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LED Quality


Gilrock
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Well after just starting out and having some LED strings and some incandescent strings I was wanting to get more LED's. I've seen several presale advertisements but the prices seem quite expensive leaving me wondering how the quality of the LEDs compare to what you can get on sale after christmas. One benefit I see of ordering them is you get the colors you want...buying them on sale it seemed like I was stuck with mainly white. I went to Walgreens and bought a lot of strings on sale for about $2.79 for a box of 50. I got several strings of C6's mainly what they called Warm White and a few red and green boxes. I got a lot of the smaller faceted LED strings which looked like M5 size. I also got several boxes of C9 leds that were faceted with 25 per string.

Looking at the presale from MITS I see the LEDs say they are rated for 100,000 hours whereas the ones I got were more like 20,000 to 25,000. Also I read some ad's saying how they are full-wave LEDs and dimmable. This all leaves me wondering if the ones from MITS would really be worth paying 4-5 times the cost of what I got on sale locally. Do the strings really last that much longer considering we are leaving them out in the weather? Do they really dim better because the cheap ones I used seemed to fade up and down pretty good to me. I like the idea of investing in good quality lights but I'm afraid I won't be able to buy that much at those costs. But on the other hand if you want a string of green or red LED icicles it's not that easy to find locally.

Any thoughts/opinions on the LEDs you like to use?

Thanks,

Gil

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In the past, the Big Box LED's were rusting out after one season..but they may have improved them as I have not heard about this problem this season...yet.

As in everything, you get what you pay for.

I've had my original LED's for three seasons now without any problems or failures (except caused by me), and they were NOT bought from the Box Stores, but are like the type you would get from CDI and MITS...

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I have not had any problems for 3 years now with "Big Box" LED's. I have bought them from Wally World and Home Despite. However, I do not live in a harsh climate area of the country. I do not have to content with inches of rain and snow and extreme humidity night after night. This is most definitely a factor in my buying decisions for lights.

Right now, the Box Store lights work well for us and our show. They have lasted for me without any major issues. Now if I had the cash to dump a few grand to MITS or CDI, I might do it. But like I said, what I have works well for me. If it ain't broke, fix it till it is.

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Just an observation here and I am not being critical of the vendor, actually quite the opposite. I bought 36 red M6 100 count LED strings from a well known vendor to use on my split rail fence. About 2 weeks into the season I noticed that two of the strings had 1/2 failed. I had two spare strings so I unwrapped the strings(quite a pain in the butt the way we wrap the rails) and replaced. I contacted the vendor and with no questions asked other than my say so, they sent me two replacement strings. The weird thing was that when I brought the "bad" strings into the house and plugged them in I couldnt get them to fail no matter how hard I tried, and they stayed on for two solid days. Then just a week ago, I noticed two different strings were 1/2 out. They were in relatively inconspicuous places so I didn't bother to change. Two nights later I noticed that those strings were back completely working and stayed on the rest of the show season until day before yesterday. Thats more than 10% what I would consider failure rate, or at least strings that I can't place 100% trust in. Back in the old days when I was using $2 incandescent strings I refused to mess with a string that was faulty, even fresh out of the box. They would just go into the junk box for spare bulb use. Now when you are paying $15 a string for LED you think twice, maybe even a dozen times about trying to diagnose the trouble. I still think that while the LED's themselves may be rated for 100,000 hours, you still are dealing with basically the rest of the string components not being significantly diifferent than a $2 string.

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Yeah I built an arch this year that had 7 segments with 200 lights per segment. This was my first year buying lights at all so I bought cheap home depot mini-lights for $2.68 / 100 bulbs thinking they were LED. I thought all the tiny lights were LED's. So since my controller hadn't arrived I tried to power up all the segments in series, 1400 bulbs, and it looked great for 30 seconds until the fuse in the first string blew. I was baffled for a few minutes because I thought they should only be drawing like 30 mA per string. Finally I figured out they were incandescent. I split the load between 2 power cords and was able to power it up statically. My deal is all my circuits were used up to provide power to the pool so I don't think I can spread out to enough circuits to power incandescents. But at $15 a string for LEDs it might be cheaper to have another panel installed...

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Guest wbottomley

Gilrock wrote:

Well after just starting out and having some LED strings and some incandescent strings I was wanting to get more LED's.  I've seen several presale advertisements but the prices seem quite expensive leaving me wondering how the quality of the LEDs compare to what you can get on sale after christmas.  One benefit I see of ordering them is you get the colors you want...buying them on sale it seemed like I was stuck with mainly white.  I went to Walgreens and bought a lot of strings on sale for about $2.79 for a box of 50.  I got several strings of C6's mainly what they called Warm White and a few red and green boxes.  I got a lot of the smaller faceted LED strings which looked like M5 size.  I also got several boxes of C9 leds that were faceted with 25 per string.

Looking at the presale from MITS I see the LEDs say they are rated for 100,000 hours whereas the ones I got were more like 20,000 to 25,000.  Also I read some ad's saying how they are full-wave LEDs and dimmable.   This all leaves me wondering if the ones from MITS would really be worth paying 4-5 times the cost of what I got on sale locally.  Do the strings really last that much longer considering we are leaving them out in the weather?  Do they really dim better because the cheap ones I used seemed to fade up and down pretty good to me.  I like the idea of investing in good quality lights but I'm afraid I won't be able to buy that much at those costs.  But on the other hand if you want a string of green or red LED icicles it's not that easy to find locally.

Any thoughts/opinions on the LEDs you like to use?

Thanks,

Gil

 


My thoughts are... go read what LED users have to say. That will give you an answer but maybe not the one you're looking for.
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Well I used the BigBox store LEDs, this was their SECOND SEASON and during the 2011 Christmas display, far too many failed miserably. I think last count was I had somewhere in the neighborhood of a dozen(12) LED strands fail due to RUSTED LED LEADS and RUSTED OUT SOCKETS!

Now I have been reading the threads here, asking questions and have come to the conclusion that this year(2012) I am switching over to SEALED LED STRANDS. Yes, they are more expensive, but they are also FULL WAVE, when most BB stores are 1/2 wave, which also plays havoc with fading without using snubbers. If I recall, full wave doesn't have that issue, but I might be in error, if so, I'm sure the folks that use them will set that record straight.

So yes, I'm putting in an order for 108 100-count sealed LED strands of assorted single colors for my 2012 display.

Aside from the one post here, most I have versed with here have had high praise for the sealed LED strands and there haven't been that many failures, and if there were, they were replaced quickly.

So I'm now taking the advice from my fellow LOR users that recommend sealed LED strands. I had to learn it the hard way, but at the time I didn't have the funds to buy the better quality LED strands, this year I am able to do so.

Sure I'd love to double or triple the quanity I'm getting myself, but I'm getting what I can this year and then plan on adding to them each year if I can do so.

I used to believe that replaceable LED strands was the best way to go, but after the massive hiatus of failures during my 2011 Christmas Display, I knew then and there, it was time to go with what the experts have been telling me since I entered this hobby. You *do* get what you pay for.

Caveat Emptor!

Well that's why I'm switching over and paying the higher price for quality over quanity, which the BB store quanity I could get would probably be 4 or 5 times what I'm getting, but those BB store LED strands would just let me down all over again.

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Champion Sound Entertainment

I Too am curious about why the LED strands are so expensive. I got in contact with about a dozen manufacturers in china who are willing to sell me identical LED strands for $2-5 USD a strand given I purchase at least 100 strands...

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George Simmons

Champion Sound Entertainment wrote:

I got in contact with about a dozen manufacturers in china who are willing to sell me identical LED strands for $2-5 USD a strand given I purchase at least 100 strands...



I'm not defending anyone or their prices. But did you ask those manufacturers if their light sets are the ones that literally catch fire when you dim them? I've gotten LEDs from a handful of regular stores and three different online vendors and I can tell you there's a BIG difference from one end of the spectrum to the other. I think there's a few hundred others around here who might ditto that.

Just out of curiosity, what's the shipping cost on 100 sets? Do they all have to be the same color/size?
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DonFL wrote:

The massive hiatus? You had lots of failures..or you didn't?

Guess I chose the wrong choice of words on that, hiatus probably should have been exodus. Oh well, can't get it right all the time, got to have a few trips and falls here and there, otherwise life just wouldn't be interesting.

So to answer your question on failures, Yes I did. (and it was in the first few lines of my OP response).

I had at last count that I can recall were 12 big box store brand LED's failed and were irrepairable due to rust and corrosion of the LED Leads and strand sockets.

I actually may have more than that, I haven't bothered to untangle the mess where I've been tossing the failed strands into a pile and count them, just know I have a tall heap of DEAD LED Strands! Which fuses and power was checked in the strand and it was getting power to the end of the strand (female end), just no LED's lighting, went down the string to try and repair them, found the deteriorated sockets and rusted LED leads, which usually deteriorated and broke off taking them out of the socket. Just not worth fixing.

But the bright side is on those dead strands the male and female plugs will be cut off for use when making custom length extension cords. And maybe I can use some of their LED covers (C6/C7) for some oddball project(s) in a future display element.

Wife gets so aggravated at me because I tend never to throw anything away I think I may be able to use later for something. LOL

So after this mess, I'm buying some Sealed LED strands this year from MitS, especially since I can afford some this time around.

Valuable and hard lesson learned! No more Big Box store LED lights for me.
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I have had Sealed Pro LEDs fail on me on their first season. I was so P*ss seeing that they came with no spare bulbs and was impossible to troubleshoot.

I am seriously considering my options. Staying with costly LEDs or going back to cheap incandescent minis which I can discard and feel no lost, or troubleshoot with my Light Keeper Pro.

Ron.

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Champion Sound Entertainment

They all come from china - so what makes CDI or MITS so special? I've got LEDs I bought from walmart 3-4 years ago that still work great that i payed $5 for ... Personally I'm just a cheap ass and love my incans I pay $1-2 a box for. I'd love to run all LED but at $6-15 a strands it's not worth it to me... but I'm looking at buying straight from the manufacturers in huge quantity and opening up my own retail store from nov-dec... The lights I've seen look identical to others and they even have some cool [Foul Language Used] I've never seen before (like color strands of fiber optic LEDs that are EXTREMELY bright and look amazing!!) I'll keep you guys updated

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Champion Sound Entertainment wrote:

They all come from china - so what makes CDI or MITS so special? I've got LEDs I bought from walmart 3-4 years ago that still work great that i payed $5 for ... Personally I'm just a cheap ass and love my incans I pay $1-2 a box for. I'd love to run all LED but at $6-15 a strands it's not worth it to me... but I'm looking at buying straight from the manufacturers in huge quantity and opening up my own retail store from nov-dec... The lights I've seen look identical to others and they even have some cool **** I've never seen before (like color strands of fiber optic LEDs that are EXTREMELY bright and look amazing!!) I'll keep you guys updated



I'd say what makes them so special is their proven track record with customer satisfaction, ease of getting a replacement in case there is a problem and just overall customer service to their clients. Now I'm basing this on what many and I do mean MANY of the folks here recommend and their experiences.

And they(the expert folks here on the forums) haven't really ever led anyone astray when it comes to what works and what fails miserably within a season or two.

And like said, these companies are in the states for us in the US and so ease of getting a replacement would be much quicker than if we bought direct from China and then had to send any back for replacement and wait for that replacement to come in. They also make sure before their product leaves their hands that it works, not to say something could happen during shipment, it happens. But from what I've read around here, I'm going with what the majority is recommending.

I don't think anyone here wants to wait for a slow boat to or from China for replacement strands if that were needed. Just my opinion, others may differ.



BTW: I was a cheap-a$$ too, but I sure paid the price by being so for using those inferior-quality cheap Big Box store LED strands, second season and 12 failures over a few days time is EXCESSIVE! And it could be more than that when I finally get out in the garage and start pulling those bad strands apart from each other to cut off their plugs. Then I'll know the exact number of strand failures.
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Champion Sound Entertainment wrote:

They all come from china - so what makes CDI or MITS so special? I've got LEDs I bought from walmart 3-4 years ago that still work great that i payed $5 for ... Personally I'm just a cheap ass and love my incans I pay $1-2 a box for. I'd love to run all LED but at $6-15 a strands it's not worth it to me... but I'm looking at buying straight from the manufacturers in huge quantity and opening up my own retail store from nov-dec... The lights I've seen look identical to others and they even have some cool **** I've never seen before (like color strands of fiber optic LEDs that are EXTREMELY bright and look amazing!!) I'll keep you guys updated

You answered your own question..you're removing the retailer. Not surprised at all by the difference in price.

When you open your retail store for two months, let us know what you calculate to be the cost of warehousing, shipping, bookkeeping, customer/warranty support,etc., etc. for all of those lights, not to mention a profit to make your time worthwhile, and what your price to the public turns out to be.
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When you open your retail store for two months, let us know what you calculate to be the cost of warehousing, shipping, bookkeeping, customer/warranty support,etc., etc. for all of those lights, not to mention a profit to make your time worthwhile, and what your price to the public turns out to be.


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George asked what the shipping cost on 100 strings of lights would be. I got curious and did some checking;

China to LA for 100 lbs - $500 (by sea)( if you buy 40 instead of $5.00/lb it goes up to $8.50/lb)

LA to South Texas $90

So $5.90 per string for shipping.

Now you have to pay import duty, port charges, and who knows what else. If you buy the lights for $5.00 a strand in China, they cost at least $11.00 by the time you get them to your house.

Or, buy the string of lights from one of the vendors and pay an extra $0.50 each for them to do all the work.

All depends on how much you value your time.

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I've been fighting over this myself. While I want to buy as many strings as possible at the best price, I also want to be sure to buy the best quality product. I did buy a few strings at the after Christmas 50% off at big box stores. However, I did limit my purchases to just a few strings. Mainly because no where on the packaging could I tell if they were half or full wave or even dimmable.

I still can't really understand from reading the forums what the difference is in half vs full wave, but I can tell that if the LEDs are not dimmable, sounds like you are out of luck.

Therefore, I am planning how many strings I want and what colors and placing an order with MitS during their Presale. Mainly because I know they are full wave and dimmable. And secondly because of their quality guarantee that covers the first 2 years if a string does happen to go out.

Believe me, they will want to be sure their products are of high quality otherwise they would lose quite a bit of money to replace a high percentage of strings over 2 years. The big box stores don't care and don't offer any type of guarantee like that. They know we live in a throw away society and I myself have become used to the purchase of replacement strings every year. But no more!

And lastly, what is your time worth when you have to take down several defective strings and put in new ones? Depending on the complexity of your design, it could be a real headache.

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CShuler wrote:

I still can't really understand from reading the forums what the difference is in half vs full wave, but I can tell that if the LEDs are not dimmable, sounds like you are out of luck.

Here is the general rule on dimmable LEDs: If they are in a string of at least 25 bulbs, then they are almost certainly dimmable.

The non-dimmable bulbs you hear about are almost always "retro" (retrofit) bulbs, usually C-7, or anything made to screw into a 120v socket. Many of these use capacitors as a ballast, and the harmonics caused by dimming will cause excess current to flow, which can cause the bulb to overheat and fail.

Back to the LED strings: While they are all dimmable, they may not dim very well, with sharp cutoffs or flickering. But at least they won't be destroyed.
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I am 15000 100% LED so I thought I better chim in. Last year during the 178% of normal rainfall season my lights where a mess. I put two layers net lights all over the lawn and they were all connected together so when one would short I would lose a fuses for about 5 strands back. I also had issues with my very old lights rusting out. Now this year was flawless but I don't think it rained once the month of December so I had no issues. I did split the netlights into no more than 3 per plug which may have helped also.

I have 50% Sams Club cheap lights which rust out and do cause problems by my Target Phillips lights I have not had issues with. I would hope that manufactures of these lights realized that rust is an issue and used some thing that doesn't rust. Novel idea for outdoor lights.

People talk full wave and half wave and personally I can't tell the difference so if it bothers you stay away from the cheap lights.

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