My LED Bulbs Are Burning Out Too Fast. Am I Buying Them at the Wrong Store?

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If you’re like me, you don’t think much about lightbulbs until they burn out.

But if you buy LED bulbs, which are supposed to be the longest lasting, and they burn out constantly, lightbulbs may stay on your mind.

Why would those bulbs burn out so quickly? Is it due to buying a junk brand? That’s what a listener of the Clark Howard Podcast recently asked.

Am I Buying the Wrong LED Bulbs?

My LED bulbs keep burning out fast. Am I buying them from the wrong store?

That’s what a Clark listener asked on the June 22 podcast episode.

Asked Tony in Texas: “Clark, I remember when LED bulbs first came out they were going to revolutionize lighting. ‘Lasts for over a decade! Low heat! Low electricity use!’

“Fast forward and the last several LED bulbs I’ve bought from various big box stores have died well before their incandescent counterparts in my house. Is this just a coincidence? Is there a real difference in the quality of bulbs based on where you buy them?”

One thing is clear according to Clark. Those bulbs should not be burning out so quickly.

“I would say that the quality of the bulbs really is the issue,” Clark says. “LED bulbs in theory should last a long, long, long time. Potentially more than 20 years.

“And if yours are constantly burning out prematurely, it means that the big box store you’re buying them from is selling you junk.”

What Should You Do About LED Bulbs Burning Out Prematurely?

LED bulbs can last decades, as Clark said. So if they’re constantly failing, no matter why, you should consider going back to the store and asking for a refund.

“If you’re buying them from a big box and they’re burning out prematurely, I’d go back to the big box. And at least they can replace the product,” Clark says.

“Because what does it say on the box? I bet it says that it will last for X number of years. And yours apparently aren’t making it six months. And that’s a problem obviously for your wallet.

“And so I would make it clear that you didn’t get the product you were paying your good money for.”


Why Are Those LEDs Burning Out So Fast?

Clark’s podcast producer Christa offered a theory on why Tony’s LED bulbs are burning out early.

“My bathroom lighting fixture says how many watts of a bulb you can use. So if you buy an LED bulb that is the equivalent of more wattage than what your fixture can support, it will die,” Christa says.

“Check your fixtures. They should say on them the maximum wattage.”

Clark’s Long-Lasting Fluorescent Lightbulb Experience

Christa also got Clark to tell a funny lightbulb story about a condo Clark used to own. Clark filled the condo with compact fluorescent bulbs that were not supposed to last that long.

When Clark went to list the condo on the market, the real estate agent told him those bulbs had to go.

“Almost all of them were still working 15 years later. And the place didn’t show well with them. It looked like an office building, really,” Clark says.

“The real estate agent was, ‘All these lights need to go.’ I was crushed. I did what I was told. I replaced them with LEDs. And then I took them to Home Depot because they would recycle the old compact fluorescent.

“Now I was selling the place. At that time you could still buy cheap incandescents. The LEDs were more. But I didn’t want whoever was buying the place to have a big electricity bill for lighting. So I replaced them all with LEDs.”

Final Thoughts

The typical LED bulb should last somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000 hours. That’s 5.7 years of light — if you never turn the light off.

If you’re having to replace LED bulbs every year (or sooner), they aren’t working as they should.


It’s a good idea to check the light fixture in which you’re putting the bulbs. Make sure it can handle the wattage of an LED bulb.

Either way, you can attempt to go back to the store from which you bought the LED bulb and see if they’ll give you a replacement.