Not all LED light bulbs are created equal

An LED light bulb by Sylvania

By Christopher

Thomas Edison’s trusty incandescent light bulb has served us well for over a century, but new technology and a push for greater energy efficiency has caused Americans to turn to new sources to light their homes.  Unfortunately, that transition hasn’t been as smooth as one would hope, as I found out in a Facebook post by one my Shepherd Park neighbors this week.

Dear Friends: Has anyone had LED bulbs that just cut out after a while?  I’ve been switching out above-mirror bathroom bulbs  over to LED, and all four now turn off after some unclear number of minutes. Incandescent bulbs in the same fixture are fine. Trying to figure out if this is a known problem, a moisture thing, a manufacturing defect or something else?

Several of us took a shot at troubleshooting our friend’s bulb problem with little success until I was driven to search for the answer on the internet.  Several articles that I found (here and here) cited a vast difference in the quality of LED bulbs from different manufacturers.  The common denominator seems to be that cheaper LED bulbs (often made in China) are produced with lower quality components that result in inconsistent lighting quality and shortened bulb lifespans.  Here are some tips and things to look for when you begin your next lighting conversion project:

  • Heavier bulbs are better – LED bulbs product heat, which must be dissipated with a heat sink.  Cheap bulbs scrimp out on the metal needed for this task, which causes the components to overheat too quickly.
  • Go with what you know – Unknown manufacturers often cut back on quality to product cheaper bulbs
  • Stay with the same brand – To keep a consistent look throughout a project in your home, you should make sure all of the bulbs come from the same manufacturer. A 3000K bulb from one manufacturer may have a slightly different hue than a 3000K bulb from a different manufacturer.
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