LED Lighting Longevity & Durability

Thread starter #1
I'm hoping to gain some insight into the longevity of LED grow lighting. I realize there are a couple of factors to consider (quality of LED, wattage, etc.)

Most of the LED lights I've seen are rated for 50,000 hours of use. I've read of experiences where some LED's degrade over a short period of time, 2-6 months, and their strength is negatively effected.

I've got a couple questions for experienced LED growers:

How much time or how many grows you have gotten out of your light?
How long before you noticed the quality of lighting degraded(If applicable)?
What brand of light is it?
Would you recommend it?


Any other insight or observations welcomed and appreciated.

Thanks.
 

Icemud

Member & Nug of the Month July 2012 Member of the
re: LED Lighting Longevity & Durability

I'm hoping to gain some insight into the longevity of LED grow lighting. I realize there are a couple of factors to consider (quality of LED, wattage, etc.)

Most of the LED lights I've seen are rated for 50,000 hours of use. I've read of experiences where some LED's degrade over a short period of time, 2-6 months, and their strength is negatively effected.

I've got a couple questions for experienced LED growers:

How much time or how many grows you have gotten out of your light?
How long before you noticed the quality of lighting degraded(If applicable)?
What brand of light is it?
Would you recommend it?


Any other insight or observations welcomed and appreciated.

Thanks.
Typically LED's of higher quality will last longer, this is called Lumen Maintenance. Its usually given in a time measurement in hours along with a percentage. The percentage is usually given as LM-80, LM-90 or other numbers, and what a LM-80 at 50,000 hours means that at 50,000 hours, the light will be outputting 80% of its original intensity, or a 20% loss of light.


Most OSRAM chips will last around 100,000 hour with less than 5% light loss
Most Cree chips will last between 50,000-80,000 hours with less than 20% light loss
Most Epistar, Epiled and other cheaper brand chips typically will last around 30,000-50,000 hours with 20% light loss or more.

Now LED chips is one thing, and it does matter, for longevity and also for efficiency. A better brand chip is going to put out more light (photons) with the same amount of electricity vs a cheaper chip which will use the same energy but put out less light (photons).

For instance an Osram SSL chip is going to put out nearly double the light as a Epistar chip at the same current and voltage. So this means your electricity being used will be used more efficiently with the Osram chip than it would the Epistar. (almost 2x as much light out of the Osram).

Also if possible, find out what BIN chips are being used. LED chips/diodes/COBs are usually sorted by brightness/efficiency and color and so some LED companies may use a brand name LED chip like CREE, but use the cheaper BINS which result in much less efficiency which is what you want if paying for a premium chip. By finding out what BIN numbers the company used, you can look up the LED chips on the manufacture website and find the BIN codes. This will show you if the LED chips in the light you have are from the top of the pile with the most light output and efficiency, or from the bottom of the pile, sold at a cheaper price with much lower efficiency. Many companies will not share this info, claiming its proprietary, but IMO if they don't share it, then typically they are using a low BIN chip, but charging a premium price for their product.

So better chips will typically give you better efficiency, (more light per watt) than cheaper ones and better chips will last longer...

Now with all that being said, a study of over 4,000 LED lights for commercial application did a study on failure, and over 54% of LED fails are due to the drivers, not the chips... only around 10% of fails on average is due to the chips.

So typically if you look for an LED, find out what kind of driver they are using and go from there. By knowing the driver, you can look it up online and see what the reviews/ratings are for that brand, as well as look up the efficiency of the driver. The goal currently is to get a long lasting LED that has good efficiency. By knowing the driver type, you can find the info from the manufacture.

My suggestion would be to look into panels with OSRAM or CREE chips (3w or 5w chips), who use brand name drivers or from reputable companies, and take a look at white COB led lighting as well(Best COBs are made by CREE, Bridgelux VERO and CitiLED). COB is pretty much the way to go whether its pre made or DIY, and there are a couple sponsors here at 420 Mag that offer this technology.

Also feel free to check out my last few grow journals. I tried out a couple brands that are sponsors here and so far have been very happy with them.

Sponsors | 420 MAGAZINE ®
 
Thread starter #3
Typically LED's of higher quality will last longer, this is called Lumen Maintenance. Its usually given in a time measurement in hours along with a percentage. The percentage is usually given as LM-80, LM-90 or other numbers, and what a LM-80 at 50,000 hours means that at 50,000 hours, the light will be outputting 80% of its original intensity, or a 20% loss of light...
Hey, thanks immensely for the response. Gained a lot from that post.

I'm looking into COB units, specifically the Spider units. There is a Canadian company(I'm Canadian) that is distributing them and offering a 3-year warranty. They're pretty easy to change out LED's. That being said, they're Epistar chips, but I'm confidant I'll get the most of my light given the warranty. The price point is decent. Looking to get atleast 3 years of good use. I've seen people here have great results with them.

I'm cheap, but I look for value. That's why I'm not considering the more expensive COB units.
 

Major PITA

Member of the Month - October 2015 Member Of The
I wouldn't focus :3: on LED degradation over time. I'd worry about catastrophic failure. For me LEDs are a crap-shoot. The only way I can justify the high cost is if they last a longggg time. In theory they will, but quite a few growers have drivers, or some other component, go bad on them within the first year.
 

Icemud

Member & Nug of the Month July 2012 Member of the
Hey, thanks immensely for the response. Gained a lot from that post.

I'm looking into COB units, specifically the Spider units. There is a Canadian company(I'm Canadian) that is distributing them and offering a 3-year warranty. They're pretty easy to change out LED's. That being said, they're Epistar chips, but I'm confidant I'll get the most of my light given the warranty. The price point is decent. Looking to get atleast 3 years of good use. I've seen people here have great results with them.

I'm cheap, but I look for value. That's why I'm not considering the more expensive COB units.
Those aren't the COB's that I was referring to. Those COBs are made from a bunch of cheap LED chips stacked onto a tiny circuit board. Not the best type of product. The COB I was referring to is ALL white and either made by Cree, Bridgelux Vero or CitiLED (LED brand). The white spectrum is where its at. The Spiders do have COB chips, but that is a different kind and not known for efficiency or reliability.

If you go COB, this is what you are looking for....
 
Thread starter #6
Those aren't the COB's that I was referring to. Those COBs are made from a bunch of cheap LED chips stacked onto a tiny circuit board. Not the best type of product. The COB I was referring to is ALL white and either made by Cree, Bridgelux Vero or CitiLED (LED brand). The white spectrum is where its at. The Spiders do have COB chips, but that is a different kind and not known for efficiency or reliability.

If you go COB, this is what you are looking for....
Nice, did some light research. Looks really simple and cost-effective to build my own light. I'm learning about the specs I need.

It's funny because I started out considering buying a 400w hps. Then a 600. Then LEDs were brought to my attention. Then a cheap Chinese LED light. Then a slightly better cheap Chinese LED light. Now, I'm onto these Crees(CXA3070). All this within a span of probably 3 weeks. I'm learning something new everyday.

I like to buy things that will last but are also reasonably priced. It can be done. "You get what you pay for" doesn't always have to apply. That being said lighting has been the most difficult item for me to decide on for my first indoor grow.