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LEDs, warranties & voltage surges

Posted by joel_bc (My Page) on
Wed, Apr 17, 13 at 13:42

I have a couple remaining questions in my aim to do good research before investing in LED replacement bulbs for my incandescent bulbs.

I can buy a very good quality 60w edison-base incandescents for under $4 each. A comparable 800-lumen LED of good quality, with a 5-year warranty, will cost me roughly five times as much. I do not want the supplier to skip-out on making good on the warranty due to a factor (excuse?) such as "do you get voltage spikes in your neighborhood?" Obviously, replacement of each LED, if it's out of my wallet, is a bigger deal than with conventional lighting. (Yes, I understand: get bulbs rated for 120-250v, not just 120v. But spikes can go higher.)

First question: are reputable companies being tight-a**ed about replacement, over issues like power surges?

Now, with bench lamp fixtures I can run my power cords into a good-quality surge protector. Second question: should I be looking for some sort of electrical-wiring (in-line) surge protection for my ceiling mounted fixtures? For instance, is there a sort of available wall light switch that has surge procetion built in?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: LEDs, warranties & voltage surges

Perhaps asking Cree directly would be the best solution, assuming you're thinking about the new Cree bulb.

Fwiw, a number of CFL vendors have advertised 5 year warranties, but collecting on the warranty is another matter.

High end switches like the Leviton Renoir have built in surge protection. However, MOV (Metal Oxide Varistors) do degrade over time.

RE: LEDs, warranties & voltage surges

Much thanks, David.

Seems to me that burned-out LED bulbs will be big news (bad news) when the word hits the street. If it happens much. And if 5-year warranties, on a bulb informally reputed to have (potentially) as long a life as 25 years, are welched on... well, it will not help the spread of LED room-lighting usage!

In an ordinary surge, maybe one has to replace $3-12-worth of bulbs. The bill could easily turn out to be $20-80 with LEDs. If they're as fragile as some people have told me they believe they are.

RE: LEDs, warranties & voltage surges

The LED light is using some type of built in 120 V AC to low voltage DC power supply.

They are all small high frequency electronic switching power supplies (or there would be NO efficiency in generating the low voltage required for the LEDs themselves of only a few volts).

Even stacking LEDs to get a higher supply voltage for the chain is not without risk, and a single LED failure then can take out a whole chain (just like old series light strings) unless you add more hardware to the design.

I have already seen LED stop lights with dead 'strings' showing they are in series with likely no attempt at redundancy.

And using additional parts is rarely seen to increase reliability (with correct redundant designs in can increase availability though).

I would guess that most of these companies are not going to do anything more than supply a new bulb (probably after much prodding) from whatever their present production is.

These are not 'serviceable' items that are going to be repaired.

The best that is likely to happen is it gets thrown into some recycling process for any materials with enough value to recover.

The biggest reliability problem in electronic switching power supplies remains the capacitors they use.

Reliable capacitors are still pretty unreliable compared to many other electronic parts, and can be very expensive.

Way more than the manufacturers are going to put in a still lower priced piece of electronics.

RE: LEDs, warranties & voltage surges

"I would guess that most of these companies are not going to do anything more than supply a new bulb (probably after much prodding) from whatever their present production is."
I think this will be a key concern for a lot of people. There's a huge difference between a $3-4 incandescent bulb, that people may resign themselves to consider a throw-away item if it burns out in a few months, versus a $20 (or more) LED that they buy in hopes that it will last 10 or 20 years. If the latter burns out in a few months, the average consumer will be p*ssed off - especially if he or she has bought, say, six or eight of them for around the house.

"These are not 'serviceable' items that are going to be repaired."
Yes, this is no surprise. The only hope for consumers in general being pleased is that they're durable, in the first place, or that there is an easy, no-fuss return and replace policy through the retailer.

Anybody have experience with this??

RE: LEDs, warranties & voltage surges

Line spikes also concern me.

Maybe something something like a battery backed UPS would be the way to go. I think high end homes of the future will be wired for DC as computers and many devices require their own power supply and DC adapter. Maybe its time for a whole house DC wiring standard. Not having power supplies and fans inside each unit of equipment would also reduce heat and noise. One type of plug could supply the common common DC requirements.

RE: LEDs, warranties & voltage surges

"fans inside each unit of equipment would also reduce heat and noise."

In many cases the fans are not for the power supply alone.

High speed electronic devices run HOT.

RE: LEDs, warranties & voltage surges

Well, I appreciate your contributions and comments, everyone.

I'm still uncertain, though, whether the units you guys have bought have never had problems, and seem to be going strong and lasting indefinitely. Or is it more that it's a "no problem" situation with getting replacements on warrantied LED units that burn out before the warranty is up? (One replacement after another??)

What I'm really after is experience more than speculation.

This post was edited by joel_bc on Sat, May 4, 13 at 18:58

RE: LEDs, warranties & voltage surges

"What I'm really after is experience more than speculation."

The power supply is almost always the weak spot in these designs.

The electrolytic capacitors in particular.

Aluminum electrolytic capacitors have such poor reliability they are never used in high reliability equipment.

The much more expensive solid tantalum capacitors are used.

At least the dry slug ones are not as bad as wet slug for cost.

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