Do leds handle fluctuating/high voltages well?

merrybookwyrmApril 7, 2010

In our area, the electric company runs the power in the main lines high, and the power levels fluctuate. The result? Incandescent light bulbs burn out very quickly, and fluorescent light bulbs do not last anywhere near their alleged lifetimes. They do last longer than the incandescents.

The wiring in the entire house has been checked, and certified in good shape by licensed electricians. They believe the problems with the light bulbs and other appliances are due to the power levels in the main power lines in the community. One suggestion is to use incandescent light bulbs rated for 130 volts. These do indeed last longer than 120 volt light bulbs, but they eat power compared to fluorescents and leds.

So how would leds fare in this situation? Or how should I ask this question of led salespersons or manufacturers to find an answer to this question?

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Probably no better than CFLs.

It seems like you might need a power conditioner/ whole house surge surpression.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 12:16AM
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Power conditioner/ whole house surge supression. Thank you, I'll check into this.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 2:22PM
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I've included a link for your reference.
(Not an endorsement by any means)

Here is a link that might be useful: power conditioner

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 4:11PM
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The link provided is not a whole house power conditioner. It is a power factor correction device, bascially a large capacitor. It may be slightly useful in improving the power factor of inductive loads like your A/C motor, fridge compressor, DW motor, but it will do nothing for your resistive loads like the lights. Improving the power factor may save some money on the operation of inductive loads but isn't going to make you light bulbs last longer.

Utility companies sometimes increase the voltage on the lines in areas where new building has grown faster than the power company can keep up. So increasing the voltage slightly helps with power distribution. But higher voltage is not nice to lightbulbs. The actual voltage in my house is 124v.

Now in a completly un-scientific observation... my house is 7 years old. There are 6 light bulbs in the house that were installed by the builder and HAVE NEVER BEEN REPLACED! Okay... 2 are in a hallway and hardly ever used, but 2 are in our master closet, 1 in the lancdry room that is between the garage and the house and used many times a day, and one is in the master bathroom toilet which of course is used on a regualr basis. So how have these bulbs lasted so long??? I'm baffeled too but... all but the hallway bulbs are on motion sensors. The laundry room light going on automatically each time we open the door and walk though, same with the closet and bathroom. I can only assume that the motion detector wall switch is dropping the voltage or perhaps ramps up the voltage more slowly than a simple switch. Other bulbs in the house tend to burn out more quickly than I'd expect.

Most people's real world experience with CFLs are that they don't loive up to the liftime claims. I have a few I use for outdoor use and I write the install date on the side with a sharpie so I can track the lifetime.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2010 at 6:26AM
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LEDs can actually handle power fluctuations quite well. Just look at the specs of the specific bulb you're thinking of.
But they are much more flexibly than other lighting options.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2010 at 8:28PM
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The power distribution system has different voltages levels. From the power plant ~ 400kV AC to sub station. The voltage we see @ the power plug is nominally 120V AC.

In most cases this works out to 115 - 125V AC.

Incandescent bulbs are resistive loads. CFLs and LEDs are not as they contain inductive and capacitive elements.

Spikes, harmonics, surges are not desirable for electronics (including LEDs).

The advantages of LEDs over CFLs are
1. No mercury content
2. Greater mechanical shock resistance since there is no glass tube or metal filament to break
3. No UV
4. More lumens / watt

On the flip side
Since LEDs are solid state devices, the performance is negatively impacted by high temp (junction temperature). Some even incorporate a microprocessor to regulate the power and utilize fancy heat dissipation schemes.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 12:58PM
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