/ Home & Energy, Technology

The energy-saving LED bulb that switched off the radio

An LED bulb lighting up the darkness

We get sent some weird and wonderful tales of products going wrong, but one story piqued our interest so much that we just had to send it to the lab to test it out. Can you help us shed more light on the mystery?

Last year we received this intriguing message:

‘I recently changed six halogen down-lighters to more energy efficient LED bulbs. Unfortunately when the lights were switched on, the DAB signal on my radio was wiped out!’

To try and figure out this conundrum, we sent a batch of cheap, generic 12V LED bulbs to our lab and found that when a digital radio was placed within a few metres of the switched-on bulbs the signal went fuzzy. When the radio was placed within a few centimetres of the LED bulbs, it cut out all together.

The plot thickens

LEDs are ultra energy efficient light bulbs that can last up to twenty years and have been hailed as the future of home lighting.

It seems our members are not the only ones who have had this problem. There are other accounts of LED bulbs affecting radios, with AVForums also collecting stories. Nick Tooley shared his experience:

‘I had the same problems with LED bulbs wiping out DAB reception and tried several types of bulbs, but to no avail.’

And it seems that the issue may not just be limited to digital radios – TVs may also be affected. After fitting LED down-lighters in his kitchen, Jackord noticed the following problem:

‘While the lights are much better, we then by accident noticed that the digital TV would not work (I was complaining that we had no reception at all, did not make any sense, began to think that there had been some sort of catastrophic disaster which stopped the TV stations from broadcasting…lol) then someone turned off the ceiling lights in the kitchen and, hey presto, on came the TV.’

Shedding light on cheap bulbs

So what bulbs are affected? We tested three 12V generic LED bulbs and we also compared them to branded 240V GU10 LEDs and some halogens. We found only a very minor interference with our radio signal. So at this stage, the issue seems to be limited to cheap knock-offs rather than branded goods.

We’ve only done preliminary tests on this problem, so can’t make any concrete conclusions on why this is happening or how widespread this bizarre problem is.

That’s where you come in. We need your help – have you had this problem? If so, please enlighten us in the comments below, including what model bulb you were using and where you bought it.

Comments
Guest
Gareth Parry says:
4 January 2016

I bought an LED Tube Light & Batten Energy Saving flourescent T8 T12 ceiling replacement for my 6ft flourescent fitting and converted it to fit, but it interferes with my radio (non-DAB), so when we listen to the news we have to switch off the light in order to listen to it properly ! The tube is made in China and operates on 240 volts has a LOWENERGIE brand name on it. Fortunately, does not interfere with our TV , internet and powerline adaptors in the next room. I am going to “experiment” with the location of the radio to see if I can get interference free reception.

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The problem with a lot of light fittings that come supplied with LED lamps is that the quality of the lamps might be inferior to any that you might have bought yourself. I have been considering the purchase of some replacement spotlight fittings that come with LED bulbs fitted; they are significantly cheaper than the combined price of the equivalent unit without lamps and a set of lamps of my choice. The product information does not give any information about the origin of the lamps supplied with the fitting. My concern is the potential affect on a recently-acquired DAB radio. The price of LED’s does not allow for much in terms of trial and error or experimentation with different makes.

Guest
Dave says:
6 January 2016

We bought a Panasonic DAB radio at Xmas, but could not get any signal until my wife turned the lights off and then the radio played perfectly. The radio is situated in the Kitchen and we have LED MR 16 bulbs, made in China. Maybe Uk bulbs will cure the problem.

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You will find LED bulbs made in Europe but I would be interested to know if any are made in the UK. It’s worth testing one before buying a set.

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I know of no UK producer of LED bulbs – as far as I am aware any that are listed as “manufacturers” have the products made for them elsewhere, China for example. Nothing wrong with that in principle as they make some very good products. But it is unknown territory. My advice would be to stick with a well-known name. This does not guarantee problem-free performance but at least you will know you are dealing with companies that have reputation, technical ability and can be contacted direct. Nothing is perfect.

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malcolm -the problem with China is there are 1000,s of smaller sub contractors or direct sellers in small factories, of all types of products, but as I keep having to post but it does not sink in to many -China builds to a PRICE -thats right – you pay in pennies – you get 10P quality .This is right across the engineering spectrum not just in bulbs.

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duncan, quite right. I was pointing out that some Chinese (for example) companies produce items for major European companies who specify technical design, component quality and product quality control to their own standards. I would trust these more than the sort of producers you refer to.

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Before Christmas I was looking at Osram LED bulbs on sale in the local Tesco. Some were made in China, others in Germany and others made in Italy. I would expect the company to ensure that standards are met, wherever their products are made.

At least the lamps clearly showed the country of origin. At Christmas I was looking at a new Dualit toaster and kettle bought by friends I was staying with. The toaster was made in the UK but I could see no indication of where the kettle had been manufactured.

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I had the same problem with my Roberts DAB radio. I found the MR16 bulbs from Lidl, branded “Livarno Lux”, did not shut the radio down. I got a load of them while they had them in stock, 5W warm white with about 450 lumens output. Still running fine after a year. (I’ve seen a lot of reports about early failures in Chinese brand lamps)

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John-Livarno Lux are made in China but Lidi being a German company (like Aldi ) insist on a certain standard of goods even if they sell them cheaply (smaller profit margin ).

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I tried multiple types of Cree as well as the cheap Lowes bulbs, all led would not let my garage door open if the lights were on.

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Hi JK – Is your garage door operated by a remote control?

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Wavechange-I can see where you are going with this.

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Its taken me a while to “get up to speed ” with LED bulbs as I dont have any only halogen ones which I am happy with. It seems the major concern is not so much the transmission of radiation through your ring main but the RF radiation over the air . DAB signals are vertically polarised so positioning your aerial vertically helps but and outside aerial is even better . JK could try shielding his RF receiver in his remote unit (if he has one ) with tin foil as the lights should be in the garage leaving the receiver open at the outside end , MU- metal would be better ,of course . The harmonics range from 30 Mhz up to 300 Mhz or so. so its a wide range ,taking in many pieces of radio type equipment . It is all down to the PU ,s in those bulbs/lamp strips ,even good quality ones can have cheap Chinese SM power supplies . If using strips buy a quality low voltage high current power unit , in the case of bulbs China has two versions domestic and industrial try and buy from a recognised industrial Chinese factory . I had a look at a stripped down LED bulb while the bulb part looked okay ( the LED section ) the miniature power supply looked awful. One of the innovators of LED lighting in the US says he is now working on Laser lighting via glass fibre and light transmitting plastics . BMW,s latest hybrid car has this type of lighting.

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I said before that had and equiped our motorhome with LEDs only to later remove them. They obviously did not need a power supply but they could not stick real world 12v system where the voltage has to get to battery charge levels
Others did not seem to have the same problem others did
So if they cannot stick straight dc they wont get any better with in built chinese PSUs
I have a missionary friend in Kenya
He has been there for some 30 years and during th buld of that time used a 12v system
Last year I gave him two Trace 24v inverters and got him several more panels
He now has a load of smoked PSUs from phone chargers to laptop chargers
Both the12v and 24v inverters are/were quasi sine and both Trace and i’m assured use the same driver
Everyone blames the quasi sine and tells him to get a sine wave inverter but he has been charging for years off of quasi with no problem
I’m suggesting that yes the quasi most likely has a part to play but up to recent times the PSUs which were mostly brande in his case were made in Japan or at least of quality source whereas lately they are near all Chinese and the Chinese are rubbish at capacitors and the quasi sine will give the capacitor more abuse so rubbish capacitors will fail very quickly
Have you any thoughts on that one duncan
Back to LEDs
As best I see locally the best results are had from proper LED Driver driven circuits rather than 240v plugs ins with all the gubbins in one unit
I think the separate PSU because that is all they are really rather than led drivers have the room to have proper caps etc even if they are made in china
If I were making the choice to go for LED I would only go the proper PSU/Driver route
I have many PSUs doing many jobs
Duncan. do you know that these common or garden PSUs usually labeled S350-24 etc will run on ac from just over 100 to 290vac and again from about 90vdc to 350vdc so you can power them with nearly anything
They are also properly isolated so you can series as many as you like together from the same AC or DC supply to get high volts DC

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Dee-as regards the -S350-24 SMPS yes you are right most are pretty good with 150MV PP ripple /wide range AC line frequency (takes in US ) with overvoltage protection . Built in fan etc , the capacitors on the goods ones are rated -105 C and as most are Japanese you wil know those caps are good quality , all the high end hi-fi amps I built included Japanese caps they have it down to a fine art . And your right Chinese caps are rubbish -overheat cant take high current surges ,short life span . At present China is buying high tech knowledge from Japan by buying up Japanese companies , Stax electrostatic earphones are one of the buys , I have Stax equipment . Yes some people complain about modified sine wave PU,s , I wouldnt use them to power a high end hi-fi amp but in other regards they are okay . This is,as you say all down to quality of build , and while there are some good industrial Chinese electronic companies I would rather buy Japanese. Japan has excellent designers of electronic equipment ,especially in the Hi-Fi field , I think china is poaching them too ,it shows they dont have the innate engineering knowledge built up over many decades.

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I use them everywhere for everything. They are the power source for my turbine and heating controllers. I have used several in series to get a big dc supply for testing heating circuitry. I have drawers full of them from Japan, Korea and China. There’s plenty room in them so the chinese seem to be able to do better with plenty of room and basic boards
Nigel I worked with said he actually liked some chinese stuff because they had not mastered surface mount as others had made it standard stuff and he said surface was not as easy worked at. I agree
The stuff though that inside those little laptop and phone chargers is beyond belief. I seen a couple opened up lately and I’m no electronics guru, actually I seem to have some mental wall about things I cant see but I had no trouble agreeing that what I was looking at was rubbish. All three little caps had the ends blown right out and there were 5 chargers/psu’s all the same. The ones we have grown to accept half way along the lead.
Back to PSUs
I dismantle every one before use and cut all the badly trimmed pins and make sure the little insulation slips are in place and I have great service
They are not well made but they are basic and work
I only drive the cheap ones about 50% and they are still cheap at that

Guest
Phil says:
9 January 2016

I’ve only on LED bulb and that’s currently sitting in a cupboard. I bought it for the kitchen but it was way far too bright.

There are EU standards for radio interference to which these bulbs obviously don’t comply so why are they on sale at all? I’ll willing bet each one bears a “CE” mark too which further shows how utterly useless this self-certification system is (I expect the same was true for Hoverboards and their chargers).

These are the wider issues Which? should be investigating.

Oh and isn’t one of the big advantages of digital radio supposed to be that they’re immune from interference? I’ve noticed that they are affected by mobile phones too.

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Phil -long ago when I worked for BT when it was still part of the GPO there was a division attached to the GPO called the radio interference group who dealt with electrical/electronic equipment causing radio/TV interference. This was a big issue from way back in the 30,s onward as anybody who reads Wireless World from that time onwards would verify right up to the time of the CB radio . At this rime “liberalization ” took place (guess who under) ,I knew somebody personally in it ,he told me it was getting “downgraded ” and that government emphasis was being more “open ” on the problem -ie- we wont pay for a top service any more (government jargon ) meaning -to pot with the public , we dont care , its saving money to stop all those vans equipped with interference detectors and their crews and they did .my friend having to move into a different government department . Standards fell -to me intentionally -dont call us to fix your interference problem -YOUR to blame your equipment isnt good enough to reject radiated interference (to the public ) but DR (digital radio ) already has good interference rejection but it was never envisaged that the government would allow such large amounts of harmonic radiation due to commercial expediency-aka – BB do what you want syndrome ,but it does , it wont antagonise China for commercial reasons . Sad.

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I am not really into electronics or their inherent ability to generate interference that would disable other electrical/electronics items but I headed a project and one part of that was an electronic control card. PCB and associated items that it controlled
I do understand the wave concept and I know many on here have this one much better than I.

Let me tell you that if the testing was done and checked as should be there would not be this debate about electronic interference coming for LED bulbs because if they had been tested and passed they would not interfere
These are absolute rubbish items that simply have the appropriate lettering printed on the package
This is the fault of moving away from good old fashioned B.S. standards.
Today we live with a more widely adopted CE marking and whilst some may come on here and quote endless standards that CE rating incorporates it bears no resemblance to proper product standard controls
Add to that that there almost no policing, indeed if anyone knows of an instance of any policing at all we’d like to hear of this on of quality of anything
There is no money for anything but London has never seen so many Bentleys
Just now our Gov has removed any Grants for training Nurses, like we have a plentiful supply. Is there anyone going to set up a petition to call for and end too such absolute nonsense. please. It might be time to get behind our on the floor medical staff and push the management out into the street where they belong

Quality
CE and everything it represents is so flawed as to be near redundant to the extent that like a bad police force the only thing to do with it is scrap it
Almost everything engineered underwent stress analysis. Sounds good but this stress analysis is done using a CAD program and few if any units or components ever get properly tested to destruction
Its all theory. Real time is too expensive. Lets put it another way
Stress analysis is much cheaper and has made its way into our everyday lives in ways we can only have nightmares about if we knew the truth
Is should have been left as part of the design of the machinery but has been proven so good that is is now the accepted norm for many things not be tested to destruction.
It may be good but its not that and has proven so.
Now yes stress analysis can be good but its only as good as the operator
I have seen its flaws long after the engineer has left and in this case went back home abroad
There is no claw back to the engineer or the CAD program
One might assume that such a thing a Crash Helmets would be tested beyond any possible reasonable failure and it would be very easy to assume that especially as there is a how is made about a German Brand lid and its development and manufacture.
Yes that and several more are properly designed and produced but what set me on my back side is that we in some cases are putting on our heads brands that have ONLY underwent CAD stress analysis.
Never a testing regime were many are destroyed. Never a random test of production stock The interiors that are every bit as important as the exterior to stop our brains being stirred are held in with glue so poor that it has been the case the many were sent back before they were put on the shelf. The interiors were falling out
Faulty. No recall. No one would do anything. Just try finding someone or something to come look at even a range of faulty safety ware. Impossible
Scap CE. Like most of things born out of pleasing everyone its a compromise too far

These little bulbs that make their way into the UK are for the most part junk. Indeed maybe the best of them are not so good. Seeing as they near all possess some form of CE and that few would know a correct mark form a flawed mark does the mark matter. No the mark means nothing because it stands for nothing
The fact that there are 1000s upon 1000s of items here with wonky CE marks show me that the mark is worth nothing.
Then there are the 1000s that should have a mark but have no mark and no one notices even that
We’ve seen on TV faulty bedding with faulty CE marks. How on earth did that ever make its way past out import controls. Oh, it’s not their job?? Maybe its not and they are likely understaffed also but what is fact is that our country. Every man woman and child handles every day goods that are not tested, quality controlled and never have been

Everything is not junk but we keep getting ever closer to that point
I think its Wave or John who has a washing machine that is out of the arc and thats the stuff we should all have.
My Aunt gave us a Servis Twin tube back in 89 I think
A tank. Could have ran forever and both wifey and I wish we had it today
Since tht point all we could find was junk
We have the same electric as everyone else. 210 through 240v 50hz
Our water is as good as it gets. Straight up from 370ft via Basalt. No calcium. No iron. No copper. And very important no bleach or chemicals
We then got a US machine that is a bag of problems as they all are and its from claim happy land but one thing I can do is keep it going
Its drum. Bearing carriers. Its bolts are all stainless.
I can put bearings in it without special tools or pullers in around 20 mins to an hour
The PCB is the size of a biscuit tin not like our matchbox sized ones
It’ll wash or half wash because half wash is about it by modern standards a full size duvet
It has its moments but it needs a good going over and I dont know whether to fix or scrap but the more I read here I’m leaning more to fix
The problem is that the good old electromechanical controler has been sticky pre first rinse for a couple of years and the handling and tax charges from the US are OTT but my daughter is coming home for a wedding in May and maybe she’ll bring it with her. I’d fix it again if I get that one component. the rest is a doddle. Mind the timer is actually l made in Sweden but they wont sell me one.

No. The quality in the UK has gone to the dogs despite tech being right up there we are buying dear junk. We are not buying cheap and cheerful. We are buying junk

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Dee-your right about CAD its one thing designing using a computer but in real life its an entirely different matter . All sorts of engineering problems crop up ,especially the actual PCB layout where you get small cheap caps right next to heat -sinked -mosfets / BJT ,s (bipolar junction transistors ) thyristors etc . Yes the old large PCB layouts were much better ,easier to work on and spares were available , but now you have to hunt for parts and have bench equipment capable of repairing SMD parts ,needing a bench magnifier /special soldering iron to repair. Its the young people I worry about ,where do they get the teaching in any kind of engineering, other than digital , where its “hands on ” to bring real life to work practices . Just what long range view has our government other than obeying the IMF and world banksters.

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I agree that self-certification is inadequate, Phil. We need proper independent testing of products. To sell products that are not compliant is a form of cheating by companies. Hopefully the current problems with excessive emissions by Volkswagen Group diesel cars will help encourage proper regulation of industry so that we buy safe products that work properly.

Unfortunately, Which? has not found a problem with radio interference when testing LED bulbs. Fair enough, but it might well be worth contacting some members who are experiencing problems.

DAB radio is not immune from interference, and DAB radios typically produce a bubbling sound or silence, just as they do in poor reception areas. For anything other than listening to Radio 3, I far prefer digital radio.

I’m sticking with CFL bulbs for the time being.

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Yes Wave. Every bulb in the house is CFL except for 3 LED floods. Cheapy Chinese out of Screwfix on a whim. Right beside Dads Tv aerial. ie within 6Ft and not problem Been burning on a photocell for 2 years or more and that’s a few hours
Wish i could say the same about the others out of wholesalers. All in the bin apart from one 3w that lit a hall way forever

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Dee -your dads digital TV should be okay its frequency range (depending on location in the UK ) ranges from= 474Mhz up to over 800Mhz , the harmonics from LED bulbs range from 30Mhz up to 300Mhz . Any radio apparatus within that range -30 to 300 can be interfered with including boat transmitters so think carefully if you own a boat .

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Selling deliberately defective products will not be helped by requiring independent testing. If a producer decides to make a product that does not meet appropriate standards it can still put it onto the market with fake markings – such as CE, safety marking. It is nothing to do with “self certification”, it is all to do with deliberate fraud. Just as we get fake clothing, fake drugs, fake anything.

What needs to be done is to track down who distributes these allegedly fake products in UK, test them for compliance or otherwise, and then heavily penalise the distributor. It is the distributor’s responsibility to ensure that what they sell meets relevant standards. Make it not worthwhile.

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Malcolm -while there are fake products on the market , all those LED bulbs from China arent fake they are legitimate products from China that are SUB-quality but the UK government lets them in ,thats the real problem.

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duncan, I use the term “fake” for products that do not meet European stands for safety and, for example, interference where performance standards exist. Applying a CE mark states that all relevant standards are met; doing so when products knowingly do not comply, or have never been tested for compliance, is fraud.

Poor quality in compliant products is another issue – as with all products there are good and bad and we need help to weed them out.

I don’t see how the UK Govt can possibly check every product that comes into the UK for quality, or even compliance. As I see it, practically speaking, it can only react to products that are reported to them. It then needs to take punitive action.

I believe a lot more could be done by the legitimate producers through their trade associations. Policing the market themselves, with their in-house testing facilities, would protect their own businesses from being attacked by cheap fakes; they not only damage them commercially but get the technology a bad name.

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Malcolm the government has known about this problem for at least 10 years , many websites ,years old ,be they electronic/communications/etc have been complaining for a long time .Just because Which has brought this up doesnt make it a new thing ,they have been “turning a blind eye ” to the situation .How can they pompously come out with statements that they are “looking after the public ” by setting up NGO,s or even official government bodies ,if all they do is block UK citizens complaints and let the government off the hook by deflecting criticism- it wasnt me officer it was the other guy to blame attitude. No the government should “man up ” and actually do something that works not words or propaganda.

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Malcolm – I’m concerned about deliberate fraud but I also want to know that I am buying quality products if I purchase a familiar brand. We only need to look at the white goods industry to see substandard products with well known brand names.

On Which? Conversation and other websites I have seen plenty of examples of well known brands of LED lamps that cause radio interference or fail prematurely. I am prepared to pay extra for lamps that have been independently tested. I’m not just interested in freedom from radio interference but I want to know that they are not a fire risk. I want to know that lamps will be durable, and therefore good value for money, and the best way to demonstrate that a product will last a decent length of time is to offer a long warranty.

Independent testing does not involve testing every light bulb but testing samples purchased from retailers rather than offered by manufacturers. That’s why Which? uses this approach.

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Many of us want quality, durable products when we have paid an appropriate price. I’ve been proposing this in many conversations, and I want Which? to devote more effort to researching, testing and providing information to allow us to make good choices. It should not just be Which? doing this, but all the European consumers’ associations in a coordinated way under BEUC.

Independent testing as a check on potentially fraudulent products is fine. The problem is there are such a huge amount of different products out there of all types, with specifications changing all the time, I simply cannot see their being the expertise (people with knowledge) and facilities (properly equipped test labs) to do it. So in many cases it has to be reactive.

We need, I believe, to make the distribution of fraudulent products, once they are uncovered, not worthwhile. So whilst we cannot deal with suppliers who deal direct from outside the EU, we could take punitive sanctions against those within the EU (and of course the UK). What happened to those people who were going to distribute the unsafe hoverboards, for example? They were destined for distributors who presumably were quite prepared to sell unsafe electrical equipment. Were they found and dealt with? No good just impounding the goods if you don’t follow through.

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Malcolm -as of now anybody selling those faulty boards will be prosecuted, but up to now they have been confiscated from shop owners /suppliers nobody seems to have been actually prosecuted . And now for my favourite gripe= thev fires are caused by the LI-ion batteries (proven in labs ) BUT guess where all the fire starting hoverboards batteries come from —guess– guess—- OH no ! dont say it Lucas – OH YES !! I will CHINA , thats right EVERY faulty battery was made in China -as the Professor testing them said the hoverboards fitted with Chinese batteries all went on fire BUT NONE of the hoverboards fitted with more expensive LG or Samsung caught fire . Okay my friends that is now a number of Chinese goods over different engineering aspects that are RUBBISH ! as shown on Which Don’t tell me somebody is going to come to china,s rescue and say –its only a blip -or an uncommon occurrence, I will then start believing they work for the government or BB.

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Details of recalled hoverboards can be found on the Electrical Safety First website: electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/product-recalls/

It always concerns me to read of well known brands featuring in recalls. The first page of recalls currently features products made by LG, Hotpoint and Bosch. :-(

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I have details of Chinese manufacturers selling wholesale hoverboards in the US for $150 /UK £100 approx and many Chinese manufacturers saying they had Samsung batteries when they were cheap imitation ones with a wrap round paper label saying -Samsung

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I was about to write something but I’ll just keep quiet

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Dee -I can take it , as long as its constructive , I believe in free speech .

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I don’t agree that it is not practical to independently test products. It might discourage manufacturers from producing quite so many variants that are little different.

Going back to the LED bulbs, I wonder if there is a difference between the Osram bulbs produced in China, Germany and Italy. I wonder where the other well known brands source their lamps.

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Many lighting manufacturers of LED bulbs in various countries including the UK/EU use their own LED technology but surprisingly the actual drivers in some still come from China.

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Some can’t even get the CE mark printed correctly! What does that imply about the rest of the standards?

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A load of stuff just came to me there now as it does as a prompt from Duncan’s reply to my Dads aerial

My Dads cabin. Nice new replacement for his worn out box 2 years back. All diy. Controlled ventilation, super insulated etc. Right up there with the George Clarkes Spaces thing but proper for life live in

His cabin sits at the bottom of a micro turbine tower 10kw. 75′ Actually the LED floods as above are mounted on the tower
The turbine runs from 0 to around 90hz. 0 to 320v or thereabouts
The controls are a voltage clamp (pwm). 600hz odd. The controller and the associated dump load which are both feet from his cabin have no further shielding than in the original design spec
His roof has 2kw of pv fed to the same control gear
His south wall has 900w of pv to an inverter
The controls supply storage heaters via PWM which I can just about hear
Then there are grid tie inverters close by
TV, Radio, Phones. Not a dickie bird
Properly designed and tested and what’s more proved it seems

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After a remodel and installing FEIT Electric LED enhance vivid natural light 65W bulbs in can lights in all season room, dining area and kitchen, I have interference with all my radios including Sony, Kenwood stereo and RCA brand. I have to turn off the lights to listen to the radio. I have contacted FEIT Electric and am told that these LED bulbs do not interfere with all radios and the radio should be 25 feet away from the bulbs. There is a FCC label on the bulb although apparently that doesn’t matter. There needs to be a warning on the package about radio interference. Does anyone know of a brand or type of radio that the LED bulbs do not interfere with?

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toby- FEIT electric website says-quote=we manufacture lights to the highest standard -nope ! – a California company that sells at Costco /Amazon etc . While there are one or two 5 stars for their products the rest are all one star – quotes- cheap rubbish – burning smell, exploded , didnt last long ,etc . I couldnt find their real manufacturing country till I visited a social complaints website for US citizens and then a more knowledgeable US citizen – XY-Castle Rock ,USA with 4v friends and 21 reviews – said (and I quote ) – Feit Electric Company LED bulbs are trash . They burn out ,or fall apart ,within a short time ,and if you follow the return directions for failed products ,you get no response and no replacements . This is typical of —( and here,s the kicker ) — CHINESE produced junk products by rip-off companies . Spend your hard earned dollars elsewhere . –( 3 people found this useful ) -end quote . “Manufactured in California ” – ????? (aka-assembled )–1 star out of 5 given as you cant post without it.

Guest
Grover says:
15 January 2016

I haven’t read the entire slew of comments here, so forgive me if the info I seek or my observations have already posted, but I have had some weird sh*t happen since I have moved towards LED bulbs in the lean-to.

If anyone has any suggestions, post em to grover dot sasparilla at gee-mail. First, my “TV” laptop, an ’08 macbook seems to lose a lot of settings when it is under a lamp with an inexpensive 60w equivalent LED bulb, and, the net seems to work not quite as well when the machine is on, online, and directly beneath the lamp, (which, for discussion, is assumed to be on). I also recently installed an ethernet switch about five feet, (laterally, at the same height) as a similar bulb in my basement. I have noticed that the net is totally hosed (at times).

Skipping to the gist of things:

Can LED bulbs directly affect a laptop? an ethernet switch? Can the interference get into the home network, and knock other machines off kilter? Finally, can a better grade of LED bulb help this? More strategic placement of ethernet cables and components?

My appreciation and regards to all!

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Grover- in a word -YES ! before anybody argues with me over this this led radiation has been used by an invention which amplifies this signal and uses it for Internet connections . I will quote -DR Magna Havas ,PhD in “wireless Internet via led “smart ” lighting “–the use of highly efficient controllable smart light sources to facilitate optical wireless communications is now a reality .Professor Thomas Little (Boston University ) is shipping a new prototype ,it goes on but becomes more technical which would bore many . The bottom line is that they noticed this phenomenon because of LED radiated interference and amplified it for use by computers . And Yes again , my own Radio communications experience in aerials both receptive and transmissive shows that a length of ethernet cable acts as as a receptive aerial and will pick up LED transmissions .

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I previously mentioned that my local Tesco sells LED bulbs made in China, Germany and Italy, according to type. I bought an 806 lumen lamp that was on sale for £7. It is dimmable, was made in Italy and has a four year guarantee.

I first tested the effect on DAB radio, using an old Pure Evoke-3 DAB portable radio tuned to Radio 4. There was no problem, even at close range. Unfortunately, there was some interference on stations with weaker signals.

FM was disappointing, with significant interference, even well away from the lamp. If I had these lamps throughout the house, I very much doubt that I would be able to use a portable radio. My FM tuner, which is used mainly for Radio 3 seemed fine, probably because it is connected to a roof aerial.

I’m disappointed but hardly surprised, in view of all the comments about radio interference by LED lighting. I have never encountered an interference problem with CFL lighting except where someone has tried to use a portable radio alongside a table lamp.

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Nick says:
23 January 2016

LED down-lighters fitted to the kitchen and interference on an ANALOGUE radio!!!

Any clues as to why and how to fix?

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Nick-The frequency range of LED interference is usually =30 Mhz – 800Mhz this is on harmonics . When you speak of analogue I take it you mean FM(frequency modulation ) where a RF signal is modulated with another signal (lower frequency ) radio with a range of (approx ) 87Mhz-108Mhz . This would make it still within the interference range OR are you talking about the even older AM (amplitude modulation ) where the RF signal itself varies usual found on old valve and earlier transistor radios -ie -radio Luxemberg etc . Those old radios were very susceptible to interference from fridges/car ignitions /etc . Could you narrow it down please ?

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Duncan,,,,,,,,I know I have quoted as saying I have used loads of PSUs for umpteen jobs but I do know a bad/too cheap or badly designed PSU or is these cases called LED drivers can on its own interfere particularly with FM radio………I dont know what other frequencies they can interfere with but some of this LED interference may not be from the lights but from the power supplies if of course they are the type with PSUs
.
Exactly the same goes for some MPPT charge controllers as used in stand alone PV generation systems and although seemingly unrelated to most LED uses there will be those out there who have off grid and LED being ultra low wattage are popular there…….The charge controllers can pose a problem there but because LEDs are a popular target they get hit and its not them

No disrespect to branded LED suppliers but I’ve seen some pretty basic power supplies screwed to electrical counters of late………I would not use them in my equipment!!!!!!
I like the ones like I mentioned with the entire case in metal……….Keeps a lot of the switches at bay I think……..

Just a thought for the future

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Dee -the problem is the varying types of LED drivers as well as the different sizes that are built into bulbs as compared to separate ones for strip lighting . This means they dont always resonate at the same frequency so some people wont get interference affecting their particular radio . Look at the frequency range its very wide-band , its also complicated by the fact on many bulbs the aluminum heat-sink is inadequate casing overheating /shortening of life of the miniature driver with its miniature components . Large stand alone PU/drivers have more potential to be interference free or can be shielded more easily Your right about the power supplies I would NEVER build one to their ,simplistic-cheap design all mine for my sensitive equipment are highly suppressed and analogue ,if I can help it. I build my own power supplies for expensive mos-fet power amps with a scope attached to the output measuring the ripple -under load , those types of amps should have only a few mV of ripple . Most of my bought test equipment is EX. government / WAR Dept. from a well know English company who buys from government auctions . The internals are built to extremely high standards no cheap parts -no cutting corners ,they must withstand use under harsh conditions and under NO circumstances Radiate any any RF signal or input to the mains any LF signal. Its a pity this sort of build is not applied to consumers , but there again they have unlimited tax payer funds -dont they ?

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MR16 bulbs I assume. Try the Lidl “Livarno Lux” brand. They’re the only one I’ve found which don’t squelch DAB or FM.

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N money says:
3 February 2016

I just bought one led light from asda to try in my kitchen it cost £4.99 it’s over 2 metres from my dab radio but the moment it turns on – the digital radio stops working !!

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I have a gas fire which works off a IR remote and when I ignite the fire the LED which I have installed under the fire place flickers. Does this also sounds like the same issue?

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Yes Sean the same principle applies even though it is a light beam from the transmitting diode in the remote –that light beam carries a Carrier signal of a certain frequency depending on the equipment it was designed to work with so even if it doesnt activate -say a TV because of the wrong information transmitted it will still cause the receiving led diode to flicker.

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I’ve had lots of problems with LED lamps knocking out Ethernet over mains and DAB radios. I fitted ferrite beads to the wiring that went to the LED lamps and that drastically improved the situation. I don’t know if it’s coincidence or not, but I’ve installed ferrite beads on anything I think may be RFI/EMI noisy and things seem better…

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I have been having problems with DAB reception on my bedside radio for several months, with pulsing reductions in signal strength which wipes out weaker multiplexes. I have played around with the aerial, power-line adapters, router, thermostat etc, all to no avail. Yesterday, the bulb on my bedside table lamp blew and I put in a replacement LED bayonet bulb (as I have gradually been doing throughout my house). Lo and behold – DAB reception was completely wiped out. I now realise that my reception problems have coincided with fitting LED bulbs throughout my house (a mixture of Luceco from Maplins and LAP from Screwfix – both had the same effect on my bedside radio). When I turned off all the LED lighting in the house yesterday, DAB reception was back to being perfect.

This problem is something that the public need to be made aware of and most importantly something needs to be done – I have spent a lot of money on LED lightbulbs, having had no idea at the time of purchase that they affect DAB reception so markedly. There must be many other consumers facing reception problems and not linking them to LED bulbs.

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David its good to have more info on this problem. One or more of your LED bulbs has turned into a local oscillator which is blasting out HF transmissions this PURELY down to CHEAP components in the suppression circuit going O/C (open circuit ) or just plain not up to the quality they should be . In other words you have an illegal transmitter in your house ,not your fault but (in my book ) China . What you could do is if you are familiar with Maplins ,and I have been dealing with them since they started many decades ago, is buy one of their spy tracking devices ( I have one ) that will indicate/pulse when near a transmitter its called a Pro Hunter its small and cheap but works and is very wideband from RF up to and including UHF . IN days gone by you could call–not GhostBusters but -GPO interference dept. guess who closed them down ? . Now you are on your own . David -nothing will be done, HMG best-est “friend ” is now “communist ” (but changing ) China the last thing they would do is upset them they are now part of China,s trade group with the City approval,even the Queen met the head guy . China will NOT accept returns to its country by Law ,it isnt daft.

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I recently put up a 50w/500w led security light with pir & even time it switches on the analogue radio reception goes & we just get static noise.

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The problem of radio interference drags on and on. Assuming that the lamps are CE-marked, either they do not comply with the European EMC standards or the standards are not appropriate. It would be very useful to find out which is the problem.

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wavechange -knowing radio interference standards as applied to the GPO before it was “downgraded ” by HMG they would not pass muster . As you probably know the well known 27 Mhz band was used by CB,rs this was strictly controlled because of complaints from RSoGB (Radio Society of GB ) due to their 28Mhz “Ham band ” being interfered with by harmonics and even the lower end being used by CB,rs but HMG didnt do all it could to stop it as it was a case of sales over regulations . The government has made it perfectly plain by using the excuse —we cant afford to constantly police minor infringements I have seen the government statements they are not going to do anything about this especially as it brings into focus China who wont accept returns .This is reality and no amount of wishes,hope,maybes are going to change it and yes even US industry agrees the majority of LED lamps /and or PARTS come from China no matter who says what . I know the road you want to go down –go by the book–regulations -doing the right thing -etc great in 1950,s UK but in 2016 UK its —live with it. China knows they are breaking the law as do the UK/EU distributors but its Big Money and thats what counts now not morals or the letter of the Law otherwise successive governments would be jailed for constantly lying to the population and running a policy of-do as I say –not as I do . I admire your “old world ” values but the government of every hue have consigned them to the refuse bin and run the country on Mafia lines who have long ago gone into BB.

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Anna Morris says:
18 March 2016

Just got our kitchen done with two new LED lights, they are recessed into the ceiling, with amazing light quality. However, when I turn them on the radio, a standard analogue FM radio, loses all signal. I can literally flick them on and off and the radio signal goes out and in. The lights were fitted by a professional electrician. The radio is more than a meter from the light but less than two.

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The pleasures of expensive lighting nowadays using cheap parts for maximum profit and short life Anna. I have owned old fashioned bulbs that have lasted much longer than any led bulb , one year two years etc normal incandescent bulbs . Short life more profit, the “no shame ” industry bring back UK manufactured all parts not assembled from Chinese parts. Remember when “made in England ” meant something now its built to a price China . Any body for re installation of the old fashioned gas lamps ? all you replaced there were the mantles and they were cheap. But knowing the profit makers the gas lamps would be cheap but the mantles would be £100 just like printer ink.

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Anna Morris says:
20 March 2016

Well up until the radio thing I was really happy with the LED lights, they use minimal power while providing a slightly more natural light which doesn’t upset my vision and irlens syndrome as much as the energy saving bulbs I have had to use for the past few years. They are also much much less toxic if broken, no mercury and other nasties! The brightness it really great and they don’t need to warm up wither. It has otherwise been a vast improvement.

I am all for quality and local manufacturing, and the reduction in exploration of workers which buying from the UK presumably brings. However, in this instance I didn’t pick out the lights.

What I am not clear about is if a “better quality” LED light would not cause this interference, or if this is simply an effect of any/all LED lights. Anyone know?

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I have not had any problems with Phillips LED lamps close to a DAB radio.

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Nor have I had any problems with Phillips LED lamps close to an FM radio, which is more to the point because that is what Anna Morris was concerned about.

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John -seems Phillips make their own LED lights , I think in France (European division ) -Phillips Lighting – including the design of the parts . They sold off their semi-conductor division so I will check to see where they source their chips from but looks good so far.

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cant change a spelling mistake on above post ? Sorry my fault ignore this post.

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The interference is totally down to the quality and circuit quality of the lights . The suppression circuit that blocks those high frequency oscillations due to its usual small size/number of components and limited space inside a typical led light rely how well each part is manufactured ,in other words –cost . The problem Anne is that most are manufactured in China and if a import company wants to make a large profit then they are not going to insist the Chinese manufacturing company sell them expensive ones , even if it says made in somewhere else the parts are usually imported from china . Unlike here in the UK the Americans dont accept this fault easily I have already been on US websites that have stripped down bulbs and were able to source them to China and do the same as I am saying would like to happen here buy from a good quality American company . Do you honestly think the top quality Chinese electronic factories that supply UK business industry supply faulty led bulbs for commercial use ?? they wouldnt last 5 minutes in business . Dont take my word Anne –check it out for yourself on the Web. Imagine a Chinese supply of led bulbs to a UK government defense industry laboratory with sensitive digital or analogue testing equipment ( and I know many ) inside minutes, if they radiated they would be rejected.

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For those of a technical mind as this Convo has attracted a lot of interest this info is from a REPUTABLE company -Requirements of components in LED driver circuit -chip Varistor-chip NTC thermistor-chip ferrite bead-chip power inductor ( note the word POWER ) -chip solid -state tantalum capacitor -Driver circuit requirements -large power high efficient- LOW RIPPLE – HIGH reliability -EMC capability-low profile –Circuit components – Large current (capabilities ) -low DCR-LARGE inductance -HIGH reliability-EMC/ESD Capability -small size . #1-surge suppression circuit -#2-filtering circuit-#3-after AC-DC bridge rectifiers – 2nd filtering circuit – PFC circuit -#4- DC-DC- converter ( where a lot of the trouble lies ) -#5 TCM . I have even documented the circuit on my PC with actual component values but its not part of Which,s website to upload pictures /documents onto forum posting . Can you see what a quality company does ?? NOW think cheap-profit- shareholders .

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Dab, or DAB , perhaps needs to be declared a dead duck. Particularly if we have a future of poor Led [LED] lights.

This comments from another forum at eBuyer are of interest:
“Richard Dunkling 18 May, 2015 at 14:23
The real issue with DAB is the sound quality, the reduced bit rate employed in order to cram as many channels into a DAB channel has badly degraded the audio quality. DAB – Diabolical Audio Broadcasting.
All of the changes in television might brought consumer benefits. Improvements in picture definition 405 to 625 lines and now HD, Black and white to colour. mono to stereo and improved sound quality (nicam stereo had much better sound quality than DAB) plus useful extras such as teletext. People were eager to purchase a new TV because there was a real consumer benefit.
DAB has already become a dated technology with DAB+ being favoured on the continent. Transmitter coverage is still a problem meaning some areas are totally unserved – so not much use when driving . Digital signals while robust tend to drop out completely or garble when signal levels are borderline – with FM you could still listen to a weak signal albeit in mono or at worst with a degree of hiss or distortion.
FM recievers are cheap, less power hungry than their complex DAB rivals and judging by the number of faulty DAB recievers I have come across more reliable. Many households already own several FM radios – why would anyone want to buy a DAB radio? More choice is the Governments/Ofcon’s answer. Well that may be true especially if you turn off the FM transmitters. Regarding the number of digital adopters I can listen to streaming radio on my PC but not in the garden as my PC is not portable.
Radio is for listening – Audio quality, portability, area coverage and power consumption are key issues that seem to be ignored by those who wish to impose an inferior service upon us.

Kevan 19 May, 2015 at 10:26
I’ve had a DAB portable radio for about 3 years now. It’s ok is about the best I can say. I really want to say that it is super and far better than old fashioned FM reception. I can’t because a lot of the time it is simply rubbish and that’s pretty much any station I happen to enjoy listening to (local radio and national). However, for me the biggest annoyance is that DAB receivers are incredibly power hungry. I like to listen to a radio station in the morning while I have a shower and get dressed. Consequently most of my listening is in the bathroom. Ok, so no mains lead of course due to the electricity and water not mixing too well hazard… I find I need to replace a set of 4 cells (batteries) roughly every 3 days!!!! Yet I am only listening for about 20 minutes at a time and at a low volume at that. To me that is a disgusting amount of energy to have to use. Yes, I could use rechargeables but even then I’d be permanently looking at having a set on charge. Most of the time I end up using my old FM receiver instead these days.

Matthew 21 May, 2015 at 23:14
DAB – WRONG technology, WRONG time – the original DAB went for the MP2 codec and fixed frame size and “unequal error protection” – given the comparative inefficiency of the old error protection, more was given to headers to retain sync.
The gross inefficiency of the MP2 codec, compared to even todays bottom anchor of MP3, means that DAB does not make good use of the available bitrate.
DAB+ moves it up a gear with the AAC codec, far more efficient, but moving to DAB+ would make non-upgradable DAB equipment obsolete.
The ridiculous thing was, by the time that DAB moved out of testing, it should have been obvious that by the time it hit production, the technology would advance to handle a more advanced codec that the lamentable MP2 – which other than for DAB, died with VideoCD – the only other thing that made significant use of MP2.
So, DAB is inferior to FM – in coverage, quality, price of kit and battery consumption. Most mobile phones that have radio, have FM not DAB – and while internet radio may be an option, you’d better have a good data plan!
DAB is still a niche technology, and will probably never be more than that!
If you want quality, the quality on the Freeview TV radio channels is better than on DAB.

Tim Steele 23 May, 2015 at 09:33
We’re stuck with a very poor codec (unlike many countries that waited and used a much better one) which means the quality is poor. DAB reception in cars isn’t great, and FM radios have much better battery life.
When designing a replacement technology it’s vital to ensure the replacement is actually better, otherwise people will stay with the old technology.
Time to scrap DAB?”

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The popularity of personal music players has demonstrated that convenience often scores over sound quality. How many people carry round a personal CD player?

Over half of new cars are fitted with a DAB radio and perhaps this is where DAB offers the greatest advantage.

I listen to DAB radio most of the time, mainly for Radio 4. If I sit down to listen to music, I use an FM tuner.

From what I have read, dodgy LED bulbs are more likely to affect FM radio than DAB. Maybe the way forward is internet radio.

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R Fearnley says:
22 March 2016

Just fitted branded and not cheap LED downlighters in our kitchen and now VHF reption of Radio 2 and Radio 4 is almost impossible. Had to relocate the antenna to obtain reasonable listening quality. Lamps fitted = Megaman 6W LED.

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R Fearnley – well they certainly have a posh website and they punt their specialised thermal conductivity design as lowering the heat of the chip inside the lamp but in reality its another posh way of saying -HEATSINK . Their headquarters are in Welwyn Garden City .Herts ,BUT ,and here I have to give them credit for honesty , as this company is one of the very few to admit,and be proud of, the source of their supply—- my favourite topic of Conversation on the Convo—-CHINA — land of the -built to a Price – they do say its a “quality” company to be fair . So 10 out of 10 for honesty but I will leave it to others to decide as to the “quality ” of Megaman LED light bulbs so would posters (not paid ones please ) let us know if R Fearnley,s LED light radiated transmission of RF electrical interference is an aberration OR is it just another -“China product ” .What I am looking for is it long lasting even if it radiates ? -I am giving them every chance to have something positive ,any users of these LED lights who are happy with them ,as any company thats honest in its source supplier deserves a bit of latitude.

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Helen Rhodes says:
4 April 2016

We have just fitted out a gallery using very trendy looking outsize retro bulbs that use LED bulbs at £7 each we have an array of 10 to display lampshades. The minute they we’re live the old radio we had been using while decorating went haywire, when I pull up outside in my car it’s radio goes mental till halfway down the street! and our neighbour has said her radio goes mad as soon as we open up in the mornings!

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Thanks for that informative post Helen especially the comment -radio goes mental till halfway down the street. It proves to me that the bulbs are transmitting RF interference in direct relationship to the number of bulbs used -ie- signal strength which must be around a quarter of a Watt . Or the radiated pattern of interference is widespread by the number used. Gross BAD design /components.

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Derrick Cane says:
15 April 2016

We just bought 11 Noma LED A19 medium base bulbs(soft white–3000 Kelvins–light output 810Lumens). Installed 6 of them in the two kitchen (ceiling mounted) fixtures , turned them on and could no longer access our computer signal. Have not tried the Sat. TV signal yet —next on the list. These bulbs are energy star rated and dimmable as well BUT are made in CHINA!!! Could this be the problem?

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While some may differ Derrick I have always stuck to the one point of view on this , not conjured out of my head, but gathered together from real facts worldwide in many countries , from many people ,all with the same comment —- They are made in —CHINA ! –the Land of –built to a Price –. Can the world population be wrong ,maybe , but what do governments go by ? polls /elections /statistics /graphs etc to judge something and thats what I go by , if it walks like a duck etc. I fully realise those at the top running us dont like any type of anti-Chinese economic comments due to trade deals with China but I dont speak for any government ,only for the people.

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This is another topic that has rumbled on for years without any resolution. Which? tests LED bulbs for performance but seems to pay no attention to interference. Surely it should be including this in its testing, given the number of complaints made? It should also be investigating with the industry why interference arises in some products (and not others), looking at how to prevent deficient products reaching UK consumers, and reporting on this in the magazine.

And. once again, is this restricted to the UK? Most unlikely; it is certainly a Europe-wide problem with other countries’ consumer groups no doubt receiving similar complaints. So why does Which? not cooperate with other consumer associations (through BEUC) and work together to help sort the problem out and apply pressure where it is needed?

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It seems it’s not only LED’s that cause problems. When we turn on a dimming switch running halogens in our bathroom, it immediately turns off all DAB radio stations, except for Classic, on a Roberts radio 3 rooms away! Figure that one out.
We’ve ordered a 5 element aerial to try and sort the problem. Cross fingers.

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Good point twitchy ,dimmer switches turn themselves of and on at a high pulse rate which could generate RF or more likely induced interference into the ring main circuit . If the new aerial cures it then its possibly RF generated but if the aerial doesn’t cure it change the dimmer switch to a dearer more high quality one .

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There may be another unforeseen thing here
Bathroom light fittings have to be IP44 or better.. The switch should be as best I remember a pull cord if inside the bathroom or a wall switch outside the door preferably beside the door I think is the way that one goes
Resonably sensable
Dont get mad at me for coming up with this. . . I cheat a little on this front also but my circuitry is way better protected than the UK standard’s. . .There is no law against being better/safer
I would not want to be in any bathroom in the many houses without earth leakage protection (RCD) end of but add in a load of diy lighting and I’d advise against it
My bathroom even has emergency lighting if the lights go out IP44 of course but it isnt so pretty possibly. . . . It’s amazing how embarrassing things can get if your caught in the shower in darkness. . Especially if your the only one who’ll go out in the dark and start the genny on a stormy night and you cannot lay your hands on any clothes worth. . . I am not a pretty sight. . . .Too many extra bits that didnt used to be there!!

As best I remember some of these dimmers switched the current off on the 0 volts only. . .This enabled a cooler switching but it is prone to “noise” and the bigger the load the bigger the noise. . . .maybe not in this case. . .
Just throwing it out there
Duncan has already suggested changing to a better dimmer and I’m sure many today have proper little PSUsw with fast switching and smoothing

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Your right Dee its the “changeover” at the zero point . Older dimmer switches used a Thyristor which required additional parts , newer ones (better quality ) use a Triac that uses the whole sine wave for a better shape of the pulse just make sure it isnt a cheap Chinese one.

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Colin says:
17 May 2016

I have a TV with a Bush Freeview set top box in one of my bedrooms which worked well for a long, long time, then inexplicably started to lose all signal quality at a moment’s notice. To cut short a very long story (involving much rumination, trial and error, then a full blown ‘Road to Damascus’ ignorance to understanding moment), I discovered that when the central pendant light in the bedroom next door was turned on, the signal quality disappeared on the TV – I remembered having changed the bulb several weeks back. Cause and effect easily demonstrated.

Simply replacing the OSRAM LED bulb with another (non LED) bulb removed the problem. The distance between the TV / set top box in one bedroom and the LED bulb in the adjoining bedroom is approximately 7 metres.

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Well investigated Colin. It looks as if the interference from the LED bulb was transmitted through the house wiring.

As far as I remember the Electromagnetic Compatibility standards require two things – that appliances do not emit interference level such as to adversely affect other devices, and devices themselves contain sufficient protection so as not to be adversely affected by specified levels of interference. It may be that your Bush set top box is inadequately protected. Just a possibility.

Is Which? going to test interference from LED bulbs – low voltage and mains – as part of its routine testing?

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malcolm is right about the Bush set top box , way back in the 30,s/40,s/50,s Bush was a big name of quite good quality products but it was taken over and as usual in this day and age ,quality went downhill fast so that it was labeled as a “low grade ” product . It was a case of using a well know British company,s name as exploitive to sell cheap goods but they are not alone . I would never buy Bush anything nowadays although I have several old valve Bush wirelesses that in engineering terms blow away this modern day “rubbish ” For those that think I am being unfare I and my wife have 2 high quality combined Freesat and Freeview boxes although more expensive contain high quality components including interference suppression, they have never let us down .If Colin is sure its ring main derived then buy an inline suppressor from say -Maplin. A cheap radiation detector can also be purchased there under the guise of a “bug detector “.

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The alternative explanation is that even the well known brands of LED lamps sold for household use are not up to standard. Like Colin I have an Osram LED that causes radio interference and other well known brands have been mentioned in this or other Conversations. They may be better than the cheaper brands but they are not good enough. Note that Colin’s lamp is well away from the set-top box, so it’s not a case of a lamp and receiver being close together.

Duncan – Bush has produced some good products but remember the DAC90 wireless, which had a ‘live chassis’ and the dropper resistor burned the back panel. The brand is now used by Argos.

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Distance is not necessarily an issue if interference travels along the mains wiring.
“Not up to standard” is exactly why I am asking Which? if they intend testing for interference – against the relevant standards.

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wavechange as you probably know , and I have repaired literally 1000,s of wirelesses from the late 20,s to the 60,s , many did not have mains transformers thereby isolating the chassis from the live mains .Those types nearly all supplied a mains dropper to supply various voltages , in the case of bakelite cases the upward hot air resulted in a cracked casing thereby devaluing the wireless in resale value. Also 90 % of valve TV,s had mains droppers unless you were rich and could afford 10 % which had mains isolating transformers and for the record series inductors used to drop the voltage did not isolate the mains . There are several makes which used light bulbs to do the same. In every case the non isolated wirelesses were for those that could not afford the dearer transformer fed ones I have a massive collection(bound volumes ) of circuit diagrams of that era if you need any help in repairing one . Bush-Argos ?? that says it all .

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And air borne (radio waves ) radiated interference can travel through walls malcolm in direct relationship to the frequency involved — higher frequency=lower distance . US security services and I think ours have devices that can “see ” through brick walls to help both the security (police ) and intelligence services (FBI /CIA / MI5/6 and a long list of other British SS types ) . They can actually see images of your body . In terms of modems/routers using the higher faster frequency limits its distance of radiated pick up for your laptop where you have a choice of frequencies.

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duncan, presumably radiated interference obeys the inverse square law – so its effect at 7m will be around 2% of that at one metre? But it may be the cause of Colin’s problem, I was just putting other possibilities on the table!

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Well yes malcolm ,in open space but maybe I should have added this changes in relation to penetration through solid brick walls as would be the case of the light bulb in the next room and a modem.s radiation is limited in the same respect . So the theory,s equation would only apply till it reaches the wall and then wall intensity and other factors take over changing the original equation. In most cases a large amount of loss of intensity in the signal would take place if the wall was very thick and solid stone .

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In the case of my Osram bulb I know the interference is being picked up by the radio aerial but sometimes interference can be picked up by the circuitry of receivers or transmitted via mains wiring. What the inverse square law does tell us is that at very short range you are likely to pick up interference – for example by having a radio on the same bedside table as a lamp. As a rule, CFLs don’t produce much radio interference except at short range, so it’s disappointing how many LEDs cause a problem.

I have inherited nine MR16 halogen lamps, each on a separate driver, and three GU10 mains voltage halogens and would like to swap them for LEDs, but not at the cost of spoiling my radio reception.

Duncan – I do remember about your involvement with old wirelesses and other consumer goods. I accept that there were many radios with a dropper and a live chassis, but there were better made ones with an isolating transformer. Cutting corners to save money is never a good solution. I am convinced that this is there reason that we still have tumble dryers and other products that can be a fire risk.

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After my disappointment with an Italian-made Osram bulb causing FM radio interference I can report a success with Philips GU10 lamps, which were on sale in B&Q for £3, presumably to make way for new offerings. Preliminary tests suggest that these do not cause DAB or FM interference. The lifetime is given as 15,000 hours and they are made in China.

The light output is quoted as 350 lm and there is an indication that this is equivalent to a 50 W bulb. That does not sound right and perhaps I won’t need to make much use of the fact that these lamps can be dimmed.

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The equivalent of 50W halogen is right. Remember that these are reflector lamps so will not have the efficacy of a normal bulb.

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Indeed. I had not realised how inefficient these halogen reflector lamps are. Hopefully the Philips lamps will prove durable but if not, B&Q are very good at replacing faulty products and I will keep the receipt.

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I bought another Philips lamp. It is claimed to have the same output as an old fashioned 100 W bulb. It gets rather warm and I wonder how long it will last, but it produces no DAB or FM radio interference.

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Late one evening a smoke alarm went off and the lights went off, except for a table lamp on a different circuit. One of the CFLs had failed spectacularly, probably because the previous owner of the house had put non-dimmable CFLs in a circuit with a dimmer. I bought a set of Diall 470 lumen bulbs from B&Q for £2 each and tested one for radio interference. There was no problem so I have replaced the others.

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John says:
10 June 2016

I

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John says:
10 June 2016

Installed 6 LED recessed light in kitchen . I purchased bulbs at Lowe’s they were on sale for 10 bucks they came with covers. Lighting was good but froze up my 32″ Sanyo even one light will cause interference . It also interferes with my radio in my truck when it’s in the drive way and does clear up til I’m about 50 feet away.

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John thats the kind of info I am looking for- one light interferes with radio in truck–50 feet away. Just need the bulb wattage and I take it -US-115 volts ?

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I decided to try replacing the halogen downlighters in a bathroom with LED equivalents. Looking at what was on offer this week I bought a bunch of Philips 380 lumen LED lamps to replace the 12V MR16 halogen ones, on offer at £3 each. Each of the lamps has a separate electronic driver. I replaced one lamp to check that it was compatible with the driver and for DAB and FM interference. There was no problem with DAB but FM interference was apparent some distance into the adjoining bedroom. Fortunately, replacing the other lamps did not seem to make the problem worse. I’m not planning to take a radio into a steamy bathroom when I have a shower or bath and I can place the radio where it is unaffected by interference.

I thought I might have to scrap the drivers and replace them with one designed for LED lighting, but no problems so far.

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Peter says:
24 June 2016

I have just bought a combined uplighter and spotlight from Ikea and fitted with Ikea led bulbs. I positioned it next to a table with the DAB radio on it and when I turn on the lights, the radio turns off !!

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Peter-Watch out Ikea dont charge you for th additional “facility”. For those with money you can buy a wideband rf detector (bug tracer ) covering =100Khz up to 5/6 Ghz it will let you know if the LED,s radiate but you would need to take it to the shop and get them to plug the light in to the mains to check it.

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Peter – Many products produce radio interference at close range especially if the signal picked up by the aerial is weak. You might find the same with other LEDs, but if it’s a problem at a distance of a metre or more I suggest you ask for a different type of LED. My dodgy Osram bulb has been despatched to the downstairs loo, where I don’t listen to the radio.

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Despite 8 pages of comments, Which? has not mentioned radio interference in the most recent report (July 2016). If no problems with DAB or FM radio was found then it would have been good to tell us.

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I am sure I said this before but it doesnt need a fortune to buy a variety of LED bulbs and test them with an RF detector . A good detector is a couple of £100 and will display to UK radiation transmission Standards. All you would need to do is check off the distance for a given level or radiation easily shown on the new digital detectors which can be programmed for different industry standards . If that isn’t good enough I can supply the website of a very well known ,high standard official government used equipment supplier in the electronic field used by our forces in detection they are at laboratory standards just a bit larger but highly accurate.

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Hear hear duncan. Given that Which? have had a number of conversations about LED replacement bulbs causing interference – both radiated and conducted – I am astonished that a check on this does not form part of their tests. Maybe the test laboratory they use does not possess the right equipment? The tests do need to be performed correctly in a suitable enclosure but considering the large number of complaints it would seem to be a critical element in assessing an LED lamp’s suitability. Perhaps Which? could illuminate us with their reasons?

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Ian says:
8 July 2016

We have just fitted two LE branded 24w led ceiling lights, which to be fair provide excellent light in the kitchen and we were really pleased with until we found that our digital radios simply appear to be switched off when the lights are on. One radio is about about 1.6m from the lights the other in a different room through a passageway. I have contacted LE who said it is a known problem and they are working on a solution and will email me to advise how far apart they need to be.

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Top marks to LE for honesty but 0/10 for selling a product with a known problem and probably fails to comply with legislation. In your position I would seek a full refund, assuming that you contacted the supplier within 30 days, the time allowed under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

If you can move the radio further away it might make a big difference thanks to the inverse square law. You are in a better position to judge than the company because the effect of interference can depend on how good the radio signal is.

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Denis Campbell says:
24 July 2016

I replaced my 12V MR16 (GU5.2) halogen downlighters with 5 Watt MR16 low voltage LEDs marked ‘New 24S-283SMD WW 5W DIM’ lamps with the CE stamp. They are of the older type which has a cluster of 24 LEDs.
I live in a moderate-to-low signal strength area.
Interference was experienced on both the DAB and FM bands. There was interference to all the signals and weaker ones were wiped out both in my own house and my next door neighbours. A Kosnic 4.5W gave much reduced interference but still noticeable. This was a more recent design with a cluster of 3 superbright LEDs.

No interference was noticed on the TV (which receives on a much higher frequency band).
I believe the cause to be not so much the LED itself but more to the switch-mode power supply (‘transformer’) which was designed for halogen lamps and rated 20 to 65 Watts. When run with a lower load – eg 5 Watt LED the power supply doesn’t like it. With a halogem lamp there is no interference. It must be a combination of lamp and transformer because the Kosnic LED was not so bad.

There are 12V ‘transformers’ specially designed for LEDs, but it is just as easy and much cheaper to fit 240V GU10 lamps. There is no additional safety hazard in using the 240V lamps.

I replaced my MR16 lamps with GU10 240V lamps (which have a built in transformer). There is a very slight whisper of interference when the radio is held against the lamp but none at a distance of a few centimeters.
The lamps are 5Watt ‘Aurora Enlight EN-GU005/30’ giving 500 lumens – quite a bit brighter from the previous LEDs and halogens. I have also tried ‘Integral 7W Classic Glow’ dimmable and ‘Interlux 7W’ lamps and they give no detectable interference. They did give noticeably less light, even though the Interlux boasted of 650 lumens.

I have a mixture of CFL and LED lamps throughout the house, as well as striplights. None give any detectable interference apart from an IKEA striplight which give only a whisper with the radio held right up against it.

The RSGB (Radio Society of Great Britain) have an EMC (interference) team which are investigating this issue, perhaps WHICH might contact them.

Definintive technical tests on a small number of lamps can be found at http://www.ledbenchmark.com/faq/LED-interference-issues.html

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One of the common problems in SMPS is the noise generated by the “Drain” one terminal in a Mosfet -Drain-Gate Source – are the three terminals . Although they are a great modern invention the means of removing parasitic noise in this use is not efficient . The components used -Inductance and Capacitance are not perfect themselves and along with layout geometry in a bulb and cheapness you get common -mode noise and differential -mode noise . Mosfets have high input capacitance sometimes limiting the useful frequency they can be used at without producing oscillation . Having built many mosfet power amps it can sometimes be tricky getting the correct feedback capacitor stabilizer value right . The capacitors have ESR and inductance ESL and other components can lead to to HF interference which exceeds the EMC limits , in other words they are far from perfect and SMPS , by definition produce high amounts of electromagnetic noise . It should also be noted that the actual radiation (RF ) generated by those devices can be a harmonic of the actual fundamental frequency. Harmonics-if say the fundamental is 10Mhz then -2f=20Mhz –4f=40Mhz digital radio has frequencies +/- 200Mhz so a fundamental of 50Mhz could seriously effect or block a digital signal , in a lot of cases the interference is wide-band and so you have varying amounts of interference -depending on the DESIGN and QUALITY of components used -ie- cost .

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From what I have read on Which? Conversation and elsewhere, 12V lighting tends to be more of a problem. With a 230V GU10 reflector lamp, the lamp and mains wiring are the possible sources of interference. With a 12V MR16 GU5.3 lamp, there is, in addition, the power supply (driver) and the interconnecting wiring that could radiate interference.

A CE mark is among other things, a declaration by the manufacturer that the product complies with current legislations including compliance with EMC standards. As far as preventing rogue manufacturers from selling non-compliant products, it’s as much use as a chocolate fireguard. What is needed is independent testing of new products, not only to check for interference but to ensure that they are safe. Action can be taken if companies are found to be selling products that don’t comply with standards, of course, but we don’t hear much about this happening.

Where a manufacturer does take compliance seriously, their lamp would be tested using a recommended power supply. They have no control over people using the lamp with other power supplies, which could include switched mode power supplies or transformers, often ones that have previously been used to supply halogen lamps.

I wanted to replace MR16 halogen lamps fed by individual drivers in two bathrooms but that that would have meant temporary removal of a lot of insulation in the loft. I tried a single LED lamp and that proved satisfactory, so I have replaced the lot. There is slight interference in the rooms when a portable radio is tuned to a weaker FM station, but no problem on DAB. Since I would never use a radio in a bathroom, I’m happy with the result and it means that I am not wasting much power when the extractors and lights (both on the same circuits) are left on to clear moisture.

Trading Standards should be informed about lamps that are causing a lot of interference, though action is unlikely unless there is a safety issue or there are multiple complaints about the same product.

I presume that there are differences in the circuit design/screening/suppression in ‘good’ lamps and those that cause a problem. What I don’t understand is why there are many reports of LED lighting causing problems but CFLs, which also used switched power supplies, are rarely an issue. Maybe Duncan can track down an explanation.

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wavechange-Although CFL and LED drivers both use SMPS the loads on both are quite different and unless there is a fault in the circuit on CFL,s the upper frequency is around 500Khz . Not so on the LED,s who,s SMPS can resonate at many MHz making it more likely to affect digital radios . The problem is that regulations are not strictly adhered to due to non-enforcement of them allowing manufacturers to skimp on suppression components to such an extent that garage doors remote controls dont work ,baby alarms dont work and a whole host of home RF controlled devices , even TV are affected . As of now this has not been cured in cheap devices although some quality companies guarantee very low RFI . I have spent over an hour on the web checking out electronic communications websites , manufacturers quality assessment sites, government sites etc all round the world and EVERY one blames it on the SMPS ie- digital . If you swop the SMPS for a LINEAR /ANALOGUE power supply the problem disappears or is reduced down to inches from the bulb . Most LED,s SMPS are not RFI shrouded (metal screened ) which makes a difference as the bases are usually plastic , many say they conform and obtain CE or the American equivalent and then manufacture lamps without suppression components , in other words they brake the law with impunity because governments are so obsessed with saving electrical power generation and dont want to “buck the system ” . The thinking is– wait until there are massive public complaints and then promise action but delay it.

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Thanks Duncan. I had not realised that the frequencies involved were so high. I expect that the reason that interference on DAB radio is often not apparent is that digital receivers are more tolerant to interference than analogue ones. Until we have independent testing and some real effort to get rid of cheap and nasty goods, I am not optimistic.

I have not encountered any problems with radio interference from 12V LEDs supplied by battery power and have encountered many when living off-grid when on holiday. These will still have the electronics in the lamp but obviously no drivers.

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Chris says:
25 August 2016

I find the best way to look for stray RF is by using a transistor portable radio on MW. My GU10 led 230v in he kitchen are terrible and are flooding the house with stray RF. I challenge any BBC detector van to pick up the oscillator in my TV set, with this racket in the house.

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Chris the BBC have new devices just out that will start in !st September to catch not only those watching TV by normal methods but using apps on a computer. They wont say what the latest detectors can do but the last lot used magnetic radiation fields to pick up your TV picture , I dont think the RF interference is going to block them although that is exactly what Russia is doing to block VOA and its 100 other versions as well as radar blockage and spying using old technology in frequency range (HF range – up to 30Mhz) . Submarines still have fallback on VLF in case of satellite shoot down.

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So as not to alarm everybody, it is worth pointing out that the new BBC detector vans will only be spying on properties that do not have a TV licence and, as Duncan says, their chief focus will be on people who are using computers and other electronic devices to watch real-time TV and catch-up services. Such surveillance would normally be illegal but the BBC have been given a special dispensation to trial this method. I don’t think the BBC will concern themselves with what our submarine crews are watching.

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I have just learnt that the new BBC detector system is only concerned with people watching BBC i-Player.

From 1 September 2016 anyone watching i-Player at an address without a TV Licence will be required to buy one, even if they’re only watching catch-up. The new rule applies to all devices used to access i-Player – laptops, smartphones, tablets, games consoles, and ‘third-party’ services such as BT, Sky and Virgin. Those who already have a TV licence are not affected and a licence will still not be required for watching other [non-BBC] catch-up services such as via the ITV Hub, All4, My5, or Netflix. [Source: Radio Times].

These new detector vans will obviously contain equipment with some very fine tuning.

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Jonathan says:
28 August 2016

Lumilfe G10 5w LED knocks out my new DAB radio. I’ve emailed LED Hut to see if they have RFI alternatives. If not then will give Philips a go based on other replys.