I am an DIYer and replaced bathroom light fixtures 3 years ago. Was using halogen and incandescent bulbs, but decided to switch entire house to LED. I admit that I purchased these bulbs from the dollar store and that may be part of the problem. Four of the nine bulbs have burned out after a few months. However, I just bought a new batch of bulbs from Home Depot, but do not want to install them if there could be another issue. It is in a bathroom and there are 3 fixtures chained together with 3 bulbs apiece. I believe the wiring is all correct or the fixtures would not have worked for 3 years? Right? The only other thing to note is that the switch itself is one of those lit ones that you see at night. That was also causing a problem with the LED bulbs glowing at night because they were picking up the current from the switch. Did some internet searching to solve that one. I changed the last bulb in the series to a different type of LED and the glow disappeared.

Do you feel it is the bulbs, switch. Or, possibly the wiring?

  • 1
    Is this an ordinary toggle switch or a dimmer? Is the electrical supply to your house consistent (no variations in voltage or amperage or frequency)? Jun 27 '18 at 12:33
  • 1
    It's not really a problem to buy bulbs at the dollar store, just you have a super high mortality on the bulbs. But you had that before with incandescents. and hey you saved some money right? It's a compromise. One I got sick of making. On my "never buy" list is obviously any no-brand, Lights of America, Feit, and Utilitech... I buy GE, Philips, Sylvania, Cree and -surprisingly - IKEA. Whose price is very good but the things never fail. Jun 27 '18 at 13:38
  • Some Chinese very very cheap bulbs have been dead within weeks while Philips have lasted 2-3yr easily. Its just that 1 Philips bulb cost same as 10 Chinese, cost being the same over time but the headache of so many replacement is not worthwhile at all
    – NitinSingh
    Jun 27 '18 at 13:48
  • @Harper - I've had very good luck with IKEA bulbs too. Several years ago they were the only local source I could find for compact fluorescent chandelier (small base - E-something that I can't remember right now) bulbs. Now switched to LEDs, but at the time Home Depot, etc. only had the larger base size bulbs and LEDs weren't a thing yet for replacing regular bulbs. Jun 27 '18 at 14:30
  • a good quality bulb is heavy and takes a moment to turn on when you flip the switch. newer quality LEDs don't have the dimmer switch flicker issue you describe. There's no reason not to use your new bulbs.
    – dandavis
    Jun 27 '18 at 17:37

I'm pretty sure it's a quality issue, possibly exacerbated by minor power issues that probably can't be fixed.

Several years ago, I found a 2-pack of bulbs at Costco. They were LG bulbs and pretty pricey ($15/bulb if memory serves). Other than having my kids break the glass cover (bulb works fine), those bulbs have lasted through years of regular use.

By contrast I bought a 12-pack on a Black Friday sale a couple of years ago. While some bulbs are doing just fine, I've had to replace 3, although one might have been due to a dimmer that was on one fixture before I swapped it for a normal switch. I've even had some cheaper "branded" bulbs burn out on me within a year.

So what gives? There's a few reasons why cheaper bulbs burn out quicker. The largest is that LED bulbs have to perform a power transformation before they can power the LEDs. Cheaper bulbs invariably means cheaper components to transform that power. Add in that your house might not have the best wiring or random power fluctuations and you have a recipe for disaster for these cheap components.

I would check your voltage to make sure it's steady. If it's not, buying a dimmable LED for those locations might be advisable. Because they're built for the power change they tend to have higher quality power transformation.

  • Checking my voltage is beyond my capabilities quite frankly. Don't have the tools or the know-how. I did buy all dimmable LEDs initially and the new ones from Home Depot are also dimmable.
    – Monicaj
    Jun 27 '18 at 23:00
  • Just FYI, Phillips seems to be the current gold standard in LEDs and their price shows. I've had some decent successes with Sylvanias as well
    – Machavity
    Jun 27 '18 at 23:32

Are the fixtures fully enclosed or are the bulbs exposed to open air? LED bulbs, while they generate much less heat than incandescent, do generate heat and the driver circuitry in the base can be distroyed by excess heat. If you look on the packaging for many LED bulbs, you’ll see the wording “not for enclosed fixtures”.

If you are using enclosed fixtures, look for bulbs so rated. Otherwise, you may have to leave those incandescent.

  • They are not enclosed fixtures.
    – Monicaj
    Jun 27 '18 at 22:35

Do you feel it is the bulbs, switch. Or, possibly the wiring?

I doubt the wiring is a problem.

It is fairly unlikely the backlit switch would cause a premature failure.

It is possible that the bulbs are poor quality and failed early.

If the fixtures were designed for old-fashioned incandescent filament light bulbs, which don't mind getting very hot, it is possible they don't provide enough air-flow to cool the LED bulbs, which are generally more sensitive to overheating. The driver circuitry built into the base of LED bulbs sometimes use electrolytic capacitors - which can also fail early if run hot.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.