June 12, 2017: LEDs are well known for their energy efficiency and lifespan. Manufacturers claim that LEDs have the potential to save up to 80-90% energy compared to the traditional lamps like HIDs, fluorescents, etc.
Of course, the good quality LED products do save that much energy, and hence live up to the promised financial savings. But definitely all LED products that are found in the market do not live up to the promises regarding energy efficiency and lifespan, making the users feel cheated as the products do not turn to be worth the investment.
With the price war gaining momentum, the percentage of LED lamp failure is also increasing—from 3% claimed by the industry to more than 20% experienced by the users. This means more than 20 out of every 100 LED lamps purchased can fail the promises made and need replacement despite more money spent on buying them.
High failure rates of LED lamps can be attributed to a few major factors.
Poor quality materials
An LED lamp consists of several components, besides the LED source. The performance of the complete lamp depends on the quality of all the components, and how well all these components work together.
From the lens to the heat sink to the chips and power supplies all need to perform well, and hence, should be made of high quality materials in order to function properly and provide acceptable light output. For example, if poor quality components are used to make the driver of the LED, then the LED lamp will definitely fail. If the correct driver is not used or the driver is been made with inferior components, the heat that will be generated by the driver will be difficult to dissipate, and ultimately cause failure. This is also one reason for the LEDs to flicker.
To ensure that an LED lamp is made of quality materials, check for the following:
- LEDs that dissipate sufficient heat may weigh and cost a little more.
- You need to know the chip size, because a bigger chip offers more light, which is stable despite current variations.
- Check if the paint or the powder coating of the lamp is applied well. If not, then it is an indication that the components that are not visible are of cheap quality or assembled quickly.
Inadequate lamp testing
The user should know the procedures of LED lamp testing. Some manufacturers test the complete LED lamps before shipping. The best procedure is to keep a complete LED lamp with its fixtures in a specially designed room to test them by repeatedly turning them on and off, and checking the performance of every component. This testing should be carried out for at least 10 days.
When an LED is installed in an enclosed fixture, the lamp should be checked. LEDs should not be placed in tightly enclosed fixtures unless they are approved for enclosed spaces. If heat cannot dissipate from the heat sink, it can make the lamp to fail prematurely.
The surrounding environment should also be kept in mind—the hotter the room, the earlier an LED lamp will degrade. This is because if LEDs do not get the right temperature, the light they emit will decrease earlier than its promised lifespan. The right kind of thermal management is key to making LEDs last in hot environments.
Be careful about the counterfeit LED lighting products found in the market. Many LED lighting products look similar to reputed brand products, which are inferior in quality and do not follow any standards. Sometimes these products may even have fake standard markings that look identical to the original markings.
It is essential that an LED lamp has the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) mark. This is a mark of a standard and means that the LED has been tested, inspected, and validated for safety.