Déjà Vu?

When you examine a lot of LED grow lights, many of them start to look the same. In some cases this is deliberate mimicry; in many others they are actually the same base light, possibly with a few tweaks. Many LED vendors are just selling one of the mass-produced Chinese lights, and for a slight upcharge, they get a different case color, a new logo, custom grille pattern, tweak LED wavelengths, add or change the angle of secondary lenses, throw in a switch or knob to alter the intensity of LEDs, etc., etc… The actual manufacturer usually even provides the warranty.

How do I know this? I get emails on here all the time from Chinese manufactures offering to do this for me. Many even proudly announce that they manufacture some of the light brands compared on this site.

This "private labeling" is common practice these days, even in your local grocery store, and there's really nothing wrong with it. It seems to me that many LED companies start off with a base model from a Chinese manufacturer, with just a few tweaks, and if they're successful, they graduate to more custom designs.

Many of the lights I review here have a unique design. Some of these are still manufactured in China, but so is most everything else these days. Even the US-assembled lights will have a lot of foreign-made parts in them, just like US-assembled cars. Where a light is manufactured probably doesn't matter as much as the actual design, quality, features and spectrum.

Ads by Google
Why are there ads on this site?

Don't Judge a Light by its Housing

I've received many emails from people who notice similar-looking LED grow lights and automatically assume they are completely identical. In some cases they may be the same, but in other cases there are slight (and sometimes very important) differences, and sometimes it's just an attempt at making a cheap look-alike to trick people.

For example, the Advanced LED Diamond Series DS, Lush Lighting and Platinum LED lights look identical because they're all the same base light made by E.Shine Systems. They may or may not have identical LEDs and spectrums- it isn't clear..

The old Growblu Apollo series and Kind LED K3 series also appear to be the same base light based on pictures and all the physical specs of the light; a Chinese manufacturer called Cidly offers them on their website as its "Apollo" series. Growblu failed recently, possibly because they couldn't honor their warranty anymore; let's hope Kind will have better luck with this light design.

So just because two different LED grow lights look similar or even identical, it isn't safe to assume that they will grow plants the same, last as long or even have the same reliability. Without comparing all of the specifications carefully to determine if they really have the same spectrum (both colors and ratio), power output, power drivers, lenses, heat dissipation, and dozens of other things, it is hard to draw any conclusions.

On Your Own

If many of the companies I compare here are just getting modifications made to Chinese lights, what's to keep you from doing the same? Absolutely nothing– you can go on alibaba.com and find dozens of companies that offer customization of their base designs. Unless you really know what you're doing and how to choose from different manufacturers, it's pretty easy to end up with a bad light design or to get completely screwed over by the manufacturer; I'm sorry to say I've had some experience with this. Getting an LED grow light from a reputable company with a presence in the US may be a safer option than ordering directly from China yourself, though if you buy a private-labeled light and the company goes out of business, the original manufacturer probably won't honor the warranty.

Please don't think I'm saying all of the companies I'm comparing here are reputable– quite the contrary, based on how many of them are blatantly lying or appear to have never tested the lights themselves.

Amusingly, I get spam emails from Chinese manufacturers on this site all the time, and many of them claim to be the manufacturer for one of the well-known US companies, but I know this isn't the case. So if you choose to order direct from China yourself, don't believe everything the manufacturers say; just like the sellers I compare here, a lot of them are pretty shady in their business practices and the claims they make.

Fly-By-Night Sellers

There are many people that seem to be ordering a shipping container full of generic LED grow lights from China and offloading them on eBay or throwing up a website to sell them until their inventory runs out. When they're out of inventory, the company disappears so they don't have to deal with warranty issues or unhappy customers. I've tried not to include any companies on this site that appear to be doing that, but I can't be certain, especially with the newer companies.


Comments

2 thoughts on “Déjà Vu”

  1. I just got a light from cidley in china, same as kind xl1000 but half the cost. don’t pay for name brand when you can get the same thing for half as much!

    1. It will be interesting to see if you get decent warranty support with that light; most people that contact me regarding lights they buy direct from China seem to have problems with them after a month or two, are expected to fix the light themselves, and end up not being happy. However, the only direct Chinese manufacturer I’m currently including on this site is Mars Hydro, so there isn’t much tracking of lights purchased directly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *