My LED Light Bulbs Keep Burning Out?

Clink!…. There they go again! Have your LED bulbs gone out, just when you were in the middle of completing an important task?

Didn’t you change them just recently!

This can be a pretty frustrating experience. I have faced this issue just recently. Having to replace your bulbs so often is expensive too!

Though you may not know what is causing the problem, there are a couple of reasons why your LED lights keep burning out before their time.

The most common reasons for LED blowing out are high voltage, bad contacts, use of incompatible dimmer switch, or recessed lighting. Other causes include overheating due to not using the right fixtures, or simply a bad batch of lightbulbs!

In this article I am going to help you solve the problem of why your LED lights keep burning out by addressing some issues that you can easily fix.

What Causes LED Lights To Burn Out?

Does it seem like that your bulbs are burning brighter than they should be?

One of the most common reasons is due to high voltage. If you have a high current running through your mains, this could easily be burning out your light bulbs.

LED lights are specifically designed for particular voltages such as 12 volts or 24 volts for instance. Voltage and electricity are directly related.

Typically, the amount of electricity in your home should be 120V at 60 Hz.

You may also be facing an issue if a particular outlet supplies too much voltage for the bulb you are using. You can check your power outlets by using a multimeter.

Before you begin, turn the main power off and disconnect the outlet from the wiring. Do not use both probes of the multimeter in the same hand to cause a short circuit.

Set your multimeter to the voltage option and insert the short black lead into the jack labeled “-” or “COM.”

Insert the red lead into the “+” or “OMEGA” jack. Next, remove the red and black leads, respectively.

Connect the test leads to the circuit, black first and red second. Note the measurement. Remove the red lead first and black lead second.

Alternatively, you may want to hire your local electrician to come over and take a look.

Are you using LEDs on dimmer switches? You may also run into problems if you are using LED bulbs that are incompatible with dimmer switches.

Dimmer switches with a minimum power of 50W are mostly used with incandescent bulbs because it has a much higher wattage.

Because LEDs use such a low wattage, the dimmer switch gets confused and thinks that the bulb is entirely off.

If you want the dimming effect, you need to find LED lights compatible with the dimmers.

Either you need to use dimmable LEDs or change your phase-dimmers switches and install an LED compatible dimmers.

Or perhaps your lighting fixtures are not compatible with your LED bulbs.

As mentioned earlier, overheating could be the cause of your LEDs to keep burning out. LED bulbs have diodes that use low current DC.

However, some amount of power is used in converting AC to DC, and heat is generated in doing so.

This heat gets accumulated in the bulb’s tiny neck above the socket, and to dissipate that, LED bulbs have heat sinks.

The bulb is overheated when the trapped air temperature is raised quite a bit, causing the capacitors and electronic chips to overheat too.

Thus, an inefficient heat sink may cause the bulb to overheat.

Also, a lack of ‘current limiting’ causes overheating. A small increase in the voltage can cause a huge increase in the flow of current.

LEDs are not able to limit the current. A current limiting resistor is required.

Thus in order to prevent overheating or buying a bulb that may overheat, follow these tips:

  • Check the LED bulb manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Avoid using LED bulbs in enclosed fixtures except if they are rated to be used in one.
  • Ensure that no object is in close proximity of the bulb obstructing the light from the bulb, and inadvertently preventing the dispersion of heat.
  • Buy a bulb from a rated bulb manufacturer to be assured that proper components are being used in the bulb.

Improper connections are also often the cause of light bulb burn outs.

In situations when your wires are loose, corroded, worn out, or when the bulb is screwed too tightly, the base can be under pressure.

All this increases the chance of the bulb blowing out quickly.

LED Bulb Is Burning In The Same Socket

Have you noticed that the LED light bulb you installed keeps burning out in the same socket repeatedly!

As I pointed out earlier, there are several reasons why your LED bulb keeps going out. Still, if you have recently replaced your bulb, it is most likely due to a damaged socket.

If you notice any flickering, screw on the bulb further to make sure that it is not loose.

Suppose you have been screwing on the bulbs too tight.

This can result in damaging the socket tab, located at the bottom of the socket, and responsible for carrying the power to the bulb.

To rectify the socket tab, here’s a way to fix this issue. Always make sure that the tab is angled upwards so that the base of the bulb connects fully to the socket tab.

You can use pliers or tweezers to bend the tab slightly upwards, at about a 20-degree angle, and do this only when the power is off, of course!

To prevent the socket tab from bending in the future, I would like to give you an excellent tip to screw the bulb just 1/8th of a turn further and then turn on the switch.

In case all of the above fails, I recommend switching between brands to find the right bulb, as some bulbs just do not have enough solder at the bulb’s base for the bulb to connect with the socket tab.

The bulb solder and the tab should ideally be of the same size in order for a good connection to take place.

Why The New LED Bulb Burns Out Immediately?

If a new bulb burns out immediately, how would you know if it’s a faulty bulb or socket?

If the socket tab seems to be alright, check for corroded or worn out contact points. Habitually loose connections caused by corrosion, either at the socket or with the wire connections, can burn out the bulb quickly and cause flickering.

I don’t recommend to fix the corroded socket but to invest in a new component.

The corroded part, in most cases, can’t be repaired satisfactorily, and the same problem will arise again.

Suppose you have tried all of the above and feel that the problem is actually loose wire connections. In that case, you can check the electrical wiring of the light fixtures. To do this, you can follow these simple steps:

  • Switch off the power to the light fixture
  • Remove the light fixture completely from the ceiling or wall
  • Visually check the wiring connections
  • Repair improper wiring and secure loose wires
  • Use a voltmeter to help determine the problem
  • Reinstall the light fixture and check with a different bulb

When you have checked the sockets, wiring connections, and everything else in your house, it may just be your faulty LED bulb. Don’t feel disheartened as there is a way to cut on costs and save you some trips to the hardware store. Read on to find out more.

Can Burned Out LED Be Revived?

The good news for all the DIY enthusiasts is yes, dead LED bulbs can be revived!

In case it is the LED bulb that is the actual problem, you can fix your LED bulb at home!

First, disassemble the LED bulb, take off the dissipator, and inside, you will find a board with LEDs. Using a multimeter, find the faulty LED. Desolder the driver contacts and change the LED.

Alternatively, you can connect the contact pads instead of changing the damaged LED. If all the diodes are working, check the bulb cap for the bulb driver and conductors and discontinuity contacts.

With a multimeter, check the main components, change the capacitors that are not working, check the transistors and diodes for a shortage, and compare resistor values.

Also, check the voltage output on the IC chip of the driver.

Nowadays, you can also find LED bulb assembling kits and separate parts like the drivers, housings, PCBs with LEDs, and other components. All you need to do is replace the faulty components.

Final Words

Though your LED bulb may not last you forever, you’d be surprised to know that they last 20 to 25 longer than a halogen and 8 to10 times longer than a CFL.

You may have noticed that using LEDs saves a lot on your energy bills. Even though they may have burnt out, now you know how to check for faults related to electricity, wiring, and revive a dead LED itself!

Have you tried repairing a dead LED? Let me know in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “My LED Light Bulbs Keep Burning Out?”

  1. Hi. I’m building a model and I bought a light kit for it.
    There are 1.8mm and 3mm LEDs, white.
    I slide a resistor on the positive leg and solder that into place.
    Then I solder the positive wire under it, and the negative wire to the negative lead.
    Then I touch the positive wire to the positive end of a regular square 9-volt battery and the negative to the other terminal. Just touching them. The light goes on like a bright star! And then fades to nothingness and is gone forever. What is happening? Thank you.

    • Not sure Kevin. It is really hard to advise just based on comment. It could be soldering material, but it could be something else as well related to either bulb or battery. I guess you would need to reverse engineer it and see is different parts in that setup fail if you replace them.

      Eugen

    • Your resistor is too small. That burning brightly and then dying, is the sign of the LED running at too high a power level. You need to chose the resistance based on the rated current of the LED, and it’s forward bias voltage. Basically, LED’s will use as much power as thy can, and explode. You need to limit the rate they consume power at. There are two ways to do this.

      Method 1) Engineer who just graduated. Most multimeters have a diode mode, which you can use to find the forward bias voltage of your LED(it’s probably going to be in the 1.5-3V range, depending on colour) Say it’s 2.7V, and your LED is rated for 10mA(find this from the LED manufacturer)

      9V(battery) – 2.7V(Forward bias voltage) = 6.3V(effective voltage)
      you want 20mA, so, Ohm’s Law says you need 6.3V / 0.0aA = 630 Ohms of resistance. They don’t make a 630, so round up the the next size(680 in this case) Put your own numbers in, and it should stop burning them out.

      Method 2 – Engineer who’s been doing this for 30 years.
      If it’s just a tiny LED like the kind you used to get at radio shack, just use a 1.2KOhm with a 9V battery, and it’ll probably be close enough. If it’s not bright enough, go smaller, but do it gradually, and if it catches fire, you went too far 🙂

      Happy building!

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