When you’ve just upgraded your lights to LEDs, your first thought probably isn’t, “What am I going to do when these things burn out?” LEDs can last for as long as half a century, and when you pay for an entire LED lighting upgrade, you should expect them to. However, after you get over the dazzle and gleam of your favorite new lights, it’s important to know how their lives will play out, so you can best care for them.
This blog post will answer two questions: How do you know when to replace your LEDs? and, How should you care for them so that won’t happen for a long, long time?
1. How to replace your LEDs
The trickiest part of LED maintenance is knowing when you need to exchange your old lights for new ones. Unlike other light sources, LEDs will never burn out. Instead, they get dimmer and dimmer until they’re no longer useful, which is usually when they emit about 70% of their original light output. So the question is, how will you know when it’s time to replace your LED?
When it reaches its rated life at 35,000, 50,000, 60,000 hours, there won’t be any definite indication that it’s time to change your light bulb. Plus, depending on how and where you use your LEDs, they could last shorter or longer than the projected rated life. When they do dwindle to 70%, you might not even notice.
Here are some suggestions so you’ll never find yourself sitting in the dark with the lights on:
- The easiest solution might be to simply spot check the lights each year along with your routine cleaning and maintenance. Be sure to notice how the shadows and reflections have changed in the space over that time. Increase your attentiveness closer to their projected end.
- You could also embed a controller in the light fixture to maintain a constant light output, underdriving the fixture for most of its life until the end, when it goes into overdrive. When the lights finally fail, it will be more obvious.
- You could also use an indicator or light sensor to monitor the consumed rated life, or the light level.
When you replace your LED fixtures, it will be easiest to change them out all at once, because as a general rule, LEDs will depreciate at the same rate when in the same environment.
2. How to maintain your LEDs
Of course, you want to prolong the day that you have to buy LED replacements as much as possible. In order to keep them going stronger for longer, you need to take special maintenance measures.
- When you use a light for 15, 30, or even 50 years at a time, it’s going to get a little dirty. Keep the light clean and clear of dust and debris, which could interfere with the thermal design or accelerate lumen depreciation, especially during the final stretch of lamp life.
- Always keep LEDs as cool as possible, because excess heat can also reduce the rated life.
- When using LED accent fixtures, they may move out of alignment over time. Periodically inspect them to ensure they’re in place, casting their light where you need it.
For more information, check out this article from Electrical Contractor Magazine.