Cheap LED Light Bulbs That can Kill?

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cheap LED bulbs

LED light bulbs are starting to hit their stride. In fact, stay tuned for some LED related reviews coming to HomeFixated soon. In the meantime, we stumbled across some interesting information you’ll want to hear about. Our house has several light fixtures that use a GU10 style bulb (these are the mini spotlight-style bulbs, usually halogen, that have two metal terminals that you twist into and out of the socket by rotating the bulb just slightly. Historically, these bulbs have been pretty expensive. When we had a couple of them go out recently, I hopped online to do a little research on GU10 LED bulbs. What I found was shocking, literally!

The Philips GU10 LED
Before we dive into the safety topic, let me start out by saying several reputable manufacturers make GU10 LED bulbs, including Philips. But at $30 a bulb when this article is written, the Philips 6-Watt (50-Watt) MR16 LED Indoor Flood GU10 Base,12-Volt Light Bulb, Dimmable doesn’t come cheap.

That price point is driving a lot of people to consider discount options, particularly on ebay, where a GU10 LED bulb can be found for a too-good-to-be-true $2 per bulb price. Most of the the GU10 LED’s on ebay are available for less than you’d pay for a halogen version. So what gives? It’s clear that many of these cheap bulbs are being sold by overseas manufacturers, and their rep’s and resellers. These bargain basement variety LEDs typically bear no brand name, or one you’ve never heard of.

halogen gu10
The venerable GU10 Halogen bulb may stick around a while given very high price points and quality control concerns with some LED alternatives

Most of the the ultra-cheap bulbs don’t carry any type of safety certification. So, aside from very questionable build quality, light quality, and durability. . . there’s a potential for safety issues. That’s when we found this video about what appears to be a very glaring safety issue on one such “bargain” GU10 LED light bulb:

Sure, it’s from across the pond where residential electrical juice packs substantially more punch than it does here in the US. However, this doesn’t change the fact that there are some real risks using inexpensively manufactured bulbs. Cutting corners on safety to cut costs on products doesn’t sit well with us, regardless of the product.

I spent a little time reviewing the feedback from some of the ultra-cheap LED vendors on ebay, and although many listed overall positive feedback, there was also a chorus of dissatisfied buyers. From shipping issues, to bulbs that reportedly lasted only a few days, to light quality issues, I would say caveat emptor applies here. Whatever LED Bulb you might be buying online, if you’re finding it at a cost that’s 10% of a what a name brand charges, then buyer beware, or you could be in for a whole new kind of sticker shock!

Drop by Amazon if you prefer to look at some of the more popular, albeit more expensive, name brand LED light bulbs. Or, just sit tight with your existing stockpile of incandescent lights as LED bulbs, even the GU10 variety, inevitably become more affordable.


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About Marc Lyman

Marc grew up under a brave single mom who "encouraged" home improvement on the family home. Early toddler gifts included a tool set, and even a cordless Bosch drill when cordless drills first came out. In grade school (give or take a few years), Marc's mom said, "We need to cut down some trees. . . . here's a chainsaw." A father figure also involved Marc in many home improvement projects, including a summer of home remodeling in Palo Alto, CA. Toss in some Obsessive Compulsive personality traits researching everything home improvement related. The end result: a genetically pre-disposed, socially sculpted home improvement machine! For his complete profile, please visit our About page. Really, it's worth it.

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2 thoughts on “Cheap LED Light Bulbs That can Kill?”

    • Definitely George. . . .you just can’t find them for $3/bulb. We’re in the process of checking out several new LED bulbs and plan to do a little article on them in the not too distant future. Stay tuned!


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