The growth of LED lighting in the past 20 years has propelled the lighting industry toward a complete technology transformation. Where once LEDs were considered exotic and viewed with suspicion, now they are a mainstay on the shelves at big-box stores. Today, LED lighting offers many advantages, yet one nagging disadvantage remains: unpredictable lifetime. We probably have all experienced LED light bulbs burning out after a shorter-than-expected lifetime when used in certain types of luminaires or applications, such as with the surface-mount fixtures shown in Figure 1. Under perfect conditions, an LED lighting product can outlive a traditional incandescent lamp by 50 times and a compact fluorescent lamp by five times. In the real world, however, perfect conditions are rare, yet most available lifetime test methods for LED products do not consider real-world conditions, including those methods set forth by some standards-setting bodies. Most consumers still believe that LED products will last the same amount of time no matter the application or operating condition, and current test methods adhere to that belief.
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