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LED comparison, anyone?


rupertoooo

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I am curious if anyone has every done an LED side by side comparison test from the various vendors.  For example are the 70 5MM multi color from vendor HLE at 13.29 up to par with the 70 5MM multi color from vendor CLE at 18.99.  $5.70 a box is a significant price difference.  That is only one example I am more curious if there is actually a best bang for the buck or actually a best light in the market place.

Not certain if some vendors are using the same product brand or if some are actually creating and selling their own brand.  Anyways I will be curious in seeing some responses.     

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I have only bought led lights from HLE for the last 7 years  I have spent about $1500.00 and every light I bought is still working I live in Chicago Il the lights have been buried in snow at times for months and no failures

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last I checked,all the vendors were buying their lights from the same manufacturer-check the UL tags on the wire,same code,same factory.Jinjiang wonderful photovoltaic lighting company ltd.You will be happy to know that this factory routinely passes the UL random sample testing that inspects the quality of manufacturing and safety of their lights in accordance with UL #588 standards.They are among the elite in this regard,as there are only about 20-30 manufacturers among hundreds or even thousands of manufacturers in China producing light strings that make this short list.

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I don't think you can go wrong with HLE lights. They have sales and pre-sales with good prices and they stand behind them, I have had very little problems, about half of my 40,000 lights are HLE. Also I think ALL Christmas are made in CHINA. 

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Yes, the majority of lights are made in China....but the various factories there have a HUGE difference in quality and manufacturing,hence why out of the hundreds and hundreds of products imported to the USA,only a handful of those factories products make the short UL "no strike list",they are essentially the best of the best.

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I just signed up to the forums for this exact question. I bought some test strands from CLE and christmas-leds.com. With both distributers i found colors didnt come close to matching because they used different mfgs for their regular lights vs their icicle lights etc. you could tell by the UL listings strangely enough and i can post a photo of my little ul listing worksheet between the two companies (done by hand) if anyone is interested. Its in the car at the moment and im too lazy to go get it now.

That being said if no one here has seen difference in color with HLE lights, 5mm, C6, C9, icicle, ect then i think i will place my order with them this weekend, i need to make a 2k or so buy.

Again let me know if anyone is interested in seeing that list.

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First of all, welcome to PC. As for the LED lights, yes there will be differance in color...Chinese vs made in Vietnam , let's say. As where you get them from, I have LED lights from kmart, 6 yrs old, and never a problem. I have ordered from online and never a problem. I say order where you like and whatever your budget will allow. I have bought from members on here, second hand and yes, they all work. I,myself, don't think there is a differance in them, other then where they are made...good luck on whatever you pick, just remember, it's all what you like, who cares what we all think. As for the UL listing, it doesn't mean nothing,not a damn thing actually...Look at the Samsung wash machines.....I have had some older blowmolds,no fuse, no UL...and they work as good as the day they were made...so enough of the rant and banter. Buy whay you like and can afford Thanks J

 

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Thank you for the warm welcome. And i thanks for the support in saying that i should do what i want to do. Some forums are not as friendly.

That being said i am a techie and over think everything. So to share from what i found doing the comparison between the lights from CLE and christmas-leds.com was that when the UL listing numbers matched up the colors matched up with vary minor variations between all types of bulbs. I am neurotic for that sort of thing maybe more than most and i found what i thought to be considerable differences both in faceting molds and source LED colors when the UL listings didnt match. That being said, those differences were consistent with the UL listings thats matched...

Now i am in no way an expert on this stuff but there was a noticeable different in looks, say within 3-4 feet in the look of the lights. Now does that mean a noticeable difference at 50-60 feet...i have no idea and i should check it out and post results here. I guess i should also order samples from CLE as well.

Hopefully that makes sense. I will try to make a more detailed response later today with my findings and maybe even photos and noting the UL listings for what i have purchased as sampled so far. Just incase others are interested.

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This makes perfect sense to me. If you have LED's coming from different factories, there most certainly will have color variations. Everyone has their own specs to meet, so warm white from one factory certainly could be several shades different than another. 

This is why we have all our strand lights made in the same place from the same pool of LEDs. This keeps all the colors as close to the same as possible. 

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" As for the UL listing, it doesn't mean nothing,not a damn thing actually.. "

 

The above is real,real bad advice and demonstrates a total lack of knowledge in understanding just what passing the UL certification entails as far as safety and quality standards.I strongly suggest you read the scope of the UL #588 and what it entails before following that advice,it could not only prevent your house from fire,but could prevent killing you due to electrocution.

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So back to the '' UL" 588..... it's a " generic" outline, that ALL manufactures need to adhere to, and follow...do they?? Not so sure. Comparing "iso 2001"...here's another BS certificate of paper....look at Takada... (airbags)...they where "certified "...does it mean the UL stamp is "acceptable" as a "standard"...????hmmmmm...I find it funny that a simple waffle maker,from 1956, in our cabinet...no "UL" standard there...must be "unsafe", cause there isn't any merit  or "UL" listing. All I am saying is , that ,most standards that are" preached" are not adhered to,that's all... Also,look up, when you have nothing better to do at push o matic breakers....UL listed and burn houses to the ground

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The UL 588 is generic i agree. However on each product you have there is a UL File number. That file number is company specific and light specific. It can help someone identify that they are getting the same MFG between strands. See Photo. 

the comparison was between Christmas Lights Etc and Christmas-LEDS.com. Now, I will say Christmas-LEDs was very helpful in helping me figure this out. Unfortunately it didnt work in their favor in terms on consistency as to where CLE wasn't very much help. 

What I found was that when a distributor used the same MFG for all of their light sets the colors, faceting, and clarity of the lenses were consistent. Christmas Lights Etc was extremely consistent as all of their whites matched regardless of strand type of bulb size. Christmas-LEDs also had good lights but didnt have matching UL listings and thus when putting different strand lengths of whites next to each other their were noticeable differences. Especially when you compare the strands to icicle lights.

For me color and consistency is important. I understand there will be minor variations. I will say however from my little test the differences in the multi-color sets is negligible  vs pure white which has a broad spectrum from low quality bluish to greish whites (poor lens clarity and dull faceting) to that pure white a lot of people look for.    

I am not saying any one is better than the other or one vendor is better than the other. I am just noting that their is a way to establish consistency in ones display. 

 

 

Exibit A.JPG

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" So back to the '' UL" 588..... it's a " generic" outline, that ALL manufactures need to adhere to, and follow...do they?? Not so sure. "

First of all,the UL 588 is not a "generic outline",it is a vast set {well over 100 standards each product must meet} of manufacturing and quality/safety standards{it has nothing to do with the color of the leds or whether they match} In order for a product to obtain ul listing,the product must be sent to ul labs for inspection/tear down for testing to be sure it meets those safety standards....if it fails,no ul listing tag is granted........then,the UL randomly picks samples from each manufacturer that has been granted use of the ul label and retests to be sure that their is no screwups in manufacturing or design change that would cause the product to fail any of those standards....this is a ongoing inspection that randomly occurs as long as the manufacturer continues to use the ul label......some manufacturers do not pass these random tests,and must change manufacturing process to meet specs or they lose the ability to use the ul label.A few out of the thousands of manufacturers consistently produce products that surpass these standards and pass the random retesting without fail and are awarded "the UL no strike list" status.....the best of the best in other words- these are the products a smart consumer seeks out.

 

I strongly suggest you actually spend some time reading the ul588 standards and understand the scope of just what some of the standards and tests entail so you can discuss this topic from a more educated viewpoint.....all the information is out there for you to learn if you have the initiative.

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@ Merrymidget thanks for the warm welcome.

 

Tear a post apart, curse at me, I don’t mind, but give me facts, references, personal experiences and not generalizations so we can have productive conversations.  

 

I admit I am new to the Christmas Light Show / Display Hobby, I have been researching for 2 years last year I purchased my controllers and used lights I had, not the best experience due to unsealed bulbs, shorts, etc. After that experience I said I was going to buy professional grade sealed bulbs and started to test and research because I couldn’t find anything that gave me any real direction online.

 

I am fully aware of UL listings and their standards, I have not read the whole 220+ pages of spec, nor I do not nor do any of need to or many of us have. The UL 588 is a small part of a larger picture that you and I both just skimmed over or in my cause didn’t even reference and that was poor judgement on my end.  Also I do not believe that there are thousands of MFG’s, maybe a hundred or just over but even that is unlikely, you will get my source below for that quip below.

 

Since neither of us accurately represented everything going on I will share what comprehensive research and knowledge I have….

 

Here we go…

 

UL/ANSI 588 is by all definitions a true and stringent specification. I agree that using generic was careless but something being stamped with the UL listing doesn’t necessarily mean it still meets that standard or hasn’t had issues. That’s where the UL File Number comes into play.

 

For the basis of this conversation we will use a regular LED String of Lights. On that string of lights you will find a couple of things.

1.    1. The fancy red colored UL sticker for outdoor use.

2.   2.  The manufacturers product number for something like TSD-25-2 (which is for a 50 count multi-color strand from one MFG)

3.  3.  The manufacturers UL File Number, which for the part number shown if E-305455

 

Now in order for the company to be originally approved under the UL 588 standard I agree, yes, they must meet the specification set forth in UL 588 for all of components of their submitted products. But after the UL Application/File Number approval is issued the system falls to a two strike program. This is where the random testing comes into place and doesn’t mean they automatically lose their listing.   

 

          Per the 2 strike standard and testing –

 

          In order to verify that lighting strings are manufactured in accordance with UL’s requirements, UL introduced an enhanced factory surveillance program. Under this program, samples are selected from each active manufacturer twice a year for testing.

          

“Two strikes occurring within a two-year period result in withdrawal of the applicant and manufacturer and ultimately termination of its use of the UL Listing Mark for decorative lighting strings.       

Here is the link - http://industries.ul.com/news/bulletin-decorative-lighting-strings

          If I counted correctly 53 manufacturers are listed and I think one would prefer to be on the list rather than off of it, especially when marketing to big box stores or large online retailers.

 

          Not all companies are tested and some of the UL file numbers I looked at from my small sampling don’t even show up on this list. If the file number shows up on either list then they don’t have any strikes against them for the time period listed. If they are not on the list they may still have their UL Listing but they likely have a strike against them. It is only when they have a second strike in a 2 year period that a company loses their UL listing. Its convoluted I agree but that’s how they do it.

 

          So back to my original example with my chicken scratch comparison sheet.

 

          When I made that list I will agree I knew nothing about UL 588, UL File Numbers and the 2 Strike Program. I was looking for consistency in product and being a managing partner in a company that constantly reviews competitive products for performance for DOT compliance I knew I had to get my hands on some samples. So I purchased equal options or what was available from 2 different distributers so I could make educated comparisons, investing somewhere around $300 in total to do this knowing that most of the light mfg’s are from china.  

           

This is how I tackled it…

1.     First I listed the part numbers for the comparable products so I could have a side by side comparison and not my observations. The column in the center just notes the total lights in the stand.

2.    Then would plug in the 50 light multi-color strands and look at them side by side, 100 ct strands, etc.

3.    When I got into the multi-color strands I noticed some inconsistencies in the part numbers which also led to inconsistencies in coloring.

 

Now it was bugging me that the part numbers and ultimately the looks were not consistent with one supplier. So I called and asked. They were honest why they had a different part number for one of the strand, reason being their preferred MFG didn’t make a 70 ct so they selected another mfg to fill the void. They also began to educate me on the intricacies of the UL listings and that just because something has a UL 588 sticker on it doesn’t mean that everything is hunky-dory. Which is what brought me to look a UL File Numbers.

Ultimately what I found was that MY original assumptions about UL Listings was not accurate after I learned of UL’s 2 strike program and subsequently led me to add the UL File Numbers in the margins of my chicken scratch notes which allowed me to start asking the right questions since the last thing I wanted to do was buy a product that would be covering my home, that houses my wife, 2 kids, 2 dogs, fish, and all of our belongings, that is not up to par or has had a recent record of issues.

 

So in the end, my findings rested more on UL File Numbers and if they were on the no strike list. And please note I did this comparison back in May or June, sadly I didn’t note the date in my book.

 

Example 1 – File Number E345831 – left side of page…

1.     Colors were consistent with other products with the same UL file number.

2.    Part number tags were consistent with UL file number tags

                   This UL file number didn’t show up on the list. So I called the distributor and asked. The sales rep has no idea what I was talking about and she refused to elevate me to a manager. So at that point I just assumed that they had at least 1 strike. Now for the safe of this article I unfortunately didn’t take it any further but my next step should have been to call or e-mail the engineer responsible for the program from UL or to e-mail the company’s customer service to see if I could get a response back in writing.

 

 

Example 2 – File Number E305455 – right side of page

1.     Colors were consistent with other products with the same UL file number.  

2.    Part number tags were consistent with UL File number tags.

                    This shows up on this years no strike list 1 which means it was also tested and no issues are found.  

 

Now as I have noted before consistency in coloration was important me but quickly learned if it is the same MFG then coloration would be consistent and that my final conclusion was that I would go with distributor who carried a manufacturer that was on the no strike list and had consistent product lines, ie - Multi-Color 50/70/100ct and matching icicle lights. The UL File number would be the same for all of them if the company distributes from one manufacturer.

So…if you want quality and consistency…

1.     Obviously UL-588 Rated

2.    Verify UL File Numbers on the products you are purchasing, or intent to purchase

3.    Check UL File Numbers against the No Strike Lists for conformance.

4.    Make sure the distributor you are using carries the products you want with the same UL File Number.

 

I think that is being fairly well informed and why I classified UL 588 as general. I apologize for that miss classification in my original post.  But by basing the continuation of the UL 588 classification on testing and the 2 strike system ultimately allowing a second failure to finally take the listing away from them to me means that unless the QC teams in china are doing their due diligence there is a chance, however small that you’re buying a product that could be under the increased surveillance program because they have shown they the inability for quality control. Does this mean you’re in danger if you have some of these sets of lights, no it does not, but it is something we as hobbyists should be aware of when buying for our displays, especially when working with string lights and connecting multiple units end to end.  

 

Que NBC’s “And Now You Know” ditty.

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First of all.....if you would have carefully read my posts,you would know that the quotations I began each one with WERE NOT YOURS....in other words,I was not responding to anything you posted-I was responding to another poster who made those statements....so no need to be sarcastic with your "warm welcome" remark,it is erroneous,uncalled for,and unwelcome.

Just to touch on the need to read the entire scope of ul588......I have read every page,more than once actually as I keep up with changes made to it over the years as they are made.I highly recommend anybody investing thousands of dollars in lights read it.

 

PS- there are many incorrect assumptions/facts stated in your above understanding of how the ul listing is granted,monitored,and retracted and on how the no strike program operates,and also to the hundreds of manufacturers producing lights that are ul listed that do not make the "no strike" lists...I am not going to cite the rules of the ul program in detail,if you are interested in correctly learning/understanding the system,brew a big pot of coffee and thoroughly read the entire ul588.As is,your misunderstanding of the entire program is evident in your written word.

19 minutes ago, merrymidget said:

 

 

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Again for productivity sake please educate me and other users further with facts and details. All i am seeing is general language without specifics.

Where in UL 588 does is talk about listings and how to find them? The two strike program states is monitors ALL manufacturers. Please provide the direction to find the contradicting information so we can try to get some clarity.

I laid out a map for people to follow. Please help us elaborate on that map for the greater good.

Heck give me some pointed direction and i will gladly do the research because if there is more to know beyond manufacturing rules and testing requirements in the UL 588 i would like to know and its the purpose of forums to assist others with the information they need to succeed or make informed decisions.

So we would appreciate your help and expertise.

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Holy Cow!!!!  I cant believe what I started.  For those of us who just want to order quality lights can we come to this consensus.  

Holiday Lights Express and Christmas LEDS both offer a quality product and you cant go wrong ordering from either company.  I am sure there are other quality companies to order from it just seems these two names pop up more often than others. 

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