A Guide for Buying LED's on E Bay ---- Part TWO





Introduction: A Guide for Buying LED's on E Bay ---- Part TWO

About: The name comes from the First Star Trek movie, that pretty much says it all.

I wrote "A guide for Buying LED's on E Bay" almost a year ago. At that time I thought that I might just add a few new things as I came across them and do an update of it now and then. But since then I have found so much new stuff, and finally some of it really good stuff, that I thought I should just write a part 2.

You can read part one here:


Step 1: Some Things Have Been a Disappointment

An number of people, including me, have been a bit disappointed by some of the new LED lights that have shown up on the market. Take for example these screw in bulb replacements. It's a good idea, dump the CF bulbs and use these even more efficient ones. So I bought some to try. They were a major let down. Not because they didn't work, because the do. But they don't produce enough light. And I bought the bigger, higher number of LED's ones. Maybe they could work as night lights. Replacement lights in your regular lamps? NOPE. Maybe I am just spoiled, used to all of those glowing orbs pouring forth lumens. Whatever, I didn't give up hope. Somehow it should work.

Step 2: A Glimmer of Hope

So, the search for LED's that actually produce lots of light was getting to be like a search for the Titanic. I knew they were out there somewhere, but they were elusive and being hard to find. Regular LED's work great for accent lights and things like that but not reading lights, not kitchen lights.

Then I discovered these guys while working on another instructable and had some hope.

These are amazing little lights, they come in a variety of wattage's and colors. The smallest I have seen is 10 watts and the largest is 100 watts. But I haven't looked lately so that range might have increased. These really do produce a lot of light. But they require special drivers, power inverters, and they produce a fair amount of heat which means they need heat sinks. So you can't just plug them in and replace a light bulb. For my project I made a heat sink and the light I got out of the unit was just what I wanted. So, there are LED's that do work, but these take a little effort to adapt. Good thing they are cheap because you can experiment with them and not cry when they burn up..

For as long as the link stays good, here is an example of these lights.


And here is a search for a bunch more of them.


They do make special heat sink's for these and also lenses and other stuff. I never got into that stuff. It was kind of high priced and I have a lot of heat sinks from other things.

The project that I used one of these on was this one:


Step 3: Flood Lights Made With LED Units.

Then I ran across these flood lights made with the LED lights mentioned in the previous step. The LED's are mounted and secure on an aluminum back plate that works as a heat sink. The driver is mounted in its own box attached to the main housing. The entire unit is weatherproofed. Pretty good idea but I am not to crazy about the light being concentrated in just a small area. If you need something preassembled then these might be for you.

Step 4: Floodlights With Banks of LED's

Then I found flood lights with banks of LED's. The more I looked into these the more amazed I became. I ordered a few to try and then ordered more and then got some for my friends. I am in love with these lights. They are super bright. I can't find anything wrong with them to complain about.

Look at these specs for a 100 watt unit.


1. Environmentally friendly and energy-saving

2. easy installation

3. CE Approved & Rohs Compliant

Details: Emitting Color: Cool WhiteLED Color: 6000K-6500K

Input: 110V

Lumen: 8000-9000

Lumens Size: 286*237*65mm (L x W x H)

Waterproof : IP65 to protect against ingress of dust and against standard water jets with a nozzle

Life time: > 50,000 hours

Lens covered with waterproof material

Shell material: Aluminum

Now to give you an idea of their brightness --- A set of 2, 48 inch F40 fluorescent bulbs produces about 2,900 lumens. They use 80 watts of power to do it. One of these 100 watt LED flood lights produces almost 3 times as much light, 9000 lumen and uses only a little more power to do it. 100 watts instead of 80. Just one of these lights can replace THREE double bulb florescents fixtures and use 1/3 the power. Now that is finally impressive. What is even better is they don't flicker, ever. They have no ballast. They come on instantly even at 20 bellow zero. They are water proof and dust proof, and impact proof. They will not be effected (except for the glass) if the fall on the floor. And finally their estimated lifetime is supposed to be 50,000 hours.

24 hours x 365 = 8,760 hours in a year. That come out to be 5.7 years. So figure you use them 12 hours a day they will last for almost 12 years, or possible a lot longer because no one has really been able to test them for that long yet. Now that is a great light.

They come in a variety of sizes and intensities.

The 500 watt one produces 48,000 lumen. Do you have any idea as to how much light that is? That is approximately the light from 17 double bulb fluorescent lights.

And another thing that is really great about them is that they have no harmful gasses or other such stuff in them.

And did I mention they are pretty cheap?

This is a basic search for LED floodlights. There are a lot of different models and a lot of different prices.

The best ones to get, in my opinion, are the ones that have a bank of LED's and no separate power inverter or driver.


By the way there are also ones with motion sensors, just modify your search for them.

Step 5: On the Inside

I disassembled one of them and was pretty impressed. They have made these with no power supply or driver. The entire light fits on a single board. From what I have been able to figure they actually use the LED's as diode's to change the power to DC. I didn't tear one apart completely to find out. This is from observation. I also think they have hooked up the LED's in series to drop the voltage so no transformer is needed. That is really slick. They save construction materials, reduce current waste, prevent the production of waste heat. and make it all more reliable because of fewer parts. It is a very smart design.

One possibility that I have been thinking of is to remove the glass and bracket and cut down the aluminum body so it has just a dish to it. Then use that light as a panel in light fixture. Future projects!!

If for some reason you take one of these apart and try to put it back together you will need some small spring clamps. The silicone seal will not stay in the groove. It has to be held in place with clamps so you can put the glass on. It is the way that works best. I tried tape, forget it. Use clamps.

Step 6: Add a Cord

Most of these lights come without a cord, just a short wire to connect to a wall or something. But more and more they are showing up with plugs on them. If yours doesn't have a cord it's no big deal. I used old computer power cables. Just wack the end off and solder it to the leads.

For a much longer cord you can directly connect an extension cord to the light. Then it can be used as a work light or trouble light. Remember, it's waterproof. Make your solder job water proof too and you have a light you can use in a pouring rain (or snow) storm. It doesn't get hot so the glass doesn't break if water falls on it. I have several now that have long cords on them so I can use them anywhere, including for things like working on cars and they are essentially weatherproof. The original design of these was to be used as outside lights, so as long as your cord and splice are good there should be no problem.

So bottom line on these lights ---- fantastic. Well worth getting a few.

Step 7: Now Some Fun Lights.

There are a few of the decorative lights that I have tried. I really like the meteor lights. What these have is a rigid strip with LED's on them encased in plastic tubes. The entire unit is waterproof so they are intended to be used outside as well as in. The LED's light up sequentially going from the top to the bottom so it gives the impression of motion. It looks like something falling, hence the term meteor lights. The timers are designed to NOT keep the lights in sink. So each light eventually is doing its own thing out of time with all the others. This gives the appearance of a sort of rain. I bought the long tube ones as I thought it would produce a greater sense of motion. You can combine them together, different colors and lengths. They are fun.

Here is a search link


Step 8: Strips

Most of the people who have been playing with LED's have tried the long strip rolls. I think those were some of the first out. Well, they have adapted that format and started making these little mini strips. Most of them run on 12 volts and are being made to be used in cars. Or even on cars. The black amber light strip can be used as running lights on a car or a trailer. They also have red ones you can attach to your break lights. They are all waterproof and come with adhesive strips on the backs. They are very flexible and so could be applied almost anywhere. They are really cheap on E Bay or you can buy them all packaged in pretty blister packs for about 4 times the cost at places like Walmart. Something cheap and fun to experiment with.

Step 9: Other Car Lights

There are a lot of new 12 volt interior LED lights that have been developed for cars. For example this small buy bright panel that can be stuck anywhere you need light. You can get them to experiment with now because they are so cheap. This one even comes with multiple adapters so you can plug it into existing light sockets.

Step 10: Rigid Strips

One of the more interesting new things is these rigid aluminum strips. They now have a number of different LED chips that are being used. I believe the original intent of these was as things like under cabinet lights. It is a fun idea but just one strip doesn't put out a lot of light. They are more for accent lighting in those cases. But they can be used creatively in various areas. We have some plans to try these in a few different applications.

Because they were designed as under the counter there are aluminum mounting strips for them. Those are usually way over priced in my opinion. The material used is very thin and just not worth the price they are asking. Then in addition they want you to buy an end cap and a plastic dome to go over the top. All of that costs more than the lights.

I had some problems with these getting damaged in the shipping. Because they are long the post office has the tendency to bend them. That is bad because the LED's come unsoldered because they cannot bend. So far all the companies replaced the damaged ones, but it is a hassle to deal with so you need to be aware of it. Test each one when you get them so you can report any damaged ones.

When you divide these into individual strips, be very careful not to bend them.

One other thing I noticed, if you power up an entire block, 5 strips still linked together, it does put out a lot of light but the aluminum backside gets pretty warm, almost to hot to comfortably hold in your hand.

So, you can't use these for lighting an entire room but they can have some interesting uses in places where you need something rigid.

An idea I had was to cut them into individual units and glue the little strips back to back and hang them from a tree with thin wire that would power them.

Man, I shouldn't keep giving away my ideas to everybody.

Here is a good selection of them for you to look at.




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    55 Discussions

    I didn't see any J78 or J118 LED bulbs that work as replacements for halogens on here. I've found them quite useful; and you can power them straight from a socket (at least you can in Australia 240V/10A).

    I noticed that some of the different types say 12V but they don't tell you how many Amps you need to run it, nor tell you the wattage. How did you determine what specs you needed for the power supply, other than 12V?

    1 reply

    Easiest way is to use power supply that outputs 12V and high amperage like pc power supply.
    Connect multimeter in series with leds to read current, multiply that current with voltage and you got wattage. (and use that current rating when you are buying supply)

    Also if you buy strips, usually they are rated watts per meter (something like 10w per meter) so just calculate how long is your strip

    About the first corn bulbs... yes they are weak-ish because most sellers put false wattage on them and you got an 11w bulb when you thought it would be 15w or 20w. You can even calculate from the lumen and the energy efficiency rating that the wattage is BS. I tried to complain to ebay about this, but the complaint form doesnt allow you to explain why a product has a false description and if you are not a nerd or engineer you dont see it... Anyway, I still bought some from a trader which made less ridiculous claims and I am happy with them. I ordered the largest size and took care that they used a good smd led. In wikipedia they specify for many smds the power, the lumen, the current and the efficiency... so you can actually calculate yourself how many lumen to expect from a corn bulb and in the end I got what I expected to get. The bulbs in the picuture show quite small rectangular smds. It is not surprising that they dont give much light. The corn bulbs I bought have larger rectangular smds which look similar to some smds I see in other products you mention.

    So in conclusion: the shape of the bulb does not matter as much as buying a product with largeand efficient smds. Many sellers tell exatly how many and which smds they use and both infos are equally important.

    Thanks for the enthusiastic 'ible!

    I agree 100% with the comment below from jaszzguitar1963. If you want good LED lighting, ebay is not the place. I am a little ashamed to say, the best home LED lighting I have bought, with the most consistent output and even colour temperature has been from Ikea. The downside is the annoying E.S. to bayonet converters to use them. (you also have to buy, because most U.K. sockets are bayonet!)

    Not always 'affordable Swedish crap' (shameless Futurama quote)

    Not wishing to hijack your post, but www.bigclive.com is a chap who does a lot of tear downs and in depth analysis of much Chinese LED lighting and is a great source of 'what not to buy' in a lot of cases, especially the COB & LED flood chips. He has an electricians background, with the tenacity the rest of us usually have to 'see whats inside to destruction' on everything he buys. His YouTube channel is fantastically entertaining.

    Again thanks for the 'ible!

    EXCELLENT INFORMATION ! ! Especially all the links to suppliers. I've unfortunately bought some losers that were only good for night lights. Great work on a useful instructable. Thanks

    I read one of the comments that mentioned about a rectifier being needed. LEDs are rectifiers themselves, I've put together a design that took that into account and worked very well, there was as 60 cycle flicker because it was only running on half the AC & off the other half.

    I have had good luck buying the lowest priced LEDs I can find at Walmart. You need to buy them based on their output in Lumens. A quick & easy way to get some idea for Watts vs Lumens is that there is about 100 Lumens for every 10W of power used by the old incandescent bulbs. So, if you want a 60W equivalent LED bulb it needs to put out about 600+ Lumes. For LED bulbs it should be around 100 Lumens per Watt, 100 Lumens = 1 W. This is a VERY crude rule of thumb. Here's a good site to see this for real (remember even these numbers are subject to being lower than published):


    7 replies

    Quick note, normally LEDs are less efficient than this because of the circuitry added to drive the LEDs. That has also been one of my goals, to find the most efficient LED bulbs. The lower the Watts used to produce the light the better the efficiency. I've seen LED 60W equivalent bulbs using anything from 9.9W down to 7 Watts. You do NOT want to buy LED bulbs that use the same number of watts to produce the same number of Lumens as a CFL bulb otherwise you're not saving any money buying an LED bulb vs a CFL bulb.

    With LED bulbs now selling for as little as a few dollars, even that's not really true anymore. But it's more complicated than that. There can be a variety of other reasons for choosing LED over CFL, including better performance in more directional types of bulbs (efficacy is a better measure than raw efficiency, i.e. useful light reaching the target vs Watts used, an area where ALL fluorescent type bulbs are at a disadvantage for directional lighting); to avoid the danger of broken glass and mercury contamination; better performance in more extreme temperatures (CFLs being slow to get to full brightness) and very short-cycle uses; higher risk of fire from aging CFLs (high voltage arcing). Theoretically much longer life as well, though that depends on the quality of design and manufacturing to some degree.

    No arguments from me on any of these points. My movement to LEDs was because of considering all of these points especially the safety issues with small active grandchildren about the house. I have also done measurements with a light meter to see what size bulb will do the job and found at times a 5 - 7 Watt LED bulb could replace a 23W CFL bulb. This is especially true when the light is needed in one basic direction instead of 360 degrees and the particular LED light is better for that than the CFL is.

    You need a bridge rectifier, or sets of diodes/rectifiers that bring the flow from both halves of the wave to the device, removing your flicker. This image shows what I mean: https://www.elprocus.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/0...

    If you really want efficient bulbs, its not hard to make them yourself. If you can etch boards and buy some surface mount LEDs, you can get many high efficiency LEDs that you simply have to solder down. The circuit that runs it can use a simple switched-mode power supply or a "joule thief" style circuit that you can control the flicker rate. If your "joule thief" flickers higher than 200Hz you won't even notice it flickering, but you are still saving some power by having it flicker.

    Been there done that too. Both using the bridge rectifier and building my own. I'm using two 1 Watt bulbs I build to sufficiently light up the basement hallway, two watts replaced 120 watts! Not quite as bright but very acceptable for this task.

    One danger with this approach is that it leaves your LEDs highly vulnerable to voltage spikes (which are more common than most realize, and usually absorbed by protective devices in modern power supplies). The peak *reverse* voltage on Light Emitting Diodes is usually low compared to bulk rectifiers designed for the purpose, so that can leave little margin for recovery from spikes induced by nearby lightning or inductive kickbacks from large motors, etc. For low cost holiday lights and such, they are not meant to last that long anyway.

    Whether 50/60 Hz or 100/120 Hz (putting a half wave rectifier inline), the flicker shows up in enough situations to make it undesirable to a lot of people as general lighting. A few companies have tried to commercialize the AC driverless approach with series LEDs in one package, with little success in the marketplace.

    All of this is true and I added another diode, reverse direction, and a resistor but the original design worked for almost a year with only a small capacitor and the LED as either a night light, with an ultra bright LED, or using a lower level LED as an indicator light. At least two of the four original design indicator lights, to indicate that the outside lights were on, died in less than a year just from turning the light switch on and off. With the added reversed diode and the resistor none of the indicators have yet died now going on three+ years.

    Hmm, I was alarmed that you said the flood lights didn't look like they have a rectifier or anything.

    Actually, I'm pretty sure most of them have a rectifier though it could be done without. The board looks like it has some chip that could be a combined full bridge rectifier though I'm going really quick through it.

    Moreover, the basic principle most of these <200mAh supplies use is a "Transformerless power supply" which uses the impedance of a capacitor in series of the AC line to step down the AC voltage then rectify it. It tends to be best for <200mAh supplies and even better yet for <50mAh. At some point pretty quickly it makes more sense to use a proper system.

    I'd like to take a closer look at what pictures you showed, but maybe someone else with better real knowledge can give feedback. I just wasn't really convinced by your presentation, i hope that's OK.

    2 replies

    The pictures are of very high quality. You can see the full size original but it takes a few clicks. First click on the pictures so it shows you the scrolling view, or slide show, don't remember how the refer to it. Anyway click on the specific picture again and it should take you to a download page that will allow you to get the original full size picture. I use a DSLR camera for everything and leave it on high quality for all my pictures. I compress them as little as possible.

    The entire light is contained on the aluminum plate. I believe the backside is just aluminum with heat sink compound and screwed onto the housing. None of the circuits are visible. There is a bank of chips but I could not see any markings on them.

    The light is "instant" on. I have another one that has a power driver unit and there is a delay when you turn the power on for that one. A second or 2 hesitation while the driver starts working. These lights are on the instant the power is on. The power lines attach to the board and that is it. So I don't know how they are working, but they do work good.

    Perhaps I'm confused as to which lights you said did not have a powersupply--> In step 5 you show the flood lights with a powersupply on board. On the right hand side it looks like some form of fuse+capacitor+rectifier power supply, but I have no idea what is going on the left hand side, and the fact that there is so much going on makes me think I could be wrong about the form of the right hand side.

    IMHO the best led manufacturer at the moment happens to be CREE. You can always tell if its a CREE by the distinctive shape of the led.

    I have found that even in the so called tactical lights, there are great ones and then there is junk. Some companies, (I have not yet started to document which ones do what), cheat on the manufacturing of these LED lights, were others, (so far those from Lowe's & Home Depot have all been great), perform really well as advertised. I suppose it all boils down to "buyer beware" & "you get what you pay for".

    Of course you can always build your own, there are many internet DIY's to help. Semper Fi

    1 reply

    I was just thinking that's one niche of LED product where "you get what you pay for" is NOT necessarily true. Tons of junk ads out there lately for really cheap, low quality "tactical lights" with extremely misleading or dishonest advertising pretending they are "military" grade, which is clearly targeted at people with no real experience of modern LED flashlights. They are actually charging MORE than a good brand name light from the store, for something imported in bulk from China for a tiny fraction of the cost of a decent one at the hardware store. It's predatory marketing that ensures you actually get LESS than what you'd pay for through local channels, yet some will still think it's an improvement on their ancient flashlight.