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Oak Tree Electrical Blog

Should I change to LED bulbs?

Is it worthwhile changing to LED lights? This is the question I am most commonly asked as an electrician. As you might expect the answer starts it depends.

For the moment let’s assume you are asking the question because you want to reduce your electricity bill. If this is the case the most important thing that the answer depends on is what type of light bulb are you thinking of changing. Below I have considered the potential savings when changing an incandescent (filament) bulb for an LED and when changing a compact fluorescent bulb for an LED.

For both cases I have made the following assumptions: the cost of a good quality 7 watt LED bulb is £7.50; the light is on for 5 hours a day; and electricity costs 14p per unit.

Let’s first look at changing a 60 watt incandescent bulb for a 7 watt LED which are roughly equivalent in terms of light output. In this case you will save approximately 3.7p per bulb per day. At this rate it will take about 200 days to pay for the new LED bulb and you will save about £3.30 per bulb on your quarterly electricity bill. It therefore seems clear that there is a good financial case to change incandescent bulbs for LED ones.

However if saving money is what has brought you to this blog then it is worth remembering that in most cases lighting makes up quite a small proportion of your energy bill and there may be better ways to save money. For instance if you have not insulated your loft doing so will almost certainly give you a better return on your investment than changing your bulbs. If you have everything else covered then it is also worth remembering that turning off lights and other electrical items that are not being used is always going to be the easiest way to reduce your electricity bill.

Let’s now look at the case for changing a 10 watt compact fluorescent bulb for a 7 watt LED which are roughly equivalent in terms of light output. In this case you will save approximately 0.2p per bulb per day. At this rate it will take about 3750 days (more than ten years) to pay for the new LED bulb. 3750 days is approximately 19000 hours which is only slightly less than the 20000 hours which is often claimed as the life expectancy of a LED bulb. This means that you would expect to have to renew the LED bulb soon after it has paid for itself leaving very little opportunity to save any money. In conclusion there does not seem to be a financial case for changing compact fluorescent bulbs for LED bulbs.

Aside from saving money it is worth noting that LEDs switch on at full brightness straight away unlike compact fluorescent bulbs which can take several minutes to warm up. If this warm up period is a problem for you then LEDs could be a good solution.

The main other point to consider is that LEDs often do not play nicely with many dimmer switches. Incompatible dimmer switches can cause LEDs to buzz flicker interfere with radios and switch on unreliably. If you are updating a light operated from a dimmer switch you will have to get a dimmable LED which will be more expensive and you may well have to change the dimmer switch which could cost approximately £15.

As mentioned above a life expectancy of 20000 hours is often claimed for LED bulbs. However I have heard of cases of cheaper LED bulbs only lasting a matter of weeks. If you have decided to make the change I recommend that you stick to products from reputable manufactures. As always if a bargain seems too good to be true then that is probably the case.

One last point to consider is the colour of the light given off by a LED. Typically manufactures sell bulbs producing a warm white light which should be similar to the light given off by an incandescent bulb and cool white which is harsher. Manufactures and retailers may also refer to colour temperature which may seem a little confusing in that the lower the temperature the warmer the light. For instance temperatures of approximately 2400 K and 3500 K are respectively roughly equivalent to the warm white and cool white referred to above. If you are confused take a look on the packaging which often displays a colour chart to help clarify things.

Electrical Safety in the Garden

Although electricity makes gardening much easier wet conditions and contact with the ground means that the risk of injury or death from electric shock is much greater than the risk from using electrical equipment indoors.

Electricity and water don’t mix – so whether it’s pouring from the heavens or there’s still dew on the ground don’t use electrical equipment outdoors until it is dry.

By following simple safety rules every time you work in a garden you can easily avoid a serious accident.

Fit RCDs (Residual Current Devices)

An RCD is a potentially life-saving device that protects against electric shock and reduces the risk of electrical fires. Without it if you cut through an electrical lead a simple job like mowing the lawn could kill you. Any socket that may be used to plug in a lawnmower hedge trimmer or other power tool should have RCD Protection.

Lawnmowers hedge trimmers and other electrical equipment

To stay safe while using electrical equipment in the garden follow these suggestions:

  • Buy a good-quality lawn mower/ hedge trimmer from a reputable manufacturer;

  • Follow manufacturers’ instructions closely;

  • Make sure all electrical cables and connections are in good order and undamaged;

  • Check that the socket-outlet has RCD protection;

  • Test the RCD using its test button unless you are certain that the RCD has been tested within the last 3 months;

  • Do not cut grass in wet conditions;

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  • Keep children well away from the appliance;

  • Unplug the lawn mower and wait until the blades have stopped turning before doing anything like cleaning grass blockages. Similarly unplug the hedge trimmer before removing jammed hedge trimmings.

  • Garden Ponds – Make sure electric pumps don’t electrify the water

    The risk of electric shock is higher when there’s water about. Incorrectly installed or damaged mains supplied pumps can result in injury or death to you your family or even your fish.

    A mains supplied electric water pump in the garden should be:

  • Good quality and bought from a reputable manufacturer;

  • Protected by an RCD that is tested at least every 3 months;

  • Installed in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions;

  • Provided with cables that are protected against accidental damage;

  • Maintained in good working order including cables and any connections.

  • If there’s a problem switch off the water pump’s electrical supply immediately and have the pump repaired by a registered electrician.

    Maintaining Flexible Cables and Connectors

    If you do not check the condition of extension leads cables and connections and use them correctly you could get an electric shock.

    To stay safe make sure they are:

  • Suitable for outdoor use - weather-resistant with moulded connections that prevent moisture seeping in;

  • Rated correctly to suit the equipment you want to connect to them;

  • Uncoiled to prevent them from overheating;

  • Kept clean and free from damage;

  • Replaced if damage is found;

  • Used according to the manufacturer’s instructions;

  • Positioned appropriately to prevent them being damaged;

  • Kept dry.

  • Bright Ideas for Safer Garden Lighting

    Garden lighting is commonplace but can create a safety risk if not properly installed.

    For mains supplied lighting in the garden follow these simple suggestions:

  • Buy good quality electrical outdoor lighting equipment from a reputable manufacturer;

  • Make sure any outdoor lights are weatherproof(IPX4 at least);

  • Ensure light fittings used in water features are waterproof(IPX7 at least);

  • Have it installed by a registered electrician in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and BS 7671 – Requirements for Electrical Installations (IEE Wiring Regulations);

  • Check regularly for damaged lighting fittings cables and connections;

  • Keep maintained and free from leaves and dirt;

  • Before changing any lamps make sure you switch off the power supply.

  • If any faults are found switch off the electrical supply immediately and have them repaired by a Registered Electrician.

    Electrical Safety in the Kitchen

    More than half of all accidental house fires start in the kitchen. Government statistics show that the largest number of reported accidental fires caused by electricity in the home is due to people misusing electrical cooking appliances including microwaves.

    So it’s important that you take special care when using electrical appliances. The mixture of water hot surfaces flexible cables and electricity can be very dangerous. Follow these tips to stay safe.

    Sockets and switches

  • To avoid water coming into contact with electricity make sure that your sockets or switches are fitted at a safe distance (at least 30cm horizontally) from the sink;

  • If appliances such as fridges dishwashers and washing machines are fitted under worktops getting to sockets may be difficult. Ideally these appliances should be controlled by a switched fuse connection unit mounted above the worktop where you can reach it easily;

  • Never use switches or any electrical equipment when your hands are wet.

  • Simple tips for kitchen safety

  • Don’t leave electrical appliances like dishwashers or washing machines running unattended;

  • Don’t wrap flexible cables around any equipment when it is still warm;

  • Check that flexible leads and appliances such as kettles and toasters are in good condition;

  • Don’t try to repair an appliance when it is still plugged in;

  • Never try to get toast that is stuck out of a toaster while it is plugged in and especially not with a metal knife as there are often live parts inside;

  • Make sure you thoroughly clean your oven and grill– a build up of fat and grease is a major cause of fires;

  • Check your plug sockets are not overloaded with too many electrical appliances as this can lead to overheating;

  • Avoid storing objects on top of appliances like the microwave which can block ventilation;

  • Defrost your fridge and freezer at least once a year to ensure these appliances continue to work properly;

  • Make sure you have a working smoke or heat detector in case something does go wrong.

  • Keeping DIY safe

    Nearly half of all severe electric shocks are caused by DIY attempts with the main errors including cutting through power leads drilling into wiring and repairing electrical items while they’re still switched on.

    Reduce the chance of receiving an electric shock while DIYing by following these tips:

    Keeping your Christmas lights safe.

    Follow these simple recommendations to avoid problems with your Christmas lights and enjoy a safe and happy festive season.


    read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions; check your Christmas lights are not damaged;

    if you need to replace a bulb only use the same type and rating as those supplied with the lights;

    if the lights are going to be outside make sure you connect them to a socket protected by a 30mA RCD;

    replace defective lamps immediately;

    make sure power supplies are located indoors even if the lights are suitable for use outside;

    switch your Christmas lights off before you go out or go to bed;

    keep your lights away from flammable decorations and other materials that can burn easily.


    Use lights outdoors unless they are specifically designed for such use;

    connect different light sets together;

    change lamps while connected to the supply;

    use damaged lights;

    attempt too repair broken lights - replace them.