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Over the past several years, we have received phone calls, emails and chats from customers. They asked us to solve bad LED purchases. Or installation issues and bad lighting in their facilities. For some of these unfortunate customers, they were lead astray by other vendors. With false claims of lighting performance. Or bought bad product.

In other cases, they decided to buy what they thought was similar product from other vendors. Only to find out the products weren’t similar at all. Here are a few of those stories. Hopefully it will allow you to learn from others who were mislead or made bad purchases.

1. Where’s the driver?

We had a call from a customer wondering why the lights we sent to him didn’t have a LED Driver. It turns out they bought lights from another site. The lights were very cheap.

When they arrived, they were void of the LED Driver. The cost of the drivers, as they later found out, was an extra $94 per light. When you add that to the cost of the LED UFO, the price was more than our lights. What appeared to be a bargain turned out to be anything but.

We went to the competitors site. To this one buyers defense, it was not obvious this light did not come with a driver. Why a site would sell a light without a driver is akin to buying a car without an engine. Its clever, but it makes no sense to do this.

2. Bargain lights with 6500K color LED chips.

This is another common buyer beware scenario. Some sites list ‘cheap’ lights at hard to believe prices. Upon closer inspection, you will find these lights had old LED chips or high kelvin 6500K Color Temperature LEDs. 

6500K is that harsh white blue color most people complain about. We don’t offer it, and have never sold a 6500K product to anyone. The highest kelvin we sell is 5000K.

The second scenario is these lights might have old chips that are not very efficient. So if you are shopping by watts and not lumens, you might be buying someone’s old inventory. And not getting the latest efficient LEDs.

Every so often, we get a call from someone claiming they found the ultimate bargain. And more often than not, its a 6500K fixture at 100 lumens/watt. Its a bargain because the supplier is trying to sell old inventory.

 

3. Re-purchasing lights because what was bought won’t work.

This problem is showing up more often than you think. A customer calls because he installed LED Lights from another competitor. And the lighting is not bright enough, or there are too many shadows.

In some cases, this happens because the customer was not given a lighting plan. In other times, the supplier did not understand the requirements of the customer. And provided them with a solution that produced inadequate results.

A small but ever increasing part of our business is fixing these types of issues. Its unfortunate for the customer in that this becomes a costly proposition. Because they have to do a lighting project twice.

We offer free lighting plans. And will take the time to understand your needs and requirements. So that the solution we provide will meet your needs, the first time!

 

4. Swapping out fixtures after getting a lighting plan.

This is something we try to explain to a customer. Getting a lighting plan is a good first step. Using the plan and using another fixture has a high probability of failure. We say this not as a scare tactic. Its just the about truth about how lighting works.

All lights are different. They produce different lumens, have different beam angles and produce different results. In a 100X100 space, its amazing to see the differences between 2 different 150 Watt LED fixtures. While on paper they seem similar, the results are often quite different.

In one case, we had a potential customer ask us to do a warehouse lighting plan. They then used our plan, and swapped it out for another ‘like’ fixture. The results were predictable, and unfortunately for the customer, not good. This ‘customer’ called us back to complain about our lighting plan. Only to find out they had used a different fixture than the one we had specified.

They then asked for a second lighting plan to fix the problem. Unfortunately, the had bought their fixtures on a site that does not provide (IES) files. So fixing the problem wasn’t even an option.

5. Buying lights based on watts and not lumens.

Most LED Lights are different, even though they have the same wattage. Efficiencies, lumen output, color temperature and optics. The net result is that two lights that appear to be the same and have the same wattage, may produce completely different results.

The different types of result you see includes different light levels (measured in foot candles). And un balanced light levels between lights. This is a phenomena called shadowing. It appears as very bright spaces under the lights and dark areas between light locations.

 

6. Buy Cheap – Buy Twice.

LEDs should last a long time, if you buy quality components. And quality isn’t much more expensive than ‘great’ deals, if you buy from reputable sources. But not all LEDs come from reputable sources.

Then there are the stories we hear about lights failing in mass within 6 months to a year after buy. It happens more often than you think.

Buying well means you are buying from a reputable source who’s prepared to stand by you and support you. And if you’re sold quality product, then that even should be the exception, not the rule.

 

Neil Peterson

 

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About the Author

Neil Peterson is Chief Operating Officer at LED Lighting Supply. He has been active in the LED industry for over 10 years and is responsible for product planning and management as well as revenue and operations at LED Lighting Supply. Much of Neil’s time is focused on customer engagement for large commercial and industrial lighting requirements. When not working, he enjoys family time, camping, fishing, and sports..

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