The energy efficiency of LED light bulbs is undeniable.  A wattage meter can be used to verify the number on the box: yes a 60 watt equivalent listed at 9 watts really does use 9 watts.  We can also compare visually the performance of the LED bulb compared to the incandescent or CFL equivalent.  Put the 60 watt incandescent or the 13 watt CFL next to the 9 watt LED and we see that the LED does provide the same amount or more light, albeit more crisp and vivid.  That said, the long lifetime hours is always something that can raise eyebrows.  I get it, for people used to changing light bulbs frequently, the concept of a bulb lasting upwards of 23 yeas can be a bit hard to grasp.

Most screw-in LED bulbs are rated at 25,000 hours (beware of the cheap bulbs at the big box stores – many of them are now using cheaper components for a cheaper upfront price and shorter lifespan).  At we recommend and sell only Energy Star rated LED bulbs, and those are required to be rated at least 25,000 hours.  At average commercial run times of 2,5000 hrs/year (50 hrs a week * 50 wks a year) that equals 10 years of runtime.  At the average residential run time of 1,095 hrs/year (3 hrs a day * 365 days a year) that equals 22.8 years!  LEDs have been on the scene only since around 2011, so how do we know if these things really last 10-23 years?  This leads us to today’s story…

Enter the ‘L Prize’

Back in 2011, the US Department of Energy awarded the $10 million ‘L Prize’ to Phillips lighting for their innovative LED bulb that hit the stringent performance specifications that would qualify it as a truly great replacement to the 60 watt incandescent bulb. The Phillips bulb utilizes 10 watts of electricity and is rated at a 25,000 hour lifetime (compared to 60 watts and 2,5000 hour life time of an incandescent bulb).  Life rating of LED light bulbs is generally based on the ‘L70′ report, which models usage to predict how many hours a lamp can run before losing more than 30% of its light output.  Even though we like to trust science and estimated based on extrapolated data, we really like to see, as they say, ‘the proof in the pudding’.  The challenge with LEDs is they haven’t been around that long, so it seems that until we have more usage data the long life is still a bit of an estimate.

Well, the science is coming in, and it looks to be better than we thought.  In a post from LEDs Magazine, we learn that the original Phillips L prize winning bulbs have been continuously running since well before their victory in 2011. In fact, after 40,000 hours of continuous running there have been 0 failures and the average lumen maintenance is at 95.6%. This means that after over 4.5 years of continuous running the bulbs were putting out only 4.4% less light than the day they were installed. This announcement from the DOE serves to show that the long life ratings of many LED bulbs may actually be conservative!

If you would like to get into the nitty gritty, you can read the full article that can be found here.

If you are ready to switch your facility over to LED bulbs, and see what it feels like to not change another light bulb for another 10-23 years, you can start your LED upgrade here.

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