Understanding LED life and performance

In this article, CML walks buyers through the life and performance of LEDs, explaining how carefully balancing brightness and current can improve life expectancy

CML Innovative Technologies’ commercial manager, Roger Neal

The lifespan of an LED can range from 80,000 to about 120,000 hours depending on materials and manufacturing method. Generally, these estimates are based on perfect conditions. However, in reality the harsher the use the less the life expectancy. Eighty thousand hours equates to a little over 20-years if operating the device eight hours a day. Most products would be obsolete by the time a complete or catastrophic failure occurs.

Increasing demand for brighter LEDs is playing a role in life reduction. More and more we see a drive for daylight visibility in certain ranges of parts, products and components. If there is one thing directly impacting an LED’s life expectancy it is current draw. Operating an LED at reduced current extends its life even further. At significantly reduced levels, an LED can last almost indefinitely. However, should it see current above the nominal rating its life will be much shorter. Unfortunately, the relationship between LED life and current is not linear unlike the relationship between current and brightness.

LED lighting can last a long time. However, that does not mean users should keep the lighting as long as there is not a catastrophic failure. Light output and color will degrade over time, with the application generally determining the level of acceptance.

LED technology has developed rapidly in recent years and should continue to. Innovations and improvements occur continuously. Good design and careful manufacturing techniques help increase the life and general performance of lamps. 

CML’s latest lamp products are available with data sheets that accurately reflect life and performance. They can be requested directly from the customer services team or by contacting CML’s list of authorized distributors.