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Advice when Purchasing LEDs

LED technology is still evolving, Asian companies up popping up every day to jump on what will be a paradigm shift in lighting. With some many manufacturers how do you the quality and reliability of each LED product?

First, before you go shopping on Alibaba, one of the more popular Asian sites for LEDs and sourcing other products from Asia do some homework. It’s almost almost impossible to thoroughly check out each company’s product, and even if they are a real “bricks and motar” company. I’ve heard of companies with nice photos of factories, only to discover they are working out of a small home. I’ve also heard horror stories of small companies buying a container of T-8 tubes at a great price just to find out later all the components are bad and their six-figure investment is “down the tubes”, pun intended.

Can you save money if you happen upon a reliable and trustworthy manufacturer to deal with direct in China, yes of course. However, do you want gamble on purchasing a large order and having to hold your breath for 30-45 days to find out if it’s the same product you were told (components) would be getting. I think the best bet for a decision maker (purchasing manager) in a company when purchasing a large quantity of LEDs is to work with a company who’s already vetted out their suppliers and can back up their LEDs with a warranty.
What's the Best Decesion?
I think purchasing managers have to make a careful analysis of what they want to accomplish and set some standards to select the most appropriate choice. Like anything else, it comes down to “best value”, not lowest cost. Important things which should be considered include, watts per lumen, which driver is being used, what chip maker (Samsung, Cree, Bridgelux, Nichia, etc) they use. Additionally, hours of use (20,000-50,000) and how many years of limited warranty is given. Warranty’s on LEDs are only as good as the company which provides you the LEDs, so if you bypass the wholesaler who is usually local, and get a boatload of bad products–your on your on (AKA, You Stuck). Companies selling LEDs can play games like, “we offer a lifetime warranty or 100,000 hours on our LEDs”. The truth is the driver they use will fail long before this claim would come into play. The devil is always in the details

The reality is LED technology is still very new and continue to change, as any new technology things tend to move fast, products improve, pricing drops and new players enter the market. Many companies offering LED products are not likely to be around in five years which means what difference does a 5-year or 100,000 hour mean if no one is around to service it? Purchasing managers need to be aware of this possibility.

Other things to look for which are very important are certifications.
DLC,UL,ROHS Compliance, Lighting Facts, etc. and the Illuminating Engineering Society’s (IES) standards LM-79 and LM-80 for accredited facilities. LM-79 is for lumens per watt — efficiency — and LM-80 is for the rated life of the product. Once products are successfully tested they can be listed with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lighting Facts program which contains facts related to a particular lamp or light fixture. Although no guarantee of the product, it shows the company has made the effort to get its products listed, it at least is play by the same rules as all major manufacturers.

In closing, make certain your either buying from a reliable manufacturer if you dare to go that route, however my personal opinion is to use a local wholesaler who has years of experience and knows which suppliers of LEDs are reliable and back their products. Check with us again for updates at www.briteledlighting.com

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