LED lights have been around for a few years now. Not very long but long enough to have garnered a distasteful reputation. But is this reputation justified? The answer from a person who makes his living in the LED world is unfortunately yes. Early on it was obvious that we needed to find LED lights for everyday life. The task of finding a high quality LED light was arduous, time consuming, expensive and a headache. We interviewed manufacturers, tested products and spoke to consumers. The consumers(and I was one of them) all had similar problems with LEDs, it was our job to find solutions.
1) They Are Too Expensive: This is easily the number one problem, however it is not quite true. There are many relatively inexpensive LED lights on the market, you just don’t want to buy them. Since price is always an important issue, we inspected the less expensive lights first. The reason why they were so cheap is because they were junk, pure and simple. They put out an odd light, they got hot and stopped working, they never worked to begin with, they came in pieces and were not covered by any warranty etc.
At that point we decided to take a look at the highest quality, best designed LEDs. Beautiful, consistent, bright lights that were durable too. We found a manufacturer(U.S.A.) that had almost everything we were looking for in an LED. After doing the math, we found we could bring these LEDs to the market for around $120.00 per bulb and great as they were no one would buy them. Why? They are too expensive!
We had looked at the Yugo version and the Ferrari version of LEDs, what we needed was the Ford or Toyota Camry version. Long lasting, well made, dependable, consistent light color and output but also priced well. It took three years to find! Proudly we brought these to market in the $40-$70 range only to be told they are still too expensive. Clearly some teaching had to be done about how long life spans and energy efficiency can save a person money in the long run. For example one of the lights, the LED par 20 can save a person around $336 over the lifespan of the bulb.
2) They Breakdown To easily: Led lights have a high incidence of sudden unexplained failure. One minute, they are shining bright, the next all you have is a $60 paperweight. This is extremely led lighting odd since almost every LED manufacturer makes claims of life spans of at least 30,000 hours. There are basically only two reasons for this sudden failure: voltage spikes and heat.
Voltage spikes(really should be called energy spikes) usually need to be frequent or excessive to cause LED failure. An example of frequent would be in mountain towns where numerous power outages cause increased generator use. Direct lightning strikes and malfunctions caused by power companies are examples of excessive voltage spikes, both of which are very rare.
The main cause of LED failure is heat. Nothing kills an LED faster than heat buildup. This is why most LED lights have a heat sink. A heat sink is a term for a component or assembly that transfers heat generated within a solid material to a fluid medium, such as air or a liquid. A heat sink generally uses its extended surfaces (usually aluminum alloy fins) to increase the surface area in contact with the air. The heat sinks can be so elaborate and large that it is obvious that they cannot be sold separately but must come as part of a unit. The problem with most LEDs with heat sinks is that they are then generally placed in a recessed can. Unfortunately this enclosed space then holds in the heat that the heat sink is trying to bleed away.