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Are Members Mark LED's a waste of my money?


jaimwolfe
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I've been lurking here for a bit, and am planning a 32 channel show for 2011. Luckily my lovely wife is on board for a semi-expensive ride. Anyway, she was at Sams club and picked up 10 spools of Members Mark LED 250 count colored and white lights for about $15.00 each. They don't look like LED's (to my untrained eye), and they appear to be "replaceable" which I know means I will be lucky to get 1 or 2 years out of them, because they will corrode.

So my question is, are they LED, and should I keep them, or return them and find better options? I have already invested about $600 into GE Led's (nets and icicles) at Lowes. I want to do it right, but of course not waste big money.

Thanks,
Jaime


Attached files 230004=12618-LED Lights or Not.gif

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Jamie,

I don't want to start an LED war in your thread, but here is my take. Getting LEDs from Costco, Sams, and the big box stores may be fine for most. Some use them and have no problems. I stay away from those stores, and go online with some vendors like Creative Displays and others. I personally have had problems with Costco LEDs in the past.

If you paruse some of the other Christmas forums like Planet Christmas and others, you will see where verndors will have pre-season sales where orders need to be placed in Feb/March. This is the most economical time to buy from online vendors.

There is only one brand of replaceable LEDs I will use. They come from a Wireframe vendor, Holiday Lights. They seem to have the corrosion problem at bay, and the product is very nice. There is a patent pending on the socket design. They only come in white wire, and 50ct strings. I believe they have worked with GKI Bethlehem on the design of these, but can't say for certain.

For the Members Mark issue. 250ct string is odd for LEDs. I have not heard of them. Typically you get 25-50-70-100ct strings. The only way to see how they work is to test them. That means you will need an LOR controller for that. Find a member near you who will allow you to do this if you don't yet have one. What you did not say is if they are full wave or half wave. Commercial LEDs will be full wave and look much better.

IMHO LED icicles cannot stand up to incandescants yet. You can buy commercial icicles and have 6 strings plugged in. Those strings are 10' and you get 150 lights in that space. LED icicles are only 70ct, and some are 100ct strings in that same length. So there is less light denisty. I am over 90% LED at almost 94K lights and 6 years of LED use experience. My icicles are a major part of my display on the house. I want them to look good. I do use LED icicles on other features that are less critical, and they do OK.

Keep researching and good luck with your display next year.

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They are LED lights. There are two strings of 125ct on the reel. I bought 5 reels warm white myself. I do have one string in use this year. My application for them is either on/off, I haven't tested the fading. All my LEDs are big box store type. The only time I've had corrosion problems is with Sam's icicle lights, but that was because they were encased in ice from the gutters. If I do icicles again next year, they will be mounted differently. I am considering buying some led lights from CDI during the presale because of all the good comments about them.

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We mostly hear about people having really short lives with unsealed LED, but others seem to do really well. It may well have to do with the climate.. My tendency is to stay away from the gamble of unsealed lights..

I will say that Target has some LED lights (unsealed!!!) that are the most realistic imitation of a mini light I have ever seen.. Just like that photo on the packaging!.. So that may well be exactly what the label describes, and the correct photo.

As for what is available in sealed LED, we rewrapped 5 20 foot arches this year, and after seeing other arches wrapped in C6, I went with 5mm concave LEDs. I really like the way they look from across the street. I actually think they are the closest in appearance to mini lights at a distance, for uses like tree trunks, arches, and mini trees. For larger wire frame trees, I'm still planning some C6, but mostly because I want to fill more space, with a less dense wrapping, and no solid surface like a tree trunk to use as a reflector..

And considering the state of LED net lights, I'm considering weaving my own out of 70 or 100 count C6, with all 4 colors in one net. I think this is another place where C6 will work well. So much of it is personal preference.

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-klb- wrote:

And considering the state of LED net lights, I'm considering weaving my own out of 70 or 100 count C6, with all 4 colors in one net. I think this is another place where C6 will work well. So much of it is personal preference.

Let me know how that goes. I have 6 trees, that although I have always been against net lights. Once I used nets in these 6 tress 3 years ago, I really don't want to use anything else.

Currently 4 of the 6 are LED net lights from Target. Unsealed, and knock on wood, I have only had 1 or 2 out of 75+ fail. The other 2 trees are incandescent Nets, and I have to use 2 channels for each tree due to the power, and these are starting to flake, and become clear

I'm looking at CDI's sale prices for LED nets, and they are only a few dollars more a strand then what I paid for the target ones, but still more then a standard strand, so I have thought about trying to make my own net, but it sounds like a big project for about 40 nets between the 2 trees I need to convert to LED's.

So I'll be interested in how it goes for you.
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And considering the state of LED net lights, I'm considering weaving my own out of 70 or 100 count C6, with all 4 colors in one net. I think this is another place where C6 will work well. So much of it is personal preference.

I would be VERY interested in how you might do that!!

I have always wanted to make my Mini Trees from net lights (thought they would look very dense and full)...but the cost was too prohibitive...
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jimswinder wrote:

I have always wanted to make my Mini Trees from net lights (thought they would look very dense and full)...but the cost was too prohibitive..

That is exactly what I did last year with some left over clear nets I had. Took me about 2 minutes to roll the net over the tomato cage, and twist tie them on. They look good. Again, I had the nets just sitting here, so the cost wasn't any issue for me.
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I guess if we are making "Net Lights" for a mini tree, it would be advantageous not to make them square either, but somehow so they fit to a more "tree shape"...

or did you just find the center of the "net" and put that at the top of your tomato cage?

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I just laid the net on the floor, start with one of the short ends (I used 4' x 6' nets) Twist tied it the the cage, and rolled it. I didn't worry about how it rolled, since trying to roll a rectangle around a cone will be award, because once it is lit, you can't tell.

But if making your own nets, then making them for a cone shape would be a good idea.

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Yes, they do appear to be LED's. Here is a picture. If you take the first one out, like 2' worth of them go out. They are actually 2 strings of 125 lights each. I'm thinking I may keep them and give them a shot, since they "say" 3 year warranty on them.

Also, It doesn't say if they are full wave or half wave on them, so I have no clue on that.

Thanks!
Jaim


Attached files 230050=12621-LED2.jpg

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I would stick with the Lowe's (GE LED's), i converted ALL of mine to the GE LED's from Lowe's and I have had no problem with fading issues and they are bright at crap! I need to get some photo's of my display, but I love my blue, white and multi colored LED's.... Best thing since the radio....

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jaimwolfe wrote:

Yes, they do appear to be LED's. Here is a picture. If you take the first one out, like 2' worth of them go out. They are actually 2 strings of 125 lights each. I'm thinking I may keep them and give them a shot, since they "say" 3 year warranty on them.

Also, It doesn't say if they are full wave or half wave on them, so I have no clue on that.

Thanks!
Jaim

There should be a little tag on the string near the male plug in how many watts/amps does it say?
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Big Lots has them also this year. 100 Multi or Clear for $15.00.

Yes they look like mini's but was surprise they are LED's and have some nice colors, they are half wave replaceable but only use the in my display where the weather cannot play havoc with them.

Going on my fourth year with some replaveable strings and no failures because of rust.

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bwaldrep wrote:

I just laid the net on the floor, start with one of the short ends (I used 4' x 6' nets) Twist tied it the the cage, and rolled it. I didn't worry about how it rolled, since trying to roll a rectangle around a cone will be award, because once it is lit, you can't tell.

But if making your own nets, then making them for a cone shape would be a good idea.


I'm trying to envision this, since the one thing I just, for some reason, could not find a lot of enjoyment in this year was making mini-trees. They look incredibly coool in my yard, but had to force myself to do them all.

Would like to see a picture if you have any. Thinking the net, corner to corner, has to be quite a bit longer than the tomato cage to avoid some very noticeable "uneven-ness" where the corners meet.

And yea, if someone made cone shaped nets, THAT would be the solution...

Jim...hey Jim..you working on that????...:)
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I also bought one roll of the sam's lights to try on my LOR. They fade all the way down to 8%. Very dim. I also bought a roll of Ecosmart 200 ligths from Home Depot. They do dim down great also. Our Sam's had them down to 14 bucks a roll. I plan to be there Sunday morning. I'm guessing they will mark them down even more. They had several hundred rolls left.

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Daryl wrote:

What's the difference between half and full wave?

How can you tell the difference?


Many people, including me are bothered by the constant flickering of half wave lights. I get a headache everytime I see them.

For LEDs, I recommend spending any extra dollar or two and getting a quality product from a vendor such as Creative Displays.

Full wave (no flicker), sealed (no rust)
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Half wave and full wave. LED's are a type of diode that emits light, all diodes allow current to pass in one direction. AC, alternating current flows back and forth. A half wave LED string will light when current flows in one direction and but not in the other direction. AC current has a frequency or 60Hz, a half wave string will flicker 60 times a second and this is what makes these LED strings annoying to some people. A full wave LED string has four rectifier diodes in series with the LED's, these rectifier diodes convert the back and forth or alternating current into pulsing DC (direct current) this allows the LED's to light on both the top and bottom half cycles allowing for a smoother light output although the LED's are actually flickering 120 times a second which is less noticeable.



I hope this in not too confusing and that it answers some questions.

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Boy I sure wish you could predict which big box LED's are going to work with LOR. I just figured up my 2011 further conversion to LED using the CDI pre-sale prices and it still came to over $1400.00. We are talking 600 feet of LED rope light and 8 cases (X12) of assorted M6.

If i could save a few bucks I sure would.

Would it be safe (if there is such a thing) to predict that ALL full wave LED's work with LOR?

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Nope! I found out that just putting in a full wave rectifier will only produce enough voltage to run 46 white LEDs. So this holds true for blue, and green (not sure of pink or purple). So, how does one get say 50 LEDs or 100 LED ct strings to work? Well there is a circuit that uses a capacitor and diodes to "Double" the voltage. But this circuit does not play well with a PWM running below 100% on. And it eventually burns out the circuit.

So, look for LED strings that use less than 46 LEDs in series. But that still does not guarantee that it will be safe. Got a couple of sets here that I am working on for a guy. Seems that it is 100ct and has 33, 33, and 34 LEDs in series in those 3 sub-sets. but had a cap in both ends (male plug and female socket). I am only finding one cap at the end and so that would mean that they are trying to filter the ripples for less flicker. Takes two caps to make a voltage doubler.

So in a nutshell. Capacitors are a no-no in LEDs that you are going to use on a LOR and imagine any other makers controllers.

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