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Do you know the true cost of cheap LED vehicle lighting?

Do you know the true cost of cheap LED vehicle lighting?

Most buyers have an expectation from manufacturers that LEDs will last anywhere between 50,000 and 100,000 hours – and while this may be true of the LED component themselves, under perfect operating conditions – does this actually make low-cost LED lighting the best option?


An LED bar-style work light with failures due to water ingress


Starting in Summer 2016, and ongoing as part of our policy of continuous product range improvement, we analysed third-party and conducted rigorous tests on a variety of LED lighting products that are already readily available on the market.  The range included interior lights, worklamps, truck & trailer lighting and other exterior lighting and the outcome was shocking.

In that time, some of the products had significant problems including;

  • Up to a 97% drop in actual light output
  • Water ingress from supposedly water-proof products
  • Individual LED failures within lamps

That’s all within 800 hours, less than 1% of some of the manufacturer’s claimed expected life-span – quite a difference.¬† Under the same conditions comparative products from within Dun-Bri Group’s own product portfolio had a 0% drop in light output and a zero failure rate.

It seems that the implications of cheap LED lighting can have a sizeable impact on your costs over the lifetime of a vehicle.  We asked engineers from within our nationwide fitting service, Dun-Bri Fit, as well as one of our lighting manufacturers for more information on the other financial implications and these were their responses;

  • Cost of replacing a defective lamp – up to ¬£132 each including labour
  • Vehicle down-time resulting in loss of business – up to ¬£2,000
  • Cost of vehicle damage and injury¬†– see below…


Faulty LED interior lighting

Faulty: LED interior lamp


We also looked into the financial costs associated with road accidents and we approached including the road safety charities Making the Link, Brake and RosPA, as well as the Department for Transport and the police Рbased on the last Government reports in 2011 they put the cost of each type of accident, per person, as follows;

  • Slight injury – ¬£14,611
  • Serious injury – ¬£189,519
  • Fatal injury – ¬£1.69million

While we were unable to pinpoint the number of road accidents that were caused by poor vehicle lighting, the final figure of a fatal injury within a road accident is staggering and for £1.69million overall cost for just one death could you justify the initial saving at the point of purchase?  The advice from the police was also pretty clear, that the duty to maintain, keep clean and replace and any failed external vehicle lighting is that of both the driver and vehicle operator and was likely to result in a criminal prosecution if it was a contributory factor in an incident.  This is all important information for those working on the road at night.


Redtronic Night Angel lights on a fire engine

Reliable: Redtronic Night Angel LED work/scene lights


At Dun-Bri Group, our ongoing commitment to product quality means that lighting product life tests have been carried out and some of our products do reach their original target of 100,000 hours lifespan with a target reduction of overall light output of less than 20% over this period – that’s still 77% better than some of our rivals.¬† This is partly down to good thermal management as LEDs generate a lot of heat but it degrades them very quickly if there is not sufficient cooling in place.

We are aiming to get all of our LED lighting thermally managed to prolong their life as much as possible, and that is one of the deciding factors in bringing a new range of LED work lighting to market later in 2017.  As well as our own-brand ranges, we also stock and supply ranges from Labcraft, Tyri, Redtronic, WAS and Truck-Lite Рand you can search for them on our web site at


Did you know?¬† Some of our ranges have a warranty period of up to 10 years, so isn’t it time you started talking to us about supplying your LED vehicle lighting?



Sources & credits:
Accident statistics – Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: annual report 2011, Department for Transport, 2012,
Accident costs calculated by Making the Link using data published in above report from DfT,
Redtronic, Labcraft

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