/ Home & Energy, Sustainability

Why was the ban on energy-guzzling light bulbs delayed?

Are LED light bulbs now good enough and cheap enough to justify banning the less eco-friendly halogen bulbs? The answer, seems to be no. Or at least, not yet.

I’m no fan of halogens. The ones in my house blow so often that it seems I’m forever replacing them, so I recently asked for a quote from an electrician for LEDs. I was pleased by the quality and variety of light they gave, but disappointed by the cost.

You can buy a Best Buy LED bulb for £5, but that’s still quite a lot more than a halogen bulb. And we’ve tested some that cost up to £40. So if you’re going to buy LEDs, go for a Best Buy.

It is concern over the cost, compatibility and quality of LEDs that has led the EU member states  to delay the proposed ban on some types of halogens from 2016 to 2018, so clearly there are some questions that LED technology has yet to fully answer.

It’s mainly pear-shaped halogen bulbs that will be affected – the type you’d find in a lamp shade or in a light fitting in the middle of a room. There are no plans at present to ban spotlights or halogen lamps used in desk lamps and floodlights.

Should we get rid of halogen bulbs?

Halogens use much more energy than newer LED and CFL energy-saving lamps. They use only 10% less energy than an old-style incandescent bulb, while LEDs use up to 90% less.

But many of us still have halogens in our home. According to our survey last year, half of Which? members still use halogen bulbs, with more than two in five using halogen spotlights.

Is it right to delay the ban?

The industry says it needs more time to develop LEDs with features that people want, such as standard dimming, multi-directional light beams, and good colour rendering, at an affordable price. Delaying the ban until 2018 should give more time for some of these issues to be sorted out.

Do you think LED light bulbs are now good enough for halogens to be banned? Are you going to replace your halogen bulbs with LEDs?

Comments

I bought led candle bulbs cost me a fortune, the light was sooooo poor, I then spent a bunch more getting higher *watt* led’s 2 months later one of those bulbs *blew* So not impressed

Will says:
28 April 2015

Would you care to tell us what brands you bought, please?

Will says:
28 April 2015

Oh, and since I was unable to find a way to edit my previous comment i’ll make a new one. I’d like to add that I tried some Philips 3.5W led candle, they’re a bit dim but they do the job. Light quality is so-so.

Conversely, the Auraglow 5W candle and Integral 6W candle bulbs are getting absolutely glowering reviews for their light quality. The auraglow is priced at 7 quid.

I would always advise ‘testing’ a single bulb before committing to buying a whole batch. That way, you don’t waste a fortune if you’re not happy with the results. Hopefully this negative experience hasn’t put you off the wonderful range of actually decent LED lights out there.

They were unbranded, I could not find decent *wattage* candle bulbs after trying the original Philips ones that were far too dim

I’m not put off, thanks for giving me a couple of good brands I now have a start point for searching properly, the only *feature* I have in my bungalow is my 5 candle bulb chandelier so I want to make best use if it

Halogen lamps have never appealed to me because they don’t save much energy and their average lifetime is only about twice that of the old fashioned bulb. I moved to CFLs when they became available.

LED lighting is definitely the way forward but currently there are two big problems. One is radio interference (DAB and FM), particularly with 12V lamps (often used in downlighter and spotlamps) supplied via a power supply/driver. The second problem is that despite the long lifetimes predicted for LED lamps, some have found that they fail after little use. Both problems have been discussed at length on various Conversations.

For the time being, I am continuing to use CFLs provided that they can be ventilated to prevent the electronic components in the base from overheating. CFLs have proved very reliable for me, though I have only used well known brands.

Buying well known brands of LED lamps does NOT seem to be a guarantee of good life expectancy or freedom from radio interference, judging from comments on Which? Conversation and elsewhere. I will wait until LEDs are cheaper and the problems have been solved. For the time being I am very happy to continue to use CFLs.

The EU ban on halogens, delayed until (at least) 2018, was based on the lack of availability of suitable types, cost and quality. At least the problems have been acknowledged.

I use halogens in particular situations where I want dimming, accent lighting, and I also like the colour when dimmed. That’s my preference and as lighting is about effect as well as economy I want to keep that choice. As it happens, these are on for relatively short periods compared to our general lighting which is generally CFL. LEDs, in bulb-replacement form, are not reliable enough given their cost.

There are other areas where we use more energy than we might – large car engines for example – but we don’t ban those. Nor holiday flights, private aircraft or helicopters for pleasure ………Selective, isn’t it?

There are LED lights and LED lights. I’ve got 16 lamps at home in ceiling fittings and have had to change a couple of them since I moved to them a couple of years ago. But what do you expect if you buy cheap on E-bay.

On the other hand there are two banks of 16 in the office I’m sitting in now, and another 23 sets in the area outside. That’s 400 LED lamps and not a single one has failed since they replaced the traditional fluorescent strip lighting about a year ago. FM radios play fine.

Nick, your office LEDs may well be driven by separate electronic units, rather than packaged as part of the LED “bulb”. It is also possible they are mainstream quality LEDs. Commercial units, and street lighting units, show what LEDs can achieve.

Steve Sidaway says:
28 April 2015

I don’t like the light from either CFL’s or LED’s, and LED’s are too dim and not reliable enough. I use CFL’s for applications like outside security lights, LED’s for garden lighting, but stick to tungsten filament lamps in the house…. There’s still a large demand for them – when anyone gets a box or large quantity out at my local boot far they’re gone in a few minutes. As malcolm says above, there are many many other energy guzzling areas that could be toned down or banned – like the massive amount of energy wasted lighting public buildings at night, all the illuminated traffic signes and bollards (the Americans use reflective signs – can’t we?). Lighting is one of the areas of lowest energy consumption in the home – it’s items with an element like fires, cookers, ovens, washers and dryers etc that are the real guzzlers….

Will says:
28 April 2015

You say LEDs are too dim, so I’m almost tempted to send you a picture of how crazy bright 12w ones are in our house.

You’ve met an unrepresentative selection of LED lights, Steve. ‘Dim’ just means that you’re replacing a high-wattage halogen with a low wattage equivalent LED. Get a match by reading the labels – and, strangely enough, I still use halogens for outside security lighting; there aren’t yet any affordable CFLs or LEDs to match a half-kilowatt quartz security light.

LED sets can be tailored to exactly match any tungsten or halogen bulb, so a lamp (with the necessary transformer in the base or separate) can be made that exactly replaces every tungsten or halogen lamp. They can also replace all fluorescent and street-lighting types, and rapidly are. They are very reliable (more so than tungsten lighting) and even a £10 bulb that fails within its year’s guarantee will have long paid for itself in energy savings if it’s on for a third of each day – and you should get a free replacement. Failures are actually unusual – Which? testing has shown that.

What does need to be looked at rather more is the extension of LED abilities. For example, as well as the constantly changing colour LEDs now often used for exterior lighting, ‘colours’ of white beyond the ‘daylight’, tungsten’ and ‘warm white’ of CFLs and strip fluorescents could be tried. A greenish white, for example, might suit several environments, or a real light pink. These are easy to do.

Also, in street lighting, I’ve noticed that, while the LED replacement lamp heads are much better than mercury lamps and orange or light yellow sodium lamps to see by, they still give dark and light patches on the street. With LED units, this should be easy to eliminate by using sets of LEDs in individual reflectors, aimed to give an even light spread over the 40 metres or so between lamp posts. I haven’t seen this so far.

I am waiting until LED light fixtures are available with the LEDs are separate from the electronic components, which should mean that the latter do not get overheated, as they do in simple LED replacements for old light bulbs and halogen lamps. That should solve the reliability problems.

LED lighting used in offices, shops and street lighting shows what we can look forward to in efficiency and durability, but we have to think outside the bulb.

wavechange, you can buy LED fixtures with separate electronics – have a look on the internet. Whether they will suit your abode is another matter.

Thanks Malcolm. I will have a look out of interest. I expect that prices will fall as they become more popular. I have noticed that ordinary LED lamps have fallen in price whereas CFLs are becoming more expensive.

Personally I do not use any halogen bulbs in my house – all my lights are either CFL or LED. Other consumers may have different views on how they want to spend their money. In a free market, is it not the case that banning any sort of light bulb is detrimental to consumer choice?

Or does nanny really know best and can Which? tell us what other things she is planning to ban soon?

It isn’t nanny knows best, it’s a matter of environmental impact. Same with restricting the power consumption of vacuum cleaners which caused a fuss not long ago. The less electricity used the less fossil fuels burned or the fewer annoying wind farms that need to be built.

Nick, whilst I am sympathetic to the principles of energy conservation and a prudent and cautious approach to related environmental issues, I cannot we why we should ban halogen light bulbs and yet still allow consumers to buy large “gas-guzzling” petrol engined cars.

Hi DerekP,

It is worth noting that the EU are not proposing to ban halogens per say, merely bulbs that fall below a certain level of efficiency, which happens to include halogen technology. Light bulb technology has moved on so quickly since the ban on incandescent bulbs and CFL and LED technology is now so efficient that halogen bulbs are really not an energy efficient way of lighting a home anymore.

Of course the member states of the EU have actually agreed to delay the ban in 2018 rather than 2016 which on reflection I think is a sensible decision. Although there are many benefits to CFL and LED technology, primarily the massive energy savings, they are still a lot more expensive than halogen bulbs to buy and there are issues around compatibility and light quality that a few extra years of innovation should resolve.

Look out for the light bulbs article in the June edition of Which? magazine for more details on how LED technology has developed and improved and where there are still areas that could be developed further.

Matt, the problem many people have with LED’s is their poor quality and radio interference. No point in promoting them fully until these problems are resolved. Is Which? doing anything about this, and reporting unsafe LEDs to Trading Standards?

Halogen bulbs have a place in lighting if used sensibly. People should have a choice. Energy is not the only criterion otherwise we would be banning large-engined cars for example – and we are not. Where I use halogens, for specific reasons, they consume less than 200 units a year – used intelligently they are not guzzling energy. Whereas those LEDs that are rubbish are “guzzling” resources when they fail early. We need to keep these matters in perspective.

Hi malcolm r,

Thanks for your comment. I certainly agree that halogen bulbs have a place, when it comes to colour rendering in particular they are currently superior to CFL and LED bulbs. It’s nice to see that spotlights aren’t included in the proposed ban so if for example you want a spotlight to pick out a picture or work surface in your home and render the colour perfectly, you will still be able to do that.

Of course the superior colour rendering of a halogen comes with the added energy costs – I would be interested to hear if people think this extra energy cost is worth it? or if on balance you would rather have cheaper bills and accept the slightly inferior colour rendering properties of an LED or CFL?

As for the (complicated) issue of radio interference, we conducted some research into this last year and fewer than 1% of our members have experienced this issue. So while it is incredibly annoying if it happens to you, it is not particularly widespread. Sticking to the main light bulb manufacturers and checking that it isn’t your dimmer that is causing the interference are a couple of tips to avoid this issue.

Matt, the conversations seem to indicate a lot of people with interference problems, and with life problems. Are they the exceptions? What about quality (particularly claimed life) and safety (sub-standard imports)? What is to be done about those?

My halogen lamps probably cost me around £20 a year more to run than LEDs in energy. They are there, like most domestic lighting, for a functioin and for a pleasant effect – with energy not the priority. My choice – like choosing comfortable furniture not just something cheap to sit on 🙂 I’m happy with that.

In other Conversations, we have had reports of radio interference caused by well known brands of LEDs, as well as the cheap ones. In the case of 12V lamps with a separate driver, it is not reasonable to expect a manufacturer to meet EMC requirements if used with another manufacturer’s driver, but I’m not aware that this is made clear to prospective purchasers.

While I would not buy unbranded LEDs but I am not convinced that a known name is necessarily an indicator of quality. I would love to be proved wrong.

So, after the ban, will I be able to legally buy halogen filament black body radiation low-RF noise “heaters” to fit into my redundant light sockets?

They’ll look and act suspiciously like obsolete banned halogen filament light bulbs but, as heaters, they will be 100% efficient at converting electricity into heat….

My halogen lamps probably consume around 200 units of electricity a year. I would hardly call that “energy guzzling” (see sensationalist headline). It is all about, in my view, maintaining a balance between energy, lighting effect, and exercising your choice. Let’s leave the politicians and the red tops to dream up publicity-grabbing statements; Which? should be more objective.

You could look at this another way, Malcolm. If you had LED lamps and wanted to replace them with halogens you would be using at least five times as much power, which is comparatively ‘energy guzzling’.

Paul has not claimed that the cost of lighting is a major source of domestic power consumption.

I think what Malcolm is saying is that, if his halogen lamps only consume about 200 units of electricity a year, as a responsible citizen in a free society, he should reasonably be allowed to exercise that particular consumer choice.

A rough “fag packet” calculation suggests that 200 units of electricity is roughly the same as about 25 litres of motor fuel. Hence, if Malcolm owns and uses a car, he could choose to atone for (or offset) his wanton “planet sourcing” use of electricity by foregoing one average day out in the car each year, or by some such equivalent measure.

Will says:
28 April 2015

I see this whole ‘why force people so they can’t buy X, if they can still go out and buy Y (the gas-guzzler example) but at the end of the day even cars will soon be more highly restricted. It’s already happening with Diesels. It will happen, trust me.

By the way, lighting an entire home with less than five halogens (assuming they’re 35w each) is impressive. However, given the size of our home, if we were to use Halogens throughout the house we’d require over 50 bulbs.

Malcolm r, Actually you are correct. All the hype about the energy consumption of lighting is well out of perspective. Whiles there is of course nothing wrong with using low energy consumption lighting, of whatever type, we should be realising that in the overall scale of things it’s not much energy. Banning this or that type of light bulb is not going to save the planet. Focus and effort should be on real energy guzzling appliances like tumble dryers, space heating and water heating. All these appliance types use more energy in a week than lighting does in a year. So I’d say don’t worry so much about lighting but start doing more about the real energy guzzlers.

Wavechange, You are of course correct but five times a very small amount is still a small amount. Whereas a modest percentage of a large amount (space heating, tumble dryers, water heating etc.) is a significant amount. By all means use low energy lighting but focus savings effort on the real energy guzzlers. Bet that approach saves more energy overall than the token gesture of low energy lighting only, as is often the case.

Chris – I was just defending Paul Ryan for what I thought was an unfair criticism.

I agree that the priority should be focus on heavy energy use, which will have the greatest effect in decreasing overall use. I stopped using a tumble drier years ago, and I am still using old fashioned bulbs (60W golf ball) in one ceiling light fixture. I don’t use it very much, having other lighting in the room.

WD says:
13 June 2015

Yes, you should be focusing on the real energy guzzlers, such as home appliances, but let’s not forget that lighting does account for some 18% of the average household’s electricity bill; so quite a lot!

Lighting makes a great starting point as it’s far more affordable. A high-efficiency appliance typically has a very expensive purchase cost, to the point where it’ll take longer to see an investment return than you would by upgrading your lights instead – particularly given the rate LEDs are dropping in price.

As others have said an even better way to save energy isn’t so much to upgrade your appliances, as it is to try and use them less frequently/more efficiently. Small things, like not doing long spin cycles when clothes are only lightly soiled, or trying to pack as much into the dishwasher as is reasonable before switching it on. Perhaps even air-drying laundry where possible. Switching off of devices when a room is unoccupied.

We spend so much effort on making appliances more efficient but we spend very little effort on making our own habits more efficient – Which? makes efforts to encourage us to be more eco, but the government seems to do very little to encourage it.

I have a “designer” fitting with 5 “on show” candle bulbs, I bought some LED ones and found them far too brightnot helped by the very directional nature of the light.
Getting low output ones and finding out what the light pattern is has proved almost impossible, so back to the old slow warm up CFL ones.
I have LEDs elsewhere and am happy with them, though could do with warmer versions.

I believe that it would be better to promote the benefits of energy saving lighting than to enforce its use.

It’s not just a matter of saving energy. I replaced the old light bulbs in my parent’s house in the 90s to ensure that my elderly father would not need to climb a stepladder to change a bulb.

But this assumes we are intelligent enough to make such decisions. The EU apparently thinks otherwise.

We should at least start with the encouragement. I don’t know if the government has done much promotion of the virtues of low energy lighting.

I recall that energy companies handed out a lot of ‘free’ CFLs, often with screw rather than bayonet caps and not powerful enough to replace a simple 100W bulb. I imagine that many of them were thrown out or will never have been used.

Then we had the tri-pin bayonet fittings in new houses to ensure that low energy lighting was not replaced by old fashioned bulbs, but for some reason the lamps cost a fortune.

If the government or the EU wants to phase out halogen lamps it might have been better to phase out production of light fixtures that use them, rather than leaving the owners of recently purchased expensive light fixtures with the uncertainty about the future availability of lamps for them.

I found a few of those annoying ri-pin bayonet fittings when I moved into my new house – together with about a dozen halogen spots lighting the kitchen and bathrooms.

All of these items were very quickly replaced with normal bayonet fittings and with a mixture of CFL and LED lamps.

Ian says:
28 April 2015

There always seems to be an overwhelming focus on how much energy these newer forms of lighting use while in service, and never anything said about how much energy was used in manufacturing them.

Likewise, nothing is said about the decimation of the environment in obtaining the raw materials, nor the damage and pollution caused from waste and by-products during manufacture, nor about the toxicity of the discarded product now being trashed in the millions every month.

Progress? Not really.

Ian – You could say the same about electric vehicles. It will take a lot to convince me that they are environmentally a good idea apart from the fact that they avoid causing pollution in city centres.

It’s very difficult for the average person to compare the environmental cost of greater energy use by halogen lamps with the environmental costs of manufacture and subsequent disposal of LED lamps. The same is true with CFLs.

The environmental impact of LED lighting will be minimised if the lamps do last as long as they are claimed to.

Electric cars are another discussion for another time, but as an advocate for them, I can easily tell you their lifetime environmental impact is considerably lower than internal combustion, even if you don’t factor in the well-to-wheel ratio. ICE cars are getting cleaner slowly, but EVs become cleaner exponentially as batteries improve and power generation becomes progressively more renewable.

The same applies to LED bulbs. Their initial impact is trivial compared to the amount of energy they save in their running lifetime – ASSUMING they last a suitable amount of time. The big issue is all the cheap ebay brands that fail within months due to cheap designs and poor thermal management. These horrible poorly designed bulbs are a shameful waste of resources, but a good LED has a trivial production offset when weighed against a 25,000 lifetime of energy savings.

renniemac says:
29 April 2015

I replace my halogens with LED lights, some where as little as £5.00 each but others like Bathroom and my Craft room cost £35.00 each from B&Q but supposedly with 10year guarantee will be holding B&Q to that. they are superior to even the halogen giving natural day light. really needed these in craft room, but the cheaper ones in the lounge take a wee bit of warming up but are sufficient for me reading books and newspapers at night. there is a lot to be said for the new LEDs and the light they give off, but I don’t see why they have to be so expensive.

Hi renniemac,

Some LED bulbs can be very expensive! However in our latest test of LED bulbs we have found three Best Buys that only cost a fiver – which I think is a price point that will see more people begin to make the switch.

We test all types of light bulbs for durability and while we can’t test them for as long as 10 years as they would no longer be available by the time we could publish the results, we see very few LED failures. So fingers crossed your new bulbs will be OK!

Renniemac, when Philips introduced CFL bulbs over a quarter of a century ago, I (on Which?’s recommendation) put them in every well-used room except the kitchen, which already had twin 85-watt fluorescent tubes. They cost £9.95 each, which would be over £20 in today’s money. Four of the 11 are still running, in less-used areas. I think a lot of the price differential is sheer marketing, but think: replacing tungsten bulbs (including halogen) with these will get you their cost back in only a few hundred hours of use.

Good thing to keep the receipts and guarantees: my experience is that, if they last a year, you have them for a decade or more. Do read the small print, though. In some of these guarantees, they taper off the ‘benefit’ as time passes until by 10 years they owe you nothing. You need the guarantee that gives you full replacement continuously over the life of the guarantee.

sammyboy says:
3 May 2015

Hi like so many of the comments about led bulbs I switched (sorry about the pun ) about 95% of my bulbs to led and have never looked back I bought my bulbs on eBay mostly from English firms about 4years ago and only 1 has failed and that one I got replaced free of charge and as for the electric bill that has gone down nicely,as for the colour range with both myself and my wife we both have age related poor eye sight the bulbs which are a warm white in fittings like wall lights but cool white in areas where needed ie kitchen and over the dinning table every thing is fine so banning those heat producing halogen bulbs in my mind cannot come soon enough rant over.

Matt – I would be very grateful if the next Which? tests could report tests for both FM and DAB radio interference. All I have seen is one brief mention that no DAB interference problems were experienced.

In view of the many reports of problems on Which? Conversation, it’s really worthwhile to know your findings, even if there is no problem.

Thanks for your input.

renniemac says:
29 April 2015

Hi Matt I like the sound of the £5.00 light better than the £35.00 but do they have good lighting, I need the daylight brightness and if I could get that for £5.00 I would be really happy. I know the ones in our kitchen are the spotlight LEDs they cost about £7.00 each and we needed 10 of those, it is the energy you save by switching. which is not only good for the Planet but your pocket too. but hopefully like all things the more widely they are used the cheaper they will become, thanks Matt will check out the cheaper Best Buy’s for the other lights I have still to change.

Are there any Which? tests for 12V LED lighting?

Many of the halogen lamps currently in use are the small reflector lamps used in downlighter and spotlights. I don’t believe that there affected by the (delayed) ban, but they are inefficient, and LEDs are the only option since CFLs are too large.

As I mentioned above, we really need to know about both FM and DAB interference.

As far as I know, wavechange, LED lighting runs at 5.5 volts like most electronics. So a unit to replace, say, a 12v reflector halogen unit which couples to a transformer, would have to include its own tiny transformer to 5.5v. That’s where the interference would come in, if that little transformer is inefficient or or has no suppressor. For the future, the obvious answer is whole-house lighting at 5.5v with a transformer at the ‘fuse’ box (it could use the existing wiring and need little in fitting costs). But that would need the appropriate lamps with no transformer to be marketed, presumably with a new holder/connector to match. For now, we DO need those Which? checks!

An LED as a “raw” chip operates at around 3.5V. However it needs a constant current supply to operate it and this is provided by the additional electronic driver, which can be designed to operate off any voltage. Normally these will be mains or 12v with the electronics providing the appropriate voltage and current. Alternative 24v or 12v DC operation is available but the chip still needs the correct forward voltage.

David – Common LED reflector lamps such as the MR16 and MR11 are nominally 12V, so that they are direct replacements for halogen lamps of the same size and many use them on an existing power supply (driver), which will be a transformer or electronic power supply. For various reasons it can be best to switch to a driver designed for use with LED lighting. The safest option is to choose what is recommended for the lamps.

I would be interested to know what voltage range 12V LED lamps can cope with. The first ones I encountered were specialist products that worked fine in the range 10-30V.

12 or 24V lighting is commonly used off-grid, where power is supplied by generators/solar panels/wind turbines and stored in batteries, simply because conversion to mains voltage wastes energy. Those living off-grid were early adopters of LED lighting because it saved precious battery power and 12V CFLs were not an option. I don’t think it is likely that 5 or 12V lighting circuits will become common in the home.

Anyone thinking of installing LED lamps would be well advised to buy one and check that it does not cause radio interference before investing in a set of them.

Here is a non-technical article about the problems that can occur. It mentions DAB radio, but FM radio can also be subject to interference: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/advice/11312589/Problems-with-LED-bulbs-and-DAB-radio.html

I’ve replaced 50W halogens in recessed fittings in the kitchen and utility room with LEDs and they’re great. I’ve done the same with GU9s in the living room and again am delighted. But there’s no point in replacing halogens in places like bathrooms where the lights are on only for short periods – the saving in electricity wouldn’t cover the cost of the lamps for many years.

PS EPCs should recognise that high-energy lamps in low-use areas such as toilets and cupboards have little impact on energy use and should not be down-rated in the same way as high-energy lamps in high-use areas.

Aitch: I agree about the low-use areas from our point of view. I am still using 150w incandescents in our loft, entered rarely. However, the EU is thinking more globally: if we ALL spent far too much in replacing EVERY bulb (even in motor vehicles), the use of generated electricity and thus fuels would drop significantly. This would impact positively all EU countries. We pay, they gain!

Will says:
23 May 2015

I spent a 2-year stint at Halfords doing car fitting. It’s utterly shocking how unreliable Halogen headlights are. Putting so much heat in such an enclosed space? No wonder the majority of our customers came in looking for replacement bulbs.

By ‘forcing’ a switch sooner rather than later to a more reliable technology, a huge amount of waste can be averted.

Part of the trick with LEDs is to leave them on.
Like so many solid state electronics, switching on and off shortens their lives.
I put a 9V LED in an outside light fitting and left it on. That was 40,000 hours ago, and it’s still going strong.
Also LEDs last longer if they are kept cool. Dyson have come up with an LED set-up that will last virtually for an eternity as it has its own cooling system. At £500 a pop it jolly well should!

Anthony – Which? tests for LED lamps involving switching them on and off 30,000 times, and they seem to survive this treatment.

Coloured LEDs have an extremely long life. I’m looking at a clock-timer with a red LED display and it has been in use since I built it in 1976. With white LEDs it is normal to put a lot of power through them to produce good brightness, which can lead to premature failure. White LEDs contain a phosphor to convert light from the LED to white light and as this ages, there will be a gradual decline in light output.

John Cameron says:
2 May 2015

We have replaced all our GU50 bulbs with LED bulbs from LEDhut. Very happy! Only issue was in bathroom where they were too bright compared to 35 watt tradaditional bulbs and we have bought lower lumen ones.

Have also replaced CFL candle bulbs with LED ones, fine and like the fa quicker light levels but would ideally prefer a few more lumens.

No issue with the warm white colour.

I’d ban halogen ASAP?

Will says:
23 May 2015

I am a little dubious about buying from LEDhut as they have a lot of ‘fake 5 star reviews’ on their site and for most of their products. I do have a bulb from them and it’s fine so far, but it hardly gets used so I can’t really comment.

I hear good things about the site, but I’m just a bit of a cynic when it’s apparent a retailer is fabricating positive reviews to such an extent.

Please let me know if you have any problems down the line.

Katharine says:
2 May 2015

I recently had my awkward-access loft insulated with ‘blown rockwool’ (a bit like shredded hamster bedding) which then caused my halogen downlights to overheat and fail. I then had terrible trouble getting LED fittings that were sufficiently fire rated to cope with being buried in the ceiling under all the insulation. Normal fire rated ones were no good, my electrician said, as there was a danger that someone could put a halogen one in the bulb holder instead. So I had to have special ones, with non-replaceable bulbs, so that can’t happen. They were £30 each with a 10 year guarantee so I hope they last. I had to buy 14.

There seems to be a conflict between energy efficiency (loft insulation) and then problems with lighting. My electrician says it happens all the time. The loft insulation people don’t warn you about this, of course. My loft insulation cost far more than expected as I had to have my ceiling lights replaced as a consequence.

Not a conflict, Katharine. It was negligence by your insulation contractor, who should have had this as a checklist item and dealt with it. If a house fire had resulted they would have been held liable.

Heat from ceiling-mounted halogen units is a well-known problem that electricians solve daily. The units should have been caged, with vents through the blown rockwool, which does breathe a little, after all. This is theory, I suppose; what contractors are warned of by the rockwool manufacturers seems to be hard to sustain in practice and you might have had to go to court to get satisfaction: such a drag!