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Jeremy Lawton

Frustration with LED's

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I decided to do a display this year that was all LED. With that being said I have hit a point to where purchasing and using LED's has become frustrating. I have random sections of LED's on my roof that have suddenly gone out without any indication. And I just noticed lastnight that 1 of my mini trees is 3/4 out. Is there any sort of simple way to fix a string of LED's without removing each individual LED? And without having to dismantle my display items! I thought most of the LED's looked great but now with these sets failing and the fact that we having had any snow yet makes me a bit skeptical for 2011. Anyone have some suggestions here?

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Jeremy,

I'm running around 40,000 Led's in my display and if there is any consolation, it's been my experience that the vast majority of failures happen in the first few days and then level out. Generally, what you are then left with will last for years. At least thats the way it has gone for me.

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LEDs... great when they work and a real pain when they don't.

Back in "the old days" there was never a string of incandescent lights I couldn't fix. The wire insulation would have to be crumbling because of too much sun exposure before I'd throw a string away. The manufacturers had decades of experience getting the bugs out of the production process.

As for LEDs... I've repaired strings by simply cutting our the bad sections and soldering in new... but there are batches of strings where the failure rate seems unusually high.

I've talked to one of the manufacturers in China about this. He was quite proud of his <1% failure rate. On the surface that sounds good... but put it in perspective. One bad LED in a string of 100 is technically a 1% failure... but if it makes the entire string go dark, in practicality, it's a 100% failure rate.

What's the solution???

There are days when I question which is worse for the environment... burning extra coal to power those incandescent lights or dumping huge quantities of dead LED strings into landfills.

Short term solution if you're into LED: have extra strings available to overlay the bad during the season. In 2011, order sample LED strings early, put them in a harsh environment and test, test, test. If they survive, buy all you can.

Urrrrrggggg.

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Thanks Chuck for that insight! I have actually already had to solder/repair a set of LED's as one of the "blobs" failed. It was nice to get it repaired and working again so I wasn't out more money! As far as your message Bill, I could see that, but some of the sets that have failed are on their second season of use and are beginning to fail so I'm not sure if you can explain that one? I may have to take the multi lights that failed on the mini tree and pull each led out to try and resolve them. The sealed LED's seem to be my favorite to use as they look the best and are full wave. Atleast the incandescent lights I can repair with a Light keeper pro or something and they still work, once these LED lights are gone, they are gone and become "spare change" basically or spares. But spare change that I am in theory out because of their failure rate. I hope if I convert more to LED for 2011 I dont regret it, so far Im second thinking the idea until I see some type of improvement this year. We shall see how the lights hold up the remainder of 2010 and go from there! I have 200,000 incandescents or so stored so I can rely on them if needed!! Looking forward to other peoples responses!!

Edited by Jeremy Lawton
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One thing I just picked up was a set of wire piercing probes for my multimeter - I am thinking this might help to narrow down where issue might be.

This year is the first major jump into LEDs for me with the mini trees (some small things before)

Using the probes - I can easily measure voltage from end to end and start getting a better IDE of where the issue might lie - then divide and concur to find a possible bad led.

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Guest Bob_Moody

Jeremy,

I feel your pain. Sandra and I bought a VERY NICE wire frame last year that was done in LEDs. Last year, not a single problem (excpet for the REALLY cheesy controller it came with. Seems the LED's will ONLY come on if the plug is oriented correctly in the socket) ..

The frame was handled with care and placed in the attic. This year, I have been up and down that ladder 10 times if I have been there once. The lights arent dead, they are either just out or very dim.

Take the colored wire frame cover off, pull the socket, offer the light to the heavens, and plug it back in ... VIOLA ... it starts working again ... I know this isnt the same as your strings dying, but the frustration is there....

Good luck ...

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Where did you get those probes at!!?

Fleabay :) - I just purchased them today - so I expect to get them tommorow or Saturday (seller is within 5 miles of me)

Price is actually pretty decent - saw some on the east coast for around the same price.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=370422799324&category=50971&_trksid=p5197.c0.m619

here is one on the east coast with more photos (my guess is they are made by the same folks) - no cables come with either - so for the time being I'll be cheap and use speaker bananna plugs then get one of these http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_03482399000P?prdNo=2&blockNo=26&blockType=G26

http://cgi.ebay.com/New-Test-clip-set-insulation-piercing-one-black-one-red-/180538562827?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a08efd90b

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I can't give you any hope in my experience with LEDs.

I am now on year 3 of frustration with bad LEDs.

So far this year out of 24 100ct m5 green LEDs 9 have sections out on them.

I also bought 24 each of red, blue, and warm white, but have not lost a single one of them.

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I am curious.

Are we talking about Store bought LED lights or Vendor bought lights.

Is there a mix? Not all LED's produced are the same quality since they are sorted into 60 different categories.

Same for the mini lights also, how many have strings of lights right out of the box with partial strings that do not light. Where do you buy them?

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Mine have both been store bought and non store bought that are dying. I just don't get it, invest so highly in saving energy and amps, but yet the savings isn't worth the cost if you have to buy new ones each year, what a waste! I have had some sets that have lasted quite some time while other ones just cause problems year after year. It's hit or miss anymore, either you get a really good set, or a really bad one, they don't know how to manufacture them consistantly.

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I have a ton of experience with LEDs already....not because I've used them for years (this is my first year), but because I've plucked thousands and thousands of them.

I wanted my show to be only solid colors and no multi, but multi color LEDs are all I ever find on decent sales. As a result, I clear out shelves of LEDs when I find them cheap enough, and so far this has only been true with multi colored.

I pluck every single LED out of every strand and rebuild solid color strands. I quickly learned better techniques for rebuilding after many sections wouldn't work after they were rebuilt.

It's slow and more tedious, but plucking one and putting in a replacement, hoping that was the problematic LED, is the most systematic way to find a problem. Start at one end, and just DO IT. I find that this is actually fairly quick, as compared to other means of troubleshooting that I have resorted to. Pliers work well to pull the cheaper solid plastic LEDs, but for LEDs with colored caps on them something else to get under the lip of the LED is required.

***Important: When I pull out an LED, I quickly look in the socket at the terminations of the wire, making sure they are seated properly in the sides of the socket, before I put another LED back in there. This systematic process worked every time -pluck, check wire ends in the socket, and replace with a different LED.

The 2 most frequent problems that I found are

1) One of the legs of the LED was not bent properly from the factory, usually resulting in the leg just completely straight still, not making contact with the wires in the socket.(To fix, bend leg into proper position and voila!)

2) One of the wires coming up into the socket is not seated properly - usually it is pulled out of the bottom a little to much. (To fix, unplug strand, push wire back up in there and slide it back into the little indention in the plastic. Needle nose pliers may be required. Then plug back in the strand.)

Other less frequent problems include:

3) Bad LED from the factory. I have found a few causes to be that the metal element is actually sticking out the bottom of the diode, instead of being completely encased in the plastic of the diode.

4) That's all I can think of right now.

Just FYI, most of the LEDs that I've purchased have been GE brand single strands or Walmart brand icicle.

Like I mentioned, I finally just found a system that is quick and efficient to troubleshoot. I've wasted more time inefficiently troubleshooting than I really care to mention, especially with incandescent strands.

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