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Are LED Lights really Green ?

Are LED Lights really Green ?

The original Philips compact fluorescent lamps lasted longer than 20 years. That is what I call Green.
Solar Power Decorative small garden lamp -

Life of LED Lights

The life of LED lights is touted as 50,000 hours and some claim as long as 100,000 hours. [1] At 2000 hrs a year (8 hours a day, 5 days a week for 50 weeks), they should last 25 years. Yet the warranty is as low as three years !!!

My supplier says that after 7 years they will be only half as bright as they were.[2]

In practice, 10% have failed in my house, within 3 years. These were not cheap ones, they were a reputable brand. So the life is between 3 and 7 years.

Sealed Units

The mainstay of LED lights is sealed units, because they are going to last forever. Or as I had thought, 25 years, that is past my lifetime. When they fail, you have to replace the whole light fitting. Which is every 3 to 7 years !!!.[3] Why don't they make them greener by having a replaceable bulb ?

Switching Cycles

LED lights are rated for 20,000 to 100,000 switching cycles. This means that they are designed to fail after 11 years (switch the light on and off 5 times a day, for 360 days a year). Did your light supplier tell you this ?[4],[5]

Mains Voltage

LED lights are often used with electronic transformers or switching power supplies. Logic dictates that this makes them more resilient to voltage variations. Yet, all the dimmable LEDs that are backed up by Solar Power (from Tesla Powerwall 2) in my house have died within 3 years. The grid voltage is about 220, but the Solar is delivering 240. This points to an extremely bad design of the LED drivers.

Operating Temperature

LED Lights are specified or rated at 25℃ (77℉). Their operating range is between -25℃ to 50℃. Although they generate less heat than incandescent lights, the heat is more concentrated and more difficult to get rid of. They need to be installed with adequate ventilation so that the heat dissipates. But, often they are covered by insulation. A few years ago, the manufacturers started adding a cover so that the insulation is separated from the top of the light. This feature is rendered useless when covered by insulation. Being an electronic component, this reduces the life of the LEDs drastically.[6]


When the fixtures fail, do you recycle them ? Most countries do not have a provision to recycle light fixtures. The whole unit (metal, silicon, germanium, plastic and rubber) are all dumped in the tip. They are not recycled in NZ, only part of them are recycled in some parts of Australia [7] and the US Government says to throw them in the bin.


With the high cost of manufacturing, short lifespans and no recycling, LED lights are not Green. So ask yourself, why are they touted as Green and why are we persisting with this foolishness? In fact, going to these technologies is just increasing the emission of gases we are trying to reduce.

References (a tiny sample)

  1. Ridiculous Lifespan claim.
  2. Why do LEDs get dim over time ?
  3. Life of LED light fixtures.
  4. Does Turning Lights On And Off Shorten Bulb's Life ?
  5. What are switch cycles?
  6. What Is The Operating Temperature of LED Lights and How is it Useful?.
  7. If the bulb is broken, wrap it up and place it in your general waste bin.