Buying Advice – Part 2


Far Eastern Imports

You’ve seen the adverts all claiming great savings, light quality, reduced maintenance etc, and then you come up against the price issue.  Thats the one where you get stuck between a rock and a hard place.  Surely if they are all making the same claims there can’t be that much difference between a lamp costing £5 vs one costing £15 can there?

Well yes and no.  Naturally as you would expect the large global manufacturers – Phillips, GE, Osram, etc have huge factories with thousands of staff and an R&D expenditure for a global market and they have their shareholders to consider too.  However these companies also have their factories in the Far East too so they want to keep their overheads as low as possible whilst maximising profits and trying to return their investments.

Consider the Car Industry.  Huge Global corporations are developing new Hybrid and Electric engine technologies with a massive expenditure and gaining a head start of a few years when the smaller companies catch up and enhance the older technology to greater effect.

The same applies in the LED Lighting industry.  So when you see a low priced offer it doesn’t necessarily mean they have come from a low quality manufacturer – but there is a good chance they could do too.  So where do you start when selecting the lamps for your own project?

Not all Chinese lamps are crap!

Firstly depending where you buy from – no matter what make you buy, there is a 90% chance that the lamps will have come from a factory in the Far East. All manufacturers will have their factories there somewhere but the quality varies hugely.

When we first set-up our Business we knew that to sell to our UK customers we had to build a reputation and therefore wanted to provide the best products and provide the best service at affordable prices.  We decided the only way we could be sure of what we were going to sell was to visit a series of manufacturers throughout China for the specific products and markets we wanted to serve.  We quickly learned that there was a lot of Bull out there and we had to be very careful when selecting who we wanted to work with.  Indeed when we tested one “suppliers” lamp it was so unsafe it blew the circuit breaker!  They were little more than an agent claiming to be a manufacturer and had falsified paperwork.

On another recent trip to visit our own suppliers factories we also visited the 2013 Hong Kong lighting fair, and not surprisingly there were a record 230 “suppliers” from just the City of Shenzen (a city of 35m people) alone! The vast majority were simply agents, sub agents and all trying to get in on the action and sell to anyone from around the globe at the lowest possible price with no consideration on quality.  Only a small handful were actual genuine manufacturers.

To the uninitiated it would be very easy to buy at these cheap prices but there would be large quantity of failures, little or no comeback on warranties.  Furthermore we know of several well known Electrical Wholesalers who have bought these low quality cheap products and are having major warranty and safety issues.

For many years past and to come many unscrupulous Chinese manufacturers have produced sub-standard and in many cases dangerous products that have not been properly tested and falsely claim to have CE markings allowing them to sell into the UK.

The EU has a web site where some of these lamps have caused problems as can be seen here

They have flooded our Electrical Wholesalers and other on-line suppliers with these products so these UK suppliers who then sell them to electrical contractors and installers all so that they can maximise their profits and at the same time pass on a lower price to you.  But its not all doom and gloom and fortunately most quality suppliers will have done their homework properly and chosen their Far Eastern suppliers carefully so put carefully – not all Chinese manufacturers are crap!

So returning to the original question what’s the difference between a £5 lamp from one supplier and £15 from another?

Truthfully probably very little – but does that mean you should always buy the cheap or the expensive lamp? We suggest choose carefully – look at the credentials – how long the company have been established, what make of components do they use (look out for names such as Samsung, Epistar and Cree) whose components are being used and who they sell to.  Look out for a good UK warranty.

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