Most LED manufacturers and distributors claim a product life of 50,000 hours on their bulbs. While it is true that the diodes in many of these products are capable of lasting 50,000 or more hours the product itself may not last that long. The reason is that an LED bulb is only as good as the sum of its parts. One of the over-looked components of an LED bulb is the electrolytic capacitor. If the bulb capacitor fails then the bulb will not work. Shown below are several pictures of capacitors that failed at around 10,000 hours. The reason is due to the current being run too high and the fact that the manufacturer used a lesser quality FCON aluminum electrolytic capacitor.
The life of the capacitor is dependent on the heat and, thus, on the quality of the heat synch and the level of current. In an effort to achieve higher lumen readings many manufacturers are running their bulbs at dangerously high currents which will, ultimately, lead to a very high bulb failure rate.
Customers should note that capacitors are in many common electrical devices such as stereo receivers that last many, many years. The challenge with the LED market is that there is a wide range of manufacturers some of who are in the business for the long term and some who are just riding the LED craze.