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Why your new LED light bulb will probably outlast your car

Plus 11 Best Buy LED bulbs revealed
Image showing an LED bulb and and old-fashioned light bulb

LED light bulbs can last for years, are brighter than ever, and some look just like traditional bulbs

After years spent testing LED light bulbs, Which? can reveal that they really do last for many more hours than older light bulb technologies such as halogen bulbs.

We left hundreds of LED light bulbs running in our specially rigged-up light bulb labs to test whether they could last up to 15,000 hours without breaking down. 

And the results were impressive. 96% of the LED bulbs tested lasted for at least 3,000 hours, longer than the most halogen light bulbs could ever hope to achieve. 80% were still working fine at 15,000 hours. That’s the equivalent of having your light bulb on for 2 hours every day for 20 years. 

It’s likely you’ll have changed your car, washing machine, vacuum cleaner and fridge – and you might even move house – before you will need to replace a high quality LED light bulb. 

We’ve just tested 44 new LED light bulbs including 14 spotlights. To see which 11 LEDs topped our tests, head to our round up of Best Buy light bulbs.

Save money with LEDs

As well as lasting longer, LED light bulbs are 90% more energy efficient than old-style incandescent bulbs, so they can save you more than you might expect on your energy bills. 

Take the example of just one light fitting with six spotlights that you might have in a kitchen. Six 50W halogen spotlights in this fitting will cost more than £30 a year in electricity to run if you have them on for just two hours every day. But swap them for LED spotlights of the same brightness and that cost comes down to just over £3.*

If you’re looking to make the switch, make sure you head to our light bulb reviews to see the best dimmable and non-dimmable GU10 spotlights.

Are LED light bulbs really getting cheaper?

When we first tested LED bulbs in 2011 most cost £20 or more, and could only manage a 40W equivalent brightness. But the technology has developed rapidly since then. In 2016 some LEDs cost a fraction of that price, plus you can now get LEDs that match old-style 100W bulbs for light output. 

Since 2015, we’ve seen the average cost of the LEDs we’ve tested fall by more than a pound: 

  • £9.96 – average price of 60W equivalent LED GLS bulbs we tested in 2015
  • £8.78 – average price in 2016
  • £7.66 – average price for the spotlight LEDs we tested in 2015
  • £5.97 – average price in 2016

We’ve found Best Buy LED light bulbs from £4 and GU10 spotlights from as little as £3.50, so head to our round up of the best LED bulbs to get a better bulb for less.

Filament LEDs 

If you prefer a light bulb that looks similar to a traditional incandescant bulb, energy-hungry halogens used to be your only option. But the latest LED light bulbs have ‘filaments’ so they look just like old-style bulbs. 

They tend to be a bit more expensive than standard LED bulbs, but they are great if you want a bulb that looks good and still saves money on your electricity bills. Head to our LED light bulb reviews to see which two filament LED bulbs impressed us enough to become Best Buys.

*based on a unit price of electricity of 10p per kWh.

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