The Great LED Lightbulb Rip-Off

One in four expensive 'long-life' bulbs doesn't last anything like as long as the makers claim

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Many energy-efficient LED light bulbs failed before their advertised lifespan, tests have found.

Some did not even reach the EU’s new minimum of 6,000 hours which comes into force in March.

LED bulbs from Ikea and Technical Consumer Products (TCP) performed worst, according to Which?

The consumer watchdog and European partners tested five samples of 46 types of bulb. New EU regulations say that from March 1, 90 per cent of any batch of LED (light emitting diode) bulbs should last at least 6,000 hours.

The bulbs were switched on for 165 minutes, then switched off for 15 minutes, in a continuous cycle until they failed.

Five types of bulb, some costing more than £10, stopped working before 6,000 hours in the majority of samples tested.

Another five failed before 10,000 hours for the majority of samples tested, despite claiming lifespans of at least 25,000 hours. In total, 66 of the 230 samples failed before 10,000 hours, though all claimed to last at least 15,000.

Bulbs from TCP and Ikea were the  only ones sold in the UK. Both companies said the types of bulbs tested have now been discontinued.

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

TCP said it was already aware of the problem with its bulb, which is why it was withdrawn from sale. It said it no longer dealt with the bulb’s supplier and now makes its LED bulbs in-house.

It is estimated that five million LED light bulbs were sold in the UK in the past year. Which? researcher Matt Clear said: ‘LED light bulbs have a tendency to make grand claims about their lifespan – it’s common to see manufacturers promise bulbs will last 25,000 or even 50,000 hours. But we’ve found many failing well before this.

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

LEDs create light by passing electricity through a semiconductor. They can fail if they are made from poor quality materials, and are also more prone to burn-out from power surges.

They are also liable to fail due to over-heating if the heat from the light emitting diodes is not dissipated efficiently. Brighter LED bulbs with a greater lumen power are particularly prone to this problem.

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