Take a stroll through the lighting department of big box stores, and hardware stores these days and you are likely to see LED lights that fall into numerous price ranges. Some are branded with names that are familiar, while others have names most folks have never heard of before. As tempting as it may be to purchase an LED that has a bargain price and unknown branding, the potential consequences of choosing a cheap LED can leave consumers wondering if LED technology is all that it’s cracked up to be.
While it might be possible that one would not attain the lifetime rating of even the best known brands, whose life ratings can be near the 50,000-hour mark, the brand name LED’s will most certainly outlast the cheaper products, generally by a huge margin. It’s no secret that the vast majority of LED lights are made in China – some figures indicate that those numbers are in the ninety plus percentile range. The differences are found in the quality of components used in the manufacturing process. Even the brand name products are mostly made in China, but those brands have long standing reputations of quality that is a part of their culture, and they work diligently to retain that recognition. Many of the LED industry newcomers, on the other hand, are less concerned with all that and their bottom line is to create an inexpensive (generally “cheap”) product that is able to be priced well below the name brand items.
That’s not to say that all LED manufacturers in China utilize cheap components. LED manufacturing in China is a giant industry but there are Chinese manufacturers that are at the top of the LED revolution and are producing very high quality LED lights. The name brand companies have done, and are constantly doing their own research and testing to ensure that the products they are having made in China and selling here, in the states, conform to the highest industry standards. The low cost units, which are generally made to satisfy markets outside the US and Europe, are sure to be found in many US and European outlets, just because the companies know that they will obtain a share of the market due to being able to undercut prices of the well-known name brand companies.
There can be numerous disappointing consequences of purchasing cheap LED lights. The first, and foremost issue is the lifespan, which might be only a year or thereabouts. The reasons for the short life can be multifold, and includes, cheap resistors, capacitors, heat sinks, and the LED’s themselves. The heat generated due to poor heat sinking can be a major problem with many inexpensive LED’s. The increased heat is a proven point in the early demise of many. There is also the potential that the color temperature, color rendering, lumen output, and other important LED features which are well controlled with name brand lights, will not be so well sorted out with cheap LED’s. The better quality lights will, in many cases, use slightly less energy; maybe it won’t be much less but over time it can add up to measurable differences in energy savings.
In all reality, there can be numerous other instance of poor performance with cheap LED’s and a couple of the most notable and irritating could include flickering, which may cause headaches and eye strain, and RF interference which can mess with radio signals. Premature color temperature, color rendering and lumen degradation as well as not being dimmable can also be issues that might plague cheap LED’s.
The old adage of, “you get what you pay for” is definitely true in the LED lighting field, and if you ever have any questions in regard to your planned LED installation, you can always give Polar-Ray a call at 303-494-5773, and speak with a lighting consultant.