Buying Guides

Cheap imported LED lighting – is it worth the risk?

The global LED market has exploded in recent years as the benefits of LED bulbs over traditional CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) and incandescent bulbs have become more widely recognised. As a result, the demand for cheap LED lighting has rocketed, with many consumers looking to lower-priced imports as a cost-cutting solution. But whilst everyone loves a bargain, price should not be at the expense of safety.

What to look out for when buying LED bulbs online:

When selling electrical products in Europe and the UK, there are numerous legislative requirements and trading standards that must be met by manufacturers. One of the main risks when buying cheap imported products online is that they may not meet these standards, making them unreliable at best, potentially lethal at worst. When buying products online, be sure to check that they meet the necessary standards and legislations, including:

  • the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016 which ensures that all electrical equipment designed for use within certain voltage limits is safe to use
  • a CE marking which allows manufacturers to legally market and distribute products within the European Market, and declares that the products comply with all applicable European Directives and Regulations
  • the BSI Kitemark which is an optional certification for emergency lighting, luminaires, and LED retrofit bulbs. Manufacturers can use the BSI Kitemark to differentiate their products from their competitors, using it as proof of quality, safety and reliability.

Dangers of buying cheap products online

In recent years, thousands of cheap, potentially dangerous LED bulbs have been intercepted at ports, airports and postal hubs across the country. Between July – November 2014, National Trading Standards reported that 64% of LED bulbs tested across various UK border points were found to be unsafe or noncompliant.

In a case reported on the BBC’s Fake Britain in 2015, a shipment of 1,000 LED bulbs, imported from China, was intercepted at the Port of Felixstowe. When tested, a sample of these products were found to have inadequate insulation, as well as exposed wiring and metal bodies, making them extremely dangerous.

Tips for buying safe online:

National Trading Standards offer some useful advice when shopping online for LEDs, including:

  • look closely at the website on which you are shopping – is it a genuine business with a UK address and phone number? If in doubt, move on
  • if prices look too good to be true, they probably are
  • if you believe a seller is pushing potentially dangerous goods, report it to the Citizen’s Advice Consumer Service.

When buying lighting products online, the saying ‘you get what you pay for’ couldn’t be more true. Whilst the promise of cheap bulbs may prove a tempting proposition for many, safety must always be the number one consideration and you should always use a trusted supplier such as Lyco: