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.

494 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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