Big box 'o cheap LED bulbs

Originally published at:

1 Like

i’m not trying to pick a fight because i know some folks who have had the same experience you have but i replaced half the lights in my house with phillips led bulbs in 2010 and then replaced the bulbs in fixtures which were suitable for them the next year. in all, 14 bulbs.

in the 10 years since i have only had to replace one bulb which was in a fixture that didn’t allow fo the necessary dissipation of heat and literally melted a plastic collar on the bulb. otherwise the other 13 are still burning. it also reduced our monthly electricity use by 10-15%. i guess we got lucky.


You are definitely buying crummy bulbs or you have terrible wiring.

Incandescents generally lasted me a couple of years on average, while CFLs easily five. My disappointment with cheap LEDs had been that they last little better than the CFLs, when they should be double.


Thanks for nothing W.

Anecdotally, I agree. When I bought my current house, about half the fixtures were LED. I replaced most of the rest at that time. I haven’t lost a single bulb in five years. (We are talking about 15-20 bulbs total.)


Me too, apparently. At least a quarter of the LED bulbs I’ve bought have failed within a couple years. It’s pretty shocking - they’re not even lasting as long as the previous incandescent bulbs in the same sockets did. I’m worried it’s the wiring, and incandescents could better survive the problems than LED bulbs can. The alternative is that every brand of bulb I buy is crummy.


the one i had that went out did so because the fixture trapped the heat and melted a part of the bulb. what kind of fixtures do you have them in.

1 Like

They’ve been in a variety of fixtures, some open some closed, and I haven’t noticed any damage to the bulbs, though I’ve got one failing right now that’s directly over a stove…


I think they originally built led bulbs with ballasts that last forever, because doing so wasn’t that much more expensive than not doing it. Then they realized that would put them out of business and switched back to a disposable business model.

Also, Reynolds brand aluminum foil makes the best hats.


It’s really hard to tell the difference between “Mark Frauenfelder” and “Boing Boing’s Store” these days… .


Same here. I replaced 35 with LEDs about 12 years ago and only one has failed and they warrantied it.

1 Like

Have always bought the top of the line GE LEDs and never had one fail.

Since nobody has mentioned it yet, the major reason to avoid cheap LEDs is the poor CRI.

I’m feeling pedantic and wish to point out that the apostrophe is on the wrong side of the “o” in the title. It should be “box o’ cheap”.


’twas in a dream

I found myself searching frantically on all fours in the garden,

scrambling among the bulbs,

some aflourish with brilliant hue, others already ashen, so early in the season

I’d pick up one and then another, absent of reason for what led me here

Then the sudden realization - I had misplaced an apostrophe’


My first hand experience with LED bulbs is somewhat spotty (no pun intended).

We had a newly constructed home which was entirely populated with cheap (CHEAP) contractor-grade CFLs that took 2-3 minuntes to warm up to full brightness. You’d turn on the ceiling lights in a room and it was like a yellow-orange sunset working its way to daylight over a 2 minute period. I started replacing the ceiling reflector bulbs with name brand (Sylvania Osram or GE) a couple at a time. We lived in the house for about 7 years and over that time I replaced 8 or 9 of the CFLs but then had to RE-replace at least 4 of the brand spanking new LED bulbs, while some of the older crappy CFLs were still plugging along. Only one of the dead LEDs had heat issues (slight distortion of the plastic shell, and in that one outlet i knew exactly why), the others all just started stuttering after a few months then croaked.

During this time I also installed a lot of “standard” shaped lamp bulbs with LEDs (again, all name brand). To this day none of those bulbs have had any issue whatsoever.

Long story short - paying for “quality” doesn’t always help.


You’re lucky, I’ve had Cree bulbs that I bought around 2013 fizzle out in two years. It’s mostly down to the poor heat sinking of the arrays and their voltage regulator mechanism. So I’m not surprised your bulbs are lasting since Phillips tends to price in quality to their products rather than sell you crap. If only other bulb makers did the same thing. *sigh*

1 Like

Free is better than cheap. Check with your local utility about obtaining free LED bulbs. Madison Gas and Electric has a “Focus on Energy” program that offers local residents free LED bulbs and other energy-saving items.

I’m probably going to jinx myself here, but I’ve never had an LED lightbulb burn out in my house, even after moving and taking the LEDs with me and store them in adverse conditions for months. I have about 30 in my home right now (quick count in my head of all the lighting fixtures in the house) and I can’t think of one that has to have been changed. After making this comment, however, they’ll probably be burning out left and right, haha.

One of my move-in projects back in 2012 was to swap the bulbs (or fixtures!) on all the recessed ‘can’ lights in my kitchen with LED equivalents from various manufacturers. Most of the ‘screw-in’ replacements have already been replaced, my guess is from either poor heat sinking, poor manufacture, or dirty power. (We have some interesting power here in the Valley of the Sun.) The one bulb that hasn’t died has also been the one that has been on for the longest, which is the can over the sink, which was more of a ‘pull the reflector/shade part on the old fixture and install this one which has a screw in fitting and a pigtail to the LED panel that essentially rests in the fixture on top of the drywall’ style. IIRC, it wasn’t exactly cheap, but well worth it.

I don’t know about longevity, but finding an LED bulb with a good CRI is tough. And two 2800K’s from different manufactures will never look the same.

Glad CFL’s and their odd colour spikes are a thing of the past.