Osram has revealed that more than 70 substandard or even illegal LED-based products have had to be withdrawn from sale in the four years since Europe began phasing out incandescent light bulbs in favour of higher quality and more sustainable light emitting diodes (LEDs).
These products, many of them substandard imports, range from individual LED bulbs to complete lighting solutions for industrial, professional and consumer use. They were removed as a precautionary measure by the European Commission (EC) to protect buyers from potential risks including electric shock, burns or even fire.
“LED lighting products have transformed the lighting industry. Genuine, high quality LED products are up to 90% more energy efficient and offer lower total cost of ownership,” said Jason Ford, UK controls manager at Osram. “However, it can be difficult for customers to know if the product they are buying is everything it claims to be, and the EC list of substandard solutions makes for worrying reading.
“While the law helps to protect customers from hazardous products, lighting users should also be vigilant towards cheap LEDs as many give poor performance in terms of brightness and lifespan. Although these are within legal safety limits, they still constitute the risk of wasted investment.
“We have therefore developed guidance that we hope will help customers to navigate their way through the market and find a solution they can rely on; one that is backed by years of research and development and exhaustive safety testing.”
Osram offers the following advice to buyers of LED lighting solutions:
· Buy reputable brands from reputable sellers. This advice is the same for individual light bulbs to complete luminaires and lighting installations. Choose a well established company that will still be around when the warranty expires, and which continues to invest in new product innovation.
· Contractors hired to install lighting solutions have a legal liability period that can be as short as 12 months – long before some substandard products can reveal themselves. Again, using a reputable lighting brand can reassure customers both during and after the liability period.
· Choose products with lifespan guarantees.
· Check the IP ratings for products are specified for their intended use. This is particularly important where the lighting is intended for external use or where weather or waterproofing is required.
· Check for the CE mark – but be aware that even this is sometimes used fraudulently. Some substandard products carry a mark that looks a lot like the CE mark, but means ‘China Export’ rather than ‘Conformité Européenne’.