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Your view: do LED light bulbs interfere with radios?

Multi-coloured leds

When we looked into the unusual issue of LED light bulbs interfering with DAB radios, we found that the stories were true. So we asked you to share your experiences so we could see how many of you were affected.

We sent a number of cheap, 12V LED bulbs to our lab for testing. And we found that when a digital radio was placed within a few metres of the switched-on bulbs, the signal went fuzzy. Within a few centimetres, the signal cut out altogether.

We asked you if you’d had similar experiences, and 2Dears was one of many who told us they had:

‘In November, we replaced 9 lights in the kitchen with 4.3w MR16 warm white LEDs for use “with an existing Lv transformer”. The DAB radio in the adjoining dining room stopped working immediately the lights were turned on’

We also heard from commenters like George who were having trouble with their FM radios:

‘Our FM kitchen radio gets a hiss over the speech (to the extent that BBC R4, our usual channel, is almost unusable) when the LED spots are on.’

John Dalton has a similar issue:

‘I tried to be green and bought some 12v MR11 LED spots for our kitchen downlighters. Switched them on and Radio 4 went to white noise on the portable VHF FM radio on the kitchen table.’

Shining a light on the problem

David Lewis had a big problem with LED bulbs, but he managed to find a solution:

‘I purchased Ikea lights (6 x 12v halogen bulbs) per 8m run of wires, plus transformer. With the lights on there was no interference of radio reception. I replaced the halogens with 5watt LEDs and replaced the transformer with the appropriate driver.

‘From then on – disaster. Switch one set of lights on and the station would be interrupted by a series of loud plops. Switch two sets of lights on and the tuner would cut out completely. Today, I replaced the indoor aerial with an external five element Triax DAB aerial. Problem solved. Superb reception with any number of LEDs on.’

A number of you experienced problems with electronics other than radios, like Keith:

‘I have two TCP 6W LED GU10 bulbs. The problem I have is when they are switched on and you stand near them, I have a high pitched whistle in my digital hearing aids.’

Tonyp isn’t too hopeful for a resolution, but we liked his metaphor so much, we’ve given him Comment of the Week!

‘There is little scope to make radio receivers less sensitive to this type of interference. The problem is that the lights are radiating energy at the frequency being received. Removing the interfering signal is rather like trying to remove the milk from a white coffee – possible but difficult and rather expensive.’

Looking on the bright side

But we’re pleased to report that a number of commenters, like Graham Pickworth, have had no problems:

‘I have six Aurora brand LED GU10 6watt 3000k non-dimmable light bulbs in my kitchen, purchased from Amazon. There is also a Bose VHF radio within 64 inches of the nearest bulb and I get no interference at all. I also have a Roberts DAB radio which I held up to within about 2 or 3 inches of one of the bulbs. Once again radio reception was perfectly clear.’

Finally, Wavechange had an interesting idea to help shoppers find the right bulbs:

‘LED lamps are expensive and the only way to be sure that interference will not be a problem is to test them in your own home. Perhaps ”bring a bulb” parties could be a new social event to help householders find out which LED lamps to buy.’


Similar experience to Tony H.
Planning to convert entire house lighting from 12v Halogen to 12v LEDs (80+ lamps in all) but thankfully after reading advice to the effect of “try before you buy”, only bought 8 initially for the kitchen and breakfast area. These were LEDlite COB LTMRC7 7w MR16 3000k 50w replacements bought from tlc-direct.co.uk with Varilight 0-105w transformers. Completely lost DAB radio reception with lights on apart from a few pops. Replaced with Philips Master LED Spot 8w 3000k using same transformers, no interference at all. Unfortunately destroyed all the packaging for the LEDlites so cannot return them but will use in other parts of the house away from the radio.

Well with me I replaced my indicator bulbs in my car and every time I put my indicators on my DAB radio cut out but when I switched it over to VHF I never had a problem. Very strange.
Could anybody tell me why this happens?
Thank you

Hi Larry – It is common for LED lamps to cause DAB radio interference, but VHF (FM) radios are not usually affected unless very close to the lamp. This is because the radios operate at different frequencies.

If you have replaced conventional filament bulbs with LEDs it would be bet to go back to using bulbs and ask for a refund for the LEDs.

Thank you for your help on this and your response wavechange I do like the effect of these LED bulbs and so I will carry on using them and stick with FM radio.
Thanks again

Most LED bulbs don’t cause problems because they are designed not to cause interference – to comply with the law. If you discuss this with the retailer they may offer you replacements of a different brand or give you a refund so that you can buy elsewhere. Unfortunately there are many substandard products on sale these days.

I cannot get anywhere near enough a good enough reception on FM to allow me to listen to Classic FM. It is awful. MY DAB reception is crystal clear with the lights off, but goes if I want to see.. My new light uses 10 x 5watt LED G4 bulbs. So I gather I will have to get normal old fashioned halogen bulbs. However the light has to be on all the time due to medical needs so the cost will be so much higher. I am in Leamington Spa , BBC tells me I should get FM perfectly, but I just do not, whatever I do.

Mit John Street — Do you know whether any of your neighbours have the same FM radio reception problem?

Halogen bulbs are being phased out so you will have to find a solution to the lighting problem. It could be the lamps in your new light fitting are misbehaving.

G4 LEDs operate from 12V rather than mains voltage, so will be fed by a driver that reduces the mains voltage to 12V. Some of these electronic drivers can cause radio interference, but swapping to a different brand of LED might help. I tried an experiment when staying with friends and one brand of G4 LEDs wiped out DAB reception but another brand was fine. You could buy one or two LEDs of different brands and if you find a type that does not cause a problem, replace all the halogen capsules.

The other problem with using LEDs on electronic drivers is that they might not take enough power, which could result in flickering, but modern drivers usually work fine.

As John has said, halogen lamps are being phased out. G4 halogen capsules can still be sold until September 2023 but might not be available for much longer.

Best of luck.

Steve Manning says:
13 August 2020

Not wanting to waste my supply of LED bulbs, but needing to buy a DAB alarm radio, can anyone recommend what I should look at?

Douglas says:
3 April 2021

I have just had the exact same experience as others on here! I have a DAB radio which works OK most of the time, even on weaker stations. I’ve recently purchased Philips Hue LED light straps to go around the room, and with these on, the weaker stations completely drop out, going from 30 bit errors (no LEDs) to 90 bit errors and constantly burbling/dropping out (LEDs on). The stronger signals are unaffected. So it depends on signal strength as well. I will probably shove up an external FM/DAB dipole to get better reception, regardless of what the LEDs are doing!

I looked for advice from Philips and found this: “Re-locating DAB and or Hue device to other place is a second option to decrease interference.”

I suspect that the light strips are acting as aerials to distribute radio interference from the power supply.

Since you are only having problems with weaker signals an external aerial has a good chance of eliminating the problem, Douglas.