Why this high bay is just £12: It could kill you

EVER received an email offering unbelievable deals on high-performing lighting? We have. And with international safety certifications, long warranties and a stupidly-low price, who could resist a bargain?

So, out of curiosity,  Lux took up the offer of one email to see just how much of a bargain buyers are getting.

The email received by Lux. Thousands of such marketing messages are received by lighting specifiers daily.

We chose a high bay with UL certification, a CE mark and a three-year warranty. 

The price? A mere $15.80.  After a bit of email back and forth to clarify the colour temperature, delivery charges and payment information, we placed the order.

Four weeks later a robust package thudded on the floor of Lux Towers. Ten out of 10 for the quality of the packaging.

On first inspection, the mechanical finish was good; there were no sharp edges; the screws were in the right places and it had a decent paint job.

The fixture was lighter than we expected so perhaps there’s a lesson here in how to value-engineer a heatsink.

Four weeks  after order, a robust package  containing the high bay luminaires thudded on the floor of  the Lux office. 

But on closer inspection, a few things appeared awry. First, there was no product label.

Second, there was so no sign of the promised UL approval. Or CE requirements. Or power rating.

For a fixture with lots of exposed metal, we were also surprised to discover that there was no earth wire in the power lead.

However, let’s not hold that against them: it could be a Class 2 double insulated if the appropriate safety design steps have been taken.

A key element in achieving the light weight appears to be the patented driver. But after a sneak peek under the cover, we revealed there wasn’t one!

Time to power up the beast. Standing well back, we switched it on and it lit up – very brightly – with perhaps a hint of visible flicker.

After a few hours, the unit was still working. The heatsink was hot and there was the smell of paint curing.

We weren’t brave enough to leave the unit powered up for more than a few hours so the next step was to hand the unit over to the experts at the Lighting Industry Association laboratory in Telford, England.

A key element in achieving the light weight appears to be the patented driver. But after a sneak peek under the cover, we revealed there wasn’t one!

The LIA team subjected the unit to the usual battery of tests required to achieve compliance with EN60598 the fixture standard for Europe and the backbone of any CE certification.

The unit didn’t make it far in to the test routine before the safety testing caused the unit to fail, meaning under certain conditions the casing of the unit becomes live. This is a big deal.

You can imagine a scenario where a few years down the road a unit fails and someone climbs up a set of ladders to investigate why the light is not working, and touches the case.

Shame we didn’t get far enough to see if the unit was 100 lumens per watt. Equally, we couldn’t get any information on colour quality and flicker.

So next time you get an email promising an unbelievable bargain, you’ll know that’s probably what it is: unbelievable.

 

  • Find out about product testing, certification and safety at the LIA Zone at LuxLive 2017. Experts from the LIA Lab will be live testing products to explain test procedures and common faults. LuxLive takes place on Wednesday 15 November and Thursday 16 November 2017 at ExCeL London. Entry is free if you pre-register HERE.

 

  • Find out about the LIA Laboratory and its testing and accreditation services HERE

 

 

Comments 4

So a non-conforming but apparently functional Hi Bay light can be produced that cheap? The price for another brand that undoubtedly met all of the requirements was quoted to me as over $325 a few months back. And that maker claimed that they were a real bargain. So does the additional effort and material really add that much cost to each unit? LED high-bay lights are serviced as a unit, usually from an INSULATED ladder, and unplugged prior to removal. So a hot chassis would not be much hazard under those conditions. Certainly a safety violation, but not a hazard.

We have all been hearing a lot of self declarations of high performance LED Lamps in the market and how can we really tell who could really deliver? Also how to choose which product is the right one to be used? It's not easy to decide when there's a lot of information flooding the market and no one really explains in detail. Now aside from the fact that LED is used to reduce power consumption, it is also meant to last. But there are many available products already in the market...which one is suitable for the application and that is truly reliable? We are an exclusive Taiwan manufacturer of explosion-proof lamps, and you may think that we will be bias on this kind of topics, not really. Our focus is based on the experienced that we have gained through years of actual applications and real life usage. We actually and literally advise to our customers that it is very important that they know the products are from someone who knows what they are talking about...not only because they are cheap, telling great things or even bearing Brand Names... but can simply explain to them what they really need. If they cannot explain it in a simple way, then they don't know a thing about it and for sure the product will definitely be a waste of time. www.tht-ex.com

This is sadly all too common and the trouble is Alan those foreign johnnies buy their CE certificates and independent test certificates on ebay or photoshop an original. The ONLY certain ways are to:- a) buy from a bonafide MANUFACTURER ( not a wholesaler who looks the otherway when importing cheap product!) A MANUFACTUER who does have to abide by the rules, or b) test it yourselves and that is not a cost effective option 9 times out of 10 As you say that even applies to some "English" sources of luminaires. ! We will never educate those who buy PRICE not performance or value - not everyone was created equal !

You don't have to go to the Far East for poor quality. I once received a highbay for review from a UK manufacturer ( who has since gone bankrupt) where the incoming mains terminal block was not labelled. This, too, had a CE label and a nice Quality Control tickbox label. The solution is to buy luminaires which can provide an independent test certificate or one from an approved laboratory.

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