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Disappointed with LEDs

Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by lantanalawns, Oct 9, 2009.

  1. lantanalawns

    lantanalawns LawnSite Member
    Messages: 8

    I have been installing Christmas lights for 4 years now and we are ramping up for a good season. I wanted to differentiate our company from others in the area. So I found that LEDs would be a good way to do that. 90% less energy usage, could run ton's of lights in a row, could plug everything on a single outlet, safer... So many good reasons.

    So I purchased a sample from Holiday Light Source in Lubbock. These things cost $17+ per set of 25 lights. I purchased a set of C7 bright white, a set of C7 warm white and 25 each of the bright white retro-fit C7s. Well, I plugged them into my handy little device for measuring how much energy they are using and it was great! There was a 95% decrease in amount of wattage that was being drawn!

    I got them during the day and I am currently working evenings until 1 am. So I installed the C7 bright white set of 25 over my garage door. When I came home at about 1:30 am I plugged them in. It was dark outside and I thought they would look great.

    Man was I wrong. First the color was almost blue, not bright white. And they not bright at all. They don't seem to be very bright at all. Wierd color.

    Did I just buy from the wrong place? They are the full wave (rectified) version from www.litesource.com. If those that use LEDs, where do you buy from and have you had this same experience? Your thoughts?

    Holiday Light & Decor
  2. brianpsmith

    brianpsmith LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    I did the same thing a few years ago and went through the sticker shock of the price then the disappointment of the color...all by itself the winter or bright white looks spooky if you ask me. Try the warm white. They are designed to closer resemble an incandescent look and they look pretty good unless your neighbor has incandescent then the difference again rears it's ugly head.

    I have used my stock of winter white LEDs to mix with incandescent candle tip minis for a unique and rich look. For example, do a small tree with winter white LED and blue incandescent and it is absolutely beautiful! We've mixed with other colors too and find that we can get pretty creative and set our designs apart from the rookies while at the same time getting more revenue from the same tree and not having to use much more power. win / win situation.

    Another hint is learn what is good quality in an LED product then shop for cheap pricing. The home improvement stores this year have some pretty good quality LEDs and the price just keeps coming down. The commercial LED products are still pricey and the problem is that they are just as susceptible to wire failure (someone pulled too hard) and bulb crushing. Speaking of bulb crushing, that is another benefit of LED, much more difficult to crush those babies...I have even seen LED minis with replaceable bulbs, that's an improvement.

    Brian P. Smith
  3. lantanalawns

    lantanalawns LawnSite Member
    Messages: 8

    I know that on SPT1 C7 wire I can put about 160 regular 5 watt C7 bulbs and hit about 7 amps. Which I think SPT1 wire is rated for. If I use the C7 retrofit bulbs, which only use about 1 watt, should I (theoretically) be able to run 5 times are many C7 retrofit bulbs in a single run?

    160 incandescent bulbs x 5 watts = 800 watts total = about 7 amps
    800 retrofit LED bulbs x 1 watt = 800 watts total = about 7 amps

    Are my calculations right here or is there something I am missing?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Holiday Light & Decor
  4. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    welcome aboard carlos and brian !

    If you do a search of LED's in these threads you will find many spirited conversations about LED's, pro's and cons, where to get them, etc. You will find the quality retrofit c-9's with 5 leds in each in the warm white color, when they ae facing out towards you rather than up towards the sky are close to the brightness and color of a traditional bulb. The sets that you buy rarely achieve that.

    I've heard that Actionlighting.com are good, but just that, I heard it, not experienced it.

    Fred at Liteclip.com sells 5 led c-9 bulbs that he swears by and has used a few hundred thousand of them. The bulbs still go out, but the ones he buys seem to burn out at about 1/3 the rate of the old c-9's he used.

    What I am also hearing from a few folks who used them in the 3 years past is the plastic is starting to yellow from the UV rays. some so , some don't. fred mentioned this to me as well. It is a double edged sword. The early yellow stage looks better because it cuts the bluish-whitish and makes it look closer to a real bulb, but when you replace a bulb with a new one, boom, it does not look the same. so you have to take one from the end and fill in, and them put the new ones on the end. The later dark yellow stage is not so yellow as it is closer to orange.

    as far as LED mini's, I got some last year that absolutely looked perfect in color, but they only lasted a few months outside.

    I continue to sit on the sidelines and offer a tried and true product, until the LED's are rock solid and worth it. at a cost of 8-10 times as regular bulbs, I really want to know I am getting a great product. so far, lots of problems you don't have with the old bulbs.
  5. wurkn with amish

    wurkn with amish LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 662

    and on the 2nd or 3rd year the LED starbursts don't work or half is out, or real dim that you can barely tell they are on. I wish you could use the buzzer box to jump them again.......
  6. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    The good news is you can re-light those starbursts with old style lights with clips. I have redone some that were burned out from way back, and it only takes maybe 15 minutes to take off the old and put on the new. not crazy cheap though, I use the HBL light sets and it costs about 1/2 what a new starburst costs you. If you use the 1/4" light clips from Fred over at Liteclip.com and a quality lite set it might be less, but then no bulb protection.
  7. wurkn with amish

    wurkn with amish LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 662

    I've been saving them. I tried to use the replacement strands, but always ended up with an extra or its too tight to get the last couple over to the other side. frustrating.....
  8. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    Just got in a hundred or so of 5 LED c-9 bulbs from fred at liteclip, and I gotta tell you, pretty nice color. a warm white for sure, but on the halogen side of color, so I'd sat about 3000-3300 kelvin. no blue, no flicker, and bright. I would say the same number of lumens as a regular c-9, and a pretty good looking bulb from the end or the front. It is still a bit brighter when viewed looking straight at the tip as opposed to looking at them standing up, but this bulb is pretty bright standing up. I might put some of these on the back side of some commercial buildings I do and compare them on the ground to the regular c-9's in terms of what it looks like from 100 yards away.

    Also, I may install some of these out for a few years to see how the plastic yellows out with 3-4 months of exposure in the winter. Since he has mentioned to me the ones he has out there that are 3 years old are a bit yellow plastic , and after that they actually look more true warm white, I'll have to update this thread yearly.

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