Can an Integrated LED Light Bulb Be Replaced?

The introduction of integrated LED bulbs in 2010 revolutionized the lighting market.

No longer are consumers simply choosing between different types of bulb, they now also have a choice between integrated and bulb-ready fixtures.

Unlike traditional bulbs that can easily be detached from their fixtures, integrated LED bulbs are built into multiple electrical circuit boards. This means that if a bulb blows, it cannot easily be replaced, especially not by the average person. Instead, the whole integrated fixture must be replaced.

Since the light bulb was first invented by Thomas Edison in the late 1870s, bulbs and fixtures have traditionally been manufactured as two separate entities.

So it’s easy to understand why integrated LED bulbs are being met with consumer-skepticism.

But surely it’s not all bad news? Would manufacturers continue producing integrated LEDs despite them having no real benefits?

In this article, I’ll be delving into the world of integrated LEDs and putting them head-to-head with traditional, retrofit bulbs. I’ll be discussing the pros and cons of integrated LEDs, their typical lifespan, whether they can be replaced, and why they might flicker.

Stay tuned to find out more!

What is an Integrated LED Bulb?integrated led fixture

Put simply, integrated LEDs are all-in-one fittings that contain both a light source and an external fixture. They typically connect directly to mainline voltage without needing any other components or accessories.

Retrofit LEDs, whereas, are standard bulbs that look similar to traditional incandescent or halogen bulbs and screw directly into existing fixtures.

Approximately 70% of light fixtures were using LEDs in 2017, with the majority of these being retrofit bulbs. However, integrated LEDs are quickly gaining traction, and they are expected to surpass retrofit bulbs in popularity by 2022.

But why is this?

In the past, it made sense to manufacture light bulbs and fixtures separately because traditional bulbs had short lifespans. Keeping the components separate allowed blown out bulbs to be replaced without wasting a perfectly healthy fitting.

With LEDs, however, this is no longer the case. LED bulbs are extremely long-lasting and will not need replacing for many years. It’s more convenient for consumers, therefore, if manufacturers produce LEDs as complete, integrated fixtures.

Pros and Cons of Integrated LED Lights

If it’s time to upgrade the lights in your home or property, integrated LEDs are a strong contender. Before you make a purchase, let’s weigh up the pros and cons.

Before we get to each point into more details, here is the summary table.

Pros
  • Extended lifespan
  • Convenient – only need to buy and fit one part
  • Innovative designs
  • Brighter – higher lumen output
  • Better heat dissipation
  • Safer – all parts are designed to be used with each other
  • Compact – ideal for low ceiling voids
Cons
  • More expensive than retrofit alternatives
  • Limited customisation – no control over kelvin colour, brightness or darkness
  • Wasteful – if a bulb blows the entire fitting needs replacing
  • Their technology will quickly become outdated

Pro: Long Lasting

Can You Help Me Please?

The claimed lifespan of LED lights varies, but usually falls anywhere between 15-25,000 hours. I have decided to understand whether it’s true or not, and you can help me with this.

I have created a completely anonymous survey to understand the real lifespan of LED lights in the daily environment. The whole questionnaire has only 7 straightforward questions and won’t take more than a few minutes of your time.

Click below to contribute. Thanks.

Integrated LEDs are a complete fixture. Not only are they made up of more components than retrofit LEDs, but these components are also designed to last, which makes them more expensive to produce.

Although the upfront cost of an integrated LED may seem intimidating, they will need replacing much less frequently than retrofit bulbs. This means that integrated LEDs offer better value for money in the long run.

Pro: Convenient

Arguably the main advantage of integrated LEDs is their convenience. Consumers simply purchase one fixture and fit it in their home. They can then leave it alone for many years until it eventually dies.

This is an ideal solution for difficult-to-reach areas, such as the top of the stairs, where it’s hard to constantly replace blown-out bulbs.

Pro: Modern Designs

Retrofit LEDs are limited in design as they have to be compatible with traditional light fixtures. For integrated LEDs, this isn’t a problem, which means they can be designed in modern shapes and designs.

This is advantageous for areas without a lot of clearance space between the ceiling and the floor above, as integrated LEDs can be much more compact than retrofit bulbs.

Con: Expensive

Whether you’re looking to purchase track lights, downlights, or troffers, the integrated LED versions are much more expensive than the retrofit equivalent.

Traditional LED track head typically costs between $25 and $75, but integrated LED track heads cost around $110 to $350. This is a huge difference and suggests that integrated LEDs may not be suitable for those who are on a budget.

Con: Irreplaceable

LED bulbs don’t last forever. When an integrated LED bulb blows, it cannot easily be separated from the fixture and replaced the same way that a retrofit bulb can. Even avid DIY-ers will struggle to find a solution.

Instead, the entire integrated fixture will need to be disconnected from the mains and replaced.

This ultimately puts an expiration date on the light fixture itself, which may still be healthy when the diode dies. As well as being inconvenient, this is extremely wasteful.

Con: Lack of Customisation

With retrofit bulbs, you can choose the exact shape, size, color, and wattage of bulb they want, providing it is compatible with their fixture.

This freedom is taken away with integrated LEDs, as manufacturers have full control over their features, and features cannot be changed after purchase. This means it may be difficult for consumers to find their perfect integrated LED fixture.

Lifespan of Integrated LEDs

Integrated LEDs are designed holistically. This means that all components are designed to be compatible with one another, which drastically increases their lifespan.

When it comes to longevity, heat is the number one cause of LED failure. Regardless of whether it’s integrated or retrofit, it’s important that LEDs have effective heat sinks that draw heat away from the diode and disperse it externally.

With retrofit bulbs, the efficiency of heat sinks is restricted since the bulbs have to be compatible with traditional light fixtures.

But integrated LEDs benefit from design flexibility, which means they have much better heat management systems and can deal with heat dissipation more effectively.

For this reason, the average lifespan of an integrated LED is 50,000 hours. This is 20,000 hours more than the average lifespan of a retrofit LED bulb, which has an average lifespan of 15,000 to 30,000 hours.

Is There Any Way To Replace Non-Replaceable LED Bulbs?replacing the bulb

Unlike retrofit LEDs, integrated LEDs are built using circuits on board techniques. This means that if a diode in an integrated fixture stops working, it cannot easily be removed and replaced.

So does this mean that an integrated LED has to be thrown away as soon as it stops working? No.

The first thing you should do is check your warranty. Manufacturers understand that LED bulbs are incredibly long-lasting, so they tend to offer a longer warranty period than with standard retrofit LEDs. If the warranty is still valid, the manufacturer should replace or repair the faulty fixture.

If your warranty has run out, it may still be worth having a play around with your fixture. Defective LEDs can sometimes be revived quite easily.

This YouTube video may be useful:

Is Integrated LED Faulty When it Starts to Flicker?

Integrated LEDs are intended to be a healthy, stable lighting choice. The compatibility of their internal components means that they are unlikely to flicker. Still, I understand that this may not always be the case.

The main reason that integrated LEDs flicker is due to voltage surges. All LEDs operate at a very low voltage, so they come equipped with a transformer that reduces the voltage of the electricity coming in.

As appliances in a circuit are turned on and off, the voltage is flowing around the circuit increases and decreases. Transformers are designed to protect against these fluctuations, so a flickering light suggests that the transformer is not working correctly.

This could be because the transformer is old, or because there are a lot of appliances in the circuit using a heavy power load. It may be worth calling an electrician to check that your electrics are set up optimally.

There is more to flickering then just a transformer, though. You can find much more information on flickering in my other post.

Final Words

Despite being irreplaceable, integrated LEDs are a long-lasting and brighter alternative to both traditional light bulbs, and retrofit LEDs. This makes them an attractive design choice for your home, office, and garden.

Over the next few years, I expect that the integrated LED market will take off, and there will be a variety of different designs and innovations to choose from.

In fact, more and more manufacturers are starting to integrate LEDs directly into their fixtures.

Have you ever tried to replace a bulb in an integrated fixture? Was it successful?

Drop me a message down below, it would be great to hear your input.

12 thoughts on “Can an Integrated LED Light Bulb Be Replaced?”

  1. I haVe a 52 inch sail dtream brushed nickel ceiliNg fan with remote Suddenly the light will go on and off or it will get brighter and dimmer on its own.it is an integrated led light system and from what i am reading it sounda like it would be difficult to replace .i’m not sure what to do i know nothing about this.do you have any answers you could give me thwy would be much appreciated.thank you

    Reply
    • Hi Connie,

      Thanks for reaching out. First of all flickering is not always an indicator of the faulty bulb. Often it could be cause by poor connection of the lamp to the source, or wiring can be potentially damaged in the ceiling rose. This being said, try to pinpoint this out and if you have got any time, try and test the fixture and connection separately. Maybe you can try and plug another fixture to the same socket and see if the other lamp does the same? Then you might just need to fix the socket instead of getting a brand new fixture.

      You are right that enclosed fixtures are extremely difficult to replace, so if you have got a warranty on it, I wouldn’t attempt it unless you know what you are doing. Instead, I would have reached out to the seller and asked for guidance. As I said in the article, lamps with integrated bulb have often extended warranty so you might still get it replaced as part of it.

      Hope this helps.
      Eugen

      Reply
      • Eugen,
        While I understand the expectation that integrated lights have a long lifespan, all fixtures are not created equally.
        We purchased a brand new KB home in November 2017. It came with 25 Kichler Model #: 43848WHLED30T integrated bulbs.
        At 30,000 to 50,000 hours, running 3 hours a day, they should last 27 to 45 years.
        I understand the bell curve, some will last longer, some shorter. We lost two of these before we moved in and the builder replaced them.
        Then we lost 6 more of these the first year, 7 more the second. At $ 27 each, it would cost over $ 300 in the first two years.
        Some on the second round had been replaced previously, so it was not just one bad lot.
        These fixtures don’t last at all, and are a real pain to replace on 9 foot ceilings.
        They designed these fixtures so that they had to be screwed into an electrical box instead of a clip in fixture on the drywall ceiling. The builder used some machine screws and some drywall or sheet metal screws to hold them up. There is no quick disconnect, you have to remove and replace wire nuts and electrical tape over that. why they don’t last at all, why they don’t have a quick disconnect instead of wire nuts onto stripped wires; I don’t know. It is difficult and unsafe to replace these.

        The company warranty is not useful, we purchased the home with them already installed, so we do not have the original receipt.

        Please email me if you know of a source or sources we could talk to where we could buy drop in replacements, one with clips instead of screw in, and plug disconnects instead of wire nuts. They are potentially looking at lot of customers.

        This reminds me of when the government mandated low flow toilets,
        They could not flush a tissue without plugging up.
        The manufactures took the original design and strapped on a low capacity tank instead of designing for the reduced flow.
        Leds will catch up some day and be truly reliable and easy to maintain and repair, but there is no incentive to provide something that works right now.

        Reply
        • Hi Bill,

          Thank you very much for sharing your story. In fact, I am now doing a ground work on the article about the real lifespan of LEDs, and why do they last so little compared to what is advertised. It should be a very interesting piece to read indeed.

          What I have found is that these manufacturers of enclosed fixtures often build the fixture itself very well, but then they think that you wont be able to access the inside where the bulb is so they decide to improve the profit margin by putting cheap bulbs in there. Obviously this creates a problem because the bulb chip is poorly soldered, and does not dissipate heat well, and it will last just long enough to survive the warranty period.

          So now you are out of warranty and with fixture you cannot use anymore. But lets be honest this applies to almost any manufacturer these days across various industries, unfortunately.

          As much as I would love to help you, I wont be able to as I dont know any of these sources myself 🙁

          Eugen

          Reply
  2. Thank you for this enlighing article!!

    We have issues with our LED integrated lights. Bought 3 years ago only, used 3 to 5 hours per day, paid $335 in a lighting store. It was an investment for us. Now 3 out of 5 lights are not working anymore. The warranty is 5 years, and they do not make this model anymore. This light fixture was matching another one right beside, and I loved the design. Now they do not make this model, we can only exchange with another model.

    I think there is a high environmental cost making LED integrated lights. More money down the drain for customers (and not talking about frustrations) and more waste, so more pollution down the road. Now that my 3 yrs old light is not good anymore, I need to change the whole thing. It does not make sense to me. It should be illegal! It would be nice if you could find the real cost (money, and environment) of the old lights vs LED changeable vs Integrated. Thanks again!

    Reply
    • Hi Sonia,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Personally, I try to avoid integrated fixtures. Although they look better in terms of design, I just don’t want to throw the fixture away if something goes wrong. Besides, there are lots of beautifully designed fixtures with changeable bulbs.

      Eugen

      Reply
  3. I have a front porch light with integrated disc (4 bulb) LED that is no longer working. (~3/4″ in size width with black and grey wire coming out of it; ~4inches of wire for assembly to driver wires). Bought by previous owner; likely HomeDepot or Lowes purchase. Disassembled and have narrowed issue down to the LEDs it self. (disassembled a working one and tested out various parts). LED from other light works in this one, telling me driver and power supply are correct. I cannot find one like this for sale anywhere. Anyone know where to find one?

    Reply
  4. Hi— Very interesting article. I have a series of 7 recessed LED can lights. One continually flickers. I pulled the cover off and found a circuit board (NICOR D1 V2.0 on the board). 4 screws and a little plugging for power is what is attached. Can I just replace the circuit board? How do I see who has them.
    Thanks

    Reply
  5. My 26″ Alico integrated LED under cabinet light is no longer working. It is only about 4 years old.It is hard wired and has 3 rectangular plates which have multiple small “disks” on it. I am thinking I will need to replace the entire fixture but I can’t find one of the correct length. Is it possible for you to name a reputable vendor of these types of lights. Many thanks.

    Reply
    • Hi Joan,

      The best thing to do would be to get in touch with the manufacturer and as if you can find any replacement components for the light. Alternatively, take a picture of that circular array and ask in the nearest DIY store if they sell these by any chance. Also, you can have a look if these guys sell them by any chance.

      Hope it helps.
      Eugen

      Reply

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