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Beware of cheap LED products

PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2009 11:30 am
by MichaelB
I'm hoping I can save some folks a few bucks with this.

I've been messing around with LED lighting for my 12 volt off grid setup now for a while and have bought my fair share of gear off eBay. I'm a bit of a miser at times and what I've been finding is that with the very cheap stuff, the LED's dim and fail very quickly; regardless of the claims by the merchant.

This isn't just a waste of money, but a waste of resources that go into creating these products. It sort of defeats the purpose of trying to go green.

Anyhow, going forward I've decided not to buy any cheap LED stuff and to ensure anything I purchase use recognised names in LED such as Cree or Luxeon (Philips). It can cost 2 - 4 times as much, but I'm assuming I'll get far more than that in useful service life.

Are there any other good LED manufacturers?

Re: Beware of cheap LED products

PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2009 6:57 pm
by Tracker
MichaelB wrote:I'm hoping I can save some folks a few bucks with this.
I've been messing around with LED lighting for my 12 volt off grid setup now for a while and have bought my fair share of gear off eBay....................
Are there any other good LED manufacturers?

Oh how bloody right you are MichaelB.. One of the things that the Chinese are great at is the manufacture of "Flashing Leds"
The only problem is they weren't supposed to flash !

I bought a heap of kits of 30LEDs and drivers, for a 12V (Solar) aquarium Lighting system.
2 days to assemble them
Generally in banks of 4 in series with drivers.. Within weeks they started to flash, and one buy one they died.. Chinese CRAP.

Luxeon and US manufacture would be the only ones I would trust..
Way too much time to assemble kits, to have them die within weeks.
BUT - How do you know any more?

Re: Beware of cheap LED products

PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2009 7:14 pm
by MichaelB
Haha, yes, I've had them turn into strobe lights too - keeping them to one side in case I decide to hold a dance party in my shed.

Re: Beware of cheap LED products

PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 8:04 am
by michigan_frog
I've had my share of dud LED products too. The wife reckons I've spent more on my LED research than the CSIRO has spent in the last 10 years!

Agree you need to stick to the majors, Cree, Luxeon etc. I personally like the CREE's. I have had some success with some chinese-made 'LED Ceiling Light' with 3 x 3 watt CREE XR-E lights. If you are interested I can send some photos and tell of some of my 'experiences' with lenses and LED drivers...

- michigan_frog

Re: Beware of cheap LED products

PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 9:39 am
by Maurice
I too have been a bit obsessive with the lure of LED technology-moving out of MegaMan CFLs-(which NEVER fail) to types of LCD downlights.
By the way-the first CFLs i got 20 years ago-big Phillips clunkers which cost $20 each then from Middendorp?? are still going in my home-a couple have failed over the years but 10 still going strong at full light output.
Later Phillips designs-Slimline etc had a much higher failure rate.
Generally i have found that the multiple type LEDs 60,48 etc are weak in output but the SMD technology type are very good
I use a supplier ( found on Ebay) Jacky Dong in China-he is is excellent with service and follow up-very nice guy.
Also used a supplier in Hong Kong-William6 trade -also on Ebay is very good-immediately replacing an LEd which failed-and was willing to replace them ALL when he incrdedulously though all 6 had failed
I found his warm white 48 LEds were excellent in brightness but a bit orange in colour-good for a cosy area-lounge room, bedroom etc
Maybe this helps a bit

Expensive lessons learned

PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 8:22 pm
by summerswood
Agreed there are very shonky LEDs available. After wiring 22 MR16 12V downlights in our RAPS house, the real expense came in finding a decent MR16 LED bulb:
    2W 24x led bulbs = FAIL; all failed outright within 3 months
    3W 36x led bulbs = FAIL; half started twinkling within 1 year
    3W 48x led bulbs = B-; a few have died, some have a few dead leds after 2 years
    All these were sourced from China based eBay sellers.
The good news is we did eventually find a decent LED:
    3W Luxeon 3x1W LEDs (from local eBay sellers) are still going strong after 2 years
The questions you need to ask the seller are the dispersion angle and the colour temperature, ours are 90 degrees and cool white.

For completeness, a brief description of our RAPS wrt the 12V LED bulbs. The battery set is nominal 24V flooded so absorb at 30V. The LED are powered by a pair of very efficient ABR 5amp DC-DC converters that deliver a constant 12.2V to the LEDS. Our whole LED lighting system uses 68 watts (at the battery) with all 22 lights on, at night we use about 20 watts for area lighting.
Some advice:
    Stay away from the multi LEDS like the 20/36/48 led bulbs.
    Don't cheap out by paying $12 for a 15,000 hour life :lol: bulb that's dead in 3 months.
    Step up to a $25 bulb. The wide angle, high lumen daylight white, Luxeons 3x1W MR16.
    Don't run 12V LEDs in series, use a high efficiency DC converter.
    If you are on grid I dont see the sense in LEDs, use compact fluoros.
    LED electronics can generate significant radio interference.
Despite the expensive lesson of not buying cheap (my final cost is $40 per working light), the LEDs perform beyond expectation.

Re: Beware of cheap LED products

PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 8:30 pm
by taggertycyclist
LEDs have been something in which I have had an interest for some time -- as a long-distance bicycle rider.

The developments over the years in bicycle lighting really have been in the hands of only a few companies, Cateye being one, and Busch and Muller the other. Their philosophies, as with halogen and other incandescent lights beforehand, have been somehwat different.

Cateye has gone the powerful route. B&M the optics route.

Long stories short, I have moved up in the world by buying a B&M Fly LED light. I have used B&M products (as well as Cateye) previously, and their optics have been the ant's pants. This little Fly looks like the goods, too. Although I have yet to test it (that will be very soon).

The thing I notice immediately with it is that the LED is in fact mounted at the top of the reflector and faces 45 degrees backwards. This, of course, optimises the LED's output on to the reflector which appears to be a modified parabola with the left and right sides cut off, and on out through the slightly shaped, clear lens. The optics seem to be simplicity in themselves, but I have a feeling that in development, they aren't.

The light, from I have read, has a pretty good reach and is focussed, probably too focussed to copy the optics for household use.

I suppose the point I am getting to, to keep it on topic, is to look at the optics of the LEDs you are purchasing. Going powerful, a-la-America-all-over, is one thing, and possibly is how the Chinese are designing theirs. But crafting optics is another matter, and that is where some of the cost inevitably should be.

I have been looking at building LED lights for bikes for a while, but one of the issues with the more powerful Cree and similar lights is their heat output. Despite claims to the contrary, 3W LEDs do put out quite a bit of heat and there is a need for adequate ventilation and heat sinking (see the cooling finds on JackyDong's MR16 spotlight lamp, and the fact that its base is ceramic). All that is probably why one costs over $38 without postage, ex-Hong Kong.

Incidentally... the Fly cost me a mere $149, which is nothing compared with a house full of the current "quality" LED offerings that I have seen.

And yes, yes, yes, I know, spending that much on a bicycle light seems lunacy. But when you're out in the middle of nowhere on a moonless, overcast night during a long-distance event, reliable, quality lighting powered by a dynohub (again, German made) is essential, and i am willing to spend the money to get it.

Re: Beware of cheap LED products

PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:57 pm
by Sandivee

There certainly are some good manufacturers out there, it's just a matter of finding them.

In Australia the first thing to look for would be signs of a business that have had the products they sell tested.

Whilst most say they are ROHS and CE complaint, importers of LED products need to have a declaration of conformity which includes test reports of EMC and LVD compliance to their relevant AS/NZ standard.

So if you receive a product from a re-seller that doesn't have a C-Tick logo with a supplier number "Nxxxxxx" then it may not be safe to use and if your house burnt down then you probably wouldn't have insurance either.

I agree it is very important to buy quality with this sort of new technology, at least until some sort of standards for LED arise. I know UL testing is looking to expand their testing to include solid state now. All that we really have to work off is AS/NZ standards for general lighting levels. Like 360 lux on office desk, so testing lux levels is a first step to determining what you are looking for first.