Why Are My LED Lights Not Bright?

One of the biggest advantages of LED lights is their ability to produce a bright light using less power than traditional bulb types. It’s therefore disappointing to find that your LED lights don’t seem to be producing the brightness you’d expect from these bulbs.

There are a few different reasons why your LED lights may not be shining as brightly as they should. These include the fixture receiving insufficient power or running on surge wattage, loose or old wiring connecting to the fixture, having a high environmental temperature, or using an LED with an incompatible dimmer switch. It could also simply be the case that the LED bulb is at the end of its lifespan or of poor quality. You’ll need to take some troubleshooting steps to ascertain which of these conditions are affecting the brightness of your LED bulbs. 

Why Are My LED Lights Not Bright?

Below, we have explained all of the potential causes that may be impacting the brightness of your LED lights

LED Light Has Degraded with Age

Despite having the longest lifespan of all bulb types, it’s inevitable for LED lights to degrade with age. Older LED bulbs that have seen a lot of use won’t shine as brightly as they did when they were brand new.

LED light bulbs come with expected lifespans ranging from 20,000 hours up to more than 100,000 hours. They last significantly longer than traditional bulb types like incandescent or halogen, with these bulbs only having a maximum lifespan of 2,000 hours. Also, unlike these traditional bulbs, it isn’t possible for LED bulbs to burn out. What sets LED bulbs apart from their traditional counterparts in these respects is the components that LEDs use to produce light. 

The light producing components in LED bulbs are called ‘light emitting diodes’, controlled by microchips within the bulbs. These components withstand a lot more wear and tear than the heated filaments and gases used in traditional bulbs. However, it’s inevitable for any appliance or object that involves electricity to naturally deteriorate with use. Despite lasting longer than other bulb types, your LED lights will gradually dim with age as electricity passes through them; this is known as ‘lumen degradation’ or ‘LED degradation’.

With traditional bulbs, the bulbs reach the end of their life when the heated filament that they contain burns out. LED light bulbs do not contain this part and therefore cannot burn out in this traditional sense. Instead, the lifespan of an LED bulb is determined by the degradation of its light output; an LED bulb is considered to be past its lifespan when its light output drops to 70% of its original luminosity. So, if your LED bulbs are on the older side, this is a likely factor behind their reduced brightness.

LED Light Fixture is Receiving Insufficient Power

Your LED lights won’t shine as brightly as they should if they aren’t receiving sufficient power from your mains. Electrical appliances like LED lights require a certain amount of voltage to work at their optimal level.

If the power supply doesn’t match the rated voltage of your LED lights, the bulbs won’t provide their maximum brightness. You must be aware of this when purchasing your LED lighting fixtures; when choosing your bulbs or fixtures, ensure that the voltage of the lights match the voltage ratings for your home. You can contact a professional electrician for more advice if you’re unsure which LED lights will match your home’s power supply. 

Loose Wiring or Connections in LED Bulb 

Dim LED lights may not be caused by the bulbs themselves, but instead the wiring between the bulb and circuit. Any loose connections in the lighting fixture can impact the brightness of the bulbs; you may also encounter problems like shorting and flickering if the connections are loose. 

Loose connections are a common issue that arise after the installation of your LED lights. The installer may have accidentally pulled or pushed a wire too far; in turn, this can disconnect the wire from the terminal block. The loose connection can lead to dim LED lights, lights that partially illuminate, and RGB issues in coloured LEDs. 

Before attempting to troubleshoot the wiring in your LED lights, put on a pair of protective insulating gloves; this is to protect yourself from electric shocks. Wearing the gloves, inspect the lighting fixture in question. Look for both wanted and unwanted wire contacts, ensuring that none of the wires are crossed or touching each other. All wires within the fixture should be making firm contact with the terminal block. Again, this is an issue that a professional electrician can address if you’re unsure how to go about it. 

LED Light is Running on Old Wiring

Old wiring can also contribute to dim LED lights that aren’t shining at their maximum capacity. Although it may have worked for your older incandescent bulbs, your wiring may be too old for modern LED lights. 

LED light bulbs work in a different way to traditional bulbs, and therefore require different wiring systems to function. Older wiring is often too weak to provide the necessary current on which higher-load appliances run. On top of this, it’s likely that the wiring in an older system has deteriorated somewhat from prolonged usage. Both of these issues will result in the wiring providing a low overall voltage to your LED lights; this in turn will prevent your LED lights from shining as brightly as they should. 

Your LED lights may therefore be dim if you connected them to the same circuit as your previous older lights. To fix this issue, you’ll need to replace your old wiring with a new system that can support the LED fixture.

High Temperature in Environment Around LED Light

LED lights can work in both cool and hot temperatures. With that said, LEDs will shine their brightest in cool temperatures, whereas hot temperatures can drastically reduce their light output. Your dim LED lights may therefore be a consequence of having too high an ambient temperature around the bulbs.

According to research, LED light bulbs tend to produce maximum brightness in temperatures of no more than 25°C. Very cool temperatures can even facilitate the LED lights to shine brighter than their original luminosity. Beyond this temperature, the light output of an LED bulb will gradually decrease. In extremely hot temperatures, i.e. between 40°C to 60°C, the lumen output of the LEDs can drop below 65% to 80% of their maximum brightness. Not only will this cause your LED lights to appear dim, it will also shorten the lifespan of the bulbs. 

An easy fix for this issue is to improve the ventilation around your LED lights. In other words, you must provide a continuous exchange of cool air in the environment around your LED lights. Simply opening your windows every couple of hours during the use of your lights should suffice to reduce the ambient temperature. Also, be aware that LED lighting fixtures with small lamp housings are more prone to overheating; these lights will require more ventilation to counteract the heat accumulation around the fixture.

LED Lights are Running on Surge Wattage

Your LED lights may dim periodically due to surge wattage issues with your home electrics. When many appliances are drawing power from the same circuit, this will reduce the power supply to your lights. 

For instance, appliances like washers, dryers, and microwaves are considered to be ‘high-load’; this means that these appliances draw a high load of electricity during their operation. When these appliances run simultaneously on the same circuit, they will take up a lot of the circuit’s current. This consequently reduces the current flowing to any LED lights also connected to that circuit. The LED lights will suffer fluctuations in brightness until the current on the circuit stabilises itself again.

The best solution to this problem is to create a new circuit separate to your high-load appliances for your LED lighting. Having less competition with the other high-load appliances, the LED lights will be able to shine at their maximum brightness. This is another issue that a professional electrician can address for you. 

LED Light and Dimmer Switch Aren’t Compatible

You may face issues with the brightness of your LEDs if you’re using them in conjunction with a dimmer switch. In short, your LED lights won’t function properly if the dimmer switch and bulbs are incompatible with each other. 

With this issue, the problem could lie with either the switch or the bulb. Firstly, it’s essential to use the correct type of LED bulbs; the bulbs must be dimmable in order to work properly with a dimmer switch. Using the wrong type of LED bulbs with a dimmer switch will otherwise impact the brightness and consistency of the light. Secondly, the dimmer switch you’re using must be compatible with LED bulbs. Not all dimmer switches are compatible with all LED lighting fixtures; using incompatible components will also lead to the same issues with brightness and flickering. 

When choosing your LED bulbs, ensure to pick those that state the bulbs are dimmable on their packaging. You must also make sure that your dimmer switches are compatible with LED lighting fixtures. This isn’t just important for your LED lights to function properly; it’s essential for the bulbs and dimmer switches to be compatible to prevent damage occurring to the fixture. 

LED Light is of Poor Quality

If your LED lights aren’t bright, but they’re relatively new and no other issues are at play, it may just be the case that the bulbs are of poor quality. Poor quality bulbs will deteriorate quickly well before their expected lifespan.

As we’ve mentioned, LED light bulbs typically come with a long lifespan. LEDs can withstand thousands of hours of usage before they will begin to suffer from lumen degradation; this is thanks to the nature of the light-producing components that the bulbs contain. However, if the bulb or fixture is of poor quality, it will contain sub-quality components; these components will wear out much more quickly than they should do with the usage of the lighting. This will cause your LEDs to dim prematurely before the typical lifespan of these types of bulbs.

If none of the previously-discussed fixes solve your dim LEDs, it’s likely that the issue lies with the quality of the fixture or bulbs. You will have to replace the fixture or bulbs with those from a more reputable brand if this is the case.

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