In this article, we wanted to tackle some of the common questions homeowners and business owners sometimes wonder about using new LED lights to replace their old energy-draining traditional light bulbs or fixtures.

We have a ton of other energy-efficient lighting articles, but wanted to tackle these questions in an FAQ type of format.

Much of this comes from my own experience, when I used to own an energy-efficient lighting distribution company myself. We worked with hundreds of customers per month, so I’ll try to cover each topic as best I can here.

Why Do LED Bulbs Dim Over Time?

LED light bulbs dim over time because the semiconductor’s ability to create light deteriorates with age. This is why your older LED bulb might seem more dull than when it was new.

Many factors affect an LED light’s lifespan. Temperature, humidity, and how long you keep the light on can make the LED light lose its brightness faster.

In addition, the speed of this dimming process is not linear. In other words, as the light ages, it loses its brightness faster.

In my experience, the light output or brightness usually doesn’t change that much through the bulb’s life. If it does, you might have a defective unit and can probably get it replaced under warranty.

Can I Use a Higher Wattage LED Bulb?

You can use a higher-wattage LED bulb if the light fixture doesn’t experience any change in energy or actual wattage.

Every light fixture has a maximum wattage it can tolerate. An LED bulb can have a higher wattage if it doesn’t exceed the fixture’s.

When you read the label on an LED bulb, the wattage is the amount of light your bulb will emit, not necessarily how much wattage it’ll use.

Read both parts of the package and look for wattage and watt output. It’s fine if the watt output is higher, giving off more light than your traditional bulb.

However, the wattage should be lower than the allowed wattage by the fixture.

Do LED Light Bulbs Burn Out?

LED BR40 bulbs against a plain white background
LED bulbs are essentially diodes with circuit boards running them. .

LED light bulbs don’t burn out in the same way that your traditional light bulbs do. They stop working over long periods but don’t spark and burn out.

Instead, LED light bulbs will gradually decrease in lighting power over time because of how they’re made. In my experience, they might get a little dimmer over time, but most likely will just stop working one day. This is similar to any electronic item burning out.

They do not contain filaments that give out light by producing heat (although they still can get very hot). Instead, they have semiconductors that generate light with the movement of electrons.

Can You Use LED Bulbs Outside?

Not every LED light can withstand outdoor conditions because water and electricity don’t mix well. So make sure it says it’s made for outdoor use before you put an LED light bulb outside.

A wet and damp rating is also important depending on your living conditions. If you live in a place that’s always raining, a wet, damp rating will ensure you get the most of your money.

In most cases, bulbs themselves are not rated to be outdoors, unless they are in a fixture that is specifically outdoor-rated. Many LED fixtures (with integrated LED lighting) will be fully enclosed, making them essentially waterproof.

Can I Use a Lower Watt LED Bulb?

You can absolutely use a lower-watt LED bulb in the fixture–this is one of the huge benefits of an LED bulb.

In general, LED bulbs have a higher wattage output (brighter) and a lower wattage usage than traditional light bulbs.

This way, you can add a lower-watt LED bulb to a fixture and have the same brightness or more for less energy consumption.

LED’s also save about 80% to 90% of energy vs. the old traditional incandescent, so swapping all the old lighting out is one of the biggest energy-saving upgrades you can do for your home or business.

Do LED Bulbs Come in Three Ways?

You can find LED bulbs with a three-way setting. A three-way bulb is meant to work with three brightness settings, making it dimmable.

A three-way LED light needs a three-way fixture to give you three brightness levels of low, medium, and high.

Three-way LED lights have two sets of filaments—but they are not similar to traditional light filaments. Their combined wattage output equals the total output of the light.

For example, if the light has a 100-wattage output, the filaments can be 40 and 60, corresponding to low and medium brightness.

You can activate each filament by pressing the switch once and twice. And by turning the switch three times, you can have the full brightness setting.

Can You Use LED Bulbs in Garage Door Openers?

You can use an LED bulb in a garage door opener and may be better off making the switch. Replacing garage door opener lights can be a huge pain, and LED lights last much longer than incandescent or CFL light bulbs.

For this reason, you won’t have to change the lightbulbs as often, meaning fewer minutes spent on a ladder trying to replace bulbs.

Are LED Bulbs Bad for Your Eyes?

A woman holding glasses pinches her nose, dealing with eye strain from a lack of energy-efficient LED bulbs
LEDs can contribute to eye strain, so make sure you take breaks.

LED light bulbs are better for your eyes than fluorescent light bulbs but are still associated with health warnings.

Exposure to LED lighting for prolonged periods can age your retinal tissue and put you at risk for age-related macular degeneration.

Headaches, visual fatigue, and migraines are also associated with LED lighting. They can also trigger seizures.

Most of these things can be avoided, or risk can be reduced by using warm white LED lights rather than white ones.

Can I Put an LED Bulb in My Pool Light?

You can use only pool-certified LED light bulbs in your pool. Do not attempt to use an LED bulb meant for your home or deck in your pool–these are not made to withstand the chemicals and water damage your pool may cause.

There are many options for submersible LED lights (some even color-changing). If you are installing lights, adding LEDs instead of basic lights is more costly upfront but will save you money on your utility bills in the long run.

Can I Use a Higher Wattage LED Bulb Than Recommended?

You can use a higher-wattage LED bulb than recommended as long as the light fixture itself states that the wattage you’re putting in is lower than it’s maximum rated wattage.

The wattage output indicates how much light will come from your bulb label. The fixture it’s going into should also state the maximum wattage rating.

a closeup of the written label on a white LED bulb and an arrow pointing to it
Every bulb should have a label that looks like this. In this case, it says the bulb is 7.2 watts and operates at 120 volts.

However, if the wattage usage is higher, I wouldn’t recommend attempting to switch. This may burn out your light.

Do LED Bulbs Need a Ballast?

LED bulbs do not need a ballast. LED bulbs have another component to regulate their electricity. This component is called a driver and has the same function as the ballast.

Some come with ballast for your convenience, though. If you’ve opened your LED bulb and noticed a missing ballast, it’s because your light doesn’t need it.

A ballast is used for fluorescent or HID light sources to regulate energy distribution in a light fixture. If your fixture has a ballast, look for an LED light bulb that is compatible with such a fixture for the easiest usage.

However, if there’s no ballast in your light and you’re switching to LED, there’s no need to worry.

Back when I had the LED company, all we did for awhile was swap out the older T8 and T5 fluorescent lamps. Each fixture had anywhere from one to four ballasts in them, each running up to four lamps each.

Nowadays, all the components are usually in the LED bulb itself, eliminating the need for any external ballasts.

Do LED Bulbs Have Filaments?

Light bulb filament against a black backdrop
LED bulbs lack filaments like these, but you can buy specialty bulbs with a faux filament.

LED bulbs don’t have filaments because they use a different technology than traditional incandescent bulbs. They have light-emitting diodes that use electromagnetic energy to emit photons.

However, you can take advantage of the aesthetic appeal of a filament light bulb if you want to give your space a vintage look. There are LED light bulbs where glowing, tinier LEDs make the inner “filament” to give your bulb the appearance of an Edison.

Can a 220v LED Light Bulb Run on 110v?

A 220v LED light bulb will not likely fit in the socket for a 110v lightbulb. However, if you can get your hands on a universal light bulb, it can usually fit in any system. It’s highly recommended to only match up bulbs and fixtures that are the same voltage rating. You could risk damage, fire, or personal injury if you don’t.

Though wattages are loosely interchangeable in the world of LED conversions, voltage is much different.

Voltage determines what the bottom end cap of your light bulb looks like.

For instance, the voltage of your lava lamp light is lower than the light of your bedroom, so your lava lamp has a smaller end cap, and they’re not interchangeable.

Why Do LED Bulbs Glow When Turned Off?

Some LED bulbs glow when turned off because the connection between the lamp and circuit is still working though the light is off, giving it a slight glow. This usually happens with lower-quality LED bulbs.

If this is a huge issue, install a neon indicator or re-ground the wires.

Do LED Bulbs Work in Cold Weather?

Weather can affect your LED lighting. This can include the minimum rated starting temperature, especially for larger outdoor-rated fixtures. It also could take the LED driver and lighting element a little time to warm up as well.

Assuming the light does turn on, colder temperatures are actually better than warmer temperatures for it’s lifetime usage. Just like a computer, the colder the components operate at, the longer the potential lifespan.

Why Does LED Bulb Buzz?

If your LED bulb is buzzing, it likely has more to do with your fixture, LED driver, or wiring than the bulb. LED bulbs don’t have a filament inside, so nothing is moving around to make it buzz or make noise.

So, if some buzzing happens, it may indicate that your LED bulb isn’t hooked up right or that it’s incompatible with your fixture.

Final Thoughts

LED lights are better for your eyes, can save money, and typically last longer than other light bulbs.

Time is money, so not having to replace bulbs as often is a huge benefit to these bulbs!


About Space: LED degradation: how long do LEDs last? | Liquid LEDs: Can I use a higher Watt LED equivalent bulb in a 60W fixture? |  Electrical World: Can I use a bigger Wattage LED in my light fitting ? |  Ultralase: Are LED lights really that bad for your eyes?

PMC: Eye Disease Resulting From Increased Use of Fluorescent Lighting as a Climate Change Mitigation Strategy | Gilbert Pool Service: Pool Light Replacement Cost | LED MY Place: How to Bypass a Ballast? | Regency Lighting: What is a ballast? | Why Do My Lights Hum?

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