Repairable light bulbs?

Repairable light bulbs?

LED Bulb
Premature failed LED bulb
As an electronics guy, when something fails I like to figure out what failed and then why.

When lights fail, well they just fail!

Not so much with the CFL or LED variety.

led bulb taken by me
LED bulb with clear dome etched by some sort of out gassing from something.
Today I want to examine this bulb, an LED bulb that did not last the advertised amount of time by any stretch of the imagination.

The first thing to notice that there was some sort of out-gassing during its use which adhered to the inside of the plastic dome and actually etched the plastic in such a way that it is no longer translucent but rather opaque even after I cleaned it with 409.

The reason I pulled it apart is that it became dim.

Failed LED
Here you can see the electronics of the LED bulb and possibly you can see the loose leg of the electrolytic capacitor.
After disassembling it, I found that the electrolytic capacitor had become un-soldered on one of its legs.

Re-soldering it and re-assembling it, the bulb became bright again for about a minute until it flickered and quit.

LED
Bulb working after repair

LED
Same bulb flickering before second failure
Removing and testing the capacitors they were both in tolerance and I suspect OK.

LED Bulb
Testing electrolytic cap,
Checking the LED’s one by one, I found one that was dead.  As I tested each with a DVM the good LEDS would slightly illuminate.  98% of these when biased correctly would illuminate properly.  One of them was much dimmer than the rest, and one of them would not light at all.

Failed LED bulb
Dead LED at the end of my thumb
If I were of the mind to, I could replace the dead LED and the dim LED and I would guess I would obtain more hours of life out of the collective bunch of LED’s

LED lights being in series to me says that when one fails, the light is dead and trashed.  Much like that lousy string of Christmas lights that are a real bugger to keep going.

Dead LED
Dead bulb from another angle

Failed LED
IF you look carefully you can see some brown substance near the end of the last LED, I think that is the chemical that is responsible for the out-gassing and subsequent pitting of the plastic dome.

  • Does it make financial sense to “repair” light bulbs?
  • Will dead LED bulbs fill the garbage dumps with the same frequency of regular light bulbs or CFL bulbs?
  • The good news about LED bulbs is that there is no lead in the solder as it is Tin.

I would be interested in knowing what actually out-gassed from the light during its use?

What actually pitted or etched the plastic?

Looking closely you will see what looks like flux, that suggest that there is heat generated with use.

Failed LED
Here is a closer look at the dead LED and the brown substance.
I am thinking about holding on to this bulb and when another like it fails, making one out of two, just because.  Is my time worth more than this, of course it is!  Does this interest me enough to prove a point? Yes.  

While LED bulbs will save you cost in operation, will that cost be offset by the cost and reliability of the bulb?  Even though there is a warranty on these bulbs as well as CFL bulbs, do you know anyone that puts a date on them when installed and then keeps up with the sales slip in case they don’t last the warranty?
I don’t think that you can prove much, and it would really be up to the benevolence of the store where you purchased them from to replace your product..

-Best

(c) All rights Reserved 2015

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