I recently collected the keys to my new home. If you’ve been following my renovation articles, you would know that I am in the midst of pimping it up. One major (read: expensive) component of the reno process is lighting. Like me, you may be wondering: Where do I buy cheap lights in Singapore? How much does it cost to light up my whole house?
So I explored everything from the brick-and-mortar lighting shops in Singapore to local retailers on Carousell to the cheapo China marketplace Taobao.
Unsurprisingly, I found that almost everything you see at the physical stores, you can find online at a fraction of the price. I ended up getting everything from Taobao (via ezBuy) – scroll down to see how much I spent in total.
Whether or not you want to do the same is up to you – there are definitely risks to having your goods shipped from halfway across the world – but to help you decide, here’s a price guide to on- and offline lighting shops in Singapore.
- LED ceiling lights
- Decorative pendant lights
- How much does it cost to light up a 5-room HDB flat?
- Should you buy from lighting shops, Carousell or Taobao?
- Claiming insurance – more risks to consider
- Alternative: Cheap lighting shops in JB
LED ceiling lights
|Plain ceiling lights||Price at Singapore lighting shops||Price on Carousell||Price on ezBuy Taobao|
For the above comparison, I used the prices of plain, LED ceiling lights. They’re typically either round or square, and come in a plastic casing (pictured below).
Technically wattage is not a measure of luminance, but it’s what most contractors and home buyers use to gauge the brightness of the lights they need to buy. As a guide, the recommended wattage for HDB flats is as follows: 12W for toilets, 18W for bedrooms and 24W for the living room.
As you can see, the price difference is shocking. It’s almost unbelievable, but I cross my heart and sumpa I am not even kidding.
The lighting shops may tell you that the quality is different, but when I compared the theirs with those I got from Carousell, they look the same. Also, I’m not living in darkness, am I?
Comparing the prices, those at the physical stores are about 4X the price of those online. But take this with a pinch of salt – I realised that quite a few lighting shops don’t have price tags on their showroom displays, so you have to ask. Also, it’s quite bargain-able.
In case you’re wondering what those pathetic 6W lights are for, I’ve included them because the default lighting points HDB gave me includes small areas like one at the main door entrance and another at the corridor near the bedrooms. I got 6W lights for those and they are perfect.
Decorative ceiling lights & pendant / hanging lights
Obviously, the most “budget” way is to use plain lights for your whole house. But these days, websites Qanvast and Pinterest have turned us all into interior designers so most home owners will get at least a few decorative lights for the living room and etc.
I picked out a few designs that you can find both on- and offline, and here’s how the prices compare.
1. 50cm “glitter” ceiling light
Lighting shops: ~$60
2. Single pendant light
Lighting shop: ~$70
Carousell: ~ $40
3. 50cm Scandinavian ceiling light with wooden casing
Lighting shop: ~$250
Carousell: ~ $150
4. 4-in-1 pendant lights
Lighting shop: ~$300
Carousell: ~ $150
The markup for lighting shops is ridiculously high, but of course, that’s assuming that they’re selling lights from exactly the same manufacturer. It’s worthy to note that many of these lights are designer replicas, so the quality may not be 100% the same.
But just because you buy it from a physical store doesn’t mean it’s the authentic designer one ah! When I visited the lighting shops in Balestier, the statement lights didn’t look extra well-made or anything, and the salespeople didn’t tell me that they were expensive because they were branded.
Case study: How much does it cost to light up a typical 5-room HDB flat?
To help you better estimate how much it costs to get your entire crib lit up, I’m sharing what I spent. My home is a 5-room BTO, and there are a total of 15 lighting points.
|Area||Lighting points||Estimated wattage|
|Main door entrance||1||6W|
|Total lighting points||15|
|Disclaimer: Technically wattage is not a measure of luminance, but it’s what most contractors and home buyers use to gauge the brightness of the lights they need to buy.|
I got everything from Taobao via ezBuy, and got the 5-day Prime trial package to ship the stuff over. There was also a no agent fee promotion, so I got that waived. I chose mostly plain lights, but got 2 pendant lights.
|Prime subscription||5-day trial||$9.90|
|International Prime shipping||–||$2.99|
|Local delivery||Self-collection at ezBuy warehouse||$0|
|Plain 6W ceiling lights||Main door entrance, bedroom corridor||$5.26 X 2 = $10.52|
|Plain 12W ceiling lights||Bomb shelter, service yard, both toilets, 1 for kitchen||$7.69 X 5 = $38.45|
|Wooden rim 18W ceiling lights||Both bedrooms, 2 for master bedroom, 1 for living room||$27.91 X 5 = $139.55|
|Wooden rim 24W ceiling lights||Living room||$42.60 X 1 = $42.60|
|3-in-1 pendant lights||Living room dining area||$39.90|
|3-in-1 pendant light||Kitchen (above island)||$82.25|
Conclusion: So where should you buy your lights from?
If cost is your only concern, then the answer is clear: Taobao.
However, you’ll be spending a few hundred dollars at least, so there are definitely other factors to consider. Here’s a quick guide on the pros and cons of each option.
Lighting shops in Singapore: This is the most expensive place to pickup your lights, but it’s the only place you can touch and feel what you’re getting. You can inspect the quality of the products, and even test to see if they’re working well before you hand over your cash. It’s also cash-and-carry, so you don’t have to wait.
Carousell: Most retailers on Carousell actually have physical stores and showrooms where you can self-collect your items too. This is perhaps the “best” option, because the prices are significantly lower than offline stores, but you also get the benefit of checking your items and having a short lead time.
The only thing I dislike about Carousell retailers is that they’re shady. After finding an affordable retailer on Carousell, I contacted them and went down to buy the lights at their store in Balestier. When I got there, they honoured the Carousell prices, but I noticed that the showroom price tags were 3 to 4 times the price I was getting. Thinking of the tech illiterate shoppers (like my folks, for instance), I confronted the salesman. All he said was “We need to pay rent. Too bad for walk-ins.”
Taobao: I’m super broke and could afford the luxury of time, so as mentioned above, I went with Taobao. But their low prices come with quite a few risks. Firstly, you have to wait 1 to 2 months for your items to arrive. That means you need to plan way in advance, and you can’t change your mind.
Next, you can’t check the quality of the items. What I did was read the reviews and only choose those with positive reviews and real-life images. Lastly, since you’re shipping it from China, the items may get damaged. If the bulbs break or the goods are defective, you can send them back, but then you’ll have to wait another month.
I was super lucky that everything came as described (#TrueToPic, see header image) and well-wrapped, but it is a risk nonetheless.
Claiming insurance – more risks to consider
Another thing to consider is whether the lights you buy have the safety mark, which is basically a label to certify that the products have passed safety testing. Not all the lights at local stores are labeled, and those that are are typically significantly more expensive. Needless to say, those bought from overseas (like AliExpress, ezBuy or Taobao) will not have gone through testing.
If you decide to purchase from Taobao, you must acknowledge that you’re taking a risk with the quality of the lights. This means that in the event of fires, you’re on your own – most insurers only cover accidents caused by electrical appliances with the safety mark.
Ceiling lights are not considered high-risk appliances – unlike refrigerators and water heaters – but there have been cases of fires breaking out due to shoddy lights. However, it’s quite rare (knock on wood!).
In the words of my wise interior designer, “it’s a bit like striking 4D”.
Alternative: Cheap lighting shops in JB
Aside from local lighting shops, Carousell and Taobao, a popular place to shop for lights is Johor Bahru (JB). You’ll probably need to drive over and drive the stuff back, so don’t forget to make space in the boot and back seat.
Here are some popular lighting shops in JB:
- Tampoi Lighting Centre
- Starworld Lighting
- YES Electrical Supply
- VIP Lighting
- HT Lighting
- Jezritez JB Lights
Happy shopping and good luck!
Where did you get your ceiling and pendant lights from? Share your lobang with us in the comments below leh!
In-article image credits: ezBuy