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Tim Benson

second day, failed LED string !

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Anyone else have any thoughts on Tim's theory?

I am going to try it.

The green LEDs that I am having problems with are on our mini trees, and are the only things on that particular controller. So, before I replace all the burned out green strings that are on the mini trees again I am going to set a maximum for that controller.

Any suggestions on what to try? I am thinking 75%.

btw We also have these 'burning out' green lights on our inside tree. They won't come off til its time to take the tree down.

I replaced all my 1/3, 1/2 burnt out green strings today and reduced the max output on that controller to 86%. 86% was the lowest value in the drop down window to set the max intensity.

Not sure if I could have typed a lesser % in the selection box or not. If I could use a smaller % I figured it would let me select one.

Any way I have the controller set to 86% max intensity and have replaced the bad green LED strings with fresh ones. Hopefully they will all make it thru the rest of the season as I have no more spares. : (

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FWIW: I use 80% as max for LEDs and 8% as the min; not to protect, just because there is no real usable intensity outside of this range. By going down to 8%, I eliminate the need for snubbers. 30% is about about 50% intensity...

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FWIW: I use 80% as max for LEDs and 8% as the min; not to protect, just because there is no real usable intensity outside of this range. By going down to 8%, I eliminate the need for snubbers. 30% is about about 50% intensity...

Are you using LOR? Are you setting the 80% max in your sequencing or on the controller?

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So I just folded up my three strings of half out 5mm red 70ct leds from LHL to send back for warranty and.....

Now they all work fine...go figure huh?

Two strings worked as soon as i pluged them in after folding up for shipping so I bent the wires around on the third string and it started working all the way again.

Looks what I thought were bad rectifier blobs was just bad connections somewhere in the string itself...

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My display is up and running, Judy's tour stop is beyond me, so I had some time to finally paruse the forums again.

Guys, I have 6 years of LED experience, and out of 94K lights this year, over 90% are LED. While no expert, and can't give theory behind any of this, I have some observations and info.

I have used LEDs from vendors/manufacturers across the board. LED Holiday, CDI, Reinders, Costco (Holiday Creations), Diogen, Holiday Lights, some big box stores and I am forgetting some in here as well.

I have experienced less failure from CDI LEDs & Reinders but they are also my primary suppliers, but I have gotten failures from them all.

LEDs are not the do all to end all failures. It is imperative to keep spares of every type and string count you have. Failures are going to occur. Typically the failure types in my experience have been (in order) half string, going dim, full string, individual bulbs. You would figure the last item would be the first. But William pointed out a very good item. These are made in China. Each Manufacturer has thier own way to make these, and they are doing it as cheaply as possible.

I don't buy LEDs because they claim you will get thousands of hours of use out of them. In theory, that should be true, in practice it is not. I buy them for the reduced electrical footprint I need to drive a display of my size.

This year I had more failures than ever, in both M5 and C7s. On my mega tree, I use 32 strings each of R-G-B-W. Of 32 strings of green that were put away tested last year, I had 25 strings fail to the point I had to replace them. My Mega Tree has some of my oldest LED strings, but I have also been replacing strings each year for 5 years, but out of 128 strings, I maybe replace 3-5 a year till this year. Reinders (Diogen) C7 have been failing at a rate of 18-20 strings a years, this year it was closer to 25-27. See last paragraph.

We as Christmas light enthusiasts, demand more performance out of these lights than anyone else. Feedback has to be provided to the vendors about the abuse we put these through. I have been told that because of the performance we make these light go through, we will get more failures to boot. This is both with LED bulbs and rope.

Snubbers could help or that was one reason for using them. To add to the longevity of the strings. However, if you get 3 years out of a string at our level of performance, your doing good. Anything beyond 3 years, the strings are on borrowed time. The snubbers I am using this year seem to help with smoothing the ramp/fade especially at the end of the spectrum. I am hoping that they do help with the life of the strings I am on the front end of that test curve.

Holiday Lights, a wireframe vendor (big daddy who supplies all the smaller vendors) who has converted thier entire wireframe line to LEDs runs a burn in test on every string they use for at least 24 hours before using it. Thier experience has been that LED strings if they are going to fail early will do so in this burn in. If they don't fail in the first 24 hours, most likely they will last 3-4 years. It was suggested to me to do the same before using any string in my display. They also now sell a intermixable, replaceable LED string that I feel holds some promise for us as LED users.

Lastly, be cautious with the confidence you may get from the Diogen/Holiday Creations warranty. In the past, they have been very cooperative with the re-imbursement or replacement of your strings (I have taken advantage of this the last 2 years). HC (behind the scenes) change ther requirements of that warranty every year. I found out this year, that they now have put the burden of the warranty back onto the distributor that sold them, without backing from HC. Your vendors are going to get very snippity with you because of this. So, your vendor will now sell you the string, and have to replace it without getting help from HC. This I have verified this year through HC & Reinders.

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I don't know any of us who are expecting no failures. What we are experiencing and you this year is excessive.

I was lucky enough to get into LEDs in 08 which was a disaster. Excessive problems is probably an understatement. : )

In the 09 prebuy I got lights that were awesome and have not had any failures from them at all. I got my 08 lights replaced and the failure rate for the blue was 100%. The green failure rate was about 20%, but all of them when turned off would just fade off slowly. The red and warm white I had no failures with.

In 2010 prebuy from LEDHL as of right now the red, green, and warm white are all 100% operational. The blue failure rate stands at 41%. If you figured my whole purchase I stand at a 11% failure rate for this year.

Most of my failures have come from CDI. However this is from the 08 experience and the replacements in 09.

All my LED failures have come in their first season of operation.

So from my 3 year experience failures have been VERY excessive. While no one I know expects LEDs to last forever no one expects these kind of failure rates. ; )

With these kind of failure rates an electrical upgrade would be much cheaper.

I did forget about the LEDs I bought from Animated Lighting. I got 48 strings from them in 07 and have experienced 0 failures from them.

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Are you using LOR? Are you setting the 80% max in your sequencing or on the controller?
As far as the 8% to 80% intensity range, this is the effective range of brightness the LED light strings from what I can see; however, this range has been defined though observation – nothing scientific. It seems that if you have an LED light string running at 80% intensity, increasing to 100% intensity does nothing to increase the brightness. Give it a try. write a sequence that oscillates between 80% and 100% - I doubt you will see a difference in brightness. So if you are fading up, to 100%, you reach the bulbs maximum intensity at 80% and the rest of the fade is considered just “on.” If you had a fade that you wanted to do, the fade would be delayed if decreasing in intensity or complete early if increasing in intensity, as 80% is maximum brightness.

LEDs can fade below 8%; however, on some LEDs, you can see a flicker at low intensity levels. Don’t confuse this flicker with the flicker you can see from half wave LEDs. This flicker is from a capacitance build up from the LEDs fading. The more LED strings you have connected together, the more likely this effect will happen. People build “snubbers” to dissipate this extra energy and cut the fade off early. You can roughly achieve the same thing by not going below some intensity level and just cutting it off. For the most part, the minimum brightness is about the same. Instead of building snubbers, I try to limit the lower intensity to 8%, especially on longer fades.

But take Mark Z's words to heart; he may be a jack of all trades and mastering none, but if you say he has not "mastered" his Christmas display, then I'm still in diapers (or maybe still just an itch - I don't know)...

Edited by B_Regal78

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As far as the 8% to 80% intensity range, this is the effective range of brightness the LED light strings from what I can see; however, this range has been defined though observation – nothing scientific. It seems that if you have an LED light string running at 80% intensity, increasing to 100% intensity does nothing to increase the brightness. Give it a try. write a sequence that oscillates between 80% and 100% - I doubt you will see a difference in brightness. So if you are fading up, to 100%, you reach the bulbs maximum intensity at 80% and the rest of the fade is considered just “on.” If you had a fade that you wanted to do, the fade would be delayed if decreasing in intensity or complete early if increasing in intensity, as 80% is maximum brightness.

LEDs can fade below 8%; however, on some LEDs, you can see a flicker at low intensity levels. Don’t confuse this flicker with the flicker you can see from half wave LEDs. This flicker is from a capacitance build up from the LEDs fading. The more LED strings you have connected together, the more likely this effect will happen. People build “snubbers” to dissipate this extra energy and cut the fade off early. You can roughly achieve the same thing by not going below some intensity level and just cutting it off. For the most part, the minimum brightness is about the same. Instead of building snubbers, I try to limit the lower intensity to 8%, especially on longer fades.

But take Mark Z's words to heart; he may be a jack of all trades and mastering none, but if you say he has not "mastered" his Christmas display, then I'm still in diapers (or maybe still just an itch - I don't know)...

I was not doubting Mark Z's word at all. I am sure he it telling us his experience with LEDs. Just because my LED failure experience is different does not mean I am doubting him in the least.

btw. All I was asking was if you were limiting your max intensity in the sequencer or at the controller itself. I checked and limited my LOR controller (controlling my LEDHL green) to 86% because that is as low as the max intensity window showed for some reason.

After replacing 4 strands of green yesterday and adjusting the controller to max intensity to 86% I have not lost any of the green. : ) Don't know if this made a difference or not. I would like to set the controller to 75% max though, but don't know if I can just type that value into the max intensity window or not.

Edited by roberson3

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No worries guys, I have a long way to go to grow up doing this and love to learn more all the time. I'll be in a pine box before I master all this stuff.

My input was mostly to say, failures are not "vendor" related. They reflect upon the vendor, but they are at the mercy of a process they can't control. Picking on Travis can be easy to do, he has not helped himself over the course of the last few years, but basically he is a good guy, that got over extended. Enough on that, I am not trying to encite a rage.

LEDs always come up several times a year, and newbies always ask about who is the best, what is the best, etc...

The BIG message to ALL the LED vendors (and I tell them this during they year in my interactions with them), is that they need to working with their factories letting them know that LEDs are not all just getting turned on then off at the end of the evening. I would gladly pay a slight premium for a product that was designed with our intended use in mind and gave us the power curves closer to an incandescent.

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I was not doubting Mark Z's word at all. I am sure he it telling us his experience with LEDs. Just because my LED failure experience is different does not mean I am doubting him in the least.
No - I wasn't suggesting that at all - just throwing some kudos his way... :)

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btw. All I was asking was if you were limiting your max intensity in the sequencer or at the controller itself. I checked and limited my LOR controller (controlling my LEDHL green) to 86% because that is as low as the max intensity window showed for some reason.
My limits are imposed through the sequencer. I didn't know LOR could do that at the controller, but then, I am running 2.8.12, which I'm sure is not the most current...

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Well, I too just had my first set fail tonight. Set of blue M5 on white wire. Odd thing is they only go on and off as they are part of a wire frame sign. No dimming even though they are on a LOR channel. The set in question is LHL and is dimmly lit. I will be pulling in that part of the sign to investigate some more tomorrow as it is going to be raining pretty much all day so the display will probably be down. I do have a couple of spares, so worst case I just replace it and try and deal with the vendor.

Will Sanders

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Overall from my LHL 2010 purchase - I lost a total three sets of green. Most of my failures were immediate (within a few weeks of use) and I have not continuing to see a trend of increased failures. Thankfully the loss was not as bad as my sets loss as the 2009 CDI ones (which out of 36 sets is now nearing 100% loss)

 

My overall purchase was 5 sets each of 5mm red,green,blue, and warm white. 24 sets of 5mm red, 12 sets of each of red, green, blue, and warm white.

 

One thing of interest to note: The UL code on the LHL lights does match the 2011 lights from CDI and 2012 and 2013 lights from Magic in the Sky.

 

I finally did a proper replacement this year of the greens that had died from lights from a MITS order (ordered 4 sets of green, since I didn't remember how many had gone out) and also added snubbers to each output on the mini trees (48 channels.)

 

I am a Vixen/DIY person - hardware is a mix of DMX and Renard 24 controllers.

 

Hopefully this helps answer some questions! May not be the final answer, but, this is the experience I had.

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