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In the hunt for replacement light bulbs, you might come across LED lights, which tend to stand out from the crowd, thanks to their huge energy savings. In fact, they’re leaps and bounds beyond the traditional incandescent style, using only a small percentage of the energy required to power the bulbs of yore. If that alone hasn’t convinced you that LED light bulbs are the way of the future, consider that these light-producing powerhouses are also expected to last 20,000 hours on average.

How do my LED light bulbs work?

Your LED bulbs feature light-emitting diodes, which is where the acronym “LED” comes from. When you flip the switch to turn your light on, electrons and electron holes mix together inside the bulb’s semiconductor and release photons, or energy in the form of light.

Will my LED lights really last for over a decade?

It’s important to note that your LED bulbs won’t burn out like traditional bulbs and instead will gradually grow dimmer over time, a process called “lumen depreciation.” To come up with the numbers for the light’s average lifespan, manufacturers tested their products to determine when the light would fade to approximately 70 percent of its original brightness. This means your bulbs shouldn’t fade more than 70 percent in less than the lifespan quoted on the packaging.

If you’re skeptical about the idea that your new LED lights will stay bright for as long as the manufacturers claim, know that some styles come with warranties that can span up to 10 years. While you’ll more than likely pay a bit extra for this additional assurance, it may be well worth it considering the average LED light will pay for itself in approximately two to three years.

Another important factor in life expectancy is heat. LED bulbs are very sensitive to high temperatures, which can degrade their lifespan. This makes it extremely important to ensure that your new bulbs include a heat sink, which helps draw heat away from the heat-sensitive elements. To make it easier to identify which products include a heat sink, check for the Energy Star logo, which means the product has been tested to ensure it manages heat properly. The Energy Star label also means your bulb has met various quality standards, including those related to light output and distribution, color and lifespan quality.