September 04, 2023
LED strip lights, like those offered by Flexible Neon, are renowned for their longevity and versatility. To understand how long these LED strip lights can last, it's essential to examine their structure and the factors that influence their lifespan.
The Structure of LED Strip Lights:
The main components of LED strips include LED's (Light Emitting Diodes), FPCB (Flexible Printed Circuit Boards), resistors, and other essential elements. These components are assembled using Surface Mount Technology (SMT) Assembly Process, which mounts LED's, resistors, and other components onto the FPCB.
Some outdoor or underwater LED strips may also have a protective silicone or PU glue coating. However, it's crucial to note that LED strips with higher IP ratings, designed for enhanced protection against dust and water, may have a somewhat shorter lifespan compared to IP20-rated LED strips. This is primarily because LED strips with higher IP ratings struggle to dissipate heat as efficiently. Generally, cooler environments support a longer LED lifespan, as higher temperatures tend to reduce light output. (For more details on how heat affects LED's, see "How are LED's affected by heat?")
Understanding LED Lifetime and the "L70" Rule:
Unlike traditional incandescent or fluorescent bulbs that fail abruptly, LED's gradually lose their light output over time. They continue working until they become too dim to be practical. The industry has established a standard for this gradual decrease in light output, known as the "L70" metric. It signifies the point at which an LED has dimmed to 70% of its original brightness.
In some instances, you may come across symbols like "LxByCz(h)" to describe the lifetime of LED luminaires. Here's what it means:
For example, "L70B10C0.1 (50,000 h)" means that after 50,000 hours:
How Is "L70" Calculated?
To calculate LED lifetime, a testing method called LM-80 is often employed. This method specifies a predetermined temperature and driving current for testing LED samples. The light output change is measured at intervals of 1000 hours, up to a maximum of 10,000 hours. Reputable manufacturers conduct LM-80 testing at third-party laboratories to ensure impartial results. They then publish these results in report format. It's important to note that reliable LED strip suppliers should be able to provide LM80 test reports, especially when purchasing large quantities.
However, LED life testing can be time-consuming. For instance, even with LED's operating 24/7, a 10,000-hour test takes around 14 months. This timeframe is impractical for fast-moving industries like LED lighting. To address this issue, the TM-21 extrapolation algorithm is employed. It considers the performance of LM-80-tested samples during the first few thousand hours and provides an estimated lifetime.
Factors Affecting LED Strip Light Lifespan:
Several factors can affect the lifespan of LED strip lights:
FPCB (Flexible Printed Circuit Board): High-quality, double-layer pure copper flexible PCBs facilitate the smooth passage of significant current, reduce heat generation, and promote efficient heat dissipation. By attaching the LED strip to an aluminium profile, you can dissipate heat effectively and lower the operating temperature, thus extending LED life.
Double-Sided Tape: Quality matters when it comes to adhesive tape. LED strip lights from reputable suppliers often use high-quality tapes, like the 3M brand VHB tape. Proper tape quality ensures long-lasting installations and good thermal conductivity.
Resistors: Resistors regulate the forward current through LED's to maintain their designed brightness. It's crucial to use high-quality resistors from reputable manufacturers to avoid shortening the LED strip's life or causing damage.
Power Supply: The power supply is a critical component. Always use a reliable, brand-name power supply to ensure stable voltage output. Low-quality power supplies can deliver unstable voltages that might exceed the LED strip's working voltage, potentially damaging it.
Heat Dissipation: Heat can significantly reduce LED lifespan. To manage heat effectively, install LED strips in well-ventilated areas. If feasible, attach the LED strip to an aluminium profile to aid in heat dissipation, as aluminium is an excellent conductor of heat.
By considering these factors and following best practices for installation and maintenance, you can maximise the lifespan of your Flexible Neon LED strip lights, ensuring they provide brilliant and reliable illumination for years to come.
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