I installed about 20 LED bulbs in my house when I moved in two years ago. Since then at leave 5 of them have died.

None of the bulbs are on dimmer switches. However, my house is more than 100 years old. Could old wiring decrease the life of LEDs? All of my circuits are on modern breakers, and none of the wiring that I can see is knob-and-tube, but it's possible there is some of that left behind the walls.

Another theory as to why the LEDs die early is that most of the lights, and many of the outlets, in my house are on a single circuit (there are lots of other circuits, but for whatever reason they put most of the lights on just one circuit), and so that circuit can sometimes be under heavy load. I do see the lights flicker now and then when an appliance is turned on.

Could either of these issues be killing my LEDs? If so, what can I do about it?

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    What brand of LEDs? Feb 13, 2019 at 2:08
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    @UnhandledExcepSean - That blog article is somewhat questionable in many of its comments, It really gives the impression that this was previously written for incandescent bulbs or CFL type bulbs and then had those words replaced with LED,
    – Michael Karas
    Feb 13, 2019 at 2:26
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    @MichaelKaras Not only that. Some of the sentences just don't make sense: For example, if it’s rated for 60 watts, but you put it somewhere that generates 100 watts, it will overload the circuit sooner rather than later. Aside from 60 & 100 being incandescent values, if the bulb is rated for 60 Watts, putting "somewhere" isn't going to make it use 100 Watts... Feb 13, 2019 at 3:02
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    What kind of fixture are they in? Enclosed fixtures (especially where the lamp base is facing up) can shorten the life of LED's - LED's don't tolerate heat well. Sometimes even a base-up LED in a non-enclosed fixture can be affected.
    – Johnny
    Feb 13, 2019 at 3:37

4 Answers 4


Cheap $$ bulbs

This is a quality problem. The market is flooded with boatloads of cheap Cheese junk, and "thrifty" buyers gobble them up.

These manifest on ebay and the dollar store, of course, but they also show up in bigger retailers. And just as WD-40 made a brand out of missile juice, many junk importers make a brand simply by being everywhere. You see Feit Electric so often, in so many shops, that it must surely be a top tier product, right? Nope. Not at all. It's junk. Same for Utilitech and Lights of America.

Generally for quality lights you can't go wrong with Cree or the old Pheobus Cartel members, particularly GE, the only one who still makes their own LED bulbs. The big makers consider screw-in LEDs to be a dead-end business, since once everyone has fit them, they won't be able to sell any since they don't fail. Obviously, the dollar vendors have figured out how to solve that problem!

Lost Neutral

This is improbable, but very serious, and I think of it because of your lights flickering. Its symptoms are rapid, inexplicable failure of appliances.

It may be that your house's neutral wire is damaged, probably coming in off the pole, with about a 95% chance the problem is on the power company's side, and thus, fixed for free.

You detect this by measuring your voltage on a variety of outlets. It indicates the problem if some of them are below 120V, while others are above 120V by the same amount. Your house has two 120V "legs" of power. For instance, my house read 94 volts and 144 volts respectively, the two values added up to about 240V. Equipment on the high-voltage side is prone to damage. These values will "teeter-totter" back and forth depending on how much load is on each leg, with a new load causing quite a change in voltage, and thus, "flickering".

LEDs should ride right through small changes in voltage.

Enclosed fixtures

LEDs need to run cool, and they dislike heat. The LED itself needs to run cooler than 85 degrees C (185 F). The electronic driver circuit is also not a big fan of heat, especially if it's built cheaply. The problem is, old fixtures are built for incandescent lights, which love heat. So fixtures aren't built to remove heat from the bulb, they're designed to bottle up the incandscent's heat to protect the building from it. Given those design factors, enclosed fixtures make sense. Not with LED.


The drivers in the led lamp are the part that usually fails, heat is a killer for the electronics, but that article was crazy wrong. A 16w led lamp today will produce as much light as a 100w bulb so you would need many more led bulbs to over heat an incadesent fixture. Your wiring is not the problem led's draw very little current. I have found some brands have horrible drivers and some don't make it a year even in very high end fixtures 500$ range I have had many failures. What I found a while back is you want to only purchase DLC certified lamps and fixtures. DLC certification requires a 5 year warrenty on most lamps. I have had a couple of failures with DLC listed lamps and 1 fixture but they were replaced with no hassle. I get most of my fixtures and retrofit lamps from led my place on line and 1000 bulbs they have good prices but you need to verify DLC listing if you want long life. The no name and non DLC listed lamps in many cases are cheaper to purchase but in my experience you will be replacing them in a year or 2 as you are experiencing.


Led itself are fine, but many low-cost brands tends not to last long mostly because the driver is porely designed. I noticed that led bulbs tend to last longer if mounted in 'well-vented' fixtures. So if you have mostly enclosed where temperature can build up easly, that will surely shorten your bulbs lifespan.

I can say the first couple of led bulb I bought at Ikea more then 8 years ago are still working fine. One is installed in a bathroom the other is on door light.

Just some of my relatives got cheap ones (about 1€) that broke in about a year


Im a retired Electronics Engineer.For many years LEDs had a mean time between failure (MTBF) of approx 100,000 hours, which meant they hardly failed. Manufacturers realised they had a diminishing market for replacement LEDs and units that use them. They came up with the brilliant idea of reducing the build quality until they collectively settled on a design that had a built-in lower life expectancy; and thats what we have now. Its nothing to do with them being cheap Chinese junk. They are cheap anyway; doubt if American ones are any better than European or Chinese.

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    Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. This is interesting; where did you get this info? And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to contribute here. Feb 14, 2020 at 16:22

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