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I just moved into a new home which has two bathrooms with identical LED vanity lights, https://www.minkagroup.net/p5217-077-l.html. In each bathroom, when you flip the switch for the vanity light, it briefly illuminates and then immediately turns off and does not turn on again. If you flip the switch off and on again, it will flash on and off again. This happens to both light fixtures in two different bathrooms.

Since we just moved in, I don't know how long the problem has been going on. We had the buildings electrician come and he just recommended replacing both lights. But it seems to me since this is happening with two lights in two bathrooms the issue may not be with the integrated LED lighting and may be voltage or something else?

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

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There are 3 types of LED fixtures:

  • Cheap junk. These can actually make sense in some cases, particularly if easy to replace when they die. A significant percentage will die early, but most will last quite a while and the price is right.
  • Well-designed from major manufacturers. These make sense for most situations. They might cost on the order of 2x the cheap junk, but they will on average last much longer. More importantly, they are (in my experience) far less likely to have early failure. Anything can be dead-on-arrival - you return it and swap for another. If a light fails after 4 years instead of 5 years, not that big a deal. But if it fails after somewhere between a week and a year, it becomes a royal pain (been there, done that). The major manufacturers are not interested in getting lots of warranty returns and they (generally) build these things to last. (The cheap ones either build a lot of returns into their cost - which tells you the true value of the product! - or disappear before the warranty is up.) This is the best choice for most permanent installations. Unfortunately, I can't post a list of "major manufacturers" here, but it isn't too hard to figure out. If a company has been making light bulbs or electrical equipment for over 100 years, they probably have some idea of how to build things to last.
  • Designer/"fancy" stuff. This is where it gets tricky. And this is what you have. In the old days, a designer fixture would still (most of the time...) take Edison base bulbs, either regular base or chandelier base. The rest of the fixture, provided it was built to UL/similar standards really didn't matter. It was a base for a bulb and some wires - all totally standard - inside a fancy case that looked really nice (subjectively) and as long as fire safety was accounted for (i.e., not enclosed too much, made from metal/glass, etc.) you could make it look like anything and, after initial installation, there was never any need to go back to the manufacturer. Even if the bulb base or wires went bad somehow, they could usually be easily swapped.

Not any more! It is more efficient, and provides more design options too (since you don't have to provide as much space for actual bulbs) to include integrated LEDs. That includes a driver circuit (which converts from 120V AC to low-voltage DC) and the actual LEDs. There are electronic components, small wires, etc. that can all go bad. Done right, a good LED fixture will last for many years. Ideally, by the time the lights stop working you are ready to replace the fixture anyway for a new design, because you can't just replace the bulbs. The problem is that sometimes the fancy designers are not lighting or electronics experts. That didn't matter in the old days. It does matter now.

My hunch is that the fixtures were designed with relatively low-quality driver circuits. Over time, they fail. And since they are the same model, they fail in the same way.

Replace the Fixtures

Anything else - trying to tear them down to find loose wires, replacing driver circuits, etc. - will be a waste of time/money.

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    Thank you so much! I had a feeling this may be the case. Question - the same style is available with "Five 40 Watt (400 Lumens) 120 Volt G9 Double Loop Base Xenon Lamp(s) (Included)" instead of an integrated LED. I can't tell if this is a good old replaceable bulb type alternative? If so, it seems like a reasonable swap since I do like the aesthetic of this designer piece of crap. – user126296 Nov 27 '20 at 17:49
  • 40W for 400 Lumens is essentially "regular incandescent". Compare that to the other fixture which was something like 3,700 Lumens (I saw it but don't remember exactly) for 56W. 40W vs. 56W isn't much (actually, less power which seems good, right?) but for around 11% of the light. In other words, the bathroom will be very dark compared to the old fixture. Oops: Worse than that! It is 5x - so 200W (almost 4 times the current power usage!) for 2,000 Lumens (a little less than 1/2 the current light). So it probably will be bright enough. But produce a LOT of excess heat and – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Nov 27 '20 at 18:01
  • waste a lot of power. Stick to LEDs. Yes, the Xenon G9s are replaceable. But you'll spend a ton of money on power - and have to replace bulbs every 1,000 hours or so instead of replacing the fixture once every 5 to 10 years. – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Nov 27 '20 at 18:02

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