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LEDS – the Greatest Scandal in Electronics Today

How not to run trains

Well, ok, perhaps that title indicates that I used to read the Sun newspaper too often in my youth.  I’m sitting on the train on the way up to Aberdeen for another FSB all-day meeting over the weekend… in the empty part of the train I might add (and you wonder why National Express gave up!) and I just happened to look up at their lighting – all brand-spanking new LED lighting (well, apart form the masses of fluorescent lights needed to make up for the fact that the LEDs don’t give sufficient light).

LEDS (Light Emitting Diodes) you may well know unless you’ve been in Africa for a while, are the lights appearing all over the place that are supposed to last 100,000 hours or 200 years depending on whether you read English or Chinese instruction. All of the lighting manufacturers seem to be as bad as each other, they all claim the led lightingsame figures, straight from the spec sheet without ever actually doing real tests…   You probably can’t see in the photo, but as you’ll find in any B&Q demo, the super-new LEDS in the train are starting to go… erm, yellowy, which usually means they are on the way out having been over-powered.  As electronics is my thing (I’ve been playing with circuits since I was a kid and have run electronics companies for years) I tend to have endless different types of LEDs floating about and I’ve tried various combinations of voltage, current, variation over time – you name it and it’s always the same – if they get too hot either constantly or intermittently – eventually the colour goes off and they start to die.  This seems to apply more to WHITE LEDs than the others.  The only ones I’ve seen that DON’T get overpowered are the garden solar lights and the reason for that is cost -  a solar panel capable of damaging a LED would cost more than the whole lamp+packaging – so they are usually drastically under-powered and that’s why most of them are useful only for decorative purposes.

So, next time you’re considering LED lighting, make sure you look at a demo that’s been running for some time before forking out your hard-earned cash! And when you decide to trade in your LCD TV for a brand new NEW LED TV – make sure it has a good guarantee!


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