EMF Radiation from LED Lights – Cause of Concern?

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Gone are the days when our only options were traditional filament light bulbs. LED lights have become more popular around the home, mainly because they’re more energy efficient. But what impact does this have on our EMF radiation exposure? I decided to look into it in a bit more detail.

So, do LED lights emit EMF radiation? Generally speaking, LED lights do emit EMF radiation, but not always more so than normal bulbs. While each LED uses less electricity, you’ll have more per bulb, and each has the potential to give off dirty electricity. Also, they emit more blue light, which is also harmful to your health.

In this article I look at the possible dangers of relying on LED lights around your home, particularly if you’re sensitive to EMF radiation. Also, I look at which is the best type of light bulb to use if this is a concern of yours.

LED lights and EMF radiation

LED stands for light emitting diode, which many people probably already know. All this means, in simple terms, is that each LED contains a diode, which is essentially a conductor. This controls the direction of the energy flow, and so causes the LED to light up.

In general, LEDs use much less electricity than most other types of bulbs, simply because they rely on different technology. Therefore LEDs have become increasingly popular in home applications because they last much longer and provide better lighting with less energy consumption.

But what does this mean in terms of EMF radiation? Like all electronic devices, LEDs do emit some level of EMF radiation. This is mainly in the form of radio waves, and LED bulbs don’t tend to heat up like normal light bulbs.

Similarly, LEDs have a big problem with dirty electricity. This is because LEDs often contain a device that changes mains power AC to DC, as this is what LEDs need to function correctly. If you want to be technical, the device is called an internal switching regulator.

They do this because they need to limit the voltage entering the LED bulb, as they run on a much lower voltage than other household electronics. Dirty electricity is a big problem in itself, and can cause issues for those sensitive to EMF radiation.

Read my article clean vs dirty electricity

Some people who have LEDs installed in their home might have noticed a slight flicker in the light and thought this was because of dirty electricity or inefficient materials. However, the main problem here is a cheap power supply with higher frequency spikes than more reliable power. It’s just more noticeable with LED lights because of the way they work.

The other big problem with LEDs, when compared to normal bulbs, is that the light they give off is much cooler. By cooler, I mean light closer to the blue end of the visible spectrum, rather than temperature. Many people probably know the issues relating to blue light exposure, but I’ll cover this in more detail below.

The bottom line is that, compared to other light sources, LED bulbs actually aren’t that bad. The biggest issue is running them off mains power, so if you’re sensitive to EMF radiation, save LEDs for battery powered devices and you should have very little problem bringing them into your home.

What’s the problem with blue light?

While EMF exposure is an issue in itself, it’s not the biggest problem with LED lights. As I mentioned above, they don’t give out all that much EMF radiation, and when compared to some other devices in your home, this radiation will be almost negligible.

The bigger problem with LED bulbs is the amount of blue light they emit. People who are sensitive to EMF radiation may experience problems with this, but so will everyone else. You don’t have to be sensitive to EMF waves to be affected by it; we all are at various levels.

Essentially, this boils down to a bit of genetic hardwiring that has lost its use since the invention of things like alarm clocks. Frequencies of blue light cause your brain to suppress production of melatonin, which is the hormone that makes us sleepy.

The reasoning is that, once your brain acknowledges an increase in blue light, it meant it was time for you to wake up. Levels of blue light increase during the day time and then drop off again at night. Therefore it made quite a good way for our brains to moderate our internal body clock.

However, tech firms took this fact and used it to their advantage. Why do you think the logos of your favorite social media platforms are blue, and their backgrounds white? (White light contains plenty of blue light.) They’ve done this so that your brain remains stimulated while browsing, meaning you’ll do it for longer.

Again, I know this isn’t directly related to the normal topics of EMF radiation, but it’s definitely related. Having inconsistent levels of melatonin in your body leads to disrupted sleep patterns, an inability to go to sleep/wake up properly, and then a range of symptoms related to these problems.

As far as I’m concerned, blue light and EMF radiation should be considered similar dangers, as they often come from the same sources and can lead to a number of the same problems. Therefore, while EMF radiation from LED lights might not be your main concern, blue light should be.

The problem with dirty electricity

Another major problem with LED bulbs is dirty electricity, which is also a problem for a range of other home electronics. It’s also a reasonable cause for concern for those sensitive to EMF radiation, so is definitely worth tackling if possible.

What is dirty electricity?

In the USA, mains power comes in at a frequency of 50Hz, which was absolutely fine in the past when all devices were pretty simple to run. This was also fine for normal incandescent light bulbs, which only needed a simple supply too.

However, with advances in modern technology, not everything runs off 50Hz power any more. LED bulbs are a good example, as are energy efficient light bulbs. These devices usually contain regulators to cut the power off at a desired frequency, whatever this might be for the device.

What this means is that a portion of the mains electricity becomes unusable, and is essentially “trapped” in your wiring.

Dirty electricity means more EMF radiation in your home, so even if devices only produce a small amount themselves (like LED bulbs), they can indirectly contribute a large amount of radiation to your home.

Dirty electricity can be defined as spikes in power frequency outside of the normal 50-60Hz range (depending on where you live). If the power reaches a high enough frequency, it can pass through the walls and radiate into your home as EMF energy. Therefore it makes sense to do something about the problem if you can.

The simplest solution is to avoid devices that produce dirty electricity, although this isn’t always possible. Smart meters are another major source, as are dimmer switches, but this can all be tested with a dirty electricity meter. If your main concern with LED bulbs is dirty electricity, then it can help to know which type of bulb will be best for your home.

Dirty Electricity Filters

Another solution is to go for dirty electricity filters. I recommend Greenwave filters (read my review cum guide).

Greenwave Dirty Electricity filters

Types of light bulbs and EMF radiation

I imagine it comes as no surprise that different types of light bulbs will have different benefits (aside from energy efficiency). There are plenty of types on the market, so it can be helpful to know which will be best to use in your home.

Just bear in mind that all types of light bulb will give off some level of EMF radiation; this is true of anything electronic. However, some will give off more than others, so make sure you pick the right kind if you’re sensitive to EMF radiation. Here’s a breakdown of the major types of light bulbs you’re likely to come across.

Incandescent bulbs

Incandescent bulbs are the original type of light bulb, and by far still the most common. They work by passing electricity through a filament, which lights up as it gets white hot. As a result, they’re not very energy efficient because they’re working on creating heat, not light, which takes much more energy.

However, they were the only type of lighting available when mains power frequencies were decided. If nothing else, this means they run the “best” on normal, AC power. They do still produce EMF radiation, but mostly as heat, which is arguably the least harmful.

The other benefit of normal bulbs is that they produce much warmer light. This is a big help if you have problems with blue light, as they shouldn’t impact your melatonin levels to such a great extent.

Halogen bulbs

Halogen has fast become a popular choice for home lighting systems, thanks to their compact design and brightness. For example, a 20 watt halogen bulb can appear 2 or 3 times brighter than a normal incandescent bulb.

The science behind a halogen bulb is largely the same as a normal bulb, but it uses different materials and gases to make the process much more efficient. Aside from using less electricity, halogen bulbs can last for something silly like 10,000 hours!

However, we’re back to largely the same problem as LED bulbs. By this, I mean that halogen bulbs produce much cooler light, which is much higher in levels of blue light. Therefore, if you get a halogen light, don’t put it in your bedroom!

Halogen bulbs produce a lot more excess heat than normal bulbs, along with more EMF radiation. Also, many come with guidelines about positioning, as you shouldn’t be able to look directly at the bulb. If you do so for less than a minute, you’ll be crossing many safety guidelines for light exposure for your eyes.

What’s more, halogen bulbs give off loads of UV radiation, which is one of the most harmful forms of EMF radiation. While I’d avoid choosing halogen bulbs, if you do, make sure you always keep a minimum of 50cm away. This should limit your exposure to its harmful effects.

Compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs

Most people are probably familiar with fluorescent lighting (also called strip lighting). Well, CFLs are the same, just in much smaller packaging! In my opinion they’re one of the worst types of lighting you can include in your home for the following reasons.

CFLs work by passing electricity through a tube that’s usually filled with mercury gas. The electricity produces light, but uses less power than normal bulbs. What’s more, CFLs last much longer than incandescent, and are generally cheaper than LED.

However, the biggest cause for concern is again UV radiation exposure. This is what we’re constantly warned about when it comes to spending time in the sun, and it’s the same thing here, albeit in smaller amounts. But for that reason alone, why would you bring them into your home?

CFLs produce UV radiation in quantities large enough to have health impacts through prolonged exposure. Also, flickering is a major concern with all fluorescent lights, and this can create its own range of short-term health problems.

Finally, CFLs produce dirty electricity, which as I’ve mentioned is a big concern among those sensitive to EMF radiation. So to be on the safe side, I’d recommend avoiding CFLs altogether.

As you can probably tell, traditional, incandescent bulbs are probably the best choice if you suffer from EMF sensitivity. The EMF radiation they emit is much more manageable because it’s largely in the form of heat.

Some final thoughts

Light bulbs are often something that falls under the radar when it comes to EMF radiation concerns. However, you can do plenty with a bit of logic and a basic understanding of how the bulb actually works.

I’ve found that LEDs might not be the best choice if you’re sensitive to EMF radiation. And if you are, you’re definitely best to stick with old incandescent bulbs while you can.