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Are your LED light bulbs failing too soon?

LED light bulb

We’ve previously reported that LED light bulbs are falling well short of their bold lifespan claims. Our latest tests suggest they’re getting better, but can you really expect them to last 25,000 or even 50,000 hours?

You’ll see a lot of LED bulbs claiming to last for 25,000 hours or more. And compared to compact fluorescent bulbs, there’s no doubt that they’re more durable. But too many LED bulbs don’t last for even half as long as they should.

Last month we shared our test of 410 LED light bulb samples. We revealed that 75 of those (18%) failed within 10,000 hours, even though they all claim to last much longer.

We also tested 185 of those 410 bulbs for a longer period – all of them claimed to last at least 15,000 hours, but 69 (37%) had failed by that point.

Your LED bulb experiences

The data wasn’t a surprise to many of you. BJ is disappointed with his LED bulbs:

‘I purchased six LED bulbs for my kitchen. After four days one had stopped working and another had two LEDs in a second had failed. Also in the same purchase I bought an ES LED bulb for the hall. Half the bulbs (banks of LEDs) went out after 45mins. Not impressed.’

John was similarly frustrated:

‘I have purchased 30 LED bulbs over the past year as I have been replacing conventional bulbs with LEDs as and when they fail. Out of the 30, five have failed and one has developed a horrible green hue. That’s a 20% failure rate in bulbs that vary between a few months and a year old. Retailers have generally been very good about replacements, but it’s hassle and surely the point of LEDs is to save energy AND to save time/money in replacing bulbs.’

Which? Convo regular John Ward isn’t keen on spending over the odds for LEDs:

‘If LED’s were just a bit dearer than CFL’s I would take a chance and install them everywhere, but at £7 – £20 each for the popular types, their endurance very unpredictable, and possibly going to pop far too soon, I shall stick with what I have.’

Signs of improvement

Our results show that LED bulbs are getting better, however. Looking just at older bulbs, 28% failed by the 10,000 hour mark. For the latest batch, made up of bulbs produced since new tougher EU regulations were brought in, that was down to 6%.

We’ll have to wait to see whether there are similar improvements for the newest bulbs reaching 15,000 hours – they haven’t reached that point in the test yet. We’ll continue to measure how long LED light bulbs are lasting, and we’ll update you on what we find out.

Tell us about your experiences with LED bulbs. Have you noticed a difference between older LED bulbs and those you’ve bought in the last year?

Comments
Guest
Gordon T says:
21 November 2014

I have lots of LED bulbs in my house and they perform very differently. In the kitchen I have GU10 LEDs and in two years of use none have failed. In the lounge I have G9s. These have to be very narrow because of the glass sleeve on the fitting. Of 10 bulbs I put in in April 2014, 6 have failed – 3 in the space of a week. I’d guesstimate that they’ve been on for not more than 1,000 hours 🙁 so I doubt that I’ve saved anywhere near the £2.60 cost.

Guest
Will says:
24 May 2015

£2.60 for an LED G9 seems ridiculously cheap. The Megamans we bought were £5.19 each, and they were some of the cheaper ones on the market. For such small bulbs they have very little room for heat spreaders so a cheap G9 is unlikely to last long at all.

I’ve done my research and read a lot of customer reviews. I’ve come to find that almost unanimously, that any LED G9 for less than a fiver – let alone ANY LED for that’s sold so cheaply in relation to the mass-market, has poor reviews and high reported failure rates.

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Guest

Four Xmases ago I treated myself to an LED to fit in my bedside light.
It made the light top-heavy and I soon knocked it over and broke the globe. £13 down the drain, I thought-but the lamp still worked. Deciding that the vertical shards of glass made it unsuitable for its original purpose, I put it in the outside light and left it on.
It’s still working 35,000 hours later. I put its longevity down to not switching it on and off

Guest
Roy Verden says:
22 November 2014

In September 2011 I replaced 28 Halogen ceiling lights with LED lights. I used the ’80 led’ tyoe (2 watts) bulbs. I bought 30 and just 14 are still 100 %, I say 100% as the bulbs loose patches of individual leds and some are still in use.
I then bought 12 off ‘3 led’ type (4 watt) but these were just a 60 degree beam angle and do not appear as bright. Only 3 have failed after about 18 months.

In October this year I bought 10 off 4 led type (8 watts) and 2 failed, one after 4 weeks and the one I put in its place did not work. These were 60 degree beam angle.

The 2 failed ones were replaced a couple of days ago and on my request I was sent 2 off ’48 SMD’ bulbs with 120 beam angle. These seem to give the best light.

Of the original batch 4 were replaced under warranty. So over the last 3 years I have had 25 LED light bulb replacements. I have bought on line at an average cost of less than £2 per bulb. I would not have done the replacement in the first place at the UK shop prices as it is not an economical proposition at 5 to 6 times the price.
My usage rate of halogen bulbs would be about 4 -5 replacements over this time period. You should not be paying more than 60p for a 50 watt halogen bulb. (GU 10).

I have not lost money when the much lower electricity cost is factored in.
By taking out halogen lighting and also changing to CFL bulbs (17, only one failure and covered by warranty) I have reduced my lighting electricity usage by 1200 watts.

I would recommend when buying on line that you check the beam angle of the light bulbs, for normal lighting you need 120 degree angle lights.
The information is there if you scroll down far enough on the sellers web site, if it is not look else where.

regards Roy

Guest
Badgerer says:
22 November 2014

A couple of thoughts in response to Roy.

A lot of the units with an array of lots of individual LED’s look to be dubiously made, and often have nowhere near enough heat dissipation capacity. When LEDs overheat they die, which is why most good quality GU10 fittings have one or three LEDs and a metal body, often with fins on to further spread the heat. At £2 a bulb I can’t say I’m surprised at your experience – even if the units don’t overheat they’ve often got dreadful internal design, as thought they were made at home by a not-very-good DIY-er. I’d recommend paying more and buying either a reputable brand, or ones from a retailer who you’d trust to source something properly designed and made.

I bought about 18 Tesco branded GU10 LEDs two years ago, and they’ve been fault free so far – no failures at all, although that’s only around 3,000 hours of running per bulb (54,000 hours total running time).

Regarding the beam angle, a simple trick to broaden the beam angle on an LED spotlight is to carefully frost the plastic lens on the front of the LED bulb with fine emery cloth or sandpaper. I did that to all of the Tesco bulbs.

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Guest

I bought 11 GreenWorld GU10 3.5w 280 lumen 5000k LEDs in September 2012 and all are working satisfactorally. Eight of these went in the bathroom and from the old 60w bulb giving not enough light there is now perhaps too much light – using only 28w total! In fitting six in the ceiling from the roof space I dropped one on the hard stone tiled floor – i.e. from seven feet – that bulb is still working! From the box the expected life is 40,000 hrs. They are on for perhaps 3 hours a day on average, so I have another 34 years to go before I know whether I’ve got my money’s worth! The bulbs cost £9.50 each. Part code: GWGU10B3W1BDND. I’m delighted with them.

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Guest

I considered replacing my 8-year-old kitchen downlighters (still going strong) with energy-saving alternatives. However, I was told that the replacements would give a much lower level of light and, as an elder lemon, I need as much light as I can get!

Also, I was disappointed to find that in your recent Which? report on light bulbs, there was no mention of a 100W equivalent.

Guest
Sue Tunnard says:
22 November 2014

Help…my LED bulbs are hopeless and they cause awful interference with my new digital radio…advice please .

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Guest

Hi Sue – I suggest you go to the top of this page and search for the Conversation entitled: “The energy-saving LED bulb that switched off the radio”

There are five pages of comments, some technical and some not.

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Guest

If anyone is replacing MR16 bulbs rather than GU10s, bear in mind that you might have to change the transformer to match. I didn’t and one of my multi-LED bulbs lost a few LEDs soon after installation.

Guest
Peter Hofseth says:
22 November 2014

Some LED GU10’s are electrically unsafe – refer to You Tube “Are GU10 LED spot light bulbs safe or dangerous?”. I bought 4 a year ago on the net, and these are the dangerous type (one failed and I dismantled it to check) – one connection comes directly through from the mains supply to the LED mounting plate and could track across to the metal frame of the lamp. As a bulb can be inserted one of two ways into the lamp holder, that connection could be the live 220V. For safety (as is always good practice), always switch off before changing a bulb.

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Guest

That’s a useful warning to switch off the power, Peter.

The lamp should be double-insulated to provide isolation of the metal frame, like many plug-in electrical products. It should also have some sort of internal fuse to help prevent fire if there is an internal short circuit.

If you search YouTube there are examples of LED lamps with exposed live connections. To keep it in perspective, most homes have lampholders with exposed live connections.

I’m glad I’m not the only one who is curious enough to dismantle dead lamps. 🙂

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Guest

One or two coats of two-part clear varnish, either automotive finish or clear casting resin will solve the problem of live parts. Epoxy encapsulation is often the difference between a £15 EC and a £3 ‘fake’.
It is still a good idea to switch off though, CFL lamps break quite easily, and not all BC fittings fit well.

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Guest

If these lamps have live parts that can track over, it’s a major safety issue and the importer/manufacturer is violating regulations. Inform Trading Standards!

Guest
Steven king says:
22 November 2014

All six of the GU10s I brought for my kitchen from IKEA, have failed after less than 18 months and definitely no where near 10000 hrs use as promoted.

Guest
Chris Hall says:
23 November 2014

I bought 20 led replacements 3-4years ago. None have failed, they were made by Phillips. Admittedly they were expensive, even bought online, but you get what you pay for.

Since then I have bought another 20 or so Phillips leds. Same story, none have failed.

An important issue is getting the right bulb temperature. I personally prefer 2700k, above that and the light is too blue/cold.

Guest

I agree with ‘you get what you pay for’ because that has been my experience. Cheaper 5W GU10s all failed within a few months. Of the more expensive ones none have yet failed! Cheap 3W or GU10s have not failed though.

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Guest

I started using Loxa GU10 605W (£12.50 ea) from a local wholesaler in 2012 and they are gradually failing after nearly 3 yrs. Lasting far less that the halogen lamps they replaced but saving electricity.
However the more expensive Halers I bought for my lounge & dining room (dimable lamps with holder/transformer were £41 with 7 yr guarantee) are still going strong.
I’m replacing Loxa with LumiLife (£8) from LEDhut. Let’s see how they do.

Guest

I understand that LED lamps interfere with radio reception ( both amateur and broadcast ).
“Which?” might like to look into this.

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Guest

The most recent test report by Which? contains a brief mention that no interference problem was found with DAB radio, but there is no mention of FM radio. There is a Conversation about radio interference caused by LED lighting and the general consensus seems to be that mains voltage lamps are less of a problem than 12V lamps with a separate power supply. Use the search box above and search for “The energy-saving LED bulb that switched off the radio”. Some people find differences in radio interference between brands.

There is legislation concerning radio interference and all products are required to comply to be able to use the CE mark. Unfortunately, CE marking is not very useful because it is simply a manufacturer’s declaration of compliance with relevant regulations rather than any form of independent testing.

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Guest

In his introduction, Matt wrote: “We also tested 185 of those 410 bulbs for a longer period – all of them claimed to last at least 15,000 hours, but 69 (37%) had failed by that point.”

If there was one brand that was failing prematurely, a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority might be upheld. Is there any legal action that can be taken to stop manufacturers in general from making unsubstantiated claims?

Guest
MikeJP says:
24 November 2014

Following bad experiences with LED bulbs, I will now only fit LED bulbs that are LOW voltage and run from a transformer built into the light fitting or remotely. My own finding is that most LED bulbs fail because the heat generated by the voltage reduction transformer built into the base cause the failures. LED bulbs without this run much cooler and do last.

Guest

LED lighting technology is improving so fast that it probably isn’t too much of an issue if the bulbs don’t last as long as they should (apart from the fact that they cost a lot). I find it very annoying have spent a fortune on relatively dim LEDs (such as 25 watt equivalent candle bulbs) only to find that much brighter (eg 40 watt equivalent candles) have now been brought out. You can now even get “filament LEDs” which look much more like traditional bulbs and don’t have that horrible large white bit at the base with the makers name printed all over it! I am now stuck with second rate LEDs and it seems like I am being penalised for being an early adopter of the technology! Who knows what lighting technology will be like in 25 years when current LEDs are due to fail.

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Guest

What appeals to me about the “filament LEDs” is that they are less compact, meaning that the electronic components in the cap and the LEDs themselves are less likely to overheat. I expect most people will be thinking more about the appearance.

Guest
Steve S says:
24 November 2014

As someone who is struggling to purchase suitable energy efficient bulbs that give out a really good light (bulb shaped not stick or other shapes), I am not impressed by the comments on here or the Which report itself on using LEDs. I have been using Energy efficient bulbs for nearly 20 years and I despair that the design and level of light are both becoming poorer as time goes on. The only CFL that gives out a decent light equal to 130watt is expensive and 2 have failed me in 2 years despite longevity claims. Halogen gives off a weird light in a main living area and who dreamed up those spiral ones!
Still hoping my latest purchase lasts as it looks as though LED s are not holding out great hopes for me ( PS 2 of my bedroom bulbs have been in use for 20 years ,They don’t make them like thy used to it seems)

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Guest

From my experience, the majority of manufacturers try to get maximum light out of the LED by driving them with as high a current as they think they can get away with. This is all very well, but the current is often set too high, causing overheating and failure – usually by getting progressively dimmer before finally giving up the ghost. This is really stupid because doubling the current will only give about 10% increase in perceived brightness (owing to the non-linear response of the human eye) – whilst dissipating approximately FOUR times as much heat.

The majority of LED lamps comprise several individual LEDs – and the better ones incorporate a means of transferring the heat away from the LED.

LEDs need to be driven by a properly defined *current*. This is either done using a fixed ballast voltage dropping resistor or capacitor (more on this below) or electronically by pulsing current through the LED at a high frequency (so there is no apparent flicker).

LED lamps designed to work directly off the mains (eg. with B22, E27 and GU10 fittings) usually comprise 30 or more individual LEDs in series, a rectifier (converting AC to DC) and a capacitor ballast. The alternating current in a capacitor is not at the same phase as the voltage across it (look on Google to find out more about this). This is good, because otherwise it would dissipate an inordinate amount of power and get VERY hot. If the capacitor is adequately rated for the current and voltage, and restricts the current in the LEDs to a safe value, this type of lamp is very reliable and should last forever. The downside of this simple arrangement is that it cannot be dimmed, and MUST run off AC.

Dimmable LEDs use some kind of electronic control. Complexity always reduces reliability, so if you don’t need to dim the lamp, buy a cheaper and potentially more reliable non-dimmable type.

Likewise, low voltage LED lamps (eg. the MR16 types used as spots) nearly always incorporate electronic control. Although they are stated to work off 12V, most will work off any voltage between 8V and 24V – something I made use of for my summerhouse, which is off-grid, using a solar panel to charge a 24V battery. They achieve this using a ‘switch-mode’ power supply (SMPSU) which, putting it simply, takes less current from the supply as the voltage increases – they’re usually over 90% efficient. A sense resistor in the electronic driver controls the LED current – often this is set too high, again causing LED overheating. I’ve modified all those in my summerhouse to halve the current in the LEDs – they’re not noticeably dimmer.

Some small 12V LEDs incorporate a simple resistor ballast to control current. These are best avoided unless you can be sure your 12V supply is stable – most transformers (particularly ‘electronic’ ones) produce a significantly higher voltage with low loads (ie. replacing a halogen with a LED) – so again there will be too much current in the LED (and resistor).

The more common ‘electronic’ transformer has a minimum load requirement (usually 20W) – so a further problem is the transformer getting upset and causing a LED replacement to flicker. This is not a fault in either component – just a mismatch between the two – which can be remedied by running several LEDs off one transformer.

Another thing to watch out for is radio interference. SMPSUs (and ‘electronic’ transformers) are notorious for this – so many LEDs incorporating SMPSUs give problems with FM and DAB radios (the Lighting Ever types, available very cheaply from Amazon, are particularly bad in this respect, but do give a good light and seem to last OK). Capacitor and resistor ballasts should not cause interference.

So, the bottom line is: best use non-dimmable mains lamps. If you are replacing MR16 low-voltage halogens, consider replacing the whole fitting with a GU10 mains type.

Guest
Roy Verden says:
7 December 2014

Hi thanks for that instructive response I have an electronics background so am with you technically. I am also retired and when considering the ‘break even time’ some at 10 years plus I see no poin in the expense. I calculated that for the most used lights at my price would have a less than 2 year pay back time.
Where I cannot fit LED’s I use CFL’s. When one of these failed (expensive Osram) I tried to source a replacement (£15 UK just over half that from Germany) I read the small print and found they had a 3 year quarantee. I think they were old stock, I have 5 in a single light fitting and Osram kindly sent 2 units in replacement.
The cheap CFL’s I have used have all worked well.

I should add that the original LED’s had all the expected info, 50K+ hours and EU stamp.
Apparently the Chinese manufacturers will print anyyhing you want on them apart from the manufacturers name.
I found this out buying re-chargeable cells from China, a tip here is to check the weight!
The ebay sellers will give a 6 month guarantee, after that you are on your own.

I was told on an energy survey at a previous house that I should change my central heating boiler and they also said I would break even in 40 years time ! I should live so long!

£15 for a light bulb is a no-no for me, I reckon that is 10 years + for the most used and no doubt everything will have changed by then anyway.

Roy

Guest
Simon S. says:
2 February 2015

I too have slowly been changing to the house from halogen to LED lighting. After a few false starts with colour selection they work well. I have found Phlips bulbs reliable but cheaper products from Clas Olson less so. Bulbs have lasted in one case just 24hours and in another just two months before failing. CFLs produce a horrible light and I have a box of them that are free to a good home! I am concerned if halogen lights are completely banned as there are many lighting fitments that would become unusable as LEDs would not fit the bill.
The cost of this changeover is huge and is being funded by the householder. Many dimmers will no longer work with LEDs and need to be replaced when LEDs are fitted. I do wonder how people with little or no engineering background manage. Good business for electricians I suppose.
I have seen a noticeable reduction in my electrical consumption.

Guest
Dan Collett says:
17 February 2015

After moving into a new build we decided to use LED bulbs as the research was suggesting that if we were staying put we were likely to save money having these bulbs.

I used LEDHUT for my purchases, getting 6 bulbs every couple of months to replace the builders own. Cost about £35-40 a time.

At the moment the GU10 style 5w bulbs I got from them made by lumilife are doing a grand job and provide excellent lighting for spot style lamps in the Kitchen. They appear to be lasting.

However the Candle Style 4.5 warm white bulbs I got to replace standard fittings in the lounge are another matter. They are again manufactured by lumilife but of the six I bought in January four have already blown. In less than 6 weeks!!!!!

The same is to be said of the two candle style 4.5 cool white bulbs I bought for the bathroom sealed units have also blown.

It is really disappointing given their cost and claims to provide 25,000 hours or 40,000 switch cycles. It also makes me nervous about how long the GU10 bulbs will last. I have only had then 3-4 months.

Now to be fair to LED HUT they are replacing them (however I am having to send the last 3 to blow back to them for testing this time before they will replace) and I have no complaints about LED HUT as they are the supplier not the manufacturer. Each time I contact them they are great at customer service.

I would be interested to know what other people’s experience’s are with lumilife candle style bulbs as mine are not good. I will however keep on at having them replaced under the warranty/guarantee for them as they are costly to purchase in the first place.

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Guest

Dan – In order for the 5 year warranty to apply, you must register lamps purchased from Led Hut. This seems to a common condition for warranties. I registered a kettle recently and the company wanted a great deal of information, presumably for marketing purposes.

I hope they are refunding your postage when you return bulbs for replacement.

From their website: “Fed up of changing your bulbs? Long-lasting LEDs can keep going for more than 20 years!”

Guest
Will says:
24 May 2015

I would not advise buying from LEDhut again. They have a 3.5 / 10 aggregate on Trustpilot, lots of negativity about their returns policy, poor aftersales and low product reliability. Furthermore their site is suspicious as it claims perfect satisfaction and somehow – too good to be true – every single item on their site has a 4.5/5 or 5/5 review from every single customer. If it sounds too good to be true, steer clear is my motto.

I would personally recommend going with energybulbs.co.uk who have extremely high levels of service and glowering customer reviews. Their pricing is also very competitive – you can get better quality bulbs than ledhut, often for cheaper, and they have bulk discounts.

Guest
Peter Cooper says:
25 April 2015

Have 30 GU10 bulbs, each 3 x 3watts. When working they give very impressive light coverage, but they fail frequently and the replacements also fail. Tonight I had one fail as I switched it on. It showered the table below with sparks, one hot enough to burn a hole in a piece of paper. I am now concerned by the potential fire risk. It did also trip the circuit breaker

The led’ s theselves seem to be ok but the failure is in the electronics at the back.

I suspect the public are being conned by the claimed benefits of these bulbs, the problems deserve some serious publicity!

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Guest

If you have had other lamps of the same type overheat, I suggest you take photographs, contact Trading Standards, the manufacturer (if known) and the retailer.

Very occasionally, any kind of lamp can fail dramatically.

Guest
Will says:
24 May 2015

Nobody is being conned as the benefits are 100% real – IF you get a quality product. You unfortunately bought duds.

The problem is whatever brands (or lack thereof) that are allowed on to the market. Dangerous brands, some of which fail safety tests. Lots of cheap knock-offs with fake CE marks (China Exports)

CE = China Exports
C E = Conformité Européenne

Some are totally unmarked.
Some gain C E mark and are still dangerous.

Standards need to be tightened.

Guest
Peter Cooper says:
25 April 2015

Dear Which, i have saved the failed bulb if you would be interested in taking it to bits for a post mortem?

Guest
Pete says:
5 May 2015

Don’t buy LED bulbs from Energylightbulbs Ltd in Uxbridge. I bought some golf-ball bulbs that lasted for less than 50 hours. The company has ignored all my e-mails and letters. Apart from anything else these bulbs fall well short of the EU minimum life expectancy of 6,000 hours that was introduced last year. Trading Standards are a waste of time. I’ve contacted them for several things over the years but they do nothing. It’ll probably be a small claims court case again!

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Guest

Pete – Are these cheap bulbs or branded ones? What warranty were you given and was there any indication of how long the lamps could be expected to last?

I’m beginning to think that getting Trading Standards to act on simple cases like this is less likely than winning the Lottery.

Guest
Pete says:
7 May 2015

Hi Wavechange, they weren’t branded but the website said they had a life expectancy up to 30,000 hours. They didn’t mention a warranty but I believe that under consumer law if something fails within six months of purchase it is deemed to have the fault at the time of purchase. You’re absolutely right about Trading Standards. I’ve reported three different companies to them over the years and they’ve done nothing. In all the cases the companies were selling substandard items (computers, tablets and LED bulbs) online.

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Guest

Pete, Which? should have a campaign to get an effective and accessible Trading Standards organisation funded. They should be protecting consumers.

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Guest

Thanks Pete. The failings of Trading Standards have been discussed frequently, but I am not aware that Which? is looking in to the problem. My guess is that TS uses its limited resources to tackle problems such as the huge influx of counterfeit goods, rather than individual problems reported by individuals. A local repairer had my TV three times over a nine month period and lied to me about what they had done, but TS refused to take action unless they received other similar reports. In other cases they took copious notes but I heard no more. I expect that Malcolm and other regulars here have similar tales.

As you say, you have a strong case within six months of purchase. A first step would be to send Energylightbulbs Ltd a letter giving them the opportunity of offering a remedy and explaining that you intend to take legal action unless action is taken within a specified period. You will find a suitable template letter on the Which? website.

If you want to take this further you could go to the small claims court. If you are a subscriber, you can use the services of Which? Legal for an annual fee.

Guest
Pete says:
11 May 2015

Hi Malcolm r and Wavechange. Yes, it would be good if Which took on TS, because as far as I’m concerned TS is a waste of our money. Do you remember Time computers? I reported them to TS because I had a dud computer from them. They did nothing and Time went to the wall. I also reported a company called Universal Gadgets. They sell computer tablets that last two weeks if you’re lucky! Again no help from TS, Watchdog or ‘Dom’ on BBC1. I think you’re on your own with these issues except for the small claims service MCOL. In the end Universal Gadgets ended up paying for the tablet, postage and the court fee. I’ve now sent 3 e-mails and 2 letters to Energylightbulbs and they’ve all been ignored but the last. They’ve now said that they’ll send replacements but I expect these will be just as useless. I can feel an ‘MCOL’ claim in the offing!

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Guest

Pete – I have been very disappointed with Trading Standards and several of us are pushing Which? to get the government to take action. Thanks to internet trading, there is a huge amount of counterfeit and dangerous goods arriving in this country, and that seems to be one reason that our complaints are often not pursued.

A disabled friend is still using his ancient Time computer, but bemoaning the fact that he can no longer get online because his ISP has withdrawn its dial-up service.

Guest
Roy Verden says:
6 May 2015

Hi all, I recently bought some 12 volt SMD (Surface Mounted Diodes) and they have less electronics in them and are cheaper at £1.70 each (in 10’s) These are running along side expensive but similar bulbs. I will update this if ther are any failures.
I have moved across to GU 10 fitting 5 watt SMD and these have been working OK for 6 months.
Roy

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Guest

Most LED’s are mass produced cheaply made crap being passed off as something they are not by clever marketing people. Anyone else get bombarded with discount offers from online LED companies? Think you are genuinely getting a good deal or discount? Stop falling for it, stop being cheap skates and go and buy your LED’s from genuine experts and proper companies.

[This comment has been edited to remove promotional links. Please read our community guidelines. Thanks, mods.]

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Guest

About half of the LED bulbs I’ve installed have failed within 6 to 9 months (by actual hours of use, typically around 1/15th the rated life). In most cases, this has been within the warranty period. I have returned the most expensive ones for replacement, but had to pay postage.

Guest
Ian Malone says:
22 November 2015

Ian Malone ,while wishing to believe what everyone says about LED lamps i personally wish to add that blaming the lamps sometimes seems out of proportion when the system as a whole is not looked at.
Rarely are switches changed ,these degrade with time causing arcing and surely would cause electronic problems, then there is the problem with the size of the switch , yes a lamp runs on a low wattage but start up is sometimes much higher, then you then have to question cable size and circuit design, as an electrician of more years than I wish to remember, many faults I have seen are caused by related items and take time to find. Sometimes the fault can be traced to another issue, I am sure in all domestic situations owners never buy non compliant portable equipment or forget to check dates on service plans and check for recalls on their white goods. We want to believe that its cheap bulbs but maybe we are cutting corners and passing blame.

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Guest

I fitted 6 Megaman Modo GU10 dimmable LEDs in my kitchen last September 2015. This part of the house is generally darker so these lights are on for a good part of the day. Hence the use of the low wattage LEDs. To date 4 of the 6 LEDs have failed completely. I estimate they have lasted only just over 4000 hours at the very most – a far cry from the 25000 hours displayed on the packaging. It’s appalling that manufacturers can make such outrageous claims.

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Guest

One reason why CFLs can fail is using non-dimmable ones with a dimmer, though some dimmable CFLs are available. After I moved home I had one go bang and set off the smoke alarm nearby. That encouraged me to buy some LED bulbs for the house and so far I’ve only had one that has caused radio interference.

It’s generally recommended that LED lighting is used with dimmers intended for the purpose. Older dimmers are often not capable of working with loads of less than 40-60W, though that can be fudged by leaving one incandescent bulb in the set served by the dimmer. It is generally advised that LEDs are used dimmers designed for the purpose than the older type that have been in common use since the 70s. Sometimes these are referred to as ‘trailing edge’ dimmers, whereas the older type are ‘leading edge’ dimmers. The new ones are more expensive, though I am not sure why this is.

I wonder if the use of older dimmers is a factor in premature failure. Has anyone experience of this?

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Guest

Newer designs of LED lamps have the LEDs separate from the electronics. There are various examples, but the most obvious is the ‘filament’ LED, where the electronics are in the base. This means that the electronic components will be less subject to heat emitted by the LEDs than earlier designs, hopefully resulting in greater reliability.

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In the past few months I have installed over 30 LED lamps of various shapes and sizes. Only one has caused interference and that has been consigned to the downstairs toilet because I could not be bothered to return it. All of the lamps are still working, though it is early days and the receipts are there in case I have to ask the local retailer to replace failed lamps.

For some time I have been wondering if incorrect use of dimmers might be a reason for premature failure.

1. Although the packaging of LEDs shows whether the lamps are dimmable or not, the lamps are not generally marked with this information or it is in small print, so non-dimmable lamps could easily be used on circuits with a dimmer. (Maybe other people don’t move lamps around to find out which type is best in different fixtures and rooms, but I do.)

2. It is generally recommended that LED lamps are used with dimmers designed for this type of lamp – technically known as trailing edge dimmers.

I wondered what would happen if I tested a dimmable LED lamp on a standard dimmer, the sort that have been used for years with old fashioned bulbs and halogen bulbs. I carried out a test using a dimmable LED that had been in daily use for a month. The dimmer worked fine, so I left it on at intermediate brightness. After half an hour the lamp (GU10 Philips spot) failed. I was in the room at the time and there was no flickering or or overheating. Obviously it would not make sense to conclude that use of the wrong sort of dimmer can cause failure of LED lamps, based on a single experiment, but it would be interesting to know if others have had this experience.

Guest
Odonata says:
12 December 2016

How are these energy saving bulbs can only last about three weeks but also start to loose light output… the amount of materials in the the manufacture is much higher more energy resources… cost more to buy not only in cost but also in cost of transport to go and buy them 50 mile tound trip for us.., seems to me this has not been thought through properly . …. also increased accidents due to poor starting performance
Hopefully Brexit will bring back reality.

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I think we have moved on, Odonata. I have been happy with my CFL lamps for many years, though some were better than others. I was a late adopter of LED lamps because I was concerned about radio interference, which remains a problem with some types. Apart from the oven lamps, all my lighting in my home is either LED or CFL and I am very pleased with the result. The only failure I have experienced was when I tried a LED bulb on a dimmer designed for the old incandescent bulbs, in a friend’s house.

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I should have mentioned that I am referring to a house that I moved into earlier this year, so I do not know if my LEDs will be reliable, but no problems so far. The CFLs in my previous home did not let me down, possibly because I did not use them in fixtures that restricted their cooling.

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Peter H says:
7 February 2017

It would be good to see an update to the 2014 LED lifetime testing to see if things have improved and whether paying more or buying well know brands makes any difference. My own experience with about 25 LED bulbs of various makes is that about half have last less that 6 months. It also seems that some types (not brands) last longer than others eg GU10s last appreciably loger than B15s.

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Robert Raynham says:
10 February 2017

Not for the first time I have been let down with a LED bulb buy. The one I use in my desk lamp, on for about 6 hours a day was purchased in Oct 2014 (16 months use or around 3000 hours) failed last week. It was a R50 LED 5W E14 spot bulb with a 30000 hour life but both the supplier (a Amazon Market Place trader) & the manufacturer states that it has only a 2 year warranty.
My response was immediate & forthright given that 2 years warranty could only give you 17520 hours of use if left on all the time. I pointed out firstly this lamp was purchased specifically for its low energy consumption & savings. Clearly two years usage is neither a cost saving or indeed environmentally sustainable. Secondly where does the two year warranty come from, the Sale of Goods Act refers to merchantable quality & fit for use & supersedes any time limit that they had imposed. All in all a poor product & we should be able to identify & public shame such sharp practice.

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I have recently bought my first LED “bulb” (I already have LED strips under kitchen cabinets working well after 4 years). It is an E14 cap 6W Diall small bulb lamp to replace a compact fluorescent in a small desk lamp. The desk lamp has touch-operation on the metalwork to switch on and off, and go through 3 brightness steps. Well, initially it works and dims; I’ve just removed it from the lampholder and the lamp cap is quite touchable, so maybe it does not run too hot in the confined space. The light is a good colour (warm white). If anything exciting happens I will report it – if anyone is excited by such things.

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The only problem I have had with Diall LED lamps is that there are few that are dimmable. There is also the problem of whether a dimmer is compatible with LED lamps.

I wanted to replace a CFL in an outside light because in the recent cold weather it was rather dim when first switched on. I thought it would be interesting to buy a cheap LED to see how it performed, so I picked up one of the Status brand, which is a widely available cheaper brand. So far, this is working fine and does not cause radio interference. The only one that states a guarantee period on the packaging is an Osram bulb (4 years) but that is the one that produces radio interference. Overall, my experience with LED lighting has been very good so far, but I am keeping the packaging and receipts because the more powerful lamps do run hot.

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The March 2017 issue of Which? magazine includes a review of LED bulbs. I see no mention of poor reliability or radio interference. Maybe these problems are becoming less common, but I wonder how long the lamps claimed to deliver the light output equivalent to an old fashioned 100 W lamp would last. If only the manufacturers/retailers would offer a decent guarantee rather than making fabulous claims for their products I would be more convinced.

I’m pleased to see reference to dimmers and the fact that they may need to be replaced with LED-compatible types.

Guest
Ian says:
11 April 2017

Just over 2 years ago I purchased 10 GU10 LED LumiLite (not cheap) lamps 4.5W. 2 failed after 15-18 months ( replaced free by supplier) and another has just failed after 27 months. 30% failure way earlier than promised lifetime. One problem is that 12 LED flush spots I have in our kitchen are now of various different designs and inconsistent brightness/colour because designs keep changing. LumiLife now give 5 year warranty but seems doubtful that most will last that long. Bought a DIALL GU10 LED bulb today and specification says 15000 hours life – not even average hours life – are they guaranteeing 15000 hours ? It seems to me that the technology has been introduced before it is proven and ready.