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Are LED reliable? And what you should be doing in order to protect your investments.

Posted by Clarence Leong on

Why do LED lamps fail? Seriously, we have no idea too. But just like older generation TV sets and home appliance, they seem to last longer, despite being of yesteryears’ technology…or should we say it’s precisely because of that.

LED technology has come a long way, and has made its way into our homes in the form of essential and functional lights.

For new homes or residence that is undergoing a facelift, it is a no brainer to opt for LED lights over it’s older cousin - the energy saving CFL/Fluorescent lamps, which has served its purpose honourably.

(If you are keen to learn where & how to buy lights in Singapore, jump here!)

At this point in time, it is necessary to understand that when we mention LED, we are referring to the light emitting component of the lamp, which are mounted on a circuit board.  They look like this (see the yellow parts):


When we say LED is long lasting, we are referring to these fellows.  These LEDs can be from SAMSUNG, LG, CREE,etc.  In a typical LED Lamp, there actually is another component we call DRIVER.  These are the ones that usually give way before the LED.  

 

WHY LED:

Simple facts-

1) LED is more energy efficient (cost saving can be significant if we are talking about an entire household, not just 1 or 2 lamps installation)
2) Environmental friendly (contains no trace of mercury), which FYI, in large quantity is hazardous to health. But worry not, for our NEA has exercised control to ensure CFLs imported (via legal means) sold locally in retail shops (not including those dodgy brands and those purchased online and shipped from overseas directly) adhere to certain standards (e.g. imposing a limit on the mercury content)
3) Longer life cycle-which means stretching the dollar you invested. LED (good ones) still cost more at this moment but considering you will be able to stretch them over a much longer period of time- and we are talking x 2 or x 3 times here.

Other factors like-

a) Lower maintenance (some may even say maintenance-free since we will no longer need to find the right starter, ballast or bulbs fittings for replacement, as in the case of fluorescent lights).
b) LED comes with little or no UV emission.
c) It even works against insects since they are less likely to attract them ( we were told it is due to the absence of UV, not the heat, but We stand to be corrected).
d) Being instant “ON” without the initial flickering (instead of having to wait for that 5 - 6 seconds or more before the CFL lights up fully).

So as we gradually make the transition from CFL/fluorescent to LED, there is bound to be comparisons and perhaps unpleasant experience with adopting LED despite all the promises.

So if LED is indeed that good, then why do people still have such grievances despite its proven technology?

We have received feedback from customer that they have heard their friends or relatives having LED lamps that breaks down within 6 months after installation, and thus have sworn never to use it again, even going a step further to dissuade others to do so with good intentions.


LED Everywhere, which ones are good :

a) Advent of online merchants:
Internet has given birth to online stores allowing consumers to purchase everything and anything directly and having them shipped to their doorsteps.

We like online shopping. We as individuals do it a lot. In fact we will launch our online store pretty soon. But we maintain that only certain things should be bought, especially when it comes to dealing with a 240VAC outlet.

Our local government spends a fair bit of money to set up departments that test and ensure the safe usage of electronics and electrical devices by meeting certain quality and standards (etc, Safety Mark). 

b) Factory Direct/Direct Import Retailers:
Similar to the above, a lot of retailers( many of whom have never been in the lighting business before) and local online merchants(some even individuals, without a proper registered business) have sprung up in the last few years to catch the wave of CFL to LED replacement.  It puzzles us as they claim to be factory direct prices when they not distantly related to the manufacturers.


Before you even think of purchasing from those sources, consider these:

-What if the poor circuitry of such shoddy products result in a fire hazard, and your insurance company decides not to pay you? Or worst still, someone gets hurt (your tenants or your children)?

-If the drivers become faulty after a few months of use, will you still be able to find back the replacement with the same outlook and size of the hole being cut in the false ceiling?

-So what if you have changed the faulty once during the warranty period, and what happens after that 6 months/1 year warranty period?

-Have you considered the long term effects of untested and uncertified products? For example, you may like to do some research about LED flickering/strobing. 

READ: http://mypaper.sg/top-stories/one-2-items-sold-online-china-fake-20150128

READ: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/more-singapore-stories/story/three-electric-bowl-brands-asked-stop-sales-selling-good

READ: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/sia-bans-hoverboards-due/2365474.html

See Video here on LED Strobing (What is it?):

 


It's like eating stuffs imported directly from overseas, same reputable brand (appears to be, at least from the outside), and make, (maybe just different place of manufacturing), but, would you take the risk? and feed these to your kids at home?


Final say, Lights out:


We have the opportunity to deal with LEDs from different brands and makes.

No one says LED never fails. EVEN IF IT DOES FAIL, wouldn’t you like to be sure that they are as easy to service or repair like any other regular bulbs ?truth is replacing a LED downlight may not be as straight forward as one may think.

No one says every LED lamp can last beyond or even as long as what their manufacturers claims on the packaging, it depends on the usage and maybe even a little bit of luck.

We are in no position to conduct a QC check beyond a simple power-up and 48 hours run-in test and by simply gathering our customers’ feedback constantly.

It is also impossible for the local Authority to do so in an environment where anyone can simply have a LED product shipped from anywhere in the world.

But we are quite certain in most LED failure cases, it is the LED drivers that gives way (yes, you will need one in any LED, only whether it is integrated or not).  You see,  an LED driver is where u find most electronic components, where they are subjected to extreme stress and test.  So,  the quality of these components play a major role in whether these drivers last as long as the LED themselves.   Besides converting power, good drivers include components that regulate frequency and provide constant current, hence the higher cost in manufacturing them.  In view of this,  some manufacturers may deliberately cost cuts by excluding these components,  just so to stay competitive. 

For those of you who have yet to have the opportunity to replace a traditional LED downlight or drivers (if it is non integrated), trust us, it can be a time consuming and “heart breaking” affair, although the process to do so is actually quite simple.

Firstly, getting an electrician to make a trip to your place simply to replace ONE downlight can be a tricky affair itself, as after looking at what you paid him to do what you could have accomplished yourself in perhaps another additional 10 mins, you begin to wonder why you didn’t try to do it yourself. It is almost like paying an electrician to change your common light bulb. Now imagine the other downlights start to give way one after another thereafter.

Time consuming because you are dealing with electricity, hence caution has to be exercised. Unless you are the hands-on type that invests some time to understand the basics of electricity, may we suggest you leave this to the professionals. Removing a LED downlight from your false ceiling requires a delicate skill, otherwise you face the risk of damaging your paint work or even the ceiling itself, which explains the ‘heart breaking’ part. And in the end, you would rather you’ve paid an electrician to do the job for you, which even so, does not guarantee your false ceiling will be blemish-free after that. Also, you might need to engage a painter to touch up certain areas if your electrician does not do you the favour. Oh, and don’t forget, you need to provide him with the paint to do so too.

Of course, these are all hypothetical future cost you may not see now, it’s akin to buying insurance (which, by the way, we do not sell).

We say use LED! But use it the smart way and save yourself the trouble and minimise the cost to replace it when the need arises.

We recommend you choose quality LED downlights (well designed for ease of servicing the drivers and some even come with removable LED housing) and install fittings with replaceable LED bulbs (all these, we DO sell).  Try to stick to reputable and established brands for accountability (product recalls, quality related issues,etc) for that piece of mind.

If your initially opted to use LED for their extended life span, doesn’t it make sense to invest a bit more rather than to take a chance.  Besides, you wouldn't be refitting your home lightings very frequently but yet operate them daily, and hence not a regular purchase, why not just invest in a piece of mind for this one time.  May appear to cost you more initially, but you will not have further maintenance cost.  BESIDES, YOUR HOME IS ALREADY WORTH THAT MUCH AND PROBABLY IS YOUR BIGGEST COMMITMENT TO A SINGLE INVESTMENT IN THIS LIFETIME, why cut back on lightings and take the unnecessary risk?

Once you have got the fittings out of the way, you can then consider placing table and floor lamps and perhaps also the use of Home Automation to improve your lifestyle ( these, we sell too).

It is your home, you make the call.  Make it a smart one.

Thank you for attention!

Read more- Why Threecubes?

The Team@ Siglap
Control to Conserve with Comfort (threeCubes)


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2 comments

  • do you carry such product with safety mark ?

    We recommend you choose quality LED downlights (well designed for ease of servicing the drivers and some even come with removable LED housing)

    Jai on
  • Excellent advice, a lot of this information we make sure to pass on the client or to reassure them of our led downlights.

    Light Supplier on

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