LEDs From Dubai: The Royal Lights You Can’t Buy

[Clive] had an interesting video about LED lights from Philips. You can’t buy them unless you live in Dubai. Apparently inspired by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who wanted more efficient and longer-lasting bulbs. The secret? A normal LED bulb uses an LED “filament” at 1 watt each. The Dubai bulbs run at about a fourth of that which means they need more LEDs to get the same amount of light, but they should last longer and operate more efficiently.

After exploring the brightness and color of different lamps, [Clive] tears one up and finds some surprises inside. The LEDs get over 200V each and the driver circuit has a lot of pairs of components, possibly to keep the size small for the high voltages involved, although it could be to improve reliability, [Clive] wasn’t sure.

By reducing the power, [Clive] was able to count that each LED strip contains 21 LEDs. He also notes some of the oddities in construction that appear to be for reliability and ease of manufacturing. We aren’t sure how that compares to the construction of conventional bulbs. The circuit includes a bridge rectifier and a linear current regulator using a MOSFET.

The bulbs cost a bit more, but if you factor in the probable long life, their total cost over time should be reasonable. Overall, it is interesting that a nice design came from what amounts to government regulation. Of course, there is a price: in exchange for the development of the bulbs, Philips has the exclusive right to make and sell the bulbs for the next several years. They expect to sell 10 million lamps by the end of 2021, although they are only available, currently, in Dubai.

The last time we looked in on Dubai, their police were flying quadcopters. If you want a teardown of a more conventional bulb, we’ve looked at that before, too.

103 thoughts on “LEDs From Dubai: The Royal Lights You Can’t Buy

    1. +1
      In fact I do listen to his older videos during my sleep. It helps me to sleep a lot better, considering my tinitus. My wife got used to it too; although she does not understand English, but she likes his voice timbre too. So every night, we are at least three in our bedroom.

        1. Look up Mr Carlson’s Lab if you like someone that will put you to sleep. In a good way though. His videos are very interesting, but something about his voice, if you are on the edge of being sleepy will knock you right out.

  1. @ Al Williams said: “LEDs From Dubai: The Royal Lights You Can’t Buy”

    Sure, you can buy all you want – if you are in Dubai. I think it’s prolly only a question of time before the Chinese copy them, then anyone can buy them as “Dubai Lights” on the likes of Ebay or Aliexpress.

      1. See:


        Note that commercial LED bulbs typically don’t use automatic temperature compensation. They use a fixed current regardless of temperature so the bulb would stay the same brightness, which in practice means it starts really bright and then instantly dims down over 2-3 seconds because the efficiency drops with the rising temperature. After reaching thermal equilibrium, the light output is reduced somewhat from what it says on the package, because the standard test doesn’t run the light for very long.

        Since the LEDs are very difficult to heatsink properly, and many aren’t even trying, they’re always running up against the de-rating curve. Every LED bulb is optimized to give you the nominal rated operating hours and brightness under nominal test conditions, which means they can claim so many lumens without spending more on a bigger diode.

        In a country where the “normal” temperature can reach 50 degrees, regular LED bulbs simply wouldn’t last. A few hours under those conditions is enough to permanently damage the diode.

        1. 50 degrees is not normal in Dubai. The temperature can reach that figure on a very hot day in the middle of summer. Even so these bulbs are designed to work indoors and as everyone has air conditioning they will be operating in a much cooler environment.

          1. Hence why the double quotes, and I’m sure they have outdoor lighting as well, and for people and places that don’t necessarily have air conditioning, like your garage.

        1. I don’t understand the fetish about not replacing bulbs. If you’ve got a 25 year bulb, that just means for the final 10 years you’re going to be looking at a dimmed, color-shifted, reduced CRI piece of junk. You’re compromising everything just to say you don’t need to replace a dollar’s worth of electronics and plastic.

          It’s better if the bulb goes out at once after a couple years, than becoming gradually worse over couple decades.

          1. Actually, in most LED bulbs I had, it’s the driver circuit that failed first, not the diodes. Repairing the driver often gave me additional years from the bulb without compromising light quality.

          2. Lightbulb manufacturers formed a cartel in the early part of the 20th century to fix prices and required that members engineered their bulbs to only last 1000 hours, fining those who produced longer life bulbs.

            Don’t be fooled into believing that such shenanigans are in the past, or that physical limitations are the primary reason why LED lamps degrade as fast as they do – modern bulbs are *designed* to overdrive their components unless forced not to by law (as happened with the Dubai bulbs.)

          3. >such a bulb would last 15 years while emitting good light ?

            Relatively speaking. It’s also not often stated which standard is being used, so the reduction in lumen output may be to 50% or 70% or just about anything, and the color output variation may not be to any standard at all.

          4. If you watched Clive’s video, you’d learn that driving the LEDs less hard also leads to less degradation of them over time and they stay their intended color for longer. (He cites the example of his porch light) And yes I am aware that the plural of anecdote is not data but Arrhenius does tell us that aging (or the speed of (chemical) processes) slows by about half per 10 °C less.

          5. >It’s better if the bulb goes out at once after a couple years,

            18 months into living in a new-built home, I wholeheartedly disagree. The builder used the cheapest LED bulbs imaginable (to meet city energy-saver regs) and they began failing after about 11 months. One at a time, all over the house. I’m replacing them as they fail with ones that should last 5-ish years before they start to degrade.

            Give me bulbs at a fair price that I don’t have to think about for 10 years, please.

          6. It’s just this sort of thinking x ~8 billion people that has trashed this planet and should be shunned if not outlawed imho. I’m totally into boycotting manufacturers and brands with products designed to fail early aka make maximum profits aka make maximum trash of finite resources.

          7. In some conditions the cost of the bulb is dwarfed by the replacement cost or effort. My entrance way is very high and I am getting up in years. Little light is needed, but the problem of changing the bulb dominates the total equation! I am far more interested in very long life than light output/watt.

          1. I have no idea what you are talking about. Warranty period was shortening and reparability started to become impossible. That in fact led to the establishment of law of warranty period of 2 years requirement by the EU. Then there is also a call for rights to repair mainly aimed at Apple. (Microsoft, you too) And SSDs? Ha

        2. That’s a common argument, but really? Of course they will, just as soon as the customer starts picking which product they buy based on longevity rather than sticker price. Failure to offer the customers what they want will hurt your business.

          Right now, the majority of customers just buy the cheapest thing on the shelf. So that’s what you get more of.

    1. We have something similar for sale in Russia. Basically they used good old ‘Ilyich’s bulb” glass casing (if any Russians readling this, they’ll understand), just replaced the nichrome wire with filament and added the driver circuit at the bottom. Not sure what’s so ‘dubai-unique’ in those bulbs.

      1. The Dubai-unique part is that they use double the number of filaments driven at half the power. This is for the longer bulb life and increased efficiency required by local regulations.

    2. They might pretend they are the same, but they won’t have the multiple filaments, duplicated components nor efficiency of the Dubai lights. The Sheik got what he wanted, pity for us.

  2. Almost all LED products don’t properly de-rate the diode, which results in the lamp dimming a bit after a few seconds of operation because it gets warm. You can understand how in Dubai this would lead to a severely reduced lifespan for the product.

    1. That Amazon page is for the United Arab Emirates, where the Metropolis of Dubai is. The product (ASIN B07N7125GV) doesn’t show up on other Amazon sites, so you cannot buy it directly through a normal connection. One could try a VPN connection of course, but in the end I would be surprised if you could actually buy the bulb, pay for it, then send it to another country.

      There is a link on that page to the seller’s page, Gulf Electronics, with a phone number. Gulf Electronics is an authorized Philips distributor in the region. Maybe if you contact Gulf Electronics directly, they may sell you one of these Dubai Lamps and ship it to you. Also, these lamps work on 220VAC, and will not work on 110VAC. The price for one 3W bulb without the 10 AED (Arab Emirati Dirham) shipping is 35 AED or approximately USD $12.87 with 5% VAT, USD $12.25 USD without the 5% VAT.

    2. When checking out with a US based address…

      Important Message
      Some items in your order are not deliverable to the selected address. Please change address or delete items that don’t ship to proceed.
      Dubai Lamp Warm White 3W – LED Filament Lamp – Philips

  3. I’ve said it on an other forum: Sometimes Clive is too quick with judgement of things he knows too little about. And the beginners mistakes are irritating. Is it this video where he calculates two 31 ohm resistor in parallel to be 62 Ohms? Guys like Mark Rober and Destin always “proof-read” their videos and catch the stupid little mistakes…. But someone not as fluent in electronics as most of us here will have a hard time figuring out why in some cases, you divide by two for parallel resistors but here you need to add them together….

    1. He does make the occasional mistake, but it seems pretty rare and he is super active with viewers and commenters so he is quick to put out corrections. His videos are mostly reverse engineering consumer stuff(a.k.a. “Taking things to bits”😆)

      Seriously this guy is dedicated. Right now, go post a good question or comment on any of his videos, even really old ones, and odds are you will get like or reply from him. Pretty unbelievable with the number of fans.

      He also films his stuff unscripted and largely unedited without any real prep. I have no idea how his videos turn out as well as they do.

      Even after a decade of working with electronics daily, it takes me an hour to do what Clive does in a few minutes, and he’s doing it while keeping everyhing in shot and in focus
      (Well, mostly🤣),
      He is definitely my favorite Youtuber, guy is a legend.

  4. What about the “environmental credentials” of companies like “philips” who are able to engineer a better product but chose to market something which is deliberately “flawed”?
    Where is Extinction Rebellion when you need them to highlight true hypocrisy as opposed to meaningless rhetoric?

    Excuse me whilst I step down from my V8 hydrogen powered high horse :-)

    1. Problem is that the consumer can’t tell how long the light bulbs before they purchase them, so they will get the cheaper one. This is not something that companies can fix. It would require government regulation just like Dubai has done.

      1. The light bulb cartel back in the day punished its members not only for exceeding the lifespan of 1,000 hours, but for not meeting it as well. There were two ways to make bad bulbs: making them overly bright (thus “efficient”) or making them dim (thus long-lasting), and both were undesirable features for the consumers, and both were factors they could not discover before the purchase.

        The manufacturers used to have no quality controls, they just filled the box with whatever happened to come out of the production line that day. If there was a bad batch, they’d stuff it in with some good bulbs to get rid of it.

        The same thing is true now for LED bulbs, only the consumers have to juggle four variables: efficiency, color rendering index, lumen output, and lifespan – none of which can be measured or known by the consumer in advance, and none of which are well controlled by any standard.

        1. You can (or at least could) purchase incandescent bulbs which legitimately lasted 20,000 hours. The catch is they are much more expensive and also put out way less light – like 75w shines as if it is only 25w. They were commonly used for things like traffic lights, where the cost to change bulbs was much more than the cost to run them. AeroTech was one of these brands.

          1000 – 2000 hours from an incandescent lamp is a pretty good compromise on efficiency, lifetime, and color.

          1. In ordinary use as well, you had vibration resistant bulbs which you could recognize from a little hammer logo on the glass, which were designed with a thicker filament with more supports, for instance for a ceiling fan. They would last at least twice as long, but you got about 60 Watt worth out of a 75 Watt bulb.

            They could make a 99 CRI LED, but you don’t want to pay the $50 they’ll ask for it, and they don’t want to sell it to you anyways, so all the bulbs you can find in the regular outlets are just as bad as the compact fluorescent tubes.

            Now if you want to have a good lamp for appreciating photos and paintings and just seeing things in the color they’re supposed to be, you have to buy oven or stove hood bulbs and string them up like a clown’s mirror to have yourself a lamp with a 100 CRI.

          2. I think the ones with the hammer on them were shatter proof bulbs. Might have potentially had some additional vibration resistance as well due to their intended use. These bulbs would be covered in some kind of coating so that if they were dropped and shattered all or most of the glass would not go flying across your shop. These would be useful in the old incandescent hanging lights like you might use while working on a car. something hand held like this which was much more likely to be dropped.

          3. Yeah, they were meant for working lights, like the traditional pickle jar lamp with a hook you can hang down from stuff, but they were useful anywhere you needed a robust lamp. They also had the property that when you finally managed to burn one out, you would leave the power on and swivel it around carefully until the broken piece of filament touches one of the support posts, and it would arc-weld itself there. The lamp would re-ignite and burn a little brighter, sometimes for weeks longer.

            Because they were made with a thicker filament, they would also take the thermal stresses better and survive being flicked on and off repeatedly, so for things like bathroom and pantry lamps.

        1. You still have to pay about $29 for a 95 CRI 10 Watt bulb though, unless you find them on special offer because nobody is buying and the seller wants to get rid of the stock.

          I found a website that sells some, where I also discovered a curious fact:

          “(redacted) 10 watt A19 lamps were designed with flicker-free light output as the first and foremost concern, and unfortunately we were only able to achieve a power factor rating of 0.6. Consequently, these lamps are currently banned for sale in California and we are unable to ship them to our California customers.”

          It appears that Title 20 prevents the sale of flicker-free high CRI lamps because most won’t pass the 80 lm/W or the 0.7 power factor rules.

  5. I would bet money that most bulbs fail in Dubai during August (average temperature high: 41°C, 106°F ; low: 30°C, 86°F).

    As everybody should knows, if you apply “The Arrhenius Equation” to electronics, a “10°C increase in temperature reduces the life of electronics by half”. This is used commercially by the IC industry to remove the “early infant mortality failures” from the standard “Bathtub curve” (You stick the silicon in a special oven, power them up and leave them there for a fixed duration, to cause the chips that would fail in the first several years of operation to typically fault in 24 or 48 hours). Then you test again to see which wafer dies passed.

    My understanding is that the people of Dubai were unhappy having to replace LED bulbs often, because of the natural higher average ambient temperature and complex circuits, especially when compared to a tungsten filament bulbs, they were failing at an unacceptable rate.

    Call me crazy, but if you put two times the resources into a bulb, operate it at the same performance level it will (on average) last twice as long in the same environmental conditions. Now the real question should be will the production generate twice the amount of greenhouse gasses and will it cost twice the price.

      1. Electrical cables which are usually made from metals that are also fantastic conductors of heat, are inside an insulating material which is also pretty good for insulating thermal energy as well. The question would be can the thermal energy conducted through the power distribution network of cables from outside be removed faster by the air condition system inside to drop the temperature of the end points by ~23°C (41°C-18°C) to ~12°C (30°C-18°C). It would reduce it by some, but even under steady state conditions it will still be higher. And the devices themselves are also a source of thermal energy, which would also inhibit any reduction of the temperature of the cables inside the insulated walls of a building. Which is typically where electrical cables are found.

        I wonder what kind of temperature you would see if you pointed an Infrared Thermometer at the inside of what would be traditionally call a fuse box or a power distribution board, while your temp controlled house was 18 Celsius and the ambient outside temperature was 41 Celsius. Which it would be closer in temperature.

  6. Putting twice the resources into an LED light can increase the efficiency by a few percent and far more than double the life, depending on construction and design details. For instance, if a normal LED lamp has a 40°C rise over ambient in the LED chips and drive electronics, doubling the component count to halve the current through components might reduce the rise to 20°C over ambient — thereby quadrupling expected life.
    We are fortunate that LED technology has become so astonishingly efficient. LED chips are now available with efficiencies well in excess of 70%. This greatly reduces the heatsinking requirements of LED lamps.

    1. >LED chips are now available with efficiencies well in excess of 70%.

      That’s not true. The theoretical upper limit for a white LED is 38.1 – 43.9%. Even with 172 lumens per watt, the absolute efficiency is just 25%. Normal LED bulbs operate at well under 100 lumens per Watt.

      1. We’re not comparing to 683 lumens per watt (where your 44% comes from), but watts of electrons in to watts of photons out. This is about minimizing waste heat in the diode, not about maximum brightness to the human eye.

        For this, conversion efficiencies around 90% for monochromatic sources have been achieved, and high-intensity monochromatic sources (for greenhouses) regularly achieve 70% conversion efficiency.

        1. But that’s irrelevant. You CAN achieve 70% efficiency with a single narrow band blue LED, but nobody’s going to put one in a standard light bulb. After you add the phosphors to produce the other wavelengths to achieve even 50 CRI, your efficiency goes way, way down.

          1. How is it irrelevant when I explicitly said it’s about waste heat?

            Here’s what you said: “theoretical upper limit for a white LED is 38.1 – 43.9%” but that means it’s only 44% as bright as a monochromatic green light. That’s why this property is referred to as efficacy, not efficiency. But you don’t want a monochromatic green light, any more than you want a monochromatic red or blue light, so it’s a meaningless comparison.

            In contrast, waste heat matters regardless of what wavelength is being emitted, even if our eyes can’t see that light. A device that converts 70% of its input power to photons of the desired wavelengths means it emits half as much waste heat as one that only converts 30% and that means it operates that much cooler.

  7. I wonder if the connection of the zeners is correct. I’d expect a rather high voltage on the gate of the mosfet at turn-on and would be surprised if that worked reliably without a zener on the gate.

  8. Here is a very annoying l.e.d. filament light bulb problem concerning Philips lighting Ltd illegally naming the l.e.d. filament light bulb after an Arab country such as DUBAI via it’s a very serious insult to us in the u.k. who can’t buy them? Or even this very vital debate will be finally brought to attention with both Phillips lighting Ltd & H.M. trading standards dept in London via banning the Arab country’s name DUBAI (royal l.e.d. lamps) from it’s range subjection to a u.k. government ruling on policy plus putting British made l.e.d. filament light bulbs what isn’t available in DUBAI via renaming it as the GREAT BRITAIN brand on all on our boxes.

    1. You can achieve that efficiency by buying higher power LED bulbs and run them at lower power with a dimmer.

      I noticed my dimmable LED bulbs still light up the entire room acceptably when set to the minimum brightness which draws less tha 1W (for a 15W bulb at max).

  9. What’s with all the kvetching about “LEDs recoup the cost over time….”?

    Around here, 2-packs of incandescent bulbs are a buck, but 4-packs of dimmable LEDs are also a buck at the Habitat’s local “reStore”.

    Why would ANYONE spend twice as much for half the quantity of inferior product?

    Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

      1. They just have to meet certain efficiency standards. That’s why you’ll find the big globes with the tiny little halogen thingy in the middle of them. Because incandescent can be reasonably efficient if you build them right.

        Also there are exceptions for “rugged” (because incandescent is the only bulb type that doesn’t have toxic chemicals in them) and “decorative” (because it needs to look how it needs to look.)

        The whole “incandescent ban” thing was just a power play because certain, powerful individuals had invested heavily in compact fluorescent manufacturing, only then nobody liked or really wanted them. Most people were holding out for the LED bulbs to get a bit cheaper. So they had to force everybody to buy lots of CFLs to recoup their losses. So they passed efficiency requirements and then got the taxpayer to subsidize buying a whole pile of crappy CFL bulbs full of mercury and shipping them out to everyone for “free” and walked away with all that money in their pockets.

        Beautiful example of how cronyism sucks the life out of the economy really.

  10. In the early days of LED lights — about 8 years ago — the prices were $25 to $50 US, and they were made with a decent heat spreader among other symbols of good design. Nowadays the LED lights are 1/10 the price or less and are made with minimal heat sinking, as simple as possible with a capacitive dropper circuit that dies slowly from transient spikes from the power line.

    The bulbs lasted s long time _if_ they were mounted with the bulb upright so heat went away from the electronics in the base. But a lot of lamps mountex the bulb down so the heat went up into the electronics and dried up the electrolytic capacitor and no light.

    I have award winning Philips LED lights that I paid $20 on sale — I bought them when LED lights first made –and they have never failed. Ten watts and 920 Lm, with CRI of 90. They’re the best.

    Clive is too. Excellent presenter.

  11. Bigclive has at least 3 videos about that. One in which he introduced the dubai light, one in which he used external things to test lots of different lightbulbs of different types, to see which work without needing to change the circuitry of LED lightbulbs, and one in which he hacked LED lightbulbs to make them more power efficient and longer lasting. Youtube video names below:

    “The lamps you’re not allowed to have. Exploring the Dubai lamps|

    Make your own Dooby lamps – DIY Dubai lamps (strobing alert)

    Crushing and hacking LED lamps

    Doobying a cheap LED floodlight with lux/efficiency readings

    Or just go to the “bigclivedotcom” youtube channel, and search “LED dubai”, and you will find plenty of videos on the topic.

    1. 840Lm at 4W, which is 210Lm/W.
      The “Dubai LED” has 200Lm/W. Or does it have more?
      Unfortunately not under €6,50/piece to find.
      That sounds little, but for the 8-flame chandelier in the living room plus 6-flame chandelier in the dining room, that’s 14 pieces, or €90.

      But it’s good to be able to buy the “Dubai LED” now.

        1. I did buy two different colour temperature versions of these and the colours were frankly horrible. I am usually not that fussy on colour temp and CRI, but the warm white was custard yellow and completely washed out all the colours in my room. I had to send both back for a refund. The high efficiency was not worth the cost of making my living room look horrible.

    2. Here a dimmable version with 188Lm/W:

      Sorry, German site, but englisch does not work (“404”).
      It is also possible that the efficiency increases to 200Lm/W when dimmed.

      Only one dealer in the EU, and he charges €9.26.

      It says there would be a “special dimmer” necessary.
      What is a “special dimmer”?
      Is this dimmer suitable?:

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