span.
I also have some bad experiences with LEDs dying long before their advertised end-of life, but that's anecdotes, not evidence.

You can imagine that actually testing these is hard, it takes a long time!
A major Dutch consumer organization has been testing LEDs since at least 2013 and they report:

Our latest extra long life test shows that 75% of the LED lamps from a sample reach 20,000 burning hours. At the end of 2014, we reported that 80% of the lamps from that sample achieved 15,000 burning hours.

So, 20% die before 15000 hours, 25% before 20000 hours.

A detailed 2015 breakdown of brands and models is here.
I would add: buy from regular well-known brands and avoid cheap non-name products.

As for diminishing intensity they state:

Our test shows that there is often some deterioration of the amount of light, but usually it remains limited. If a lamp emits 80% of the initial quantity after 15,000 hours, we consider it as: still working well.

Some tips they give:

Preferably do not use a LED lamp in a closed luminaire. It won't be able to get rid of its warmth and will soon be broken.

So this may be something specifically to watch out for. Also:

Because there can be a lower quality lights in a batch (for any brand), our advice remains: keep the proof of purchase and the box of LED lights.

Whether that last thing helps you depends on the consumer laws in your country.

Note also that irregular voltages and spikes can have an impact:

... these high-tech lights have very sensitive electronics in them that can be damaged permanently by a spike in electricity.

Finally, LED lights often do not only show a guaranteed number of hours on the packaging, but also a number of on/off switches. Excessive (automatic?) switching may reduce their life time.

  • 15000 hours are about 2 years. I am pretty sure I had to replace more often than that. However I do use "closed luminaire", so maybe this is the problem! Didn't figure heat would be a problem with lights. – user1721135 Dec 10 '18 at 13:37
  • I also recommend keeping the proof of purchase and not hesitating to go back to the shop to ask for a replacement, even if the product doesn't include a warranty or your country doesn't have a law that gives consumers more rights: I have been able to get a few replacement for LED bulbs that have not lasted more than a few months. They are expensive, and brands / resellers should be told that it's not acceptable to sell poor quality products, especially when they are touted as more "environmentally friendly". – stragu Dec 12 '18 at 4:56

I haven't had this problem either. I've never even heard of it. Of the lighting that I use regularly, almost all of it is CFL or (lately) LED. I have almost no incandescent bulbs left.I prefer the incandescent light in terms of colour, but I'll pass on the power consumption.

For warm light, find lights with lower Kelvin (K) numbers. 3000 K is pretty cold, white, blue light; 5000 K is very cold lighting, 2700 is warmer light (although I'd take these measurements with a bag of salt between manufactures, but they're better than nothing).

My bigger issue is flicker of the LED bulbs. I'd definitely avoid no-name brand bulbs. I also write the date of installation on the bulb with a sharpie marker (obviously not on the part that's lit, or the part that conducts electricity). Use the warranties, that's why they're there.

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