The need for convenience and space-saving design has led to the popularity of LED strip lights. They can be fixed anywhere to brighten up the space. Versatile and flexible, these strip lights can be an effective solution for your daily lighting needs. With the technology change, the LED strips available today are cheaper and come with longer life.
In general, LED strips have a life expectancy ranging between 35,000 hours and 50,000 hours. But, what exactly defines the longevity of your LED strip lights? If you are skeptical about the manufacturer denoted “average lifetime”, you must understand the basics.
Let us understand the factors that denote how long your LED strip will last.
Determining the LED Lifetime: Understanding the L70 Rule
The incandescent bulbs tend to burn out with time and the fluorescent lamp starts to flicker with use. But, LEDs tend to behave differently. If you have ever owned LED strip lights in the past, they will gradually lose their light output.
So, if there isn’t any catastrophic issue such as mechanical damage or power surge, the LEDs tend to dim out until rendered unusable with time. But, when does the light become too dim for use? When the light loses 30 percent of its original brightness in the LED manufacturing industry, it is too dim for regular use. Thus, it is termed as an L70 metric.
L70 Metric: How is it calculated?
Your LED strip light’s longevity is influenced by several factors like durability, quality, & materials used. But, the general rule is that high temperatures & high drive currents together can lead to an accelerated decline in the light output.
Material selection varies depending on the LED type & manufacturer. This is why the LM-80 test methodology was developed. It is a primary standard used for testing the longevity of the LED strip lights. In this procedure, the strips are tested at predetermined drive currents and temperatures. It helps note the changes in overall light output. It is measured in intervals of 1000 hours going up to as high as 10,000 hours.
However, this process can take up a long time. For example, even if you run an LED strip 24X7, it would need 10,000 hours or 14 months to complete the testing. This isn’t fast enough compared to the 50,000-hour standard claim with LED strip lights.
To tackle this issue, manufacturers developed an algorithm termed TM-21. This algorithm acquires the data from LM80 sample tests and calculates the estimated lifetime mark for the same.
Can Your LED Strip Lights Have Inaccurate Lifetime Claims?
The short answer to this question is yes. The LED strip’s LM80 test & TM-21 algorithm requires multiple conditions & requirements to finalize a lifetime claim. Thus, the lifetime claim might be false if the strip manufacturer and supplier fail to follow the instructions.
There are 3 reasons for your LEDs to have inaccurate claims:
- The algorithm at times can be inaccurate, and you can only claim 6 times the total tested hours as the actual lifetime of the LED light. If your LED strip light was tested under the LM80 guidelines for 5000 hours, the longest claim can be of 30,000 hours. It is true even if your LEDs perform flawlessly. This ensures premature conclusions aren’t drawn based on limited data.
- The drive current and surrounding temperature are the major factors affecting the LED’s longevity. If your strips are in a hot space/attic with a higher than suggested drive current, it exceeds the LM80 test predefined conditions. This results in over-estimation of the lifetime predictions. Your LEDs won’t last as long as the hours mentioned in the packaging.
- The TM-21 and LM-80 tests aren’t perfect to estimate a strip’s lifetime guarantee. Several factors aren’t a part of these test methodologies, such as the presence of VOCs or humidity. If a manufacturer has cut corners during the mass production cycle by using cheaper and inferior materials, the LED strip light won’t last as long.
LED Strip Lights: Color Shift Explained
Apart from dimming with time, your LED strip lights also degrade at different rates. As a result, your LED can experience a color shift over its course of use. The color change extent is duly reported in the LM80 report. But, the manufacturers rarely mention it in the strip’s specifications.
This color shift metric is denoted by “delta u’v’.” If you happen to get hold of the LM80 reports, you can determine the color shift for your LED strip lights. Any delta u’v’ above 0.003 can easily be noticed by our eye. However, anything under the number 0.006 is considered a good quality for indoor lighting requirements.
So if your LED has delta u’v’ under 0.006, the color shift won’t be noticeable. For outdoor decorations, museums, or lighting up an artwork, one might have to look for products with optimum color stability.
Can LED lights be safely kept on 24 X 7?
Suppose we go by the data and numbers, yes! You can safely keep your LED strips on 24 X 7. However, if you aren’t using it, it simply is a waste of energy. So, use the lights only when needed. Although they don’t rack up as much energy, the numbers sure pile up in the long haul.
In general, LEDs don’t produce excessive heat even when left on 24X7. But, issues such as faulty wiring, high voltage, congested alignment, and others can increase the temperature. The market is overrun with cheaply manufactured LED strips. They can be overvolted, undercooled, & poorly wired. This can be particularly dangerous for your home environment.
Although high-quality strips cost higher, they come with suitable warranties. This confirms that they are safe and genuine components have been used for the manufacturing process.
Does the length of the strips matter?
Yes, the length of the LED strips matters a lot. So here is a guideline that you need to adhere to:
- 12 Volts LED Strip Lights:
These LED strips can go as long as 5 meters and can be shortened as required.
- 24 Volts LED Strip Lights:
These LED strips can have a maximum of 10 meters in length and can be shortened to your desired length.
- 240 Volts LED Strip Lights:
The 240-Volt LED light strips tend to feature fresh lighting technologies that allow them to go as long as 100 meters in length.
However, it is advised that you don’t link the LED strip lights to make them longer without consulting your manufacturer or local supplier. Given the nature of these light strips, they might burn out due to the overall voltage surpassing the suggested mark and become unusable.
Can improper installation affect your LED strip’s longevity?
You can bring down the average lifetime of your LED light strips when you get them installed the wrong way. So, the key is to seek professional help during the installation process. However, if you plan on a DIY activity, there are certain things you need to keep in mind.
- Install the LED strip light and proper distance from one another. This helps reduce the ambient heat radiated from the strips. However, if you place them too close to one another, the heat generated from the same can reduce the overall longevity of the strips.
- Ensure that the circuit board it is connected to doesn’t have any faulty connections or isn’t prone to a short circuit. This might cause unfortunate accidents or fire mishaps in case the LED strip lights come from a cheap manufacturing unit.
- In certain cases, you might have to attach multiple strips. You can make use of strip connectors for this purpose to avoid increasing the overall voltage.
- Additionally, keep your strips in a place away from dirt and dust while ensuring that the ambient atmosphere is dry and cool.
- Also, keep in mind the considerations for LED strip light power supply and power draw capacity. If you accidentally exceed this limit, it could cause immediate damage to the strips or lead to premature failure. Therefore, it is recommended that you don’t exceed the power capacity or power supply rating by more than 80 percent.
The longevity of your LED strip lights also depends on the quality of adhesive used. The LED strip backing could be affected by conditions such as sunlight, humidity, or dust exposure. It degrades the adhesive quality with time. It can cause the strip to fall off from the installed surface and lead to immediate damage.
So, to say it straight, the longevity of your LED strip lights would vary depending on how well you use them and take care of them in the long run. Please adhere to the aforementioned pointers, and your strip will last you for years before it starts to dim out and becomes unusable. Always follow the user instructions mentioned in the packaging to get effective results!