The old adage, “you get what you pay for”, is perhaps more relevant for the lightbulb industry than any other. Budget bulbs are ten a penny nowadays – widely available, easily purchased and cheaply bought. But despite their low price, the buyer rarely gets value for money. Instead, they receive a poorly produced, second-rate product with a short lifespan.
That’s why the world needs LED light bulbs that are technically, aesthetically and environmentally superior.
But what does it take to make superior LED lamps, what’s the secret? That’s exactly what this guide is for – an illuminating insight into the production and capabilities of advanced LED lighting technology that anyone can install and use in their homes.
Every facet of the production process of a filament light bulb needs to be unique and unrivalled – built on clear values that channel decisions and techniques. The transparent ethos of putting people first and striving to save the environment every step of the way.
Well-Lit products are manufactured in a small town 300km outside Shanghai in China. Some consider this to be an unusual location, as the majority of factories are based in the industrial city of Shenzhen. But there is logic behind sourcing our products from less familiar territory. We want our workforce to be as well cared for as possible, and by positioning our factory away from urban centres, we bring work to them.
Many Chinese factories rely heavily on cheap labour from the countryside. Shenzhen, one of the fastest growing cities in the world in the nineties and noughties, has been transformed into a city of factories in the modern age, with 18 million people now living and working there.
But it’s not all rosy for the Shenzhen economy. Increasingly, workers are unwilling to travel miles from their homes to find jobs – creating a staff shortage and resulting in rising manufacturing costs. There is also an ethical consideration, with migrant workers travelling long distances for employment. In many cases, staff are so far from home they also require accommodation. Currently, some of the lodging and living facilities provided by factories in the region are, quite simply, unacceptable.
By positioning our factory outside of Shenzhen, we have actively addressed these troubling labour issues. Rather than taking workers to the factory, we have taken the factory to the workers.
This provides significant benefits as the workforce is almost exclusively from this small town, meaning no accommodation is necessary. They go about their daily lives in an ordinary way, collecting their children from school, returning home in the evenings, and sleeping in their own beds.
As a result, staff turnover is far lower, meaning less time is spent recruiting and training new employees. There are also employment opportunities for young people, should they choose to pursue a career in manufacturing. All members of our workforce are also paid a fair living wage – which is significantly higher than the average pay in areas like Shenzhen.
Ultimately, it’s about the workers being paid more, having fewer expenses (such as travel and accommodation), and are not forced to spend time away from their families. They work in a safe environment that presents further employment opportunities. It’s how manufacturing should be.
It’s great that a lot of companies are taking active measures to reduce their carbon footprint, but we still believe that many are lacking the right approach.
For example, companies often make big claims about the processes they implement to reduce their carbon footprint at Head Office, but very little attention is paid towards lessening emissions before products arrive.
If you only care about carbon emissions once the products land in the UK, then it’s pretty likely you are part of the problem. No amount of tree planting or going paperless is going to make much of a dent in your overall impact on the world if you ignore what’s happenening at the start of your manufacturing process.
Instead manufacturers need to analyse their carbon footprint from the very start: utilising energy-efficient manufacturing and procurement processes whilst taking failure rates, workers, recycling and suppliers into account.
The results of implementing these processes, for us, has been nothing short of spectacular. Having sold well over 70,000 LED Filament lamps since September 2016, we are yet to have a single reported technical failure.
Taking a fresh approach to lightbulb development hs created an exceptional outcome for us and we hope this might encourage more companies to look more carefuly at their manufacturing processes.
So lets take a closer look at some of these processes we’ve put in place.
From the installation of the filaments and drivers to the shaping and cutting of the glass, everything needs to be completed by the hands of a highly-skilled local workforce.
Companies make filament LED lamps by automated machines for two significant reasons;
1) Significantly reduces labour costs
2) Greatly increases manufacturing capacity
Simply put, you can make more bulbs in a shorter space of time with less cost. Makes sense right? Well actually, no.
The reason we choose not to manufacture using this method is because we prefer to draw upon the skilled judgement of accomplished craftsmen, ensuring correct orientation and precise alignment of the components. This leads to a consistent lighting effect and stable product – to a degree that would be nearly impossible with an automated machine.
Mass production does not suit our business model or our customers – who are looking for something different that performs better and lasts longer.
The goal is to produce LED Filament lamps that are a cut above the rest in every possible way – and attention to detail is what helps achieve this.
So now we’ll take a closer look at what really matters in the design, construction and performance of LED filament bulbs
Most manufacturers are choosing the lengths and widths of their actual filaments based on price or aesthetics. This is a major mistake and can have a severe impact on the stability and performance of the lamp.
Attractive, thick LED filaments have become increasingly popular from an aesthetics perspective, but we feel there is a major design flaw with any lamp that uses thick filament like the ones pictured below.
Thick LED Filaments have a higher thermal mass and will require more complex methods to remove heat from the LED devices themselves. The elevated temperature of the LEDs will result in reduced lifespan and possible premature failure.
So, whilst they look pretty, thicker LED filaments have a considerable disadvantage.
Then, there are the very short and thin LED Filaments.
Dependent on the number of LEDs being used, this is another suspect design. With short LED filaments, you are significantly reducing the surface area (over 50% less than Well-Lit LED filaments). The LEDs are packed closer together, which, from a heat dissipation perspective, is not desirable. If you have filament LED lamp with short filaments producing quite a high brightness level, it’s likely you are going to have problems when it comes to heat dissipation. The other niggling issue is the admittedly bland appearance.
The LED Filaments we use, no matter if they are Flexible or Hard LED Filaments, are perfectly designed in length and width for optimum performance, effective thermal management and beautiful aesthetics.
There are several methods companies use for thermal management. Many manufacturers provide a small vent hole in the cap to prevent pressure build-up within the enclosed space (which can lead to rupture of the metal/glass seal and force the base away from the glass).
Unfortunately, the expanding warm air is expelled via the vent hole, and when the lamp is turned off the internal air cools and contracts – leading to external air (containing moisture) being drawn into the power supply via the vent. Repeated cycles of operation create moisture build-up in the lamp base, resulting in component deterioration and compromised operation.
Internally, lamps should contain an inert coolant gas to provide a structured cooling cycle for the LED filaments, meaning there is simply no need for additional thermal management to detract from design and appearance.
To claim that the vast majority of LEDs suffer from poor dimming would be a significant understatement. The dimming range is often very limited with these types of bulbs, causing flickering as the light lowers.
We are not just talking about cheap products either, some of the most expensive LED filament brands, on sale in prestigious UK department stores, have decidedly sub standard dimming performance.
Whats the point in designing a beautiful LED Filament lamp if it’s performance is ugly?
The problem is that virtually all LED filament bulbs contain a basic and cheap dimmer driver supplied by the manufacturer. Companies either don’t have the expertise to devise their own dimmer drivers or consider the basic drivers good enough.
This is something we have strived to correct. We wanted to produce energy-efficient lights with excellent dimming qualities similar to incandescent and halogen lamps. This is what our customers demand and expect.
Our dimmer driver is unique, and although we can’t disclose too much detail about development in this area, we are absolutely delighted with the results of our lighting technology: flicker-free dimming over the full range from 100% to 0%.
All LED filaments need to have been calculated for optimum performance, thermal management and aesthetics. That means calculating the sweet spot between wattage, lumens & heat dissipation first and then the aesthetics of the lamp. Performance should never be impaired by aesthetics.
Unfortunately, lifespan claims are often severely over-stated to unachievable levels – to give a brand an edge over a company that states achievable figures. For example, it’s unlikely an LED Filament bulb can achieve an average lifespan of in the region of 30,000 hours. It’s not necessarily the lifespan of the LED chips you need to worry about (although if they are being stressed to produce maximum lumens or poorly installed it could be), but more about the power supplies and the components inside of them. It’s far more likely a power supply will fail before the LED chips and it’s unlikely that the power supplies found in LED filament bulbs will be able to achieve a lifespan of around 30,000 hours.
A quality LED filament bulb will have an average lifespan in the region of 15,000, which represents the achieveable lifespan of all the lamps components.
The colour temperature across a brands entire range of LED Filament lamps needs to be uniform. It’s amazing how often two different lamps bought from the same manufacturer with the same stated colour temperature actually produce a different colour light. This occurs mostly when a manufacturer is using two or more factories to produce their lamps. To be able to create the perfect ambiance and atmosphere in your home, restaurant or bar, you need the colour temperature to match precisely no matter what product you have bought.
Unlike most LED Filament lights, we don’t construct our filaments in an upright position. The reason for this is that the filaments obstruct each other and create shadowing. Therefore, we have carefully calculated the angle on which the filaments need to be installed in order to achieve uniformed light with no shadowing.
As you can see from the image below, the product on the right is the traditional way of installing the filaments – which creates shadowing. To resolve this the filaments need to be installed at the perfect angle (on the left). An automated machine would not be able to install the filaments at the precise angle needed consistently.
Most LED Filament lamps only come with a 1 or 2-year warranty. With LED Bulbs being significantly more expensive than traditional incandescent bulbs or halogen lamps and there being a huge amount of poor performing products available, reputable manufactures need to be providing the general public with more confidence in the longevity of our products. This requires a comprehensive 3-year warranty on all products upon purchase. This gives customers confidence in our lifespan promises, so they can get maximum value from their investment in LED lighting systems.
Overall, it’s clear to see that we aren’t just producing the very best products on the market here at Well-Lit – we’re also doing it in a way that benefits everybody, from staff to customers.
By breaking convention and adopting a fresh approach, we’ve brought something new and exciting to the lighting industry. Every single one of our products comes with a high-quality guarantee, produced in the most energy-efficient, ethical manner. We’re different. And our lighting shows it.
To see for yourself what makes us special, browse the Well-Lit collection. Got a question? Just call our friendly team on 01484 609759.
Well Lit are proud European Design Award winners and finalists of The Observer Ethical Awards