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Longevity of LED Strip Lights: A Comprehensive Guide

The rising popularity of LED strip lights in residential, commercial, and industrial settings is hard to ignore, primarily due to their remarkable longevity. However, you might be wondering, how long do they last? How do we define their lifespan? This article aims to explain when and how LED strip lights might fail and the basis for manufacturers’ lifespan claims.

Dissecting the LED Strip Structure

LED strips comprise several vital elements, such as LEDs, Flexible Printed Circuit Boards (FPCB), and resistors. These strips are fabricated using the Surface Mount Technology (SMT) Assembly Process, enabling the mounting of LEDs, resistors, and other components on the FPCB.

Specific LED strips for outdoor or underwater use may be encased in silicone or PU glue.

It’s important to note that LED strips with high IP ratings may have a shorter lifespan than their IP20 counterparts. This is because strips with high IP ratings can’t dissipate heat as effectively. Generally, LEDs produce higher light output in more relaxed environments, while higher temperatures tend to lower their output.

The Surface-Mount Device (SMD) LED plays a vital role in the LED strip, as its lifespan essentially dictates that of the LED strip. So, how do we estimate the lifespan of LEDs?

Understanding LED Lifespan and the L70 Principle

LEDs display unique longevity compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, which burn out, and fluorescent bulbs, which tend to flicker over time. Instead, LEDs gradually diminish in light output. Unless affected by severe circumstances like power surges or physical damage, your LED strip’s LEDs are expected to continue functioning until they reach a point where their light is considered insufficiently bright.

But how do we determine when an LED becomes “insufficiently bright for use”? This is subject to variability depending on specific lighting requirements. Nevertheless, the lighting industry generally agrees that when an LED loses 30% of its light output, leaving 70% remaining, it has reached the end of its useful life. This threshold is frequently termed the L70 metric, which measures the hours an LED operates before its light output drops to 70% of its original level.

The LEDs’ lifetime is often represented using the notation LxByCz (h). This indicates the number of hours after which:

• The light output (luminous flux) of a set of LED light fixtures has fallen to x (%), • y (%) of the light fixtures within the same set have decreased below the specified light output, • z (%) of the light fixtures within the same set have encountered complete LED failure.

For example, L70B10C0.1 (50,000 h) implies that:

• Following 50,000 hours of operation, the group of LED fixtures under consideration should continue delivering • A minimum of 70% of the initial light output, • With an allowance that 10% of the fixtures can emit less than 70% of the initial light output, • And complete LED failure is permissible in 0.1% of the fixtures.

Calculation of L70: Determining Light Output Percentage

L70, the percentage of light output remaining after a certain period, is determined through a standardized test method known as LM-80. This method was developed to establish a primary standard for evaluating the lifetime of different types and brands of LEDs.

LM-80 testing involves subjecting a sample of LEDs to specific conditions, including a predetermined temperature and driving current. The light output of the sample is measured at regular intervals, with each measurement taken after 1,000 hours of operation, up to a maximum of 10,000 hours.

LM-80 testing is typically conducted at independent third-party laboratories to ensure unbiased and reliable results. The findings of these tests are then compiled into a report format. Reputable LED manufacturers perform LM-80 testing on their products, and reliable LED strip suppliers should be able to provide LM-80 test reports, particularly for bulk purchases.

One of the challenges with LED life testing is the significant amount of time it requires. Even when LEDs are operated continuously, a 10,000-hour test takes approximately 14 months. Consequently, performing a complete 50,000-hour test would necessitate nearly six years of continuous testing.

To address this issue, the TM-21 extrapolation algorithm was introduced. This algorithm examines the performance of the LM-80 sample during the initial few thousand hours and generates an estimated lifetime projection.

For further details, refer to the TM-21-11 report, which focuses on projecting the long-term lumen maintenance of LED light sources.

LM80 test reports typically provide the lifetime of L70. However, there are instances where knowing the lifetime of L80 or L90 is necessary. No need to fret! For your convenience, I have prepared an Excel tool that can easily convert L70 lifetime to L80 or L90 lifetime.

LED strips’ longevity is contingent upon the LEDs and is influenced by subsequent factors.

1. Flexible Printed Circuit Board (FPCB):

Our FPCBs are designed precisely, featuring high-quality, double-layer pure copper weighing 2-4 oz. These top-notch boards guarantee the seamless flow of substantial current, effectively minimizing heat generation and facilitating rapid dissipation. Considering the impact of heat on the lifespan of LEDs, it becomes imperative to explore effective heat dissipation solutions. We maximize heat dissipation potential by securely attaching the LED strip to an aluminum profile, significantly reducing the operating temperature.

2. Double-sided Tape

We exclusively utilize 3M brand VHB tape at MyLikeLed for optimum performance and thermal conductivity. However, it’s essential to be cautious of suppliers offering generic or counterfeit adhesive products. The key to achieving a durable installation and efficient heat transfer lies in using high-quality tape.

3. Resistors

Resistors play a crucial role in regulating the forward current of LEDs, ensuring they operate at the intended brightness. It’s worth noting that resistor values may vary between batches. Hence, it is advisable to source resistors from reputable companies.

Always prioritize the use of high-quality resistors. Inferior ones can shorten the lifespan or even damage the LED strip.

Avoid overpowering your LEDs! Although they may initially appear brighter, they will fail prematurely. Unfortunately, some of our competitors engage in this practice. Excess heat generated can also pose a safety hazard when installed on flammable materials.

4. Power Supply

The power supply is a critical component as well. Selecting a reliable, brand-name power supply that guarantees quality is essential. A substandard power supply may produce unstable voltages exceeding the working voltage of the LED strip, leading to its burnout.

Ensure that the power of the LED strip remains within the rated maximum capacity of the power supply. We recommend not exceeding 80% of the power supply’s maximum rated capacity for the LED strip to enhance stability over extended periods.

5. Heat Dissipation

Heat significantly impacts the lifespan of LEDs. Therefore, when using LED strips, it’s vital to address heat dissipation promptly. Consider installing the LED strip in a well-ventilated location. If budget permits, affixing the LED strip to an aluminum profile is highly recommended. Aluminum is an excellent heat-dissipating material, allowing for effective dissipation and extending the LED strip’s lifespan.

In conclusion,

LED strips typically have a lifespan of approximately 50,000 hours. However, the actual longevity of an LED strip can be influenced by factors such as the quality of the raw materials used, including LEDs, FPCBs, and resistors, as well as the management of heat dissipation and the reliability of the power supply.

At MyLikeLed, we produce top-notch LED strips and LED neon flex. Our products undergo rigorous testing in state-of-the-art laboratories to ensure exceptional quality. Furthermore, we provide customization options for our LED strips and neon flex, allowing you to tailor them to your needs.

For premium LED strips and LED neon flex, don’t hesitate to contact MyLikeLed today!


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