Lighting Research Center

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Estimating LED Life


Early 21st century claims purported LED lighting to last 100,000 hours. The problem with this claim was it simply wasn’t true under realistic conditions. A single, bare LED might last that long, but once integrated into a lighting system, the LRC showed that LED life could be far less. LED life estimation, especially lighting system life, is complicated by matters of integration with other components, including optics and housing; installation into less than ideal environments, such as recessed luminaires in insulated plenums; and a lack of appropriate measurement methods.

Long-term life-testing research led to the understanding that heat negatively affects LED life, and that there are many ways in which LEDs might be exposed to high heat. In turn, this led to research to develop methods of estimating the junction temperature of LEDs. Further studies explored how the environment impacts heat and system life, leading to application-based test methods.

Through its Alliance for Solid-State Illumination Systems and Technologies (ASSIST), in 2005 the LRC published the first document in the ASSIST recommends series, a recommended test method for estimating LED life for general lighting. ASSIST recommends: LED Life for General Lighting became the basis for LM-80, the approved LED life testing method of the Illuminating Engineering Society, published in 2008.

Since developing the ASSIST life-test method, the LRC has continued to investigate system life issues through studies of:

Technical Reports and Publications

IEA 4E Solid State Lighting Annex. 2021. Literature Summary of Lifetime Testing of Light Emitting Diodes and LED Products. Prepared by the Lighting Research Center, June 4, 2021.

ASSIST. 2020. ASSIST recommends...Recommendations for testing LED lighting systems and projecting system lifetime in different applications. Vol. 14, Iss. 1. Troy, N.Y.: Lighting Research Center.

Development of a Predictive Life Test Method for LED Luminaires, Light Engines, and Integral Lamps – Final project report, December 2016, sponsored by Bonneville Power Administration (BPA TIP 322), New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA Agreement No. 46905), and Alliance for Solid State Illumination Systems and Technologies (ASSIST).

Narendran, N., Y. Liu, X. Mou, and D.R. Thotagamuwa. 2017. Predicting LED system life: A long-term study of the factors that determine performance and failure. Proceedings of the IES 2017 Annual Conference, August 10-12, Portland, Oregon. pdf logo

Narendran, N., and Y. Liu. 2015. LED life versus LED system life. In: SID ‘15 Digest of Technical Papers, paper 62-2, SID Display Week 2015: International Symposium, Seminar and Exhibition, May 31-June 5, 2015, San Jose, CA.

Han, L., and N. Narendran. 2009. Developing an accelerated life test method for LED drivers. Ninth International Conference on Solid State Lighting, August 3-5, 2009, San Diego, Proceedings of SPIE 7422: 742209.
Summary  | Full-text PDF pdf logo

Jayawardena, A., D. Marcus, X. Prugue, and N. Narendran. 2013. Long-term lumen depreciation behavior and failure modes of multi-die array LEDs. Proceedings of SPIE 8835: 883510.

Narendran, N., Y. Gu, L. Jayasinghe, J.P. Freyssinier, and Y. Zhu. 2007. Long-term performance of white LEDs and systems. Proceeding of First International Conference on White LEDs and Solid State Lighting, Tokyo, Japan, November 26-30, 2007, P174–P179.
Full-text PDF pdf logo

Narendran, N. and Y. Gu. 2005. Life of LED-based white light sources. IEEE/OSA Journal of Display Technology 1(1): 167-171.
Full-text PDF pdf logo

ASSIST. 2005, 2007. ASSIST recommends: LED Life for General Lighting. Vol. 1, Iss. 1-7. Troy, N.Y.: Lighting Research Center.

Gu, Y., N. Narendran, and J.P. Freyssinier. 2004. White LED performance. Fourth International Conference on Solid State Lighting, Proceedings of SPIE 5530, eds. I.T. Ferguson, N. Narendran, S.P. DenBaars, J.C. Carrano, 119-124. Bellingham, WA: International Society of Optical Engineers.
Full-text PDF pdf logo

Hong, E., and N. Narendran. 2004. A method for projecting useful life of LED lighting systems. Third International Conference on Solid State Lighting, Proceedings of SPIE 5187: 93-99.
Summary  |  Full-text PDF pdf logo

Narendran, N., L. Deng, R.M. Pysar, Y. Gu, and H. Yu. 2004. Performance characteristics of high-power light-emitting diodes. Third International Conference on Solid State Lighting, Proceedings of SPIE 5187: 267-275.
Summary  |  Full-text PDF pdf logo

Narendran, N., Y. Gu, J.P. Freyssinier, H. Yu, and L. Deng. 2004. Solid-state lighting: Failure analysis of white LEDs. Journal of Crystal Growth 268 (3-4): 449-456.
Full-text PDF pdf logo

Project Summary Sheets

Predicting LED System Life under Real-World Conditions (2017) pdf logo

Developing a Predictive Life Test for LED Systems (2015) pdf logo

Degradation of LED Encapsulants (2014) pdf logo

Predicting LED System Failure through Real-time Changes (2014) pdf logo

Accelerated Life-test Method for LED Drivers (2009) pdf logo

ASSIST recommends… Directional Lighting (2007) pdf logo

ASSIST recommends: LED Life for General Lighting (2005) pdf logo

Benchmarking High-Power LEDS: A Life Test (2004) pdf logo

Media Coverage

Narendran, N. 2017. “Industry test standards must evolve to ensure accurate LED system life estimates.” LEDs Magazine, May/June 2017, pp. 23–24.

How to Measure the Lifespan of White LEDs – Smarthouse, April 2008

Industry alliance proposes standard definition for LED life – LEDs Magazine, April 2005 pdf logo


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