Here at SickLites.com, we value giving every one of our guests the information necessary to make an informed decision about their auto accessorizing purchases, whether it’s or LED strips. We want to help you pick out which you think is the best LED light for cars, so here’s a little comparison between buying the more expensive, higher-quality LED strips versus the lower-cost versions.
Car Show Entry vs. Neighborhood Superstar
I suppose it kinda comes down to your idea of awesome, do I want to be the brightest car at the car show, or do I just want everyone in my neighborhood to stop and stare?
Myself? I’m a neighborhood guy, though if ever I have the time and money to invest, I may actually beef up my Blazer and become a show guy. If that ends up being the case, I’ll definitely be weighing these options for lighting.
While both the American-made versions and the overseas versions of these lights are almost identical in appearance, there are a couple of key differences.
3. LED Controller
Let me break it down for you a little:
1. Bright Like Vegas, Or Bright Like Downtown?
One of the key differences in these light strips is BRIGHTNESS.
The main reason the brightness varies between the two, is the fact that the Chinese-made light strips generally use a smaller gauge copper wiring to connect the LED lights, which in turn delivers slightly less power to them.
If you buy the higher quality light strips, you will be drawing more power from the battery, (generally not enough to make a noticeable difference in the performance of your battery), and the amount of light the strip puts out is visibly brighter. While this is ideal for car shows, it might be a little much for driving around town.
Which brings me to my next difference, longevity.
2. When Will I Have To Replace My Lights?
There are various factors that decide how long it’s going to be until one of your lamps poops out on you, and most have to do with material quality.
However, whether it’s the circuitry, the wiring, the bulbs themselves, auto LED’s end up going out one way or another, high or low quality. This isn’t always a bad thing though.
Benefits Of Lower Grade Production
The way I see it, lights are lights. They’re GOING to burn out eventually. That’s not to say LED’s don’t last FAR longer than any incandescent, but they’re still gonna go at some point. And whether it’s one or a series of the bulbs that stop working, you’re really better off replacing the whole thing.
While the higher quality lights may last twice as long, they are often 2 to 3 times the cost as well, which means, whether you replace them now or 4 months from now, you pretty much end up paying the same amount in the long run.
A strip that costs $20 and lasts for a year is comparable to one that costs $60 and lasts 3 years. That’s not even taking into account that in a vehicle, vibration and motion are going to eventually weaken these LED connections anyway, whether they are high or low quality.
In my opinion, the cheaper lights are a safer bet for auto use. There’s much less cost involved if something messes up, and if you’re pimping out your daily driver, you’re GOING to be vibrating those lights. I’d be a lot less irritated with replacing cheap lights once in a while than the expensive ones.
3. Whoa… You Can Control Them From Your Phone?
The controller for these lights is a major selling point in the “cool” category.
The cheaper the lights, the less cool the controls, it’s pretty much that simple. The cheapest overseas versions usually come with something like the controllers shown here, (my own personal ones).
Simple buttons, often not actually labeled, you just kinda gotta remember the functions. Not the ideal level of cool, but definitely sufficient for neighborhood superstars.
After all, it’s the car itself that is the main attraction here, not the lights or even the light switch.
Then you have the next level of cool functionality, the smart light. These LED light packages use an app from your smartphone to control everything from color to flash pattern, they will often even synchronize to your music.
Simply put, it all comes down to what’s important to you in functionality.
If you’re cool with just hitting the on button and changing colors synchronously, the cheaper lights are for you. ESPECIALLY if you’re on a tight budget but wanna look like a million bucks. (unless you’re driving a rusted out 1984 Honda Accord… sorry to say brotha, the lights won’t help!).
I chose the cheaper one myself, and it has most definitely served its purpose so far. I suppose if it goes out, I’ll switch up to the app controlled one, just so I can give an honest comparison between the two, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you. LED’s often last 4 years or more on cars.
4. Man, That Looks EXPENSIVE…
For the longest time, the only underglow products that were really sold and marketed to auto enthusiasts were the underbody neon tubes, and anyone who has had them can tell you… Not a cheap install.
Neons were AWESOME to me growing up, but they were often so bright, (due to full 360 degree light), that they were quite the target for law enforcement to mess with. I never could afford them, but that’s alright. I didn’t need any trouble with the law anyway, much less would I have wanted to turn them off when I got in trouble.
When the LED underglow revolution started, all of a sudden literally EVERYONE could afford them. The price difference on LED lighting isn’t a big one between high and low quality models, often the kits that cost $60 with the app controller are truly comparable to the cheaper ones at around $30.
Now the installs are a lot easier too, so you can often take on doing it yourself. Lots of the strips come with an adhesive backing that eliminates the need for mounting brackets, therefore eliminating the need for a professional installer. That cuts cost down significantly.
Either way it goes, cost isn’t a huge consideration anymore when looking to accent your car or truck. What sucks is having to UNINSTALL your lights and wait around for the company you bought them from to replace them.
5. Excuse Me, Do You Guys Do Refunds?
Warranty quality is a big thing now.
People expect that if they buy a product, and it breaks due to no fault of their own, the company they purchased from should immediately send them a replacement or a refund immediately. And rightfully so, nobody likes throwing money away.
This is where a big issue lies for many companies, warrantees are often abused, and the company ends up losing out on money due to what is known as shrinkage.
Many of the online companies that you end up ordering LED’s from, especially the cheaper ones from overseas, are actually drop shipping sites who never even have to touch any of the products, and their “warranty” isn’t exactly set in stone.
It’s always a possibility that you’ll be waiting for a response for weeks to your email, if you even receive a response. And if they do agree to honor the exchange, it’s often an even longer wait to get your replacement.
This, in itself, is more than enough reason for me to lean toward buying from a more reputable, quality supplier. I like to know that if my lights cut out when I’m flat broke, I can still get them replaced without having to wait for payday.
But, yet again, it really all comes down to what you value more. If you don’t mind having to possibly wait a while to save a few bucks, the cheaper lights are where it’s at.
It All Comes Down To YOU…
If you know that money is no object, and you want the fully pimped out package, most definitely run with a good supplier with a high customer ranking and iron-clad return policy.
If you’re short on cash but want the look, it doesn’t hurt to order from someone overseas. you’ll still end up getting a working product, usually. Just make sure to use a good drop shipper with a good rating, or run with Amazon. Amazon Prime is pretty good about making sure their suppliers have at least a functional business, so you can usually get products returned or refunded.
Either way you go, I hope this article helped a little in forming your own opinion on what is the best LED light for cars, and if you have any questions, comments, or feedback, please hit me up at the bottom of the page!