If you’re in the market for LED grow lights, you’ve most likely encountered some temptingly low-priced options on sites like Amazon and eBay. And if you’re a savvy shopper, you probably wondered why the pricing of those particular lights was so competitive. More likely than not, it’s because those sellers got their LED lights from China.
Many U.S. and Canadian LED grow light companies offer products made with LED lights that come from a handful of Chinese factories. These factories turn out high quantities of LEDs, but make no mistake: their products often fall short of the quality and safety standards you need for a successful grow operation . . . especially if you’re working in a commercial capacity.
This is why it’s so essential to thoroughly research the manufacturer of any LED grow lights you consider purchasing. As both LED technology and the grow light industry explode in popularity, more and more fledgling business owners are throwing their hat into the ring. Between their limited experience and eagerness to cash in on the next great business opportunity, some small businesses fail to do the due diligence necessary to ensure their lights meet with the standards their customers deserve.
And if they’re skipping steps, that means you have to be on your game. Understand exactly where your LED lights are coming from and what it means for your safety and your product.
There are several reasons to avoid LED grow lights from China, but here are the five most compelling.
#1: Chinese LED Lights Emit less Power for a Lower Quality Product
It’s true. Most LEDs manufactured in China employ low-quality 1-2 Watt LED emitters. These low-power lights won’t do much for you when it comes to the flowering stage.
In fact, if you’ve heard that LEDs are excellent for vegetation but poor performers when it comes to flowering, you can probably blame Chinese manufacturing for that rumor. It’s true that your grow needs a blast of high light intensity to get the high yields you’re after. But the theory that LED lights cannot achieve that intensity is completely false. You just need top-quality LEDs.
At California LightWorks, we use premium LEDs from Osram, the leader in LED technology. These are the most powerful single die LEDs on the market, delivering PAR light levels that are at or above the light saturation point of the most demanding plants.
This means that if you avoid Chinese-made LEDs in favor of the top-bin option, you get the best of both worlds in terms of product quality: high light intensity and spectrum variability. Which leads us to the next point . . .
#2: You Won’t Get the Color Spectrum Your Plants Require
When it comes to getting high yields, a potent product, and total control over the growth cycle, spectrum is everything.
Your plants absorb most of the light they need from the deep blue and deep red part of the light spectrum. The highest quality LEDs concentrate their light in those ranges, and lights like those in the SolarSystem series allow spectrum control, so you can manipulate output depending on where you are in the growth cycle.
LEDs made in China have nowhere near the same spectrum quality. These lights typically feature the kind of light colors you’d see in traffic lights or street lights. They may be advertised with grow room photos that make them look legitimate, but trust us: they do not emit the spectrum you need for a successful grow operation.
#3: Chinese LEDs May Not Comply with Electronics Regulations
Chinese factories are not responsible for complying with foreign regulations. It is completely up to the importer to ensure that their products meet quality and safety standards. And once again, if the importing company is new to the LED lighting industry or rushing to make a quick buck off the high demand for grow lights, they are likely to overlook or outright disregard the standards that ensure a safe and effective grow operation for you.
A top-tier LED manufacturer like California Lightworks, on the other hand, already adheres to international and U.S. LED standards and regulations, including UL, CUL, ETL, CE and DLC energy standards.
#4: Chinese LED Grow Lights are Cheaper for a Reason
LEDs that are made in China are cheaper to buy because they’re produced, well, cheaply. They’re made with inferior drivers designed to last only as long as the warranty period. When you hold Chinese LED grow lights, you can feel how light they are, with questionable durability. The LED chips are often small and unstable against current variations. Many of the Chinese-made grow lights promise a lifespan of 50,000 hours but deliver far less.
For California LightWorks grow lights made with Osram LEDs, we also promise a lifespan of 50,000 hours, but we make that promise with the philosophy of “under-promise, over-deliver.” A more accurate lifespan estimate for premium Osram LEDs is 80,000 hours.
#5: Questionable Customer Service
So let’s say you’ve weighed all the major risks of choosing an LED grow light made in China, and you still feel the lower price is worth the gamble. Who do you call when there’s a problem? Who is going to answer your questions about installation, hanging distance, and heat output?
If you bought your LED grow lights from a company selling Chinese-made lights on eBay, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find answers. Even if the seller is based in the U.S., they likely have limited technical knowledge.
When you’re getting familiar with new LED grow lights, easy access to the manufacturer makes all the difference to the ultimate success of your operation . . . especially if you’re trying LEDs for the very first time. If you choose a manufacturer based in the U.S., you have much better odds of speaking with someone who understands your lights right down to the individual components.
This is exactly why California LightWorks does all our manufacturing in the United States. When the construction process happens here at home, we’re better able to oversee the quality of our product and discuss it with customers. It also means we can provide a U.S.-based customer service team that can answer your questions even as you research your purchasing options.
In fact, we highly recommend speaking with the manufacturer of any LED grow light you’re considering, whether that manufacturer is California LightWorks or not. The lights you choose have a tremendous influence on the quality of your grow. It’s not a decision to take lightly. If we can help, let us know.