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The Bulletin

LED bulbs banned, recalled for shock hazards

Posting in Energy

Faulty electrical wiring is sending Philips and other brand LED bulbs back to the factory.

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No one said the lighting industry was going to have an easy time moving to energy efficient LEDs (light emitting diodes).

Just as it seemed that vendors were making headway by reducing bulb prices to a level that doesn't require the average consumer to secure a bank loan, a wave of hazardous products has hit the global market, triggering recalls and bans.

Lighting giant Philips is recalling two dimmable bulbs in the U.S. because faulty wiring in the housing "can electrify the entire lamp and pose a shock hazard," the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said in a press release this week. There have been no reported accidents for the orange, made-in-China bulbs - the 12-watt Endura and the 12.5 watt Ambient (roughly the brightness equivalent of a conventional 60-watt incandescent bulb).

Earlier this month, U.K. trade publication Lux Magazine reported that "twenty LED lighting products have been banned or recalled in the European Union so far this year due to risks of electric shock or fire." Most were made in China, with two coming from Germany, Lux noted. Products included bulbs, lighting strips and flashlights ("torch" in Brit speak). Lux added:

The worst hit brand was China’s Jiage, which has had two of its LED torch products banned in Hungary because they could cause electric shocks, burns or fire. Even some well-known brands such as Philips, Sylvania and LED Hut have voluntarily recalled LED products on sale in the UK and Spain in the last few months due to safety fears.

Not long ago, LED bulbs sold for $40 or $50 - a staggering amount for a consumer used to paying a dollar or two for a conventional bulb. It's not hard to find LED bulbs for around $10 now.

Vendors promote them as long term money savers because they use only about 20 percent of the electricity of a conventional bulb and because they supposedly last for 25 years. But if they are prone to electrical faults, that lifetime suddenly becomes shockingly shorter.

Image from wggb.com

More information on the Philips bulbs and recall here.

Additional LED ups and downs:

— By on August 20, 2013, 8:36 PM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure