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Old 11-23-2008, 03:34 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Desperately Need some help with LED's

I know this is off topic but I know a lot of you are electronically inclined. So I am hoping praying someone can help me.

I need some help really badly. LED's are a big thing to me. I fundamentally believe they can help to change the world. To that end I have spent many years trying to convert every light I have to 100% LED

I run my bedroom on LED's over 1600 of them. Bright as daylight 27watts consumed.

I have about half the house now converted thanks in no small part to a new find of mine.

Sam's club started selling these Lights of America LED bulbs a pack of 3 for $15 1.5 watts each around 25-35 watts equivalent output per bulb.

I use them in arrays. Example in the bathrooms I use 5 of 6 in a fixture (think vanity fixture) makes it very very bright yet only consumes 9 watts each !!

I use 12 of them in the kitchen. not as bright as the FL but I would say 90-95% as bright. More than good enough. Yet only consumes 17-18 watts!

I have lowered our electric bill by almost $50 per month by switching to LED and CFL's! (and scolding people into turning the damned lights off :-)

At least with LED's if you forget to turn them off your just sipping power instead of gorging it with 75-1010 watt incans or 80-160watt FL fixtures!

Anyway they are fantastic! they are my dream bulb! Cheap. GOOD pure white to warm white light (would prefer a tiny bit warmer but NO blue which is all that really matters) Lower power and good lumen to watt consumption!

They are perfect!

well until this month. They started dying. today the 7th one died.

Normally when an LED bulb dies its because the manufacturer is clueless about how to design for LED's ie LED still convert 80% of there wattage into HEAT. They just consume So little watts we do not notice the heat. So if you have a 10watt LED around 8 of those watts is HEAT. but the LED's do. anything over 90-100' will KILL them quickly (operating temperature) without some beefy heat sinks. Typically an LED fixture needs around 9 square centimeters of passive cooling surface area per watt of power consumed. These bulbs typically have almost ZERO dedicated cooling area so you need to use LESS power than they are rated for to avoid over heating.

When you light a single LED you get what we see as no heat. When you cram 30 50 100 200 LED into a fixture and crank up the milliamps you notice it QUICKLY!! ie they DIE and fast.

Well these get warmer than I like but NOT dangerously warm. (if it feels warm when you touch it that means its over 90'f (your skin temperature is close to that) You want it to feel "cool" to your skin ie its LOWER than your skin temp. These are "right" on the edge so I think there OK.

So its not heat death. I took one apart. ONE of the components insid the bulb MUST be faulty. Problem is I lack the skill to even be able to figure out which is dead. since this one died RIGHT in front of me I got it down and ripped it open withing 30 seconds of it dieing. I was hoping maybe I would see smoke or be able to smell a burned component. No joy. they all "look" fine to me.

now I touched the board with a screw driver and obviously discharged the capacitor because all the LED's lit up for a second. CONFIRMING the LED's in this rare case are FINE (and also likely that the Capacitor is also fine??). when I screw it back in and turn it on again they light up for a split second and then off. Short it again they light up for a split second.

SO something on this circuit board has "failed" I need help figuring out what component so I can replace it and how to stop it failing again.

I have tried contacting the company but so far NO response at all. If there within 300 miles of me I WILL DRIVE to them to work with them to fix this. ITS just so important to me. THESE NEED to work if people are going to adopt them. If a bulb dies in 2 month that cost you $5 your NOT going to tend to want to buy more of them especially if you have to go through the trouble to specialize your light fixtures to make up for there low lumens per bulb IE you have to use mutliple bulbs in each fixture.

I WILL. The average joe will not.

So I need help. ANY help at all please. I took some very high resolution close up shots of every single portion of the bulbs inside and out. The 4 black resistor sized things (diodes?) the writing underneatn them is D1 D2 D3 D4 (upper right clockwise) I could not get a picture to show this. The rest of the board is visible and legible.

I could probably draw out "how" its wired it seems pretty simply. ie I do not think its a sandwich. I think its single layer traces.

HOW do I test it? I have meters but nothing more complicated than your basic higher grade consumer meter. Nothing professional.

I would even be willing to send it to someone if you all know them well and they have the know how and equipment to properly diagnose the issue.

I do not mind taking apart a working unit so I can compare electrical properties etc.. between working and non working.

I REALLY need to make these work. they are just too perfect to let them go.

The only other affordable LED solution I have is 198led tubes. They are wonderful. WAY overdriven (they get to 160' inside the tube in the summer and die fast) but I found with a variac I can lower the voltage and therefore the watts consumed until they no longer overheat. I have some that have been running for well over 1 year now No dimming no dieing or discoloration. I only lose 50% of the light but thats just fine by me at $10 a pop. Plus by UNDER RUNNING them watt wise they should last even longer! The problem is variac's are expensive. ONE to light the 8 tubes in my room is fine. 1 to light a single tube in a bathroom gets expensive and hard to hide (softball sized) ($40-$60 a pop on ebay)

Plus for some rooms decors and fixtures normal style bulbs just work better. I can also use these in closets in outdoor light fixtures. they complete my usage needs. I already have some 40 of these bulbs and I want to get MORE (use them at work too) but I need to make them work right. I would appreciate any help you guys might be able to provide!

Here is the URL with the images. Directory Listing of /ledhelp/

Thank you very much!

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Old 11-23-2008, 11:50 AM   #2 (permalink)
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First, I would just replace the capacitor. You'd be surprised how many bad capacitors there are in normal products, like LCD monitors. I've fixed at least 10 LCD's that wouldn't work because a few capacitors had died. Usually you can tell by looking at them, but sometimes they look fine, but still perform poorly. Plus, they're cheap, so replacing them isn't a big deal.

Then, I guess I would just replace the other components until it works, starting with the red thing (I don't know what it is). There's not too many parts, so it wouldn't cost that much to replace them, and it doesn't look like it would be too hard to resolder them either.

The LED's themselves could still be bad. Maybe they just require a higher voltage now than they did when it was first made, so when you discharged the cap, it let out enough voltage to power the LED's for a second. If it turns out the LED's are bad, it's probably not worth replacing them - it looks like they're each wrapped in that palstic, and it doesn't look like it would come off easily. If it does though, then they could be replaced as well.
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Old 11-23-2008, 12:07 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks McTimson

The red thing is another form of capacitor.

Here's what I know so far. the 4 diodes and 1 capacitor are a bridge rectifier. they convert the AC into DC since LED's are DC only.

the Resistors control current. I am not sure what the second capacitor does. the unit is wired in series.

the LED's appear fine. for the second that they light up they light up properly. Its not a matter of voltage. even if I ran 25% of the needed voltage they would still illuminate just not a brightly. This is how I fixed my "tube" led fixtures that were running too hot. Lowered the voltage to 80volts with a variac so that they would consume fewer watts and therefore stop overheating.
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Old 11-23-2008, 12:17 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I'd start with the black capacitor. You can get another one at Radio Shack for $1 or so if you need it now, or you can order it online from Mouser or Digikey for like $.10. Get whatever farad rating it says on the cap, and the voltage can be the same as the one there now, or anything higher. Like, if it's a 330uf, 16v capacitor, a 330uf, 25v cap will work just as fine.

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