The manufacturer touts these as saving energy, linkable and longer lasting accent lights. I agree with the first two points but the “longer lasting” is a very relative term here. Let me put it this way: some (not all) did actually last longer than I was unpacking them but none lasted longer than 10 hours. And a couple were simply DOA (dead on arrival). Below is my collection of broken “Lights of America” LED lights. Only one has the “BAD” designation on it but you can be sure, all five pictured (out of seven total I have) are bad at the time the picture was taken.
I am not entirely convinced that a consumer should be messing with repairing these and, obviously, not everyone can or is equipped to deal with them. However, if you are the (un)lucky owner of a couple of these lights, you should know that they are relatively easy to fix. In my case I kept repairing these because the fixtures have been screwed to the bottom of the shelves above my workbench and if I remove them, there would be holes left. After all, this is my electronics workbench – that makes the repair a bit easier.
To start the repair you need a white LED. Any 5000 mcd or brighter 5mm LED would do, just try to get a shorter body ones, sometimes referred to as “straw hat”. Otherwise a file works well in getting a regular shape LED a bit shorter (below)
Here is the final shape of the LED you want:
Now we are off to cracking the case open. Surprisingly (or not) , the quality of the plastic parts and even the glue that holds them together is very much on par with the LEDs they use.: You can wedge a knife very slightly into the crack between the two parts of the fixture’s case and turn the knife just a little. The glue will simply crumble away and the two halves will separate. See picture below:
Here is how the internals look like with the case open:
Here is a close-up of the front face with the 24 white LEDs. At least one of them is broken. Sometimes you can just tell which one by simply looking at the LEDs. In some instances you can see a dark dot inside on the crystal – evidence of burn-out.
Inside the case there are two PCBs- the power source and the LED PCB. You’ll need to use your soldering iron to de-solder one of the leads and separate the two PCBs – you will need access to the pad side of the LED PCB. I did the blue wire but it really does not matter – whatever works best for you.
If you cannot simply see which LEDs is burned, it is time to probe them all. Basically, the idea is to apply 3.6 VDC across the leads of each LED to see which one does NOT light up. That would be the candidate for replacement. I’ve been using this little contraption (photo below) for testing – I had these tweezers probes that are pretty handy for the task. And there was a battery pack laying around that I could re-purpose.
Note that the battery pack on the picture does have a current limiting 420Ohm resistor (on the red wire under the heat shrink tube). Besides, I am using old and weak batteries in this pack. We are not looking for any particular brightness level here – just a bit of light coming out of the LED would mean that it’s OK.
Once you’ve identified the bad LED, it’s time to de-solder it. A hand vacuum pump works best. Just be sure to clamp your work to something sturdy enough not to slide away while you are de-soldering.
After de-soldering the bad one a new LED goes in.
After putting all the parts back in reverse order, the Lights of America LED light shines again:
Edit: that particular light went out again after approximately 15 hours of use. I guess, these cannot be permanently fixed untill you eventually replace ALL 24 original LEDs. That sucks!
The end result: you spend about 15 minutes of your time to “buy” 15 hour of operation of the light. You be the judge if it’s really worth your time.
I have since supplemented the Lights of America fixtures with a vinyl-encased 12V LED strings. Apparently connecting the LEDs in parallel to 12VDC source as opposed to serially to 120VAC is better for LEDs because none of the stringed 12V LEDs has failed yet. My hopes are that this type will really live up to the advertised life expectancy values of 30,000 hours.
P.S. Here is yet another fine example of Lights of America products’ quality. The title says it all CFL blew out, literally. I guess we should be grateful their LED bulbs at least aren’t explosive!