Lighting Industry, News, Residential

LED lamp shocks bulb tester at UK consumer publication

Shock tactics: Normally touching an LED lamp should be safe. But as a Which? technician discovered, on rare occasions, you can't touch this (apologies to MC Hammer).

We were just flipping through our March edition of UK consumer magazine Which? when we spotted this little item buried at the bottom of the monthly print publication’s news section, under the innocuous and stylistic headline ‘And finally…’


  • ‘Our light bulb tester deserves a special mention. A safety fault in a new TCP LED bulb meant the outside was live, so he received an electric shock. However, one man’s pain is everyone else’s gain. After we alerted TCP, it disposed of the entire batch so no consumers are at risk.’


First, here’s to the proud and the brave on the front lines of light bulbs! If you believe in all of the energy and climate saving virtues of LED lighting (most Lux readers probably do), then you have to believe that our planet is a better place when men like Which?’s technician venture into perilous territory to make the world safe for lighting.

It’s especially impressive when those honourable few dust themselves off after an injury and intrepidly return to action. The Which? story noted, ‘As for our man in the lab, after a cup of tea he was back testing bulbs again.’

Tea for the electrocuted? How very English!

LEDs for the world? How very necessary. They require only about 10-to-20 percent of the energy of conventional bulbs. But most of you already know that.

They also come in varying quality. While they supposedly last for decades, they have occasionally been known to fail in less than year. Some render colours better than others. Not all are created equally efficient. Some deliver a warmer more welcoming glow than icier ones.

Some – as our hero found out – have electrical faults (LEDs include circuits that knock voltage down from the common 120 and 240 household levels around 12 or less and that convert alternating current to direct. They also have heat sinks that can fail – for all their improved efficiency, LED bulbs still emit heat that must dissipate for safe operations).

That’s why Which?  is busy testing. It plans to publish a review of bulbs in its June issue. It’s why Lux’s own Alan Tulla does what he does, separating the LED wheat from the chaff.

We don’t know eactly why the TCP bulb jolted the Which? man. We’ll try to find out. The tone of the magazine’s news story (the five italicized sentences above are all that Which? had to say on the matter) seems light hearted and dismissive. Was this a freak one-off occurrence?

Or should LED bulbs come with this video warning? 

Photo is from Vladimir Gjorgiev via Shutterstock. EMI Music MC Hammer video is from YouTube.