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.


Add your comments



The June issue of the Which? magazine covers more LED bulbs than previous reviews, but I cannot see any mention of the problems of radio interference or premature failure.

Sometimes I wonder why we bother posting on these Conversations. :-)


Phill taylor

Well I’ve just fitted lovely looking led bulbs to my down lights, even changed the transformers. Doing all this to a bit of smooth fm on my equally lovely DAB radio. Then I switch on the lights to test them and boom no radio, I instantly thought I’d wired the wrong but as everything else was on a soon realised that it was the signal. So I guess no radio during the hours of darkness…. Is there anything that can be done about this?



Does the radio stop if all the bulbs are removed but the transformer is switched on?



Which? has still not tested 12V LED bulbs – the type that seem to cause most problems with radio interference. The report in the June 2015 covers only mains voltage lamps with a GU10 base.


Diana P

We have this problem too – no radio during the hours of darkness. Kitchen lights even affect the radio in the bedroom. We use LEDlite code LED MR16 12V AC/DC. We are considering removing these expensive lights and going back to halogen ones.



Do contact your retailer and ask for a refund.


Diana P

I have e-mailed LEDlite and asked for their comments on this.

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