Around 2012, our family got a few LED light bulbs partly because I was intrigued by them. They were still pretty expensive at the time, but we got three to put in the most used fixtures. Fast forward to last year, now that LED bulbs are everywhere, and we finally did a huge overhaul of our lights, replacing all the CFLs that were showing signs of being about to die, with LEDs.

The old ones from 2012 still work fine to this day, keep in mind they were in the most commonly used lamps in our home and got more than their fair share of being turned on and off in rapid succession, left on for long periods, and general abuse you’d expect in a house with a lot of people in it, but they still work perfectly. BUT, we’ve replaced like five or six of the NEW ones over the last year and a half they’ve been in use! The failure mode is almost always that they would start flickering, and because we prefer not to live in a disco studio, we’d have to get them replaced ASAP. We’ve even had one of the replacements fail in less than a year!

And it’s not like we got them from the dollar store, we got the middle shelf ones at the hardware store, and while they were cheaper than the original ones from 2012, but they weren’t that cheap.

What the hell is going on? You’d think over the last ten years, they would have gotten better as the technology matured, but it seems to me that they’ve gotten much worse. The second biggest selling point of LEDs after efficiency was that they last way longer than any other type of light, but the new ones we’ve gotten don’t even last as long as an incandescent anymore!


Mostly over driven LEDs with insufficient cooling heat sinks. Aka, companies sell LEDs as brighter than their specs and cheap out on the aluminum needed for cooling. Typical effect of price competition where consumers have a hard time telling the difference at the point of sale.

Market for lemons


Planned obsolescence probably. It was huge thing for lightbulbs so not doing it for LED’s would be weird.

Seanchaí (she/her)

This is almost certainly it. Lightbulbs are ground zero for planned obsolescence: in 1924 lightbulb manufacturers Osram, Philips, Compagnie Des Lampes and General Electric met in Geneva and created the concept of electronics designed to fail so as to drive demand. This was the Phoebus cartel, they also divided the globe into market segments to prevent competition.

Fun fact. A decade ago or so, there was an oligopoly of 17-18 companies in the fucking bathroom furniture market in EU, dividing the markets and coordinating prices. Even in such insignificant business a massive oligopoly was created and sucessfully operated basically in the open for years.

Anyone believing anything like “free market” at this point is completely naive.


Which is ironic because I remember one major thing back in 2012 was that while the LEDs were more expensive, they pay for themselves first because you spend less on electricity and also air conditioning due to less waste heat, but also because you’d go through more incandescent and CFLs before you have to replace an LED bulb.

Remember the energy-saving bulbs that were the fad before LED’s? It was the same thing, they were incredibly expensive at first, but this was said to be offset by their longevity, and at first, it was true. Few years later they were the same as the ordinary lightbulbs.

Imo they have mostly gotten better. Older ones that I have have really white light, newer ones make nicer light.

I have never had a LED light bulb fail.

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