Warning over LED light bulb rip-off

If you're keen to cut your energy bills with LED light bulbs, be careful about buying from Ikea. That's the advice from a new Which? report. Which? tested five samples from almost 50 types of LED lightbulb and found LEDs from Ikea and Technical Consumer Products (TCP) performed the worst.

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Kill the lights

Possibly. New EU rules, which arrive in March, insist most LED bulbs - which can cost more than £10 per bulb, in some cases - must last a minimum of 6,000 hours. But in Which? tests bulbs were repeatedly switched on and off for 165 minutes, then off for 15 minutes; five types died a death before the minimum 6,000 hour threshold.

"From 1 March, new EU regulations, say that 90% of any batch of LED bulbs should last at least 6,000 hours," says Which? Responding, Ikea claims their bulbs have passed internal tests plus independent testing and said it was looking into how how some of their bulbs failed to pass muster.

TCP adds it now makes its LED bulbs in-house, rather than relying on a third party. Certainly some LED manufacturing bulb claims look initially impressive. It's also hard to prove or disprove, given that LED lights haven't been on the market for a decade yet. The amount of light from LEDs can also slip over time.

Not cheap

Then there's the cost issue. Not cheap, with many bulbs starting at £10 plus. In a new report the Energy Savings Trust (EST) says however that 33% of Brits would buy an LED bulb over a conventional bulb, despite the considerable expense.

On a European basis, the Swedes are well ahead, topping the table at 46% (see below), according to an EST survey. Strangely, near neighbour Finland tumbles to just 20%.

"The most important thing," says Tom Lock, certification manager at the Energy Savings Trust, "is that consumers are given clear and accurate information about the quality of energy saving light bulbs and that the cost and energy saving benefits are fully realised."

Clearly there's still some work to do here yet. As a rough guide, you want to stick to 2,700 Kelvin (or lower, if possible) if you want to keep the warmer, yellow light of traditional halogens or filament bulbs. Bear in mind that not all LED lights can be dimmed.

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