LED Lighting Buying Guide

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LED Lighting Buying Guide

LED is short for 'light emitting diode.' A light emitting diode is typically less than a square millimetre in diameter, and it produces an intense light using very little power. LEDs have been common on instrument panels and on electronic equipment and machinery for many decades. However, in the last twenty years, LED lights have evolved. They are now standard in automotive headlamps, turn signals, and cabin lights. They are used for traffic signals and outdoor lighting. They’re found in fairy lights, flexible lighting strips, and torches. LED bulbs for downlights are popular, and LED-based replacement bulbs for standard overhead light fixtures and lamps are available as well.

How an LED Bulb Works

LEDs work through an electrical reaction in a semiconductor. The colour of the LED depends on the type of semiconductor used in the bulb, and the size of the semiconductor is limited by the heat it produces when it emits light. Diodes tend to lose efficiency when they are produced in larger sizes, which is why the LED bulbs used for space lighting consist of many small diodes rather than one large diode. LED light bulbs are easy to identify visually, because they contain many smaller bulbs. Although large LED bulbs are complex to manufacturer and, therefore, tend to be more expensive up-front than other types of bulbs, LEDs can offer bright, long lasting, and highly efficient output.

The Benefits of LED Bulbs

LED lighting is extremely energy efficient, in the same range of lumens per watt as compact fluorescent lighting. Due to ongoing research, LEDs are still being improved. The most unique advantage of LEDs is their longevity. An LED bulb can last for decades. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LEDs typically deliver 25,000 to 50,000 hours of service, compared to 10,000 for compact fluorescents and only 2500 for standard incandescents. Unlike compact fluorescent bulbs, LEDs contain no mercury. This makes them safer to use and dispose of. LEDs turn on and off instantly, and their life span isn’t reduced by frequent switching. Because they are solid state devices, LED lights are not fragile. They are difficult to jar and difficult to break. Finally, when LED bulbs fail, they gradually fade rather than simply giving out. That makes them much more convenient to replace.

Types of LED Lighting

All the varieties of LED lights below can be found on eBay.

LED Downlights

LED downlights are small bulbs, meant to be mounted into ceiling fixtures or onto tracks. A typical room will require six to ten or more downlights. Look for differences in wattage, socket type, diameter, spectrum, and finish.

LED Replacement Bulbs

LED bulbs are also available in the sizes and socket types needed to replace standard incandescent light bulbs. These bulbs often resemble corn cobs, with multiple diodes located on the sides and bottom of a cylindrical tube. Variables include size, socket type, spectrum, and wattage.

LED Fairy Lights

Most modern fairy lights are LED-based. They are available in many sizes and colours, and with plain or decorative bulbs. Some come with plugs, while others do not. Some can be connected to create longer, continuous strings of lights.

LED Light Strips

Flexible LED strip lights are often used for lighting underneath counters or cabinets, or for decorative purposes. They may come wound on a reel, and they are available in a variety of colours and lengths. Plugs may or may not be included, and strips may or may not connect start-to-end into longer strips.

LED Torches

LED torches are extremely bright and are available in both compact and larger sizes.

LED Solar Powered Lights

Solar powered lights for outdoor, night-time illumination often use LED technology. These are often used to illuminate walkways. LED bulbs designed for use with solar panels are also available.

LED Control Panel Lights

Small LED bulbs are widely used in mechanical devices. Replacement LED bulbs for control panel lights are available on eBay. The best way to find the right replacement bulb is to check the manual, or if it’s not available, to remove the existing bulb and examine it carefully.

LED Automotive Lights

LED bulbs are widely used in headlights, indicators, cabin lights, and other automotive applications. Like other LEDs, these bulbs are long lasting and efficient. The right replacement light will be associated with the vehicle’s model and year.

Common LED Base and Socket Types

LED downlights and replacement bulbs are available with a number of different base connections. It’s very important to confirm the precise base type needed before purchasing replacement bulbs. Here are some bases that are common in the UK:


The B22 connection has two rounded contact points on a large base that is held into place by two pins. It is typically found on replacement bulbs.


The B15 connection has two rounded contact points on a smaller base that is held into place by two pins. It is typically found on replacement bulbs.


The E27 connection has one rounded contact point held into place by a large screw base. It is typically found on replacement bulbs.


The E14 connection has one rounded contact point held into place by a small screw base. It is typically found on replacement bulbs.


An GU10 connector has two pins that each have a wide base. They are inserted into holes with diameters that match their bases, and then rotated into narrower tracks. That holds them securely in place. GU10 mounts are most often found on track lights and downlights.


This small, two-loop type of LED connector is used in small LEDs, such as control panel lights and fairy lights.


This small, two-pinned LED connector is used in small LEDs such as control panel lights and fairy lights.

MR11 and MR16

MR11 and MR16 are simple double-pin mounts that are most often found on track lights and downlights.

MR16 or GU 5.3

The MR 16, also known as the GU 5.3, has a base with two small pins that are 5.3 mm apart.

LED Light Fixtures

Some light fixtures are designed specifically for LED bulbs. For example, some recessed ceiling fixtures for downlights call for LEDs. However, there’s quite a bit of overlap in the fixture types that can use LED, compact fluorescent, halogen, and incandescent bulbs. It’s necessary to match the base type, and sometimes the voltage.

Issues to Consider

There are a number of issues to consider before purchasing LED lights. A few are listed below.

LED Lights Can Be Highly Directional

Because of the way they function, LED bulbs can be highly directional. They may project a beam of light within a cone of fairly limited diameter. An LED bulb that isn’t designed to compensate for that limitation can create harsh shadows and will not provide satisfactory ambient room lighting. The design of LED lighting systems can compensate for this. For example, multiple LED downlights may be employed to cover a greater area than a single bulb can illuminate. Additionally, some individual LED bulbs are designed to project light at a wider angle by rotating and varying the placement of the individual diodes. When choosing LED bulbs and installations for space lighting, it is important to keep this issue in mind. Of course, this characteristic of LEDs makes them excellent for spot lighting and torches.

Keep Colour in Mind When Choosing an LED Light

Most white LED bulbs emit a cool, bluish light, and many people prefer a warmer tone for interior space lighting. Those who prefer light that’s yellowish, like a traditional incandescent bulb, will need to select an LED bulb that is clearly labelled as warm-toned.

Issues with Household LEDs and Dimmers

Not all LED bulbs work with all dimmer switches. Pairing the wrong dimmer with an LED can result in a dimmer fault. It’s a good idea to read the instructions for both the LED bulb and for the dimmer before attempting to operate the two together.

Find LED Lights on eBay

Typing a description of an LED bulb or fixture into the search field at the top of the eBay screen will usually bring good results. Once the right type of product is identified, the categories where it can be found will show up on the left side of the screen, and clicking on them will reveal more products in the same categories. Alternatively, LED lights can be found by clicking on Full List of Categories and then narrowing the search:

LED Replacement Bulbs and downlights

Home, Furniture & DIY; Lighting; Light Bulbs; LED

LED Fairy Lights and light strips

Home, Furniture & DIY; Lighting; Light Bulbs; Fairy Lights

LED Torches and lanterns

Sporting Goods; Camping; Lights, Lanterns & Torches;

LED Solar Powered Lights

Home, Furniture & DIY; Garden and Patio; Garden Lighting; Solar Lights; LED

LED Indicator Lights

Search in the specific category, for example, automotive, computers, or DIY.

LED Automotive Lights

Vehicle Parts and Accessories; Car Parts; External Lights & Indicators; Bulbs and LEDs


LEDs are efficient, durable and long lasting. eBay has LED bulbs to fit almost any application, from high efficiency bulbs to replace inefficient incandescents or fragile compact fluorescents, to specially designed downlights, portable lights and speciality lights.

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