Cheap imported LED lighting – is it worth the risk?

led lighting

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: https://uat.lyco.co.uk/led-lighting.html

IP44 lighting for outdoors – our top 10

In an ideal world, we’d all live and work in places that offered the perfect natural light for whatever we needed to do, when we needed to do it. However, we don’t all get to sit next to wall-sized picture windows, or have the luxury of only working in daylight. And let’s face it, the British weather usually leaves something to be desired. This is where daylight bulbs can help as they provide a similar level of lighting to natural daylight.

Match your lighting needs

Different people need different things from their lighting, particularly in an office or study environment. Visually-based workers such as designers, architects, clothes makers and illustrators need lighting as close to natural light as possible, while anyone who deals with a lot of paperwork or fine print needs bright, clear lighting. Interestingly, in the retail sector, different types of lights are used in ways you may not expect – supermarkets use special fluorescent tubes in their meat counter fridges to bring out the red of the meat, and make it look extra tasty.

SAD lighting

Another important factor to bear in mind is that some people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and even those that don’t can be affected by a lack of natural light over a longer term. This doesn’t just apply during the long, gloomy winter months, but is also a factor in offices with no or little natural light. Luckily, all of these things can be addressed with full spectrum or daylight bulbs.

Daylight bulbs or Full Spectrum what’s the difference?

There are actually differences between full spectrum and daylight bulbs, so it’s important to get the right sort to fit your needs, as not every bulb fills every role. The light given off by a bulb is described by two measurements, the first of which is colour temperature, measured in Kelvin (K) – also used for measuring the brightness of distant stars. The yellowy orange of a classic tungsten bulb would be in the 2700K (warm white) range, with the light becoming colder and whiter, up to around 6500K for a cold blue light. The second measurement is Colour Rendering Index (CRI), which measures a light source’s ability to render colours faithfully, and is shown as a percentage. Again, higher is better, with the best possible rendition at a CRI of around 96%.

So, what does this mean for you?

Well, bulbs and tubes basically fall into two categories – daylight and full spectrum (though the latter can occasionally be referred to as daylight as well). If price is a concern, and you just need the appearance of daylight – for brightening up a reception or communal area, for example, or for an airy-feeling office – a standard daylight bulb is fine. These tend to offer a colour temperature of 6000-6500K, and a CRI of about 80%. There are many different types of daylight bulb, from fluorescent tubes to spiral bulbs, LED Bulbs and even classic incandescent daylight bulbs.

If, however, you need perfect colour rendition for design or other visual tasks, you’re lighting a windowless room, or SAD is a factor, then full spectrum tubes are the best option. Full spectrum lights offer a colour temperature of 6500K and a CRI of 96%, offering a light as close to natural daylight as it’s possible to get. If you are equipping a design studio, workshop or basement, full spectrum is simply the best way to go.

What lighting have you got now?

Finally, if you’re not sure what type of lighting you have in your existing room, there’s a quick and easy way to check. On the bulb or tube, you’ll find a 3-digit number, i.e. ‘835’. This is the first digit of the CRI, plus the first two digits of the colour temperature. So the bulb in this example has 80% colour rendition, and a temperature of 3500K, while a full spectrum bulb might read ‘965’.

Why not take a look at our full range of Daylight Bulbs?

Looking for more information / inspiration? Check out our Lighting Advice section.

Where Next?

Commercial lighting where next LED office lighting where next Light bulbs where next

What are daylight bulbs?

In an ideal world, we’d all live and work in places that offered the perfect natural light for whatever we needed to do, when we needed to do it. However, we don’t all get to sit next to wall-sized picture windows, or have the luxury of only working in daylight. And let’s face it, the British weather usually leaves something to be desired. This is where daylight bulbs can help as they provide a similar level of lighting to natural daylight.

Match your lighting needs

Different people need different things from their lighting, particularly in an office or study environment. Visually-based workers such as designers, architects, clothes makers and illustrators need lighting as close to natural light as possible, while anyone who deals with a lot of paperwork or fine print needs bright, clear lighting. Interestingly, in the retail sector, different types of lights are used in ways you may not expect – supermarkets use special fluorescent tubes in their meat counter fridges to bring out the red of the meat, and make it look extra tasty.

SAD lighting

Another important factor to bear in mind is that some people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and even those that don’t can be affected by a lack of natural light over a longer term. This doesn’t just apply during the long, gloomy winter months, but is also a factor in offices with no or little natural light. Luckily, all of these things can be addressed with full spectrum or daylight bulbs.

Daylight bulbs or Full Spectrum what’s the difference?

There are actually differences between full spectrum and daylight bulbs, so it’s important to get the right sort to fit your needs, as not every bulb fills every role. The light given off by a bulb is described by two measurements, the first of which is colour temperature, measured in Kelvin (K) – also used for measuring the brightness of distant stars. The yellowy orange of a classic tungsten bulb would be in the 2700K (warm white) range, with the light becoming colder and whiter, up to around 6500K for a cold blue light. The second measurement is Colour Rendering Index (CRI), which measures a light source’s ability to render colours faithfully, and is shown as a percentage. Again, higher is better, with the best possible rendition at a CRI of around 96%.

So, what does this mean for you?

Well, bulbs and tubes basically fall into two categories – daylight and full spectrum (though the latter can occasionally be referred to as daylight as well). If price is a concern, and you just need the appearance of daylight – for brightening up a reception or communal area, for example, or for an airy-feeling office – a standard daylight bulb is fine. These tend to offer a colour temperature of 6000-6500K, and a CRI of about 80%. There are many different types of daylight bulb, from fluorescent tubes to LED Bulbs and even classic incandescent daylight bulbs.

If, however, you need perfect colour rendition for design or other visual tasks, you’re lighting a windowless room, or SAD is a factor, then full spectrum tubes are the best option. Full spectrum lights offer a colour temperature of 6500K and a CRI of 96%, offering a light as close to natural daylight as it’s possible to get. If you are equipping a design studio, workshop or basement, full spectrum is simply the best way to go.

What lighting have you got now?

Finally, if you’re not sure what type of lighting you have in your existing room, there’s a quick and easy way to check. On the bulb or tube, you’ll find a 3-digit number, i.e. ‘835’. This is the first digit of the CRI, plus the first two digits of the colour temperature. So the bulb in this example has 80% colour rendition, and a temperature of 3500K, while a full spectrum bulb might read ‘965’.

Why not take a look at our full range of Daylight Bulbs?

Looking for more information / inspiration? Check out our Lighting Advice section.

Where Next?

Commercial lighting where next LED office lighting where next Light bulbs where next

Charles Author Bio

Charles Barnett Managing Director

Charles started Lyco in 1995 with just 4 enthusiastic employees and has grown it considerably over the past 25 years. Charles is also the Managing Director of Lighting Direct and newly acquired Online Lighting. He now has a team of 50 lighting experts working on growing Lyco Group to be the UK leader in lighting for both businesses and homes. Away from the office he is a keen cyclist and is proud to have cycled 1017 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats to raise money for a new residential centre for adults with multiple learning difficulties.

Landlords, is your emergency lighting up to scratch?

emergency lighting

When it comes to fire safety, landlords have certain legal obligations to which they must adhere in order to ensure the protection of their property and the safety of their tenants.

As part of these obligations, landlords must make sure that all emergency routes and exits are adequately lit by emergency lighting, in accordance with The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – the key legislation that drives the implementation of fire safety systems within non-domestic premises. All emergency lighting systems must also adhere to a number of British and European standards, details of which can be found in our emergency lighting guide.

What is emergency lighting?

In simplest terms, emergency lighting is battery backed lighting that switches on automatically when a building experiences a power outage. There are two main types of emergency lighting; emergency escape lighting, and standby lighting. Standby lighting allows normal work to continue after a power failure, but does not form part of a building’s fire protection.

Emergency escape lighting

Emergency escape lighting is defined by The British Standards Institution (BSI) as ‘that part of emergency lighting that is provided to enable safe exit in the event of failure of the normal supply’. Emergency escape lighting is part of the fire safety provision of a building, and a requirement under The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, and is subdivided into the following three areas:

  • Escape route lighting – Escape route lighting ensures exits can be easily identified and used by occupants in the event of an emergency. Emergency sign boxes are a common example of emergency escape route lighting.

Eterna 8W Emergency Exit Box SignEterna 8W Emergency Exit Box Sign

  • Open area lighting – The main aim of open area lighting is to reduce panic in the event of an emergency and help occupants reach an area where an emergency exit can be found. Bulkhead lights are a common solution for open area emergency lighting.
  • High risk task area lighting – High risk task area lighting is less relevant for landlords as it is the part of the emergency escape lighting system that aids the safety of those who are carrying out a potentially dangerous task at the time of an emergency. This could include anyone using dangerous machinery or equipment that could endanger the user or other people if not shutdown properly.

Points of emphasis – lighting the way

The critical areas of an emergency escape route are called ‘points of emphasis’. An emergency escape lighting system should cover the following areas:

  • Emergency exit doors
  • Exit and safety signs
  • All flights of stairs
  • Changes in floor level
  • Changes of direction
  • Intersections of corridors/escape routes
  • Fire alarm call points
  • First aid posts
  • Firefighting equipment
  • Outside and near (within 2m) each final exit

The risk of getting it wrong

Non-compliance with emergency lighting standards and legislation can result in heavy fines or worse for landlords and property agents, not to mention posing a significant risk to tenants. Earlier this year the owner of a Nottingham-based letting company was fined £200,000 and sentenced to three months’ imprisonment after admitting to a number of breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which included, amongst other things, a failure to provide adequate emergency lighting.

To avoid the risk of fines or worse, landlords should ensure they routinely review their emergency lighting in keeping with recent legislation and emergency lighting standards.

Lyco offers a wide range of emergency lighting solutions, including emergency fittings, exit signs conversion kits and more, to help landlords fulfill their obligations and keep their tenants safe. Further information about emergency lighting more generally can be found in this guide, compiled by the Industry Committee for Emergency Lighting (ICEL).