Did you know that normal LED bulbs can burn out quickly – more quickly than incandescents – when connected to dimmer switches or old wiring? I sure didn’t, until all the expensive LEDs in my living room sputtered out!
“Now why the hell are they blinking?”
If you want your LEDs to dim, you need dimmable bulbs and LED-friendly dimmer switches. Finance site Money says that even dimmable LEDs might not work in old dimmer switches. Lighting site Lux says LED-ready dimmer switches might not work with regular LEDs. (Even CFLs can burn out fast if you connect them to dimmer switches, or if you turn them on and off too frequently.)
To switch your ceiling and wall fixtures to LEDs, you might need to replace the wiring by hiring an electrician which obviously isn’t going to be cheap. Depending on how much you use your LED bulbs, you only save around $4 a year per bulb. At that rate, it would take you a lifetime to recover your costs. So don’t do it for the money alone.
There are plenty of other reasons to use LEDs, like cool lighting effects, remote-controlled smart bulbs, or so you don’t have to change bulbs so often. Just keep in mind that even in the right wiring, LEDs don’t necessarily last as long as they claim on the package. Kitchen designer Dave Alderman tells Money that bulbs can come with bad built-in electronic drivers, which could lower a bulb’s lifespan from 40 years to five.
So you can replace your standing lamps and table lamps with new LED-friendly ones. But if the new bulbs keep burning out in your ceiling fixture, you might want to consider going back to incandescents. While these have been phased out in Australia, their private use is not illegal. You can still buy high-efficiency incandescent bulbs that meet Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) in some hardware shops and all kinds are readily available from overseas sellers.
Newer efficient incandescents can last up to three times as long and use 75% as much electricity as old ones. That’s only a third of the savings you get with LEDs, but you can get it without changing your wiring. And you won’t have to make a humiliating climb up a ladder to replace five dead LEDs.