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Are your LED light bulbs burning out too soon?

LED light bulb

LED light bulbs have a tendency to make grand claims about their lifespan – it’s common to see manufacturers promise bulbs will last 25,000 or even 50,000 hours. But we’ve found many failing well before this.

One of the attractions of LED light bulbs is that they’re supposed to last a long time. And so if you’re shelling out for these bulbs – typically more expensive than other types of light bulb – you’ll want to be sure that they’ll live up to those claims.

But our tests show that not only do many LED light bulbs stop working before the end of their promised lifespan, some don’t even reach the soon-to-be-implemented EU minimum lifespan of 6,000 hours. We discovered bulbs from both Ikea and TCP that failed to reach the 6,000 hour mark for the majority of samples we tested.

Ikea bulb among failures

In the tests – which were carried out by Which? and our European partner organisations – we took five samples each of 46 different bulbs. The bulbs were switched on for two hours and 45 minutes, then switched off for 15 minutes, in a continuous cycle until they burned out.

Five different bulbs stopped working before the 6,000 hour mark for the majority of samples we tested, though the TCP and Ikea bulbs were the only ones which were sold in the UK. Both have since been discontinued.

New EU regulations which will come in from 1 March 2014 say that 90% of any batch of LED light bulbs should last at least 6,000 hours.

Another five bulbs stopped working before the 10,000 hour mark for the majority of samples we tested, despite claiming lifespans of at least 25,000 hours. None of these bulbs were sold in the UK.

In total, 66 of the 230 samples we tested failed before the 10,000 hour mark, though they all claimed they would last at least 15,000 hours.

Has your bulb burned out early?

Ikea said the bulb had passed its own tests and those in a third-party lab. It’s looking into why the bulb failed our test and has removed it from sale in countries where it was still available.

TCP said it was already aware of the problem with this bulb and withdrew it from sale when they discovered the problem. TCP added that it no longer deals with the supplier of that particular bulb and now make their LED bulbs in-house.

We’re in the process of testing the life span of many more LED bulbs, and we’ll update you if we find others that burn out prematurely. But we also want to hear from you – have you bought bulbs that haven’t lasted as long as they should?

Comments
Profile photo of malcolm r
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Reputable (“professional” quality, as chosen for public and commercial lighting) LEDs should last up to 50 000 hours – although they will be replaced well before that as improvements in, e.g. colour, efficiency and light output develop. Domestic LEDs will be of very variable quality from less reputable sources driven largely by cost – some with inherently short lives, due to failure of poor electrical connections for example, being too densly packed and overheating, or run at too high a current to extract more light – again overheating. Probably more of an issue will be the electronics used to control the current – often integral with the LED board and still more susceptible to being run too hot, and to the use of cheap low quality components.
Testing LEDs with a 50 000 hour life is an extrapolative process – even run continuously takes nearly 6 years to reach 50 kh.
I guess a typical user will run domestic lights for around 2000 hours a year – so a really decent LED could last 25 years . A modest 15000 hours will take 8 years. I wonder how many users have yet had sufficient use of LEDs to judge how good lives really are.
It will be interesting to see Which?’s results. As reported in another conversation, there are national bodies interested in the performance of LEDs, particularly whether they comply with EU standards. I hope the information will be shared and other results reported on.
Given the inherently long life of an LED, I am at a loss to understand why the EU minimum will be a meagre 6000 hours for 10% failure. That’s little better than CFLs should achieve.
I wonder how you will make any claim against a retailer for short life LEDs – how can you demonstrate actual lifetime achieved?

Profile photo of John Ward
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It will be practically impossible to seek redress for a prematurely failed LED lamp. I succeeded in getting a replacement from John Lewis for a CFL in their early days because I had a recent proof of purchase for a significant number of lamps but I can’t see any store today accepting responsibility for a lamp that has failed well short of its declared life expectancy. The chances that a customer will have the box it came in and proof of purchase, say, 13 years hence is pretty remote and the industry knows this. Only major consumer testing organisations are going to be able to demonstrate that certain products are not what they’re cracked up to be, but – apart from negative publicity – it’s still unlikely that any enforcement action will be taken. With the high price of LED lamps, it’s getting to the point where consumers should be able to register the purchase as you would for a small appliance, and that product recall and replacement should be carried out by the manufacturer not the retailer. It’s almost certain that any LED that hasn’t suffered damage in transit is going to survive the warranty period and possibly escape from Sale of Goods Act case law. I cannot justify the cost of installing LED lamps – I’ve already wasted enough time and money on CFL’s that have utterly failed to live up to their promises and proved unsuitable for their applications and I have no confidence that things will be any better with LED’s. This latest research confirms it.

Member
Tony says:
24 January 2014

I totally agree. I had/have a CFL from Phillips supposed to last 10 years. Its light output has diminished so much that it is not fit for purpose. Philips dont want to know! The cost of these new lamps means that they are actually uneconomic

Profile photo of gman
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About 2 years ago I had a detailed conversation with a Osram “technical” advisor in a local large DIY store in Germany. They were pushing the LEDs onto the market.

On the question of the LED lamp life, he assured me that the 5 year guarantee was genuine, the LEDs would last that long.

Asking how I could prove that a LED lamp failed too early, he stated in the “electronics” used to control the change from 240V to less than the 2V a single LED needs, there was a “usage monitor” which recorded the time the LED lamp was switched on. Upon the LED lamps return to Osram under guarantee, they could check the validity of premature failure claim and would replace the lamp if it was true.

Somewhat doubting the statement as such electronics seemed unlikely on cost grounds, I did not purchase.

Now with more sensible prices, I have just recently purchased a number of LED lamps, various makers.
The light output is generally good and the light equivalence ratings are believable.

The heat generated by the electronics is far too high. The temperature of the LED lamps (after say 20 mins.) are basically to hot to handle comfortably. The required change in voltage causes energy losses resulting in a temperature change. Nowhere have I seen the explanation of how much energy is actually used to produce light and how much for temperature change in a LED lamp.
(Perhaps Which should be publishing such data for various makers!!)
I suspect that as many have indicated here, the temperature is critical to lifespan of the lamp electronics, as a LED itself is very reliable when used within its design parameters.

For me, only time will tell if the LED cost savings are real. Until now I have no failures.
If Osram receives a guarantee claim and responds with a replacement lamp remains to be proven.

Profile photo of wavechange
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Earlier today I suggested that LED lamp manufacturers could build in a device to record how long their lamps had been in use. I do not see this as unreasonable on cost or practical grounds. The consumer is entitled by law to buy goods that are durable and the manufacturer should not be expected to replace/repair goods that have been used excessively, for example LED lamps that have been used continuously for ten years or washing machines that have been used several times a day for years. We have the technology. Let’s use it so that the consumer and the manufacturer are both treated fairly.

Member
Andy Cooke says:
21 January 2014

Don’t talk to me about TCP I say! Their halogen bulbs blow out faster than fire crackers at Mardi Gras! Rubbish!!

Member
John says:
21 January 2014

In the last 5 years I have had very poor performance from my LED bulbs. The first ones I bought were from B&Q and they lasted less than a year. I had difficulties getting a replacement as I didn’t have proof of purchase.

From then on I bought a different make which also gave a 5 year guarantee. I have two of these and over the last two years I have had them replaced twice. This performance level is really poor. Even with a 5-year guarantee replacing them every year with postage costs is a nuiscance.

I am glad to see the EU stepping in to enforce a minimum performance criteria. But 6000hrs seems quite low if they can advertise up to 50000hrs. They must do more.

Profile photo of dave newcastle
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We have recently moved house and have LED bulbs in some rooms. We are not impressed. Some of them flicker and need to be switched on and off several times to stop the flickering. Because they are recessed flush with the ceiling they produce a shaft of relatively low light vertically downwards. This is daft as the rooms are unevenly lit. Lights need to be below the ceiling so that light is reflected off the ceiling and the walls to give better distribution of light. The LEDs also interfere with FM and DAB radio . We are planning to replace some of the LEDS with CFLs!

Profile photo of John Ward
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I totally agree with you about the unsatisfactory light distribution of recessed ceiling fittings. I cannot understand how they became so popular – many new houses had them installed in kitchens and living rooms as a matter of course. Perhaps the architects/designers thought people wanted that modern commercial look in their homes. As you say they produce a downward cone of light and make the ceiling look dark. Some people have fitted them to their bedroom ceilings because they thought they were stylish and have regretted it ever since; looking up into a downlighter is not very pleasant. Hotels seem to fit them a lot – probably to prevent people taking out the lamps or interfering with them in other ways. The worst place to have them is the bathroom where they cast awful shadows making it difficult to do close work to the face like shaving or make-up. I don’t see LED lights as suitable generally for comfortable lighting to living spaces although they no doubt have their uses in specific task applications where they will probably outlive both the fitting and the user.

Profile photo of wavechange
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I agree with both of you and we are not the only ones who are not keen on downlighters, though they do have their uses. Although individual LED chips are directional they are often assembled to produce a lamp that does not have a directional output.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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This became a fad in commercial lighting (hotels, shops etc) a few years ago, until common sense prevailed. Unless you have a smallish space with light floor and walls to reflect light around you end up with unpleasant facial shadows and a dismal appearance. Wider-spreading lights help considerably. I prefer for all rooms at home to have either pendant ceiling lights that give uplight as well as down, and/or a selection of table lamps wherever appropriate to give a good general distribution of light without it being overall too uniform – their are 5 in the living room, with ceiling lights for occasional use, and on bedside tables in the bedrooms. LEDs for special applications are good – under cupbards in the kitchen for example – but CFLs and halogen reflector lamps generally do a better job.

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Barrie says:
24 January 2014

When we had our extension built with a new kitchen we researched LED downlighters (this was in 2011) and evaluated a number of bulbs for light spread and radio interference. We found that if you chose a bulb with 120 degree spread (or more) you got a very good spread of light. We are very satisfied with the lighting in our kitchen. Amazingly we later found that the supplier had “improved” the 120 degree bulb we had bought by replacing it with a model with 60 degree spread!

Profile photo of briantril
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I have 14 GX53 (hockey puck shape) fitted in a new kitchen. 10 as over bench and 4 as display cupboard lights.
After only 6 weeks regular use 4 have failed. Swapping round has got one back working, but only temporarily. Not sure the lamp holders are 100% either as 2 went off together. Tried all the connections and they seem fine so at a loss as to what is really the problem. I will be taking them back to the kitchen fitters for testing and replacement. I have 2 CFL versions of this fitting in outside porch lights. Work OK so far but take a long time to warm up.

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Richard Billing says:
22 January 2014

I think that pretty much it’s all down to education (or lack of it) for the public unfortunately.

You talk about “lifetime” but you don’t make it clear whether you’re talking about 1,000s at L50 or L70 or total failure? Generally LEDs don’t “fail” their lumen output just decreases hence the L70 / L50 etc. Where L = Light Output & the number indicates the percentage of the original Lumen output. This SHOULD always be combined with a number (normally tens of thousands) which indicates the lifetime; hence 25,000hrs to L70 would indicate that after 25k hrs the lamp (sorry “bulb”!) will have an output of 30% less than when it was brand new.

If you buy a lamp from a manufacturer that does not or will not supply this information then more fool you!

About the only sensible advice is to stick to the “recognized manufacturer” GE, Osram, Philips or similar (Just an example there are others).

Always worth having a look at The Lighting Industry Association web page: http://www.thelia.org.uk/consumer/publications-consumer/

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Loss of output is a factor, but what may be of much greater importance is failure, for whatever reason. This is the problem being experienced by users.

I think you are right to suggest we should stick to the recognised manufacturers. There are unbranded LEDs sold online by unheard of companies. Do we even know that they are safe, or whether or not they are a fire risk? If anyone is concerned about the cost of LED lighting it would be better to wait until the price falls rather than risking buying potentially unreliable or unsafe products.

Member
Richard Billing says:
22 January 2014

Hi Wavechange,

Let’s address a few points here:

1, Failure: Like ANY electrical device LED Lamps can fail at any point in their life; however as an electrical device their failure profile will tend to follow “The Bath Tub Curve” ( http://www.weibull.com/hotwire/issue21/hottopics21.htm ) “Infant Mortality” return the lamps for refund or replacement, “End of Life Failure” let’s be honest, you’ve probably moved house by then? 😉

2, Output Degradation: The light output of ALL LEDs will degrade through their lifespan. The fundamental question here is how quickly the degradation happens to a point where the lamp is no longer usable? Hence my comments (above) on Lifetime – No. hrs x1000s to L70?

3, The Type of Lamp & the Application: Pretty much the two are intertwined, for example a ceiling recessed “downlighter” that currently uses a reflector lamp? Is it mains voltage or “SELV 12V” i.e. does it have a transformer? There are issues with both applications; however there may be a huge issue with the SELV 12V Lamp LED replacement. There is currently NO standard for the electrical supply from a 12V SELV transformer. The output is generally ~12V however the frequency can vary from 50Hz up to 35kHz LEDs will have issues at some point here!
The “Mains Voltage” (GU10) type will have less to contend with electrically (there are standards for the mains supply!) however BOTH lamps when being inverted into a probably closed tin can in the ceiling will probably encounter thermal issues. These thermal issues can sometimes kill some of the small capacitors within the lamp or, & more normally the higher temperatures will have the effect of shortening the service life of the LED replacement lamp – LEDs do not like heat!

4, Safety: ALL lamps sold in the UK SHOULD be safe, you need to look for EN (European Norm) numbers, or BSEN (British Standard European Norm) numbers. More info via link: http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=5&ved=0CFgQFjAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.energysavingtrust.org.uk%2Fcontent%2Fdownload%2F75851%2F910948%2Fversion%2F1%2Ffile%2FLED%2BLamp%2BLighting%2BSpecification.pdf&ei=quXfUoOjOoSmhAfS9oHwDA&usg=AFQjCNG4WPv4EkwyaeQpULIQy_dcibR_Ng&sig2=gha7DbKjVoKb18LpRzprnA&bvm=bv.59568121,d.ZG4&cad=rja

Yes generally tending to stick with recognized brand names does appear to be a sensible thing to do & there is no way that I would buy something unbranded from an internet supplier & plug it in to my mains supply! However even some of the recognized suppliers have issues from time to time!

5, Price: Yes the price will continue to fall until it reaches a “level” once that happens you’ll see performance start to increase. It is fair to say that if there are no “early adopters” then the development funding for these lamps will have to come from a different source? – just a thought!

Member

I bought 24off Aurora 6W led lamps at £11each. After two years I’ve had to replace four of these. Not impressed. I thought Aurora was a highly recommended brand.

Profile photo of wavechange
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I have been looking at online reviews of different makes of LED bulbs and Aurora don’t seem very good at all.

Member
TheLeakyHouse says:
23 January 2014

I had eight 4W LED GU10s fitted as part of a new office build in November 2011. The original stock were FEIT electric, so more than £10 per bulb at the time. So far, three have failed. I replaced them with (cheaper) HYS03CW-L1-G, and three of those have also failed. So 6 out of 11 LED bulb failures in 2 years. But I’m not sure the extent to which part of the problem is inadequate venting of the heat that they generate; they obviously need more space around them than conventional GU10s.

Member
David Smith says:
23 January 2014

During a domestic kitchen replacement project I purchased 17 down lighters with Kosnic LED lamps, they have only been fitted a year and 3 have failed already, how can companies advertise their supposedly long life when the evidence speaks otherwise. Surely they appear to not be fit for purpose.

Member
John says:
23 January 2014

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 , 5 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. Retailer’s 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. I am now beginning to consider abandoning my attempt to change to LED lighting. Light levels are also a disappointment as claimed equivalence is rarely borne out in practice.

Member
Richard Billing says:
24 January 2014

It would be interesting to know if anyone has had any issues with LED Lamps of the reflector type (i.e. GU10 mains voltage, or GU5.3 SELV 12V) when used in an open fitting rather than an enclosed recessed “Downlighter” type fitting.

It is my understanding that LED Reflector Lamps are designed to keep the actual LED chip as cool as possible. From memory the absolute maximum is ~125°C above which you’re going to be looking at catastrophic failure of the LED chip. Manufacturers will therefore engineer their lamps with all sorts of thermal interfaces & heatsinks to draw the heat out of & away from the LED chip to free air with an ambient temperature of ~25°C. So in theory there shouldn’t be any issues physically or thermally with an open fitting.

From what I’m seeing here most if not all of the issues are from LED lamp retrofits into recessed downlighter fittings that were originally designed for GU10 mains voltage, or GU5.3 SELV 12V halogen lamps. These GU10 / GU5.3 Lamps are designed to work at temperatures of up to ~300°C & therefore the recessed downlighter fittings (Luminaires) are consequently designed not only to be able to cope with these temperatures, but also to be able to dissipate the heat such that any part of the fitting that is in contact with a potentially flammable surface does not exceed 90°C.

Within these Halogen fittings there is a dead air space between the hottest part of the lamp (often referred to as “The Pinch”) & the inside of the Luminaire housing. This dead air space will have the effect of insulating the inside of the Luminaire housing (like the air gap in your double glazing) from the heat source (Lamp) thereby the lamp will retain its heat (radiation is not so efficient) and will conduct the heat through touching parts e.g. the lampholder assembly. All of this works really well for Halogen Lamps.

Now consider replacing the Halogen for an LED? Is that dead air space going to insulate the LED lamp thereby rendering all that thermal engineering that the LED lamp manufacturer has done useless?

Do the LED lamp manufacturers give any guidance on the installation of their lamps?

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Looking at a reputable manufacturer’s products – try Philips.co.uk – their literature for 4.5W and 6.5W GU10 LED spots shows them as direct replacements for the TH equivalents in luminaires; pictures show them in both exposed luminaires and in recessed. The inference is they are suitable (and presumably tested) for these applications. How many suppliers will have tested theirs under recessed conditions?
These LED spots have declared lives of up to 20 000 hours (15 years+) – very different from some reports above.
On EMC – a vexatious topic – Philips declare compliance when used with a specified transformer. I think many people think they can just replace a TH bulb with an LED whereas in practice they need to think about using a compatible driver for appropriate performance. Whist buying cheap(er) LEDs of unknown manufacture might look appealing, short term the penalty of short lives and DAB interference can make some poor value. Whilst major manufacturers are not totally without problems you stand a much better chance of getting a product that works well.
I wonder how much of a fad LEDs are though? Many have poor colour, shortish lives, interference problems. Work out how much electricity you might save compared with CFLs and TH lamps. You could save £3.30 a year substituting a 4.5W LED spot for a 30W TH but this needs weighing against the cost of a decent LED spot plus, probably, electronic driver.

Member
Richard Billing says:
24 January 2014

Hi Malcom R,

Confused????

You state: “On EMC – a vexatious topic – Philips declare compliance when used with a specified transformer” yet you only mention “GU10” – These are “Mains Voltage” lamps & as such will not require a transformer?

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Richard, this was a separate general comment whilst on the subject of LEDs. Many complaints have been made by correspondents about interference and non-compliance with EMC. I was making the point that the LED plus driver (where required, if you like) need to be of good quality for both good performance and compliance, and suggest the major (well known) manufacturers are probably better value. Philips leaflet quoted “This bulb complies with EMC requirements when used in combination with a high-quality electronic transformer, such as the Philips CERTALINE 60 transformer. Performance may vary based on the transformer used to operate the bulb.” I am not sure many people are informed about the need for quality controllers.
My point about GU10 lamps, as examples, was that you are more likely to have acceptable thermal performance from a major manufacturer who is likely to have designed and tested their products for operation under thermally-demanding conditions.

Member
Derrick says:
24 January 2014

Glad I stocked up with ‘old fashioned’ bulbs before they disappeared!

Member
Will says:
28 April 2015

This makes absolutely no sense given that the discussion is about LEDs and there are plenty of CFL’s with superior energy savings to traditional bulbs and they’ve been out long enough that people know they generally last longer too.

Member
Dick Vardy says:
24 January 2014

I’ve been experimenting with a number of LED GU10 bulbs over the last 2 years. They have been used as replacements in spotlight-type fittings so do not seem to be overheating, in fact they are not too hot to hold even after being on some time. I have had a couple of failures (at different times) – one went out with a bang, the other started to flick on and off. Each had been in use about a year. The supplier replaced each one without question. My research continues!
One thing I have found is that a particular model from Longlife bulbs seems to cause interference to some stations on my digital radio. I’ve contacted the manufacturer and I’m waiting for his response.

One thing that has worked in my favour when getting replacement is buying through Amazon. The site keeps a lengthy history of your purchases so its easy to go back to the original order. I mark the cap of each bulb with the date of purchase using a permanent marker to help me keep track

Member

12 months ago we had a new kitchen installed and it was fitted with 12 x GU10 LED’s 24v x 5w bulbs. Of the first batch supplied, all have blown, which the supplier replaced, but some of those also failed. I now purchase from BrightLightz via the internet and so far, so good.

Member
Dean says:
24 January 2014

Interestingly I also bought 30+ GU10s from Brightlightz around 18m ago – own brand and a few have failed (generally start flickering then die!). However, to date, they have been very good in sending replacements so whilst it is a bit of a pain, I am not out of pocket

Member
Julian says:
24 January 2014

My house was gutted and rewired in 2012, with LED lights in most applications. Brilliant white light and only 1 bulb failure from about 80 so far. Sorry to hear that others have had a bad experience, as we recommend LED to everyone – even if they aren’t going to last 25 years.

Member
Dean says:
24 January 2014

Which brand/ supplier do you use?..

Member
Ian Savell says:
24 January 2014

I’m out of sync with these comments. I was an early adopter of very high power LEDs which I obtained at the lowest price from unreviewed sources online here and abroad (e.g. Ebay). I have 60W equivalent MR16 bulbs (12v), 25W equivalent GU10 bulbs and 40W equivalent small screw spots. To date none have failed or noticably lost light output. The high power MR16s are cool enough at equilibrium to pick up with bare hands – maybe 40C? The 12v lights do have a transformer designed for LEDs, all are in the original fittings designed for halogen or incandescent bulbs.

I still have a few halogen and CFL bulbs in the house because I’m waiting for a good LED replacement for the ceiling hung lampshade fittings and for a designer ceiling fitting that uses G9 halogens in tiny glass tubes.

What I do find unusual is that I had to go to these unusual suppliers. Why are the big manufacturers and retailers shying away from this technology? I applaud IKEA for getting to grips with LED even if they do have problems (I do have some IKEA LED bulbs).

Until the likes of Philips and GE supply adequately bright LEDs the market will continue to be niche and prices will stay high.

And by the way I use LEDs because I like the light, I like the instant ON, I like the coolness, I like not having to replace halogens every few weeks and I like the low current which allows me to run some lights on rechargeable batteries.

Member
Richard Billing says:
24 January 2014

There maybe a very good reason that the likes of Philips and GE have kept away?

Member
Ian Savell says:
24 January 2014

I did read a while ago that suggested they wouldn’t supply 12V bulbs because they couldn’t trust the consumer’s transformers, originally spec’d for halogens. That’s why I always use a “proper” 12v supply.

Ultimately I’d like to see the domestic 240V AC lighting circuit replaced with 12v DC. I’ve already done it in some “outdoor” areas. Think how much that would contribute to safety.

Member
Nick C says:
24 January 2014

Bravo Ian Savell – I have followed a similar path and concur with all your comments. I too have replaced almost all the lamps throughout the house (and outside) with LED with great results. I struggle to understand why people are determined to be so negative and backward-looking about any progress that is made – the prime example of this is the guy who is proud of the fact that he has stocked up with “old-fashioned” lamps.

Nothing is perfect – people conveniently forget how often “old-fashioned” bulbs fail as well, particularly halogen downlights, but the saving in electricity costs means that on average they only have to last in the region of 1,000 hours before they have paid for themselves. My experience is that you do get one or two early life failures, but the vast majority of the lamps I have throughout the house have just kept on going and going, so their average life is going to vastly exceed the necessary life to make them worthwhile. And I am not buying branded lamps but cheap ones at around £5 each from ebay.

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John C says:
24 January 2014

Bravo Nick C, and the guy with the ‘old fashioned’ bulbs probably drives a Morris Minor (proudly) and has Victorian taps in his house! Can’t stop progress, as they say, and at 70 I’ve seen plenty of it most of which I’ve embraced with alacrity. Can’t quite get my head around tattoos though.

Member
Tony says:
24 January 2014

£5 each when the old style were closer to 50p! What economy is this? I too have a suooly of the old lamps along with a few CFLs and halogens. The performance of the CFLs is not to my liking, with exagerated equivalence claims and slow start up. Halogen is better – I have 3 in my study and they last well and are generally very good – I dont believe my lighting bill has improved very much if anything, though.

Member
Nick C says:
25 January 2014

In what way are halogen better? They use SLIGHTLY less power than non-halogen incandescents, so are not by my measure energy efficient, and but in my experience they don’t last very long before failing. The reason I say that they are not energy efficient is that surely this is a relative thing.

The relative efficiency of various light sources is typically as follows: Non-halogen incandescent: 15lm/w, halogen: 18lm/w, Compact fluorescent: 50lm/w, Fluorescent tubes: 80lm/w, LED: 90lm/w. And LED efficiency is still improving with technological advances.

You can clearly see that halogen lamps are not by any measure energy efficient when you see what else is available which is vastly more efficient.

You need to look at LED if you want to see your electricity bills go down and you don’t like CFLs (which I entirely understand). Don’t be conned by manufacturers who try and persuade you that halogen lamps are energy efficient – they’re not.

Profile photo of wavechange
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Another difference is that domestic LED lamps cannot produce the light output of a humble 100 watt incandescent lamp. Some commercial LED lighting is very good but until we get away from trying to produce direct replacements for old fashioned bulbs we are not going to get enough light and poor reliability due to overheating will continue to be a problem.

It is time we had a choice of good quality light fixtures designed for LEDs, for improved lighting and a very low failure rate. Think outside the bulb shape.

Member
Nick C says:
26 January 2014

Wavechange – some good points. LED outputs are increasing with every passing year and the result is that costs are plummeting while the amount of light that LED lamps can produce is getting ever greater. Don’t look at the situation now and form a fixed view on the relative capabilities of different technologies.

Regarding the point about light fixtures designed for LEDs – this is happening! You can even get new light fittings from Screwfix (product 59016 as an example) that have been designed from the ground up on the basis of LED capabilities, and this will continue to accelerate, and prices will continue to fall.

Member

I’ve had failures in <1 year but the problem seemed to be in the control circuitry or the whole thing falling apart rather than in the LED itself.

Some newly acquired dimmable LED candles are giving me good results so far using a wireless 2-way switch converter/dimmer Yes, they actually do work.

I have 11w LEDs in the kitchen, fitted into GU10 2-bulb spotlight housings fitted to the ceiling.Using one warm white and one bright white LED per fitting and pointing them approximately at the same area gives a good colour mix.

Member
Derek Newman says:
24 January 2014

In August last year I bought an led bulb with a built in motion sensor on line from a company in Yorkshire – The Glow Company. We use it in a cupboard under the stairs and as the previous light was frequently not turned off it seemed a sensible solution.It worked well until 22nd January when the lamp failed in spite of a 3000 hour life guarantee which is unlikely to have been reached in view of it’s position. I contacted the suppliers who were most polite and helpful and have promised a free replacement is in the post. Nice to see that the age of good service has not disappeared altogether. I have installed various other led bulbs and also replaced the frequently failing mini fluorescent tubes under the kitchen cabinets with mains powered led lookalike fittings and so far very pleased with the results.

Member
Patrick Bryan says:
24 January 2014

If WHICH is going to test Led lamps can they take a serious look at the problem of radio frequency emanation, I have interference two floors up from the kitchen and cannot listen to a portable radio when the lights are on! Also can they look at the problem of dimming this type of lamp. I have a chandelier with 18 lamps and cannot find a dimmer that works. This Led technology has a long way to go

Member

The bulbs have to be specified as dimmable. I bought the wireless dimmer from Maplin.

Member
Barrie says:
24 January 2014

We installed 16 GU10 lamps in downlighters in utility and kitchen. After about 18 months we suddenly realised that a number of them had gone dim (and it wasn’t just our old eyes!). I took comparative photographs of all the lights (same camera setting and distance) and could show that 11 of them were significantly dimmer than the remainder. I measured the temperature in the housing and it was something like 35 degrees … well within spec. I contacted the supplier who argued that (a) the Sale of Goods Act didn’t apply after such a period, (b) they had had no such similar failures and (c) it was the fault of our electricity supply. I contacted our electricity supplier (the network supplier not the “energy company”) who, of course, said it wasn’t. With somewhat bad grace, and a very long letter of rebuttal, we eventually got the LED bulbs replaced. So far, after about a similar period, everything seems to be fine.

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Ivan says:
24 January 2014

I bought 6 LED SES candle lightbulbs from Homebase. 2 failed within 2 weeks.

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David says:
24 January 2014

In December 2012 I bought 10 MEGAMAN 7W LED bulbs (LG 1907dv2-E14-2800-25000) to go into two new light fittings. One bulb failed in September 2013 and from December 2013 a second only comes on after a delay of about a minute. The fitting is SES and the bulb is golf-ball style,warm white, which goes very well with the lamp fitting and shades.

Do I replace the defunct/defective LED bulbs and keep my fingers crossed that the replacements will last, or, for lower cost, replace all 10 by clear halogen bulbs ?

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Don K says:
24 January 2014

I have experienced 3 failures of LED R80 type spotlights since purchase in early November 2013 from Convertabulb.com. Although they have been very good at supplying replacements it does not look as if I have found a reliable solution to low energy kitchen lighting without the infuriating warm up time!!

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Mark Vandersluis says:
24 January 2014

Some very interesting pints made in this thread!

I have a number of warm white LED bulbs (mostly GU10) and am generally very happy with the results. I spotted above that someone is waiting until his non-LED bulbs fail before replacing them, but this is a false economy – if you do the calculations, payback time is generally 2-3 years, and although you have a higher immediate cost to buy the bulb your electricity costs will immediately decrease. The sooner replace, the sooner you start saving! I retain any of the replaced (and still working) non-LED bulbs as short term emergency replacements in case of bulb failure.

One point on the disposal of LED bulbs: these be should disposed of via an electrical retailer. They count as electrical waste according to the WEEE initiative, as they contain electronic parts. I’d hate to think they are just thrown in the bin.

And finally one question: I have quite a few G4 halogen bulbs in the kitchen and in lamps, but have been unable to find any LED replacements of the same dimensions as an original G4. Housings are generally too large to fit in the confined space available. Has anyone found a suitable LED replacement?

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Victor Palmer says:
24 January 2014

We moved to a new house last February and purchased 2 new 5-arm candelabra pendant fittings from John Lewis. These were supplied with 25W G9 halogen capsules, which have an E energy rating and a claimed life of 2000 hours. Five of the 10 capsules failed within the first 6 months (200-800 hours)and when I complained to John Lewis, they said that this must have been due to inferior bulbs originally supplied and gave me 5 Phillips replacements (at £3.50 each). Five months on and another 7 have failed – including some of the Phillips replacements! We calculate that by the end of another year the cost of replacement G9s will have exceeded the cost of the light fittings!
I wish, like a previous commenter, that I had stocked up on incandescent bulbs before they were withdrawn – two 100w bulbs at 75p each, would have still been going strong, would have given almost as much light and would have saved 25% of the electricity cost!

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Nick C says:
24 January 2014

Halogen capsules ARE incandescent bulbs. Just very high power ones.

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Not necessarily high power. As well as spotlights you can get them to replace the old-fashioned incandescent bulbs. The halogen in the gas around the filament allows the filament to run hotter – and therefore more efficiently (around 30%) and gives twice the life. They are also generally dimmable. Useful for some applications

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Nick C says:
26 January 2014

As I said above:

The relative efficiency of various light sources is typically as follows: Non-halogen incandescent: 15lm/w, halogen: 18lm/w, Compact fluorescent: 50lm/w, Fluorescent tubes: 80lm/w, LED: 90lm/w. And LED efficiency is still improving with technological advances.

You can clearly see that halogen lamps are not by any measure energy efficient when you see what else is available which is vastly more efficient.

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I’ve never had a better kitchen light than the long fluorescent tube that I had in my first flat in 1968!

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You have to be a bit careful with the economics. For some applications – e.g. spotlights – your choice is TH or LED. If you get decent LEDs, a good colour and reliability then they are a good choice. If you went a replacement for a GLS bulb then you have a choice between say a 13W 1055 lumen LED bulb and a 15W 970 lumen spiral CFL. The LED costs around £15, the spiral around £5 – but over the LED lifetime you will use 1.5 spirals, so equivalent cost £7.50. Electricity saved 50p/year at 5.5 hours a day burning. So it will take 15 years to recoup the cost. I suggest we look hard at the various features of both and what suits us best and not become too obsessed with energy and cost.

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I too have bought TCP bulbs and experienced very poor life. I bought some 6.5watt (350 Lumens) and also some 4w (250 Lumens). The 6.5w gave a great light, which when using a bathroom fitting was the best I could get to give a good light, but they all failed within a few weeks. As they failed, I changed to the TCP 4w with a lower light emission, and these are still operating after about 3months.

In fairness to Homebase, where I purchased these, they changed the failed items without a problem……maybe I was not the only one to return failed TCP LED bulbs?

After reading these comments (above) I will think very carefully about using LED again. But, when using a Bathroom 4x Light Bar which has a 20w GU10 Halogen restriction because of the heat generated inside the sealed light fittings; even with four GU10 Halogen bulbs the light is poor and to get a greater light emission the only solution is to use LED bulbs which run much cooler.

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I have converted my house completely to LED, and so far only 3 bulbs have failed, one after only 1 day, which was replaced as faulty, and the other 2 after about a year’s use, and they were all purchased cheaply from China via the Internet and I tend to leave them on for long periods. My garden lights are on from dusk to dawn, and none have yet failed. Basically I wholeheartedly recommend them as my Electricity bill has been reduced by around 70% for not a massive outlay.

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I purchased 12 GU10 LED warm white bulbs from Ledhut.co.uk on the 05/04/12. These give an output of 320 lumens to replace 50W halogen bulbs. The power used by these bulbs has dropped from 600W (12x50W} to 48W (12x4W) in total less than one of the former Halogen bulbs. At present I have had to replace 2 led bulbs on the 02/10/12 and 14/03/13. The rest of the bulbs are working fine. The above company offer an excellent service giving a 5yr cover on their LED bulbs. Also valuable information on the use of the correct transformers and dimmers when using 12V LED’s.
Hope this information is of some help.

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Ian Gray says:
24 January 2014

I have recently replaced 22 50w halogen GU10 downlighters in a basement kitchen/diningoom with 5w LEDs. Initially very pleased with them, particularly with the potential energy saving, as a number of the lights are on most of the day. The light output was comparable, as was the beam spread. However after only a few weeks half were giving very low light output, and a number were getting very hot. The faulty units were replaced without query, but I wonder about their suitability in downlighters which are on for considerable periods. Time will tell. The LEDs were supplied by Fusion lamps and come with a 3 year guarentee.

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Personally, I have always thought that GU10s were a terrible format. My first experience with 50W halogens was that they only lasted around 6 months at the most. The CCFl versions gave out a pathetic, weak light that was horrible to either work or rest under.

Recently, RO80 and R63 LEDs have become available. We replaced all the GU10s in the kitchen with 4 x 7W RO80s and they produce a fantastic, bright wide beam of light, just great for a working kitchen. I can’t vouch for their longevity as I haven’t had them for too long. But the light quality and intensity is as good as the old incandescents.

I have also installed 5.5W R63 LEDs in a long hall and upstairs on the landing: they too give out a fantastic light beam – probably a little too bright for the landing!

I can highly recommend the RO80s and R63s where you need good lights. You can get them on line from the LED Hut and/or WholeSaleLedLights.

I converted the lights in the cooker hood from halogen to LEDs and they are excellent: but, of course, the narrow beams aren’t a problem illuminating a small area like a stove top.

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paul says:
24 January 2014

After reading so many negatives on led lighting on this page from my experience I would recommend every one to get them.I have only bought 240v gu10 led’s and mainly the smd type which I favour in day white and installed them only in kitchens and bathrooms,recessed in bathrooms and on the multi bulb arm type in the kitchens.I was fed up of the halogen bulbs blowing frequently and in one bathroom 3 smd led’s gave more light and proper white light than 8 50w halogen gu10’s( which seem yellow) from only about 4w each bulb.same in a kitchen the light output is far superior.they do not produce the heat that the halogen do and are cool to touch.the smd led’s have come from ebay and the halogens were purchased from various well known places.i have yet to notice any issues and if I do then I will not hesitate to replace with more smd led’s
.So pleased am I with led that i have fitted led lights to 2 trailers i have

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Addition to my post of 22nd. Of the 10 under cupboard light I have another failure, or at least partial failure. It is obvious that these get too hot and go off. If I remove one just after going off it is too hot to touch where presumably the control circuitry is. If I let it cool down it will go again for 10 minutes or so, then go off again. Seems they get slowly worse and then fail altogether. Mine are branded Sensio and sold specifically for this purpose; see their website.
I fail to see how these are ecofriendly if this 2w light in a plastic box with 39 leds and control electronics is a throwaway item after just a few weeks. Bring back the tungsten filament in a bottle. Cheap to produce. Years ago I made my own garden lights using car light bulbs in coke cans running of a transformer. Lasted for years. Time for more diy i think.

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Ian Savell says:
24 January 2014

The biggest problem with LEDs is that in their “native” form they operate on 3V DC or less. Even on a 12V DC supply circuitry is required to spread the voltage over several LEDs and limit the current in case of impedance variations. With 240V LED assemblies this circuitry also has to transform and rectify the input power. Hence the issues reported here with radio interference, heat output, and mysterious failures. The LEDs themselves are staggeringly reliable.

Incidentally, when you see a “5W LED” not all of that wattage is actually producing light, some is heat produced by aforesaid circuitry. I have high brightness 3V LEDs that barely get warm.

Mostly I find that 240V LEDS, because all the circuitry is designed into the product, are efficient and reliable. But that does depend on the ability of the manufacturer and this is clearly an area where Which? could do some valuable testing.

LEDS run off a good low voltage DC supply, seem to always be efficient and reliable. They are also dirt cheap in the raw. (note that even 12V MR16 LEDS have to include rectifier circuitry because the connector is non-polarised) Which is why almost modern light sources from consumer electronics through car lights to motorway lights use LEDs.

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John C says:
24 January 2014

I have been playing around with LEDs for my boat as have several of my friends. We’ve all had failures and have now largely corrected them. LEDs have a voltage drop of between 1.8 volts and 3.3 volts depending on colour. If you put too much voltage on an LED, the current will rise and the LED will blow. So either you have an electronic device to control this, you put a resistor in series or you daisy chain them together to the required voltage. Most boats have a voltage of 12 volts but when charging this can rise to 13.6 volts and this is sometimes enough to blow an LED.

The standard European voltage is 230 volts 50Hz. Could it be that most LEDs, and especially those from, for example IKEA, are just not made to be used in the 240 volt UK? It appears that the other LEDs tested by Which? were not for sale in the UK, perhaps for a very good reason.

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No real complaints about CFLs apart from some slow startups. We bought 4 over 20 years ago, and installed them above the kitchen units to bounce light of the ceiling, to replace the old 4 foot long lamp. We can’t be sure but we think we have only replaced them each once in that time and they will have been used for several hours almost every day.
Thinking of putting spacer washers behind the mounts of my LED surface mounted lamps. They keep much cooler if I unscrew them from the kitchen units and may last longer with air all round them.

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Ray Couch says:
25 January 2014

Having bought 16 LED striplights from Wickes for under cubboard use in my new kitchen. I have found that just over a year later ALL of them are now that dim that thet do not light up the worktops. I will be taking them all out and replacing them with flouescent lighting.
DO NOT under any circumstances buy this lighting from Wickes.
I will be taking the old lighting back to Wickes but dont hold much hope of any redress.

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It is very obvious that heat is the principal reason why LED lamps are unreliable. Manufacturers have been open about the problem and the reason why we do not have an LED replacement for the old fashioned 100 W bulb is that too much heat would have to be removed.

If LEDs and the electronic components in the lamp are stressed by high temperatures, their life will be shortened. As an analogy, consider that most car engines will survive for 100,000 miles or more but put an engine under stress by racing at high speeds and the lifetime is likely to be much shorter.

Manufacturers of LED lamps are at fault by claiming very long operating lifetimes. It will take a lot to convince me that these are predicted by proper extrapolation and I see the predictions more as educated guesses, and not very good ones.

So where does the consumer stand? We have the Sale of Goods Act, but that gives us rights for only six years (5 in Scotland), and on the basis of predicted life in hours, LEDs should be expected to last a lot more than six years in some applications. What we need is for all LED lamps to sold with a TEN YEAR WARRANTY. If the manufacturers are concerned that people may start returning LED lamps that have been running continually, then they can build in a device that measures how long they have been running. That is not difficult, and it might help them realise how many lamps are actually failing after very little use.

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Faith in many LED suppliers / distributors is misplaced – they just want your business, not your satisfaction as evidenced by their wilful lack of compliance with standards
:
The EC 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.
This work was reported in 2011. You wonder why no action appears to have resulted (or has it?). (No product should be sold within the EU without a CE mark).

So many products are just a gamble.

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Heat has a number of effects on LEDs – high temperatures reduce light output, degrade the phosphor more quickly (“white” LEDs are blue-emitting chips with a phosphor coat), stress the electrical connections to the chip so increase failures and reduce life of the electronics used to control the current. A “good” LED with controller and luminaire will ensure these problems are taken into account – so the well known manufacturers should be better relied on – or manufacturers using this standard of product. They will also produce or use LEDs that are nearer their claimed performance – LEDs when produced cover a wide range of light outputs and colour for the same nominal input power; a reputable manufacturer will select those that match their requirements. What you get from some others can only be guessed at.
My view is if you are concerned about quality, try buying from a well-known source or brand (e.g. Philips, Osram) that you can complain too directly if you have a problem, but you will no doubt pay a premium price. Otherwise you are taking a chance.

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I very much agree that buying products is a gamble, Malcolm, but perhaps CE marking is not helping as much as we would hope because it is up to manufacturers to declare compliance rather than having their products independently tested. Larger manufacturers with a reputation to protect are more likely to take compliance seriously but, not always. Which? and other organisations have found many cases of companies – large and small – marketing products that do not meet safety requirements. The 2011 report that you obtained your figures from found that 23% of products did not comply with the rules on CE marking, so if some companies cannot cope with this simple matter, can we trust that they have followed the requirements laid down for products? I suspect that well established brands are generally better, but we need all products to comply with the rules.

I welcome the EU ruling that 90% of LEDs must survive for 60 hours. Hopefully this will lead to longer warranties.

For the time being, I have no intention of buying LED lamps. I have had a great deal of success with CFLs, though I am well aware that others have not been so fortunate.

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“The 2011 report ..found that 23% of products did not comply with the rules on CE marking, so if some companies cannot cope with this simple matter, can we trust that they have followed the requirements laid down for products? ”
It is probably more a question of choosing not to comply rather than not coping.
It would, I think, be logistically impossible for every product, of any kind, that requires CE marking to be independently tested (also requires integrity of the testers) ; hence the system relies largely upon declaration of conformity with technical documentation to support it.
My point is that the policing system seems to fail – the report identifies a large number of failures to comply, so why has punitive action not been taken against the EC distributors – it is they who have responsibility for the legitimacy of the products they import and sell on. A similar situation exists with our trading standards – not properly resourced and lacking teeth it seems. Until we are pepared to take action against those who defy the regulations we will always be innundated with defective product. No point in having standards and regulations if you don’t enforce them. Perhaps Which? could put on some pressure to remedy this aspect of consumer protection (or lack of).

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There is no point in having legislation unless there are penalties. In the Conversations we learn about many cases in which the law has been broken and recommendations have been ignored. Rarely do we hear about fines or other penalties and where action has been taken a fine may be sufficiently small to be treated as an operating expense for a company.

I take your point about the practicalities of independent testing, but perhaps there is a compromise. Companies that have a good track record of in-house testing could be spared the need for independent testing of similar products unless evidence arises to show that they are not fit to be trusted.

I support what the EU is trying to achieve here, but fear that it is being as ineffective as our UK regulators such as Ofcom.

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When I was directly involved we were accredited and regularly audited to the quality management standard ISO:9001. This includes all aspects of a business – technical, purchasing, manufacture, sales etc to ensure you have adequate procedure in place, and in use. This then helps ensure products conform to standards. All the mechanisms are in place to provide conforming products, but if those who ignore them, circumvent them or are dishonest are not penalised then nothing will change. It’s like having criminal law without a proper police force.

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Some years ago I had a problem with some expensive scientific laboratory equipment manufactured by a highly respected German company. I had a technician PAT-test the equipment and every one of the 36 units failed. The supplier was unhelpful, but after I had produced a signed document from our senior electrician and I started asking about what their ISO certification meant, I got some action. Their engineers went through each unit rectifying problems. As soon as they had left I established that the company had only addressed some of the failings and despite contacting the company’s overseas headquarters, I could not get further action. Due to shortage of time, I called in an electrician to complete the work. This is probably an exception, but I have seen other dodgy electrical equipment produced by ISO registered companies. At work I had all new lab equipment PAT-tested because experience has shown me that even the best respected companies can make mistakes.

I very much agree that we need penalties for irresponsible and dishonest companies, but I would like to add carelessness and human error. It is excusable to make mistakes but not to check for them.

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The advantage of ISO:9001 is that many purchasers (commercial, industrial, public authority) demand accreditation as a condition of supply. It is a regularly audited system and my experience was this was thoroughly done. The penalty for non-compliance in a sustained way is withdrawal of the licence – a disaster for most companies. Customer complaints are a key part in the process. A pity that similar sanctions aren’t as effective in the domestic purchasing world.

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Scott X says:
4 February 2014

Malcolm, where was the report published? Could you please provide the link to promote the awareness of such poor result. I believe Which is doing the right thing to address over claimed lifespan queries in customers’s mind.

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Scott X says:
4 February 2014

I am afraid ISO9001 does not address the lifespan issue at all. Don’t expect the suppliers with ISO9001 certification to deliver high quality of products. It is just a marketing tool for a supplier to the buyers who may not be capable of distinguishing good or bad suppliers.

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Scott, if it is the EC report you mean then this is the link. http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/electrical/files/emc/ms-campaign-fourth_en.pdf

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Scott, my experience with ISO 9001 is in the professional product field, UK and European. A quality standard is not designed to produce “high quality” goods, it is designed to ensure as far as possible that a manufacturer, for example, produces goods that consistently meet the requirements of the relevant product Standards – e.g Euronorms and British Standards. Basically, you have to satisfy a registered accreditation body, including say BSI, that you have in place written procedures and facilities that make this happen. For example, detailed manufacturing instructions, quality control, recording and addressing failures etc. A company that is accredited is then thoroughly regularly audited to ensure they remain compliant. The accreditation can be withdrawn for failure. The companies I was involved with took this very seriously; without it many clients would not buy from you. Many of these standards are safety related so it is in the companies’ interests to comply with them, if not just for commercial reasons, but to demonstrate responsibility should a safety failure emerge. It is a functional tool, and clearly also advantageous for marketing.
As far as lamp lifetime is concerned, quality will ensure that a design is produced consistently to meet the claims. Like everything else, unscrupulous manufacturers can evade the system and make false claims. Hence the safest route is to buy reputable manufacturers products – they value their reputations.

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Scott X says:
4 February 2014

Thanks Malcolm! Very informative!

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Scott X says:
4 February 2014

ISO9001 applicable to professional products is quite different to the consumer products. Nowadays, most of manufacturers are ISO9001 certified. Unlike BS 5750 in old days, it was a very high honour to have the certification.

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ISO9001 is an international standard that replaces BS 5750; same principles though. It applies to any manufacturer, whether they make professional or consumer products. Reputable manufacturers will always have it. All manufacturers who supply products declared to meet an international standard (e.g. BSI’s kite mark for example) must have ISO9001 type accreditation as a condition of using the mark. (They must also have their product compliance type tested in an approved test house to show compliance). It is as good a guarantee of quality consistency as is available. Like everything, it can be used fraudulently. The enforcement must be much better than it is now, and the penalties severe.

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Zebo says:
25 January 2014

My experience with leds has been largely positive. I changed all my 30 GU10 halogen down-lighters about 6 months ago. Only failures have been with purchases from Homebase. These occurred very soon after purchase. I have subsequently fixed on MiniSun 5W bought through Amazon. I hasten to add I have no connection of any sort with MiniSun and had not heard of them prior to this purchase. My choice was based on the manufacturers superior claims (Lumens, life length etc) and reading the Amazon customer reviews.

Contrary to other posters, I calculate a payback of approximately 1100hrs based on 11p per whr. For my usage this is less than a year. Although they have a claimed life of 35000 hrs (yes thirty five thousand), they are guaranteed for only 1 year. On the assumption that the guarantee will be honoured, it was a no-brainer to change out all bulbs immediately without waiting for the halogens to fail. The discrepancy between claimed life and guarantee is a bit of a concern. It is too late for me, but an independent test of GU10 replacements by Which? would surely provide useful guidance for those still evaluating their options.

Advice from my electrician. If spatial considerations permit, don’t replace halogens that require a transformer with an equivalent led. (These bulbs are the ones with thin prongs, GU5’s I think.) Your existing transformer is unlikely to match the requirements of the led. It is better to scrap the transformer and replace with a GU10 fitting (very cheap).

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Nick C says:
25 January 2014

Regarding your comment about MR16-cap downlighters (the two prongs, 12v). There are two different ways of turning 240v into 12v as used by low voltage (note: NOT low power!) downlighters. The first way is with a small device situated next to each lamp which converts the voltage using essentially electronic components. The second way is to use a conventional transformer, and this can be done in a way which supplies a whole string of lamps at low volatge.

If your downlighters are supplied using the first approach it is relatively simple (as long as the cable is not too short) to pull the small device down out of the ceiling and connect the mains cable that powers it directly to a replacement light fitting that takes GU10 lamps at 240v.

If, however, your lights are supplied by a single transformer for a string of lights it is nothing like so straightforward, unfortunately, as you have to locate the transformer and change the wiring appropriately, and this depends on the nature of the cables which run from it to the existing lights.

On the positive side I have had good experiences with using MR16 cap LED downlighters with a circuit powered by a single transformer.

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I bought several very expensive LED GU10 bulbs for my kitchen from a company called bltdirect.com. If they had lasted as long as the marketing claimed I would have saved money. However they started failing after just six months and none of them were still working after two years. The company refused to refund or replace the bulbs and did not even reply to my email and letter. Therefore I am put off both LED bulbs and bltdirect.com.

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Electrician 1963 says:
25 January 2014

I purchased 6 no Aurora GU10 lamps to install in downlights in my own bathroom 2 of which failed after approximately 100 hours use. The lamps were replaced by Aurora via my local electrical wholesaler who tells me that they were not aware of any problems with GU10 LED lamps. I feel that a 33% premature failure rate is an unacceptable level. I will be carefully monitoring the lamps that I have installed in a number of customers properties

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I’m guessing that as these are in the Bathroom, they were installed in splash-proof fittings (ip65)? The problem I am guessing is that the GU10s get hot and the holders restrict natural cooling airflow, so they overheated.