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What makes a good value LED bulb?

Author: Paul Marchant
Published: September 17, 2012

One of the greatest things about LED light bulbs is that they last for eons – tens of thousands of hours if you pick a good-quality LED bulb. That’s a fistful of years in real-world terms. However, we often hear of people who have complained that LED lighting isn’t quite the revolution promised. Disappointing lifespan and inconsistent light tone are the most common causes for concern.

Why doesn't my LED bulb always last?

What’s the problem? Are people using them wrong? Are cheap LEDs no good? Or are LED bulbs in general just not as good as they’re cracked up to be?  Look a little further into the lingo of the LED lighting world, and you can easily avoid getting stuck with a bad bulb.

It all boils down to one simple truth – not every LED bulb is the same. Just as with any mass-produced product, if you opt for the bottom rung, cheap option you may end up spending more in the long run as bulbs can give up the ghost much earlier than expected. And, also like anything electrical you’d find on a high street shelf, LED light bulbs undergo testing before they end up in our warehouse.

A tale of two tests

There are two types of test that may go into earning a bulb the claim of 25,000 hours. If a bulb’s rating is measured using the B50 standard, there’s a small chance an LED won’t last as long as expected. The B50 test involves seeing how long 50 per cent of 100 LED bulbs fail, where a fail is a bulb not producing any light whatsoever. A bulb emitting 1% of light is still classed as working and in some cases LED lightbulbs could even have failed within the first ten minutes.

There’s a higher-grade test, though, which is soon to be ratified as the standard by the government. The L70 is altogether more practical than the B50, failing a bulb such as the top-notch Philips Dimmable MasterLED once its light output falls below 70 per cent of what it puts out fresh out of the packaging. The standard measure of brightness is lumens, and a high-quality, more powerful LED light bulb like the Megaman 11W model will provide in excess of 1000 – a seriously powerful light-flinger.

Test it for yourself

If the budget is of vital importance, though, there’s a third way to check out whether you’re buying the right bulb. Divide the claimed hours by the cost of the bulb itself and you’ll get what we like to call the cost per 1,000 hours figure. If a £20 bulb is certified to last for an average of 25,000 hours, it’s actually better value than a £10 bulb that’s expected to last for 10,000 hours.   A longer-lasting premium bulb is also likely to offer more consistent performance over its life.

Other factors

It’s not just the lifespan of the bulb that you need to consider, either. Colour temperature is also extremely important. This is measured in so many thousand kelvins – yes, the same unit as temperature. A rating of around 2,700k is standard for “warm white”, which has a touch of orange for a less clinical look. Cool white sits at around 4,000k, with a slight blue hue giving a sharper finish.

However, just like stamina ratings, these figures are not absolute. In a premium LED light bulb, you can expect the actual colour temperature to be with around 100k or 150k of the stated one. That’s pretty accurate. Cheaper bulbs with less strenuous quality assurance may only promise to stay within 500k of the intended shade – way off a bullseye. A 2,700k warm white bulb that’s actually a 2,200k bulb will appear very orangey. Getting the right look is extremely important when a high-grade bulb like the Philips 6W MasterLED Spot GU10 will last for years, if not more than a decade. Many of our white LED light bulbs are available in both warm and cool variants.

For all the testing and grading measures that go into LED-making, though, you can’t beat first-hand experience when it comes to choosing a bulb. If you’re out to kit out a whole house or business with low-energy, long-life LED bulbs, our top advice is to buy yourself a bulb or two to see exactly what they offer. There are a lot of great bulbs out there. Pick the right one and you’ll save a lot of time and money.

Lyco quality assurance

Lyco’s range of LED bulbs have all been put through their paces with exhaustive testing. Whether it is our full range of market leading performance LEDs or the more price sensitive LED bulbs, such testing ensures that we only offer the best selection of high quality LED light bulbs around as well as the best performing models amongst the lower priced LED bulbs on the market

Checkout our full range of LED Light Bulbs.

Looking for more inspiration, news and advice. Try our Lighting Advice section.


This article was tagged with Light bulbs, LED