Do LED lights dim over time?

Svetlana June 06 2022

Nowadays LEDs become popular not only as a sign of modernity but also because of their long lifespan in comparison to traditional lightbulbs. So the natural question is: do LED lights dim over time?

Is losing brightness normal for a bulb?

It is difficult to give a single answer to this question since it all depends on the specific product, its quality, and the conditions in which it is used. In general, however, it can be said that some light output loss is normal for any type of bulb. For LEDs, this process is called lumen depreciation and usually happens very gradually over time.

To get a more specific idea of how long an LED bulb can last, we need to look at its lumen maintenance rate. This number indicates the percentage of light output that an LED bulb will maintain over a certain period of time (usually hours or years).

For example, an LED with a lumen maintenance rate of 70% will maintain 70% of its original light output after 25,000 hours of use. This means that after 25,000 hours, the bulb will still be emitting almost as much light as it did when it was new.

In other words, LED bulbs don’t necessarily dim over time—they just slowly lose some of their brightness. Thanks to their lumen maintenance rates, however, they can still provide plenty of light even after years of use.

Do LED lights dim over time?

So, as we told you previously, it all depends on the specific product. If we're talking about a quality LED light, it probably won't dim over time significantly. In the US, most LEDs are rated with an L70 lifetime. This indicates how long it will take for lumen output to drop below 70%. L50, L80, and L90 ratings are sometimes used; however, the most frequent is L70 since this is when light becomes significantly dimmer.

For example, an LED with an L70 lifetime of 50,000 hours will still provide 70% of its original light output after 50,000 hours of use. This is why LEDs are often advertised with a 20-year or 25-year lifespan. Of course, LEDs don't last forever. Eventually, they will reach the end of their useful life and need to be replaced. However, this is usually much longer than the average lifespan of an incandescent or fluorescent bulb.

LEDs utilize a Gallium Nitride (InGaN) semiconductor to generate light. During the creation of this Gallium Nitride, threading dislocations occur. These abnormal displacements disrupt the electrical structure of the semiconductor. The worst type of fracture is threading displacement. Because the good and bad electrons can still touch one another, they don't produce light.

As the number of threading dislocations increases, the light output decreases. So, it's natural for an LED's light output to decrease over time as these fractures become more numerous. However, the rate at which an LED's light output decreases is quite slow. For example, an LED with a 50,000-hour L70 lifetime will only lose 30% of its original light output over that lifespan. That means it will still provide plenty of light, even after years of use.

So, while all LEDs will eventually dim over time, the best ones will provide plenty of light for many years to come.

Do LED strip lights lose brightness?

Do they dim the same as usual bulbs? Well, LED strips are a bit different. They are typically made with multiple diodes in series, so if one diode fails, the entire strip will go out.

LED strips also have a voltage drop over time. This is because the internal resistance of the diodes increases as they age. The result is that the LED strip will get dimmer over time as the voltage drops. It's not just about brightness loss; your LED strip could change color! If the materials deteriorate at varying rates, an LED can actually shift in color throughout its existence.

So, to answer the question, "Do LED lights dim over time?", it all depends on the product. If you buy a quality LED light, it probably won't dim over time significantly. However, if you're using an LED strip, it's likely that it will get dimmer and change color over time.

Does temperature affect dimming?

LEDs are highly sensitive to heat, and excessive heat has both immediate and long-term consequences on the lifespan of the lightbulb. The majority of LEDs include a heat sink that removes heat from the diode via convection or conduction.

If an LED doesn't have a proper heat sink, it will Overheat and dim much quicker than it would otherwise. Additionally, if an LED is frequently turned on and off (such as in a strobe light), the heat caused by the current passing through the diode will accelerate the aging process.

Actually, high temperatures don't just shorten an LED's lifespan; they can also cause the lightbulb to change color. The warmer an LED gets, the more its color will shift towards yellow. So, if you notice that your LED light is getting dimmer and changing color, it could be a sign that it's overheating. To avoid this, make sure that your LED light has a proper heat sink. Additionally, try to keep the light in a cool, dry place. If possible, avoid turning it on and off too frequently.

Do different colors of LEDs dim at different rates?

Actually, yes! Blue and white LEDs are particularly susceptible to lumen depreciation due to their short wavelength. This is because the blue and ultraviolet photons generated by these LEDs are more energetic than other colors.

As a result, they are more likely to cause damage to the semiconductor material. Additionally, the blue and ultraviolet photons can also cause color changes in the phosphor coating of an LED. So, if you want an LED light that will retain its brightness and color over time, you should avoid blue and white LEDs. Instead, opt for an LED with a longer wavelength, such as red or green.

How do you know that your LED bulb`s lifespan is over?

If you don`t count years or hours, you can tell that your LED bulb`s lifespan is over when it starts flickering or emits a strobing light. Also, if the LED changes color or tint, this is an indication that it has come to the end of its lifespan.

When an LED light begins to flicker or strobe, it`s an indication that the diode is starting to fail. The flickering will become more pronounced as the diode fails completely. At this point, the LED will emit a strobing light as it turns on and off rapidly. If you notice that your LED light is beginning to flicker or strobe, it`s time to replace it. Additionally, if the LED changes color or tint, this is also an indication that the diode is failing and the light needs to be replaced.

LEDs can be dimmed in a number of ways, although they must be built for this purpose. The majority of typical LEDs do not include the appropriate dimming components, so you should double-check that your LEDs are adjustable. Furthermore, make sure your LED is linked to an LED-friendly dimmer switch.

Can you do something to reduce degradation?

The main reason for LED deterioration is excessive heat, as we've previously stated. As a result, the best approach to avoid this is to keep your bulbs cool and prevent them from overheating.

As we mentioned, most LEDs come with a heat sink to dissipate the heat. However, if your LED light is frequently used in a hot environment or turned on and off frequently, the heat sink may not be sufficient. In these cases, you can use a fan to keep the area around the LED cool.

Another way to reduce degradation is to choose an LED light with a longer wavelength. As we mentioned before, blue and white LEDs are more susceptible to lumen depreciation due to their short wavelength.

LEDs do not get worn out when they're switched on and off a lot. It's also a good idea to reduce the amount of vibration that LEDs are exposed to. LEDs are more durable than regular bulbs in this regard because their internal components aren't as susceptible to damage from movement.

Finally, make sure to store your LEDs properly. If you're not using them for an extended period of time, it's best to keep them in a cool, dry place.

How can you avoid dimming?

If you want to avoid dimming, you should get an LED light that has a built-in feature called PWM or "pulse width modulation." This regulates the power of the LED light, which prevents it from getting too hot and burning out.

PWM is a type of digital signal that turns the power on and off very quickly, similar to how an analog signal varies the voltage. The advantage of using PWM over an analog signal is that it doesn't produce any electrical noise. Additionally, PWM is more efficient because it only uses the power that's necessary to produce the desired brightness.

If you're looking for an LED light with PWM, make sure to check the specifications before you buy it. Many manufacturers don't list this feature, so you'll need to do some research to find the right light.

If you have LED strips that are dimming, it's likely because the power supply is not providing enough current. The first thing you should do is check the manufacturer's specifications to see how much current your LED strip needs. If the power supply doesn't provide enough current, you can try using a higher-rated power supply or connecting multiple power supplies in parallel.

You can also try using a different type of power supply, such as a constant-voltage power supply. These types of power supplies are designed to work with LEDs and other low-power devices.

What to do with a dimmed bulb?

Recycling is the best option. While it's possible to repair a dimmed LED bulb, it's not worth the effort because you can just buy a new one. The recycling process for LEDs is similar to that of other types of bulbs. You can either take them to a local recycling center or recycle them through the manufacturer.

When recycling an LED bulb, make sure to remove the batteries if there are any. Additionally, be sure to check with your local recycling center to see if they accept LED bulbs. Some centers only accept fluorescent bulbs. If you can't recycle your LED bulb, you can dispose of it in the regular trash. However, we recommend checking with your local waste management company to see if they have special instructions for disposing of LED bulbs.

For those who want to recycle bulbs correctly, we recommend finding a local recycling center that recycles all types of bulbs. You can find one by searching online or calling your local waste management company. Once you've found a center, take your LED bulbs there and make sure to remove the batteries if there are any.

Bottom line

LED lights do dim over time, but there are ways to extend their lifespan. If you want to avoid dimming, choose an LED light with a built-in feature called PWM or "pulse width modulation." You can also try using a different type of power supply, such as a constant-voltage power supply. Finally, make sure to recycle your LED bulbs when they reach the end of their lifespan. Thanks for reading!