Lifetime of EL Backlight vs LED Array Backlight

When choosing a backlight for your LCD, have you considered the lifetime of EL backlight vs LED as a deciding factor? If you are in need of a replacement LCD and are not sure what type of backlight it requires, call us now (480-503-4295) and we will help you to find a solution.

If you are designing a new product that requires a LCD with a backlight, we highly recommend selecting only a LED backlight on all new designs. Why? Keep reading…

One of the key considerations in choosing a display that must be readable at night, is your choice of backlight. The two choices available are EL (El Backlight-electroluminescent Lamp) and LED (Light Emitting Diode).

Lifetime of EL backlight vs LED backlight

When it comes to backlights, the key word is half-life. The half-life is the amount of time (in hours) before the backlight will be 50% as bright as it was first turned on. This is not the amount of time for the light to burn out.

The half-life of an LED backlight is an estimated 50K to 70K hours.

The life-life of an EL backlit is an estimated 3K to 5K hours. (about 10% of a LED)

Note: the brighter the LED backlight, the shorter the half-life. LED backlight brightness is determined by the amount of current it is being driven at.

Two main advantages of LED backlights are:

  • They do not need an inverter (a device that converts DC to AC)
  • They are simple to dim.

What type of LCDs need a backlight

There are three types of displays that are not readable at night without a backlight: CharacterGraphic and Segment LCDs.

Character and graphic LCDs are in stock and can be ordered with or without a backlight. FocusLCDs carries character and graphic LCDs in stock and can ship the same day you order.

The addition a LED backlight to either of these technologies does not require a tooling fee, but to add an EL backlight would require a tooling fee and a MOQ (Minimum Order Quantities) of 500+ displays per build.

Segment LCDs do not contain a standard backlight. Focus can design and supply either an EL or LED backlight for your segment LCDs. We also have a limited selection of Segment LCDs in stock and can ship the same day you order. The MOQ on these types of backlights can run between 1K units to 10K units per build.

LED current draw

When choosing a LCD for a battery driven product, it is critical to minimize the current draw. This will help extend the lifetime of EL backlight and LED backlights.

Below are rough estimates on current draw for standard LCDs:

LED backlights can be driven at 3.3V and 5V and as a general rule require 15mA of current per LED.

8×1 LCD display and 8×2 LCD displays may only require 2 LED backlights due to the small LCD size. (15ma per LED or 30mA)

A large 40×4 LCD with LED backlight may require up to 8 or more LED backlights (80mA to 100mA).