Unfortunately, "good" and "cheap" rarely go together, and LED buyers need to be careful about saving a little money for a low-quality lighting experience that they'll have to deal with for several years. Especially when today's quality LED bulbs don't cost much more.
That's why we encourage a "value" buy rather than a "cheap" buy. Because value means you're getting a good deal on a quality bulb. Let's review the reasons to show some caution around cheap LED bulbs:
- Cheap LED bulbs are more likely to buzz.
- Cheap LED bulbs are more likely to die sooner than you'd expect them to. This is not only because of a lower quality driver (which might also be used on shorter-life LEDs from name brands), but because a cheap bulb may not be assembled as well.
- Cheap LED bulbs may be labeled incorrectly. If you want to replace a 60 watt incandescent bulb, for instance, look for a bulb that provides around 800 lumens (the amount of light). Sometimes cheap bulbs are labeled as replacements for a certain type of bulb, but they produce much less light than they should.
- Cheap LED bulbs may not stay as bright as long as a higher quality bulb.
- Cheap LED bulbs may not provide an accurate color temperature, so if you use many of them in a single room, you could get a slight variety of colors, which could look strange. They also may not retain their color temperature well, as Energy Star has pointed out.
Even with incandescent bulbs, you could buy a brand name bulb and still have some bulbs die early. In fact, rated life is the point at which half of all light bulbs in a batch will have already died; so when incandescent bulbs are rated for 1000 hours, this means half will die within the first 1000 hours, and some could die quite early; the other half will die at some point after 1000 hours.
The same is the case with LED bulbs. Even within name brands, some will not perform as well as they're expected to. But overall, companies you know have extremely valuable brands that they need to protect, and hitting the market with bulbs that fail often is a bad idea for business. Meanwhile, unknown companies have no brand to protect -- for them, selling may be much more about today's dollar.
This is why we encourage "value" buys rather than "cheap" buys, and why we primarily carry name brand LEDs. With LED pricing today, buying "cheap" somewhere else doesn't save you much compared to buying "value" from Lighting Supply. And we think you'll often enjoy a much better lighting experience when you make this kind of buy!