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LED Lamp Failure - who pays us to change?

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by LLC RI, Aug 23, 2012.

  1. LLC RI

    LLC RI LawnSite Member
    Messages: 149

    Hi All

    About a month ago I did a small job with regular fixtures and LED drop ins. The other day, the client called me and told me that one of the MR16 LED's wasn't working properly, it was flickering and then it was dim or not working at all.

    I told him I was out of state and would try to get over there when I had a chance to.

    Today, his wife called me with the whole " do you know when you can come over because the house really looks bad with that ONE light out. To the point where her 'guests' noticed and commented on it. I felt like saying ' Lady, you've gone 10 years with no lighting, now it's a big deal if one's out?"

    But I refrained.

    Anyway.. point being, I went over and sure enough the LED was dim. I took it out and put it back in and it went on full brightness. I went back to my truck to get my phone to take a picture and when I turned around, the light was off again. I replaced the LED.

    Ok so that was the back story, now my main point.

    That particular lamp was a BRILLIANCE LED. They are among the 3 'brand's of LED's that I use. I have had issue with two of the three so far, with the third one being new to me so there's not much to go on.

    So I drove the 15 miles out there and 15 miles back, spent 15 mins there and replaced a lamp that costs 10 times what a halogen lamp would have cost.

    SO who pays?

    I think we need to get together with the LED companies and let them know that we'll use their products, but if they fail, and we have to replace them, that takes our time, fuel, money, and that isn't free.

    I'm wondering if a simple 2 for 1 swap would be a good approach to present to the LED companies. For each LED of theirs that fails, we get 2 replacements which would at least partly compensate us for the time and expense associated with changing lamps.

    When we were dealing with halogen lamps, I don't think it was an issue based on the relative cost of the lamps. Besides, in my 24 years experience, there weren't that many situations where a lamp failed that prematurely.

    I'm curious as to others thoughts and experiences with this.

    THank You

  2. Classic Lighting

    Classic Lighting LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 512

    In the big picture, I see this issue as a cost of doing business. I am a big advocate for yearly maintenance agreements. This is how I recoup the cost of travel, labor, and materials.
    As LED technology improves, I think we will see less failures. Your present concerns will be a nonissue in due time.
  3. niteliters

    niteliters LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 537

    george, what have you been doing the past years when other warranty items have failed?
  4. niteliters

    niteliters LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 537

    we treat this as any other warranty item. It's only the item that has the warranty so they are billed for time and materials and any shipping costs. We will bill them at our lowest rate for time
  5. LLC RI

    LLC RI LawnSite Member
    Messages: 149

    I've been at this for 24 years. It's not been too often that a fixture would crap out, nevermind within the first month of being on a job.

    My issue here is that LED lamps cost a lot more than standard lamps. There is obviously an intrinsic premature failure rate and that's my area of concern.

    One of the primary 'features' of the LED lamp is that it will last x thousand hours, or maybe 6-8 times longer than a standard lamp. We pay for those features. The manufacturers should have some ownership of their failed lamps.

    This is new uncharted territory. This is why I posed the question to the 'panel'... what are others thoughts on it.

    With regards to your second post... I never charge my clients for any warranty work, replacements. Especially, in this recent case with the LED lamp, there's no way, after this guy just paid me for the lighting job, that I would in good conscience tell him he's gotta pay me for coming and replacing an LED lamp that I just told him would last 30,000 hours. It is not his fault that the lamp failed, nor is it mine. That is exactly my point... the manufacturer failed and I do not want to pay for their failure.

    Again, this becomes an issue because we up sell our systems to include the new technology of LED lamps, along with the higher price tag for the project, there needs to be accountability by those who are making and selling us the LED lamps.

    In this case particularly, it was a Brilliance lamp that failed. I have had Illumicare lamps fail as well, and they promptly replaced them. In those cases I didn't charge my client for the service call, because the lamps shouldn't have failed.

    Another issue at play here is that I buy my Brilliance and Illumicare lamps from a couple of different sources. I have no idea who I bought the lamp in question from. I will likely return it to my local distributor for replacement. In light of this, however, I think the manufacturers might want to address this issue and offer direct replacements. As was the case with Illumicare, they wanted to see the bad lamps so they could dissect them and see why they failed.

    Hopefully, some day, as the technology improves, this won't be as much an issue, but in the meantime, I think it's a valid concern.

  6. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,187

    That is a good sign that Illumicare wanted the lamp back, that shows me they actually care about what they are putting out there.
  7. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    Tim, Getting the lamp back to tear it down and diagnose what went wrong is critically important to understaning where improvements need to be made. Along with getting the lamps back, it is important to gather as much information as possible on how they were installed, fixture type / application, power supply information, environmental conditions, etc. It is one thing to offer a warranty and another all together to constantly strive for advancements and improvements based on real world information.
  8. NightScenes

    NightScenes LawnSite Silver Member
    Male, from Kingsland, Texas
    Messages: 2,214

    I don't know about lamp manufacturers but I do know that my fixture manufacturer will pay my time to do a replacement. I don't usually invoice them but from time to time I do if I get frustrated enough.
    I was using a particular LED lamp and have paid through the nose to replace HUNDREDS of them. The company has paid me back for each lamp that I have sent them but the labor has been completely on me and it's been expensive. It's my stupid tax for trying to save a couple of bucks per lamp. I know better than to do that but went against my better judgement and have learned my lesson.
    I must say that I have had very little problem with the LED fixtures that I use but nothing is perfect.
  9. niteliters

    niteliters LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 537

    defitinitely understand not wanting to charge client for time on a newer job that they just paid premium dollars for. The company I work for has been very slow to enter the l.e.d. market, this being one of the reasons. I suppose you could call the manu and see what they would do. hopefully some of them will comment here. hopefully, in time, as others have said this will become less of an issue.
  10. Viewpoint

    Viewpoint LawnSite Member
    Messages: 80

    I agree with Classic, in that this is the cost. Hopefully, you are building it into the pricing of the install so that if something does go wrong, you still make money. Car dealers don't give you a free warranty. Electronics stores etc. charge for their extended warranty. You should too. It's an insurance plan. If they don't need it, you make money. If they do, you make less money. Averaged over all your projects, you will make money as long as you're using good quality materials.

    The problem with the LED products is that it's all so new, we don't know what the good quality stuff is yet. Paul found out the hard way his wasn't. We have all probably tried something new and got burned for it. I know I have. That is the cost we pay for being the tip of the sword.

    Homeowners who are asking for LED are still considered "early adopters" in my book. They want the new stuff, and are willing to pay for it. They should also know the risks, and it's our job as their designer and/or contractor to educate them of the risks involved and the potential cost of failure. And that is why they need to pay more up-front, because you as the contractor are assuming the liability if there is failure, not them.

    The other option is that you can let them assume the risk and not offer a warranty beyond the manufacturer's for the materials. That way if there is failure, they have to pay for it (time and materials) after it happens. Either way, the homeowner should be told the potential risks involved with purchasing any system, and they are the ones paying for the failures, not you.

    That said, it would be nice to get a 2 free LEDs for every one that fails!!!

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