The energy-saving LED bulb that switched off the radio

by , Senior Home Researcher Energy & Home 17 March 2013
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We get sent some weird and wonderful tales of products going wrong, but one story piqued our interest so much that we just had to send it to the lab to test it out. Can you help us shed more light on the mystery?

An LED bulb lighting up the darkness

Last year we received this intriguing message:

‘I recently changed six halogen down-lighters to more energy efficient LED bulbs. Unfortunately when the lights were switched on, the DAB signal on my radio was wiped out!’

To try and figure out this conundrum, we sent a batch of cheap, generic 12V LED bulbs to our lab and found that when a digital radio was placed within a few metres of the switched-on bulbs the signal went fuzzy. When the radio was placed within a few centimetres of the LED bulbs, it cut out all together.

The plot thickens

LEDs are ultra energy efficient light bulbs that can last up to twenty years and have been hailed as the future of home lighting.

It seems our members are not the only ones who have had this problem. There are other accounts of LED bulbs affecting radios, with AVForums also collecting stories. Nick Tooley shared his experience:

‘I had the same problems with LED bulbs wiping out DAB reception and tried several types of bulbs, but to no avail.’

And it seems that the issue may not just be limited to digital radios – TVs may also be affected. After fitting LED down-lighters in his kitchen, Jackord noticed the following problem:

‘While the lights are much better, we then by accident noticed that the digital TV would not work (I was complaining that we had no reception at all, did not make any sense, began to think that there had been some sort of catastrophic disaster which stopped the TV stations from broadcasting…lol) then someone turned off the ceiling lights in the kitchen and, hey presto, on came the TV.’

Shedding light on cheap bulbs

So what bulbs are affected? We tested three 12V generic LED bulbs and we also compared them to branded 240V GU10 LEDs and some halogens. We found only a very minor interference with our radio signal. So at this stage, the issue seems to be limited to cheap knock-offs rather than branded goods.

We’ve only done preliminary tests on this problem, so can’t make any concrete conclusions on why this is happening or how widespread this bizarre problem is.

That’s where you come in. We need your help – have you had this problem? If so, please enlighten us in the comments below, including what model bulb you were using and where you bought it.

561 comments

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mandy mccallum

not only dab radios affected by led lights my radio is a very ancient jvc radio cd and cassate player worked fine until new led lights installed now lighting brilliant radio unusable cd s work fine VERY frustrating

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Trevor Harris

The same problem for me. A new Denon M39DAB amp/cd/tuner unit cuts out immediately my two LED downlighters are switched on. Removed the bulbs and confirmed that it was the bulbs and not the switch. Bulbs are
http://www.ecocrystal.co.uk/8w-par38-bulb-wide-beam-angle.html
No idea what to other than ditch the LEDs. Very frustrating and unexpected problem!!!

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Michael Cowling

Having problems with TCP 5w LED light. Using alongside a DAB clock/radio and the instant the light turns on the radio cuts out completely. Using on the same bedside table.

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Colin Constable

Bought these from Amazon:

JACKYLED®10-Pack 100% Original Super Bright Epistar Chips MR16 6W Dimmable Warm White 3000K LED Light Lamp Bulb 6W 12V if you want to have dimmable function , please use DC 12V transformer Driver for dimmer

Also bought transformers.
As soon as i turned on the lights, lost DAB signal on three different radios in the house.
Have returned them for full refunds.

Heard about this happening but never thought I would experience it but I did.
Just going to convert the fittings to GU10′s and do away with the 12v as all other GU10′s from Screwfix are brilliant with dimmers so will use these. Don’t need the 12v anyway.

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Daniel Dickey

Replaced CFL bulbs with Feit Electric LED BR30 10.5 watt and my DirecTV goes very fuzzy and no sound.

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F Weal

On a recent project of mine, LED lamps completely knocked out a previously working DAB radio. They were Osram LEDS. This is a known and trusted brand and for that reason I was dismayed at their response that my client had to carry out alterations to their aerials or fit a mains filter .

I do not think that the consumer should incur additional expense to accommodate a clearly unpredictable type of product. Or the products need to be labelled to alert consumers to the threat.

Which? please ramp up the campaign. Clearly it’s not just ‘cheap knock-offs’ causing the problem ans the industry IS aware of this. There is a report just published and available on the EMCIA website and easily downloadable as a .pdf which goes into this in more detail.

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malcolm r

F Weal, electromagnetic compatabilty tests on LEDs are made under specified standard conditions. The wiring to the LEDs can radiate interference, if it does not follow the test layout, even with “high quality” LEDs. Recommendations in the past have included putting filters on the supply cables, using shielded cable, checking whether any separate power supply is good quality. So your problem may be due to any of these. Equally it may be down to rubbish product and we need action to weed these out and prosecute traders for supplying non-compliant products.

I am disappointed that the EU lamp manufacturers’ trade association has not, by now, acted to find non-EU LEDs that don’t comply and prevent them from entering the market. You would assume it was in their interests to protect their “quality” products. You might, though, wonder whether the many LEDs sold by the “trusted” EU manufacturers that are imported might fail the tests as well? Perhaps Which? could find out what EU action is being taken.

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wavechange

The problem is that the tests are carried out the manufacturers or by a contractor paid by the contractor.

To be allowed to use the CE symbol, the appropriate standards must be met, which involves manufacturers doing testing and declaring that this has been done. What we need is independent testing. I will not accept that it is not practical to have independent testing. I would have respect for a manufacturer that used independent testing and be very interested in buying their products.

In higher education, the content of new degree courses is externally vetted for compliance with the published requirements. Every year, external examiners look at marks and standards before anyone is allowed to graduate. External examiners often serve for three years, allowing the opportunity to confirm that improvements suggested have been made by the following year.

As Malcolm says there are many factors outside the control of the manufacture of LED lighting, so problems with interference could occur despite the best efforts to make sure that they do not. Perhaps an easier challenge would be to find out why some LED lamps from well known manufacturers seem to be failing prematurely, just like some of the cheap ones.

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wavechange

Oops – The first sentence should read: ‘The problem is that the tests are carried out the manufacturers or by a contractor paid by the manufacturer.’

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malcolm r

It is inaccurate and unfair to suggest that manufacturers all cheat on the information they produce from their laboratories. These, for major manufacturers, are usually very well equipped and specialised development laboratories that help them find and solve problems, and check compliance with standards, before products reach market. Furthermore many manufacturers use national and international test houses to produce data for them as well as issuing compliance certificates ( I posted a link to one that Philips used with the extensive data attached to it for LED EMC). To suggest that because these test are paid for (as they must be) the results are not accurate seems a very sweeping inference. But perhaps there is evidence that this sort of widespread malpractice is going on?

The problem in my view lies with some far eastern manufacturers who do the minimal tests, and unleash inherently defective cheap products onto an unsuspecting market. I wish Trading Standards would take punitive action against any UK trader found putting such products onto the market. Seems like wishful thinking.

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wavechange

I don’t believe that I have inferred that manufacturers cheat in carrying out compliance testing, Malcolm. What I am criticising is the lack of INDEPENDENT testing. Large industrial test facilities can be very well equipped and produce screeds of data, but unless these data are confirmed independently they should be treated as indicative.

Using test houses to confirm CE compliance is satisfactory only if this is done independently of the manufacturer. We would be very unhappy indeed if Which? asked manufacturers to submit products for testing. Which? is not inferring that anyone is cheating and neither am I. It is just best practice to have proper independent testing.

While I buy electrical products made by the larger manufacturers, I am far from convinced that they are always superior. Forty years ago I learned that different brands of products were often identical inside the case, but the prices could be very different. We often see well known brands labelled as ‘Don’t buy’ by Which? Manufacturers large and small often produce the same model with different makes of components, which may or may not affect reliability. This is one of the reasons why recalls are often limited to a range of serial numbers.

If we have a problem with an LED lamp, can we be sure that the EMC testing relates to the same product? We see examples of supposedly reputable brands that fail prematurely or cause radio interference, which may support my views.

I very much support the need to remove dangerous and counterfeit products from the market. It particularly concerns me that many are happy to buy unbranded/unheard of makes of electrical goods from internet traders. Amazon in particular has encouraged us to buy such products from possibly dubious Marketplace traders. As I see it, the situation is becoming out of control.

Apart from the need for true independent testing, the point I am trying to make is that a well-known brand is not synonymous with good quality.

Hi Malcolm, I’ve had a chat with our home researchers to see if Which? could find out what EU action is being taken. They’ve mentioned that all LEDs sold in the EU should need to pass the relevant EU standards, although, they’re aware that there’s an issue of being able to buy non-compliant bulbs on the internet.

All manufacturers that operate in the EU should comply with these regulations, but the issue is with the quality of the supplier that they chose, often in China.

It’s a known issue, one that is improving, but it still needs to be monitored.

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malcolm r

Andrew, thanks. I’m concerned at who is doing any monitoring and what action, if any, has been or is being taken against those who distribute non-compliant lamps. Applying a CE mark to a non-compliant product is an offence and should be punished. But is anyone interested in pursuing the offenders?

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wavechange

We hear of products being seized and sometimes about fines, usually because products are counterfeit or dangerous. Counterfeit fashion goods and children’s toys are obviously more newsworthy than electrical goods that cause radio interference.

There is no point in having regulations unless they are enforced.

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Henry

I have been following the comments regarding EMC, I remember (it might still they case) when a certain computer maker submitted the equipment for compliance testing, it passed all tests then all the interference suppression components were stripped out so when these were shipped into UK they caused a lot of trouble

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Harley

Bought two bedside lights from Ikea and two LED bulbs Ledare 400 lm E27 LED1221G7. As soon as the lamps were switched on the reception on my FM radio/alarm suffered marked interference. With the lights switched off the radio interference disappears. Tried to replace the LED with standard screw in bulb but the Ikea light fitting does not accept a standard bulb (the screw section is too short so the contacts don’t make. Returning both lamps and bulbs to Ikea first opportunity.

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wavechange

I suspect the problem was because the bedside light and radio were close together. It is very difficult to avoid problems with interference in this situation.

You might find that a different LED lamp was better, but if your radio and bedside lamp are close together, a CFL could be the solution.

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Hugh_F

CFLs can be as bad as LEDs on a bedside table close to the radio. They have a similar high frequency oscillator/chopper circuit which limits current by repeatedly switching on and off very quickly. The problem is much worse in Ipswich where the VHF and DAB signals are weak than on a hill in Belfast where they are strong.

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Richard

I have been using a 4w unbranded led in a table lamp approx. 25cm from a Pure DAB radio without problem. However replacing the 4w with a 6w version has caused the radio to stop operating.

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wavechange

When I was young, hardware shops often had a tester behind the counter so that bulbs could be checked before sale. Woolworths had a tester to allow you to carry out your own check.

Maybe we should re-invent history and allow the customer to check for radio interference before we buy LED lamps from a shop. I might take my portable radio along to B&Q and check out the illuminated display to compare how much interference they are producing.

Trying to use a radio only 25cm away from a radio is asking quite a lot, since it is difficult to prevent interference at short range. A CFL might be a better choice, though they do radiate some electromagnetic interference at short range.

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David H

I’m in the sales of LED Lighting, and I believe what causes this in cheaper LEDs is the drivers converting the 230v mains into a lower voltage as to not overload the LEDs.

In older wire-wound transformers for 12v low voltage lamps, there is a magnetic field as a side effect of the coil inside so electronics places too close to these were scrambled. When using electronic transformers that don’t use the wire coil, there is an electromagnetic field instead, which will mess with radio waves, internet wi-fi and television signals.

Better transformers/drivers have something known as a ‘shunt’ inside, which creates a lower resistance path within the driver and reduces the size of this electromagnetic field to a size where it won’t cause a problem.

My theory is that the cheaper LED lamps have drivers that don’t have any sort of shunt, so their electromagnetic fields are large enough to disturb radio/TV/wireless signals.

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Bob

Had 10 in number, 5W LEDs (MR16) fitted in kitchen with appropriate transformers. LEDs made by Crompton Lamps, 400 Lumens/500 Candela. DAB radios will not work and the nearest room where they will, is the dining room about 20 feet away. Was advised by local Fire Officer (quite rightly) to install low energy low voltage LEDs to minimise fire risk. ( previous spots were exposed in eaves surrounded by insulation. materials cost about £150 and friendly electrician about £30) Too late now but if I knew this was going to happen but would have been OK with more expensive stuff…..

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Steen Olsen

have recently installed 12 volt 2W (35W) LED downlighters and yes it kills my DAB radio as soon as I switch the lights on. DAB radios should be the future as FM will stop in a couple of years so in future we will be without radio….thanks for saving energy

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wavechange

Interference can cause problems with FM reception too, but it depends on the nature of the interference and the strength of the radio signal. I don’t believe that FM radio will disappear until there is a significantly greater number of users of DAB than at present.

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Gerry

There is NO proposal to switch off FM radio in two years’ time.

There was once a proposal to switch off national FM and local FM that was also on DAB, giving two years’ notice; the thresholds were improved coverage and 50% of listening being via DAB. It also also intended that all new cars supplied with radios would have DAB as standard by the end of 2013.

However, it soon became apparent that 50 % DAB would NEVER be reached, so the criterion was quietly changed to 50% digital (i.e. including Freeview, satellite and online). And even today, a third of new cars still don’t have DAB as standard, so there will still be be analogue-only cars on the road in 2030.

Now it seems that even the ’50% digital’ requirement may never be met ! So FM will be safe for many, many years to come. In fact, FM is likely to outlast DAB, which has already been replaced by DAB+ in several other countries.

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wavechange

Thanks for the update Gerry. One of my concerns is that the performance of many of the DAB/FM radios is often very poor on FM compared with DAB. I know how well FM-only radios can perform and am slightly suspicious. For me, the greatest advantage of DAB is for car radio, and that was what we were promised in the 80s.

I suppose we should get back to discussing radio interference by LED bulbs.

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Mike Kremer

I installed LED lights in the four pot lights in our kitchen. They are 13W 120 VAC 60HZ 105 mA 750 lumens. I didn’t expect problems with the LEDs, but simultaneously with installing the light bulbs TV reception (VHF) was effected throughout the house. At first I did not suspect the bulbs. But, the TV reception was always effected at the same time: 5:30 – 6:00 PM. I then observed that the problem occured everytime we turned on the pot lights in the kitchen – that was when we started working on dinner (5:30 – 6:00) and watching the national news. One by one I removed the LEDs and low and behold one bulb was causing the problem. Out of curiosity, I installed the offending bulb in different fixtures in the house. The result was the same – no VHF reception anywhere in the house. A question: Are the bulbs radiating RFI or feeding it back into the electric lines?

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malcolm r

RFI is both radiated from the device and transmitted through the wiring. A standard arrangement of wiring and device is used when doing EMC testing. I’m not expert in this but it does sound like the one device was producing interference via the wiring.

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wavechange

Thats fascinating Mike. Was the LED lamp that affected reception the same make and type as the ones that caused no problem?

As Malcolm says, wiring can transmit interference. I have a dimmer that produces radio interference and using a portable long-wave radio, I can detect the path of wiring through the wall. The ability of mains wiring to carry radio frequencies is used to transmit broadband signals round houses.

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Keitheaz

2/20/2015 “Feit” brand LED flood style bulbs from Costco (our Local Warehouse type mega store here in South Western U.S.A. ) that I put in the house Track lighting in the kitchen, interfered with the reception of my analoge FM (still mostly analog FM here still in the USA, with newer cars having high def digital). Made it almost unusable in the same room. Trying the 2 meter “Handy Talky” (a.k.a. “Walkie Talkie”) Amateur Radio resulted the same reception problem,approx 146.50 to 147.00 Mhz voice section of the sectrum. Totally unacceptable so I returned them and the clerk was appreciative for the heads up, as she was just getting ready to outfit her entire house with them. Our City (Phoenix Arizona) is getting ready to install LED’s city wide in the street lights to save money on electric cost, so us HAM’s (Amateur Radio Operators) might have a fight on our hands. When other communications go out in an emergency, it’s usually the volunteer Hams passing he emergency traffic (messages) on their bands, that make the different. A matter of public safety. Looks like you UK’ers have been having to deal with this awhile but it’s more recent for us. Scarry stuff. Good luck to all.

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Michael Cowling

Following on from my previous post about TCP bulbs cutting out my Roberts DAB radio, I have just tried some Energizer 3.5w Golf bulb (BC/B22) and they don’t interfere with the radio at all. So either the higher wattage of the 5w TCP bulbs were causing the problem or it’s the TCP bulb as a brand.

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malcolm r

Michael, the wattage should not be an issue if the lamps are properly designed wrt EMC. Some lamps are good, some are bad, as this conversation shows. We seem to make no progress on identifying the distributors of bad lamps and penalising them.

I have contacted the European lighting industry association and the UK LIA, who have extensive test facilities. The questions for them were
- what action they are taking to monitor LED lamps for compliance and
- are they taking any action against distributors of non-compliant lamps.
The point is that they might want to protect the interests of the reputable EU suppliers and manufacturers (you’d have thought). I’ll let you know if I get an answer. Perhaps Which? have followed a similar tack?

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Malcolm Donkin

I recently changed our kitchen downlighters (50W GU 5.3 or MR16) to high quality 6.5 Watt LED ones. Whenever the lights are switched on, we have a great deal of interference on our FM radio. Now we have to use the TV to listen to radio channels – which are unaffected.

So we’re saving money on electricity for lighting, but paying more to listen to the radio.

Very frustrating and I wish there was an easy solution.

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wavechange

There are various possible solutions, Malcolm. The first step is probably to go back to the retailer and explain the problem. It might be worth checking that it is not a single rogue lamp, as someone mentioned on this or another Conversation. Ask for a refund or alternative lamps. If yours are cheap lamps they might never have been manufactured to comply with the regulations on interference. A CE mark is no guarantee that they do comply.

Your TV is receiving digital radio and probably has an external aerial or cable supply. It might be worth trying a DAB radio to see if that is affected. If you want to stick with the FM radio, an external might do the trick by improving reception, though only better radios (and hi-fi tuners) take an external aerial.

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John Ward

Given the high price of LED lamps, the uncertainty surrounding both their life expectancy and their affect on radio signals make them a bad buy. We have a track of 50W halogen spots across the kitchen part of our kitchen-diner ceiling which I would prefer to replace with LED’s but it seems foolhardy in the present circumstances: (1) the halogens perform very well and none have yet failed in two years, and (2) the track is only on for short periods during food preparation etc as there is enough ambient light for other purposes from a CFL side-table lamp and the light fitting over the dining table.

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wavechange

Yesterday I was asked for advice about buying LED lamps by a friend who is a keen radio listener. The best I could suggest was to buy one lamp from a local retailer, check for radio interference, and then buy the rest, keeping the receipt safe in case of premature failures.

If you keep a spare set of bulbs we may have moved on in the next couple of years. I have a ceiling fixture that takes 60W golf ball lamps. I did not deliberately stock up before they were phased out but the fixture is not used much and the spares will buy time until I have to make a decision.

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malcolm r

John, I’ve a similar track of 5 halogens in the kitchen on a dimmer. Pleasant light, good life so far. I’d stick with it. If we can eliminate the distributors of rubbish LEDs and be more certain of the performance of those left then I’d think of changing.

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John Ward

Thanks Wavechange and Malcolm. I have plenty of spares of the halogen lamps and it would be silly to let them go to waste. I only ever buy Philips lamps, from John Lewis usually, but I can’t work out from their limited range of GU10 LED’s what would would be the best equivalent replacement for the 50W halogens but with a slightly warmer colour temperature [they don't always quote the kelvin value]; dimmability is not necessary.

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wavechange

The colour temperature of halogen lamps is often quoted as 3000K (at full brightness), John. Old fashioned bulbs are 2700K and that is a popular colour temperature for ‘warm white’ LEDs, so that might suit your needs. As you say, CRI is often not quoted for LEDs but may be superior to CFLs.

Philips CFLs have behaved very well for me and I have been interested in how their LEDs have been performing. I have no personal experience but have read of some problems with both premature failure and radio interference, as with other well known brands. Mains voltage LEDs seem to be the best bet for anyone concerned about radio interference, irrespective of brand, but obviously that depends on the fixture. I have found no mention of the length of the guarantee on the Philips website.

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SteveSi

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Replacment-Reflector-Energy-saving-Equivalent/dp/B00JMJ2QJS/ref=cm_cd_ql_qh_dp_t
DAB radio says ‘No signal’ when 4 of these in ceiling lights are switched on

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malcolm r

For those interested the following standards apply to LED lamps in the EU:
IEC 62717 Performace (can be downloaded by Googling IEC/PAS 62717
CISPR 15 – Radio disturbance
IEC 61547 EMC Immunity.

In reply to an earlier comment about colour, the colour temperature should be shown – e.g. 3500K.

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wavechange

Here is a non-technical article about the problem of radio interference: telegraph.co.uk/technology/advice/11312589/Problems-with-LED-bulbs-and-DAB-radio.html

It has been in my reading list for some time because I was puzzled by the following: “For the most part it is not a problem with branded LED bulbs made in the EU, which should have the CE mark and be labelled as EMC compliant….”

I’m familiar with CE labelling but is there a separate mark for EMC compliance?

I can believe that LED bulbs made in the EU might be less likely to cause interference, but can anyone tell me which manufacturers make them in the EU? So far I’ve found one Polish manufacturer that I have never heard of.

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malcolm r

The LIA states:
Products may only be brought onto the market if they meet all essential requirements of all applicable EU directives and if conformity assessment procedures have been followed.
By affixing the CE mark, the manufacturer declares their compliance with the essential requirements of the relevant EU directives. CE is an abbreviation which stands for Communauté Européenne or Conformité Européenne (French for “European Conformity”).

For example, CE marking on lamp packaging indicates that the product meets the requirements of:
1. Low Voltage Directive for Electrical Safety (73/23/EEC as amended by 93/68/EEC).
2. EMC Directive for electromagnetic compatibility(89/336/EEC as amended by 92/31/EEC).
3. For household lamps – Energy Labeling directive (98/11/EU).

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wavechange

Do you know if the EU polices compliance or is that left to the individual member countries to deal with problems, Malcolm?

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malcolm r

I have asked the question of the LIA – representing the UK lighting industry, and the largest such organisation in Europe – as to what action is being taken to find defective imports and what action is taken against the distributors. Waiting for a reply. I also contacted Lighting Europe who referred me to the LIA as the contact.

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malcolm r

Digging around I came across this. It is not new and some of you experts may know all about it. However it confirms that 12v LED lamps are recognised as a problem and proposes testing to determine compliance or not with the readio disturbance standard CISPR15. I’ve abbreviated it. Sorry if its old hat and not helpful!

During the CISPR meeting in Seoul 2011 the IARU reported that a number of LED lighting
products are causing interference with amateur radio reception. See item 15 of the minutes
CISPR/1218/RM.
In addition to this verbal report, the IARU submitted in January 2012 a detailed written report
which was circulated as CISPR/F/565/INF. Major sources of interference are some types of
Extra Low Voltage (e.g. 12 V) LED lamps for which the current CISPR 15 requirements are
not clear. Additional clarification of the standard was requested urgently.

Question: How are the requirements of CISPR 15 applied to retrofit Extra Low
Voltage (ELV) LED lamps?
Interpretation: When assessing retrofit ELV LED lamps against the requirements of
CISPR 15 the following procedure shall be applied.
ELV LED lamps without active switching electronic components are considered to fulfil the
requirements of CISPR 15 without test.
All other types of retrofit ELV LED lamps shall be tested in conjunction with a wire wound 50
or 60 Hz ring-core transformer. The use of such a transformer is considered to be the worstcase
condition and shall be used unless it is clearly stated in the manufacturer’s instructions
that the lamp is unsuitable for use with such a transformer. In this case measurements shall
be performed in combination with a typical compliant electronic transformer for halogen
lamps.

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wavechange

It has been clear in my mind that the 12V LEDs are more likely to create interference than mains voltage ones and this highlights the problem with the low voltage ones.

Amateur radio users are often very knowledgeable of interference, both from the need to avoid their transmitters causing problems for others and because interference affects their hobby. We have had a couple of radio hams make useful contributions to our Conversations.

There is an indication that our current standards for EMC might need to be reviewed.

In the meantime I will stick with my CFLs because the electromagnetic interference they emit has never been any problem with either DAB or FM.

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wavechange

Here is a link to a 2011 document on electromagnetic compatibility of LED lighting products from European and other sources: ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/electrical/files/emc/ms-campaign-fourth_en.pdf

From page 8: “A hundred and sixty-six (166) samples were tested for emissions. Of these, one hundred and two (102) met the emission requirements, representing 61.5% of the products. Five of twelve European products fulfilled the emission requirements only.”

This and other information in the report indicated European products imports may cause interference problems, just like imports.

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malcolm r

I commented on this back in Jan 14: More “work” from the EC who collated tests from member states on 168 LED products. 54% Chinese, 39% of unknown origin (!), 7% EU. These were tested against technical standards – emissions, immunity and harmonics – and administrative requirements – CE marking and Declarations of Conformity.
38% failed on emissions (EMC), 47% failed on harmonics, 9% were not CE marked. .In total only 17% met the technical and administrative requirements for them to be sold legally in the EU.

EU “manufacturers” also import lamps under their own brands – hopefully from factories they control. Distributors also bring lamps in – they are the ones I would be most concerned about.

At the same time it seemed that the LIA were testing 2000 LED lamps in their lab. I did ask whether Which? were liaising with these organisations.

So is any progress being made?

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wavechange

Apart from the Conversations, I have not seen much evidence of Which? looking into this issue. The Which? tests have focused on mains voltage LED lighting, where interference is less of a problem. In the last test we were told that there was no problem with DAB interference, but FM was not mentioned, and the range of lamps tested was small.

With the proposed phase out of halogen bulbs there is going to be a considerable demand for 12V LED lamps as a direct replacement, by which time the problem of radio interference may be better established.

The problem with interference may be compounded because householders are not necessarily using a manufacturer’s lamps with an approved driver.

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malcolm r

I discovered this snippet – “The National Measurement Office (NMO) has been called upon to test various retrofitted LED lamps after it received complaints from numerous Lighting Industry Association (LIA) members……”
I have emailed the NMO to see what progress has been made.

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wavechange

It is good that the LIA is responding to you, Malcolm. Is this because of your previous professional involvement or would they respond to any member of the public.

I tried to get help from a trade body in another field and they ignored my requests and were then most unhelpful because I was just a member of the public. It was particularly annoying because many of the holiday companies I use show the logo of the trade body as an indicator of quality.

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malcolm r

They don’t know my background, wavechange. Nor have I had an answer to my questions (yet)! I think persistence and asking the right questions can produce results, so a little backgound knowledge can help. Also finding the right person to ask, or at least addressing an email to an individual. But as you find, it only works some of the time.

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wavechange

Using the right language and being well informed is indeed a great help Malcolm. There’s not doubt that it’s useful to write to the right person and using their name, but for me that is not so easy to find out in the commercial world.

Language says a lot. I could usually tell which of my new supervises had a parent in education because their vocabulary and knowledge provided clues.

I look forward to reading what you find out.

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malcolm r

wavechange, that’s surely one of the valuable features of these conversations – people from different backgrounds helping fill in the gaps.

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wavechange

I would really appreciate a chat room facility so that any of us who want to explore a subject in more depth can do this to avoid a long string of comments by two or three of us. I’m conscious that all our comments could discourage others from joining in and posting simple but relevant information such as brand X bulbs caused interference but brands Y and Z did not.

An example of the involvement of people with different backgrounds could be input from a lawyer to discuss how best to pursue our rights under the Sale of Goods Act. Maybe that’s not too far off topic if it we had a problem with a bunch of LED bulbs wiping out radio reception. :-)

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Paul

I bought a Feit Electric LED 110V light bulb. When the lamp is switch on one yard from any radio, it produces a lot of static. I had to remove the light bulb to be able to listen to the radio. It is bizarre that manufacturers put on the market these very heavy unusable lights at very heavy price. Shame on them.

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malcolm r

wavechange – re chat room. I’m not sure how this would differ from any other forum, like this conversation. Have you some ideas? The problem with some conversations I think is lack of “management”. It would be good if every so often Which? tried to summarise a long conversation so people don’t miss important information. A similar difficulty arises with parallel conversations – as we currently have with LEDs covering the same ground – which do you contribute to? I’d also welcome invited views from experts or those being criticised to get a more balanced perspective.

Have you looked at Which? Member Community? Only for members and seems a bit cumbersome. There is a brief topic on selecting LEDs for testing.

Hi guys, this type of private messaging is something we’re looking into for the new W?Convo. No promises but it’s on the list of things to investigate.

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malcolm r

Patrick, thanks. Any progress restoring the “email new contributions” service?

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wavechange

I’m a member of a very active discussion forum that offers private messaging, which allows messages with email copies to be passed to others without disclosing email addresses. There is also a chat room which I have never used, simply because the forum is dominated by a clique that is hostile to others, especially newcomers. It is very poorly moderated and I only look at it because it focuses on my main hobby, something I never discuss here because it is a minority interest and irrelevant to the discussion.

I imagine that some of the detailed technical discussion on some of our Convos is off-putting to those who might otherwise might otherwise post simple comments and questions, even though I see no hostility to newcomers. Having a chat room would mean that small groups of us could explore topics at length without cluttering up the Convos.

The parallel topics have always confused me, though the positive aspect of retaining them is that earlier discussion about LED bulbs, for example, is not lost. In some cases there is a different focus, for example premature failure of LEDs in one and radio interference in another. That works well and they are sometimes cross referenced by contributors.

Some of the Convos form the basis of new ones but just sit there like unfinished business, so we have no idea if Which? intends to take action before the next set of LED bulbs is tested. It would be nice to have a brief summary at the end giving some idea of what is the next step, if indeed anything is planned.

I will have a look at Which? Member Community, Malcolm.

No update on when email alerts will be fixed Malcolm, but hopefully soon.

Don’t be gone for long both! :)

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malcolm r

Thanks Patrick. Not going!

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wavechange

One of my concerns about LED lighting is that although even well known brands can cause radio interference, the companies don’t say much about the problem. I once phoned LED Hut and they were aware of the problem, but to this day the problem is not mentioned on their website. On the Philips UK Lighting website there is nothing relevant to consumers.

I hope that consumers are receiving full refunds including postage if they do have problems.

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Hugh_F

The problem isn’t just low voltage (12V) LEDs, the mains 240V have a very similar chopping oscillator, and are causing me bother with FM and DAB. I have a 45W daylight CFL in an anti-SAD light and have to run it at least 2m from the FM radio. More seriously, boating enthusiasts who have fitted LED mast and stern lights on their yachts/dinghies have switched them on in the evening only to lose all radio contact, left with the choice of no radio or no lights! The problem is typically erratic, most boats are OK. As I said above, a weak radio signal makes interference appear much worse.
The individual LEDs run at 2 to 3 volts.If anyone wants really green lighting then get LEDs designed to run at a particular voltage (as cycle and torch lights do) without extra circuitry and run them via dedicated wiring from a car battery in the garage charged by a solar panel. The battery could be topped up with a mains battery charger in the winter if necessary.

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wavechange

Hugh – As you say, mains voltage LEDs can generate interference and goodness knows what happens when this interacts with that produced by the driver. Nevertheless, the worst problems seem to be with the 12V lamps.

Most of my experience with LEDs is off-grid use, where batteries are recharged by solar panels and/or alternators.

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malcolm r

The forward voltage of LEDs is generally in the range 2.5 to 4v and they need a current stabilising circuit – the simplest (and least efficient) being a series resistor. However, properly designed LED packages should not emit interference above stated compatibility limits – as the example above showed a large proportion achieve compliance with CISPR and EMC standards. It is the rubbish that needs weeding out (and perhaps the limits need revising?).

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wavechange

Malcolm – From the information you have posted, even branded LED lamps can cause interference problems and that a need to update standards has been highlighted. I am not going to buy cheap unbranded LED lamps any more than I would any electrical goods for mains use.

Buying known brands does not eliminate the possibility of poor quality, for example: (1) Counterfeit goods, where the buyer assumes the are buying a branded product, and (2) Substandard goods purchased by a large manufacturer and sold under their name. I’m not sure how the problem can be policed, though hopefully the large retailers take care what they buy in order to protect their reputation.

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wavechange

Malcolm – As you say, dropper resistors provide a very inefficient way of limiting current and I have no idea if they are used widely. I have a 6V battery-operated work light and presume that even this has some form of electronic circuitry because it emits electromagnetic interference at short range. I have read that pulsing LEDs is a way of achieving higher brightness with lower power consumption and heating, the latter being important to minimise overheating direct replacements for incandescent bulbs.

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dieseltaylor

I am proud of the calibre of the comments , the examples provided, and particularly Malcolm r ferreting.

Wavechange is quite right that this forum functions poorly in not allowing sub-threads so that reporting Brands, investigative stuff, and the sites of other interested parties could be linked to.

Following requests there is a more interactive style forum for Which? members [that is subscribers so both Associate and Ordinary Members ] that can be reached through logging-in on the Account page.

However I am concerned that we have a fracturing of where all the information resides as with Which? there is Twitter with its channel, WordPress I have used, and this forum here. Of those they all have difficulties in providing sub-channels and a summary. And of course each reaches only a section of the overall user base.

We could drown in information if it cannot be edited, collated and summarised .

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wavechange

I could not agree more about us drowning in information. I have been following the Convos about LED lighting, which focus mainly on the problems of premature failure and radio interference. I resort to Google searches, using search strings, keywords and usernames as appropriate. Apart from the magazine, I don’t pay much attention to the other ways that Which? is communicating. That’s probably why I was not aware of the new forum you have mentioned.

Knowing your interest in durability of products, perhaps we should explore the difference between the claimed lifetime of LED bulbs and the reality. Miele was taken to task by the ASA for their ‘Tested to last 20 years’ claim, possibly helped by the fact that some of their machines have only a two year warranty. It’s well known that commercial LED lighting can be extremely durable if the components including LEDs are not over-run or overheated, but that may not be the case in domestic lamps where LEDs and electronics are crammed into a tiny space.

I’m trying to keep our off-topic discussions on-topic as far as possible. :-)

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