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EMF from LED Lights – Magnetic Fields and Recessed LED Lights

Lutron Dimmer 2" away

EMF from LED Lights and Recessed LED lights

Is there significant amounts of EMF from LED Lights?

A designer client of mine had a job she was working on, where her client, a homeowner, was concerned about the magnetic fields in her home.  She was designing a remodel, which included the kitchen, and the designer had specified recessed can lighting in the kitchen.  The homeowner’s son’s bedroom was located directly above the kitchen and several of the can lights.  The designer wanted to specify LED lights not only for energy efficiency, but also light quality, brightness, and color saturation (as compared to CFL or other choices). The question asked was “Should we worry about EMF from LED lights? Are low frequency alternating current magnetic fields, and would any fields propagate far enough to affect the occupants in the kitchen or the bedroom above?

The designer and I went to a San Francisco lighting showroom and tried to test several models on display.  However, due to the large number of light fixtures, all energized at the time of sampling, the background MF readings were so high as to make any readings we made useless.  So we picked out two possible candidates for her client’s kitchen and purchased the LED engines & housings, and a dimmer switch.  Our plan was to hook up the can lights and test in a cleaner environment, one in which the background EMF was minimal.

The units purchased were:

Halo Brand Model EL-405827, 15 Watts

Cree Brand Model CR 4E-15, 9.5 Watts

A Lutron Diva CFL-LED DVCC-153P-WH dimmer was used with both units.

Measurements were taken with a Tenmars Triaxial Magnetic Field Meter Model TM-192D.

Turns out, by no accident, that my home has very low background EMF.  I set up a test platform and took readings of both LED lights with the dimmer attached.  I de-energized all the other circuits in the house except the circuit to power the test, to further reduce background EMF.

First, I took several background readings with the LED lights powered off. Not all LEDs are the same, and EMF from LED lights varies considerably.

Background EMF from LED Lights turned off

Background EMF from LED Lights turned off

 

Next, I energized each LED light and took magnetic field measurements at 2” and 12” with the dimmer set at full.  Then, I next dimmed the lights to the dimmest setting and again measured the MF at 2” and 12”.  I then measured the MF at the dimmer switch at 2”, 12” and 24”.  The results are as follows.

 

MF Reading in milligauss(mG)                   2” 12” 24”
Power OFF 0.25 mG Average
Halo EL-405827 Full Bright 0.80 mG 0.25 mG
Halo EL-405827 Dimmed 0.30 mG 0.25 mG
Cree CR 4E-15 Full Bright 0.65 mG 0.25 mG
Cree CR 4E-15 Dimmed 0.33 mG 0.25 mG
Lutron DVCC-153P-WH 2.72 mG 0.70 mG 0.25mG

 

Halo-Full Bright

Halo-Full Bright

 

EMF from LED Lights

Lutron Dimmer 2″ awa

EMF from LED Lights Analysis

The dimmer appears to produce the strongest and largest magnetic field, starting at 2.0 mG and not receding to background levels until 24 inches away.

Both LED can lights produced a measureable magnetic field, but the strength was low, below 1.0 mG and dropped to background levels at 12 inches away.  This is not surprising as magnetic fields are directly related to the amount of current running through a device and both of these lights are low wattage devices, with the Halo drawing 15 watts and the Cree 9.5 watts at full bright settings.  The lower readings of the Cree are likely due to the decreased wattage of this model.  This would also explain the lower MF readings when dimmed, as when dimmed the devices draw less current, and thus produce lower magnetic fields.

As these lights are going to be installed in a ceiling, presumably at least an 8-foot ceiling, the effect on occupants in a kitchen should be minimal, as most people will be over 12 inches away from where the fields have a measurable increase over the background.  For the floor above the effect should be the same.  The floor joists should be at least 8-10 inches and thus, even lying on the floor above, one would be close to 12” away from the lights in the ceiling below.  Standing, sitting, or on a bed, any occupant would be much farther than 12” away from the LED can lights and thus the effect of the magnetic field generated by these lights should be negligible, and any field measured should be indistinguishable from the background.

It is worth noting that the Cree model did not dim smoothly and cut out completely at low settings.  The Halo model dimmed much lower and more smoothly.  This could be due to the dimmer used, but the representative at the lighting showroom said the Lutron dimmer was appropriate for both LED models.

I would conclude that from an energy efficiency standpoint, light color and quality, and EMF exposure, I would be comfortable recommending both LED recessed can light models for any remodel or retrofit project.   I have no reason to believe that any other model or brand of LED light would be dissimilar, as they are all low current devices, and thus should not emit high levels of MF, and that the field should dissipate into the background within 12”, if properly manufactured, wired, and installed.

Let us know if you’d like an EMF expert to evaluate EMF from LED lights and other appliances in your home or workplace.

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