In which the author attempts to communicate at a distance

I attempted to purchase an LED strip from a Chinese factory at considerably less than I can obtain through North American retail channels (like 25%).

This is the message thread. It’s not clear how to specify the exact item I want, so we start out:

I want to purchase a single 12 meter strip, 110v, warm white.

1. How do I place the order?
2. Does it come with the power plug or do I need to purchase it separately?

Thank you.

Response:

Dear friend
If you need 12 meters, the price is 49.5 dollars. I offer you the link, then, you can make order. I will change the price. The strip comes with the power plug.
GOOD DAY
Ming lu

I see Ming also struggles with limitations of Aliexpress’ sales platform, but has a workaround. Their product even comes with the power plug. Me:

I would like to purchase the 12 meter, 110v, warm white at $49.50 – please send the link.

Thank you.

Ming:

Dear friend
http://www.aliexpress.com/item/5050-LED-strip-110V-220V-230V-240V-IP65-Waterproof-flexible-SMD-led-strip-60leds-M-300leds/877316526.html
You can make order by this link.Then, leave me a message that you need 110V,warm white
GOOD DAY
Ming lu

I like being called ‘dear friend’. ‘GOOD DAY’ is a touch loud, but perhaps that’s just earnest sincerity. I leave several notes saying please 110v, warm white, etc. Our dance has more missteps:

Ming Lu:

Dear friend
Sir, you have payed and I could not change the price. You have to make one more order, you do not have to pay immediately,when I change the price, you can pay
GOOD DAY
Ming lu

No worries. When such good friends are thinking alike and working together, we can achieve anything. Through several additional steps we finally get payment worked out.

I am excited when I received the product. It wasn’t boxed as pictured, but it arrived intact. On opening the thin plastic wrapper it was sent in, I saw it has a Europlug, and this could only mean they screwed up and sent a part for the wrong voltage.

Of course the first thing I did was to map out the schematic of the strip, which can easily be seen through the transparent plastic insulation. The strip is a series of modules, each of which has 30 LEDs. The LEDs are grouped into 15 units, each unit being of a resistor in series with two LEDs that are themselves in parallel. Electronically there is no point in having 15 separate resistors in the chain, but I assume this is done to distribute heat evenly along the strip.

There is a single bridge rectifier at the plug end converting AC to DC, and two unshielded strands carry the rectified mains voltage down the length of the strip. The modules are soldered across these two. In the strip I have, however, pairs of these modules are in series – as one would do to adapt a 110v part to 220v.

I replace the europlug with a US plug, and the thing lights up, but as expected I can see it is too dim.

Me:

Hi, I received the order but you sent 220v, not 110v. I specified “12 meters, 110v, warm white”, but this has a 220v plug, and the LED strips are wired as pairs in series.

I will accept a partial refund to avoid shipping this part back if you will sell me the correct 110v version.

Thank you.

original

(You can see that the strip is attached to mains via what can only be artistic sculpting of hot glue.)

Carson Wong:

Dear friend
The led strip plug is do not distinguish between 110v or 220v. only led strip is distinguish between 110v or 220v .I send the strip is 110v really.
good day
Carson wong

Ming Lu has become Carson Wong, and “GOOD DAY” has become “good day”. A new friend.

Me:

So you are saying that you use a plug used worldwide for 220v on strips you sell for 110v? This is surprising.

I doubt this is a 110v strip because I have taken it apart. Your strips are made with modules of 30 LEDs each. The strip you sent has each pair wired in series. This is correct for a 220v strip, but would be in parallel for a 110v product. I did connect it to 110v, and it lights up, but each LED at reduced luminosity closer to a 3528 LED.

Thank you for taking the time to look into it.

Carson Wong:

Dear friend
I send you the led strip is 110V really. and the plug is not distinguish between 110v or 220v .LED strip is no 110-220v . LED strip is only 110v or 220v .LED strip 110v sales have been very good in my store. I don’t know how to explain for you to believe this is not problem.I hope you can understand.Thanks.
good day
Carson wong

So, maybe this guy really has no idea what they are selling. It occurs to me that maybe they have never tested their product with 110v because they don’t have it available. I take the high road:

Attached is a photo using a clamp meter to measure the current of your strip. I replaced the 220v plug with a 110v plug. The measured voltage is 120.3 volts and the current is .44 amps. The watts can’t be more than 120.3 * .44 = 53 watts.

It is a 12 meter strip, and your stated specifications are 14.8 watts/meter. It should consume around 12 * 14.8 = 177.6 watts. It is not even close.

I measured very a similar strip using smaller 3528 LEDs, same length and number of LEDs, and even it glows brighter and consumes .56 amps.

You need to either connect the modules in parallel for 110v, or stop claiming it has the 220v power specifications.

I hope this is helpful – otherwise you have a fine product.

original2

My language around watts and amps is careful to avoid derailing on a technical matter (one doesn’t just multiply volts and amps to get watts with AC, instead one gets an upper bound). “Fine product” is, of course, being charitable. Their product has LEDs mounted crooked, sloppy joints, incorrect specs, and dubious customer service.

Carson Wong:

Thank you for your professional opinion, do you think how to solve this matter

It occurs to me that I may have overestimated their respect for my opinion.

Nevertheless, maybe there is a language or cultural barrier, and they would still like to do the right thing. So:

1. Ideally, customers wanting a 110v part should get a 110v plug, with the LED modules wired in parallel. It would be much brighter and satisfactory. If you made such a strip, I would be happy to buy it.

2. If #1 is not possible, change your product description to say “Comes with the pictured europlug. Will light up if wired to 110v at reduced power and luminosity.”

3. You should give me a partial refund (because it is not the part that you specified).

I am waiting until you respond to write product feedback on aliexpress.

Thanks!

Ming Lu:

Dear friend
I am willing to refund part of the funds to you, as a solution to the matter.
good day
Ming lu

Me:

I will appreciate the refund. Please do it.

Will you also change your product description?

Ming Lu:

Dear friend
Thanks for your advice. I will sincerely consider it. The describe of our product is all correct and they are hot sale always.The comment from the customers are also very excellent.You can ask for the money back and I will return the money back to you.Thanks.
good day
Ming lu

There it stands. I’m still attempting to get the money back through aliexpress, although it doesn’t hurt much because the product was so cheap. I’m thinking of opening up and resoldering the point where each pair of modules is in series – now where is my hot glue gun?

One response to “In which the author attempts to communicate at a distance

  1. JER

    Bridging the language and Continent divide can certainly be tricky. So, you were both right. You in your description of the actual product and them in their certainty that all customers like the product very much and it sells well no matter what. Thank god for the World Wide Web!

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