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Fri Jan 4, 2013, 12:37 PM

American Made Christmas lights vs. Chinese Made Christmas lights

Our house is THAT house at Christmas.

I don't go nuts and have a giant light show or anything crazy, but our house is certainly the most lit on our block. (ok...for several blocks). This is my rational: lights are a "Happy Holidays!!!" for everyone who sees them. The human race needs more friendliness. I refuse to not put up lights and, honestly, I think they are pretty and I like them.

I have four storage tubs of lights. Two of those tubs are lights from the 50s-60s and have been a constant source of inner debate and turmoil. I call those the cadillacs of lights. Big honking C-9 bulbs that can tack $75 on the December electric bill if I'm not careful. Each year I buy a few strands of LED lights but I can only afford a string or two each year.

I love the earth. I don't waste much. I recycle EVERYTHING. I use natural fertilizers and no poisons. I plant my yard to be a haven for bugs and birds. My energy comes from wind power (even though that costs more). I try to turn off lights, use less power and we use public transportation for almost all of our work commuting (when possible).

So big honking C-9 Christmas lights are everything I don't like. Wasteful. They don't serve a true purpose. With the creation of LED lights I have made an effort to move away from the old sets completely.

Two years ago I bought two strands of LEDs. Last year I bought three. This year Home Depot had a coupon to exchange old lights for $3 off an LED set. I went for it and took in 8 sets of old lights and bought 8 new strands of lights. All of these new LED lights use less power and should be better for the earth. All of the LEDs were made in China. But, I was VERY excited to have all these new lights. I even splurged and bought an extra nice set of Martha Stewart lights.

Then I went to town on my yard. But, bad news when I plugged in some of the lights...both of the two year old LEDs didn't work. I went to the store and got fuses. No go. One of the three sets of LEDs I bought last year was also dead. New fuses didn't help. So...of the five sets I bought in the last two years, 3 are dead.

Of the 8 LED sets I bought this year (all from China)--four of them stopped working by New Years. The fancy set from Martha Stewart that cost double the other sets was also dead. I've fiddled with them and replaced the fuses. Nothing. We've had no snow, no freezing weather and very little wind. For a Christmas light, this has been a very very easy year.

I ended up getting out the Cadillacs. Those big honking American made bulbs and light sets that came from my parents and from several garage and estate sales. Even my bulbs are from the 50s--those deep colored bulbs that glow so richly. (They are called Interior C-9s because the color was spray enamel on the inside then baked to keep the color--today they just spray some color on the outside of the bulb and it flakes off sooner than later). I strung them down the fence and filled in where the LEDs died. Because they were on a different power strip they ended up staying on overnight pretty much all of December. I'll fess up and admit they were on quite a few days too when I forgot to run out and unplug them when leaving for work.

So here's how the 60 year-old lights AND lightbulbs fared. Four green lightbulbs burned out. All the sets still work even though they were on at least double, if not triple, the amount of time as the LED sets. Just four lightbulbs to replace. Only four dead bulbs going to the landfill.

So what ends up being worse for the earth? The old sets of lights with the big bulbs that are wasteful of my (wind-generated) electricity or buying LED lights that are made of questionable plastics, questionable metals, questionable labor (I want good energy happy worker lights not bad energy slave labor political prisoner lights) and then shipped halfway around the world only to have them be dead in a year leaving me in need of a new set of bad plastic, bad metal, bad energy lights shipped over from China. The packaging alone for the LED lights included a box, plastic bag, two metal and plastic twist ties, small plastic bag and staple for spare bulbs and fuses. I recycled it but in many places it is just garbage.

I think I will be sticking to my American Made dinosaurs and wait for a time, hopefully, when American industry decides that the market has a need for quality American Made products again. You hear that businessworld? Some of us would rather pay $15 for an American made set of lights that work rather than their $8 Chinese counterpart that will be in our landfilll next January. You might not make as much money selling quality, but the Earth cannot afford all the garbage your crappy products are creating.

Until then, a shiny, happy new year to you all. Go buy something made in America.
(and, no, this is not my house!)


34 replies, 4770 views

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Arrow 34 replies Author Time Post
Reply American Made Christmas lights vs. Chinese Made Christmas lights (Original post)
DonRedwood Jan 2013 OP
samsingh Jan 2013 #1
samsingh Jan 2013 #2
DonRedwood Jan 2013 #6
samsingh Jan 2013 #7
Hekate Jan 2013 #23
hedgehog Jan 2013 #3
DonRedwood Jan 2013 #16
AllyCat Jan 2013 #18
octoberlib Jan 2013 #4
Frustratedlady Jan 2013 #5
DonRedwood Jan 2013 #10
DonRedwood Jan 2013 #11
physioex Jan 2013 #8
DonRedwood Jan 2013 #13
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #20
physioex Jan 2013 #30
K Gardner Jan 2013 #9
Howler Jan 2013 #12
DonRedwood Jan 2013 #14
Mojorabbit Jan 2013 #15
BrotherIvan Jan 2013 #17
PoliticAverse Jan 2013 #21
BrotherIvan Jan 2013 #24
PoliticAverse Jan 2013 #25
BrotherIvan Jan 2013 #28
Heidi Jan 2013 #34
SunSeeker Jan 2013 #19
ReverendDeuce Jan 2013 #22
hedgehog Jan 2013 #26
notadmblnd Jan 2013 #27
MissMarple Jan 2013 #29
1620rock Jan 2013 #31
davsand Jan 2013 #32
Raine Jan 2013 #33

Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 12:38 PM

1. beautiful decorations

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Response to samsingh (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 12:38 PM

2. Merry Christmas

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Response to samsingh (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 12:50 PM

6. LOL! Not my house!!!! My house was really pretty!

Just blue and green lights in the bushes. All sparkly and somewhat classy looking. No plastic santas or reindeer. :0)

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Response to DonRedwood (Reply #6)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 12:51 PM

7. awww

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Response to DonRedwood (Reply #6)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 04:54 PM

23. We wanted to see your house!



We don't do Christmas lights, but our next door neighbor does the whole Santa's Village reindeer on the roof creche fake snow polar bears thing every year. It's not what I'd call tasteful, but he has so much fun doing it that I would never complain.

I completely understand your point about the quality of your strings of lights. Do they have those tags on the wires that assure you that they were inspected and approved by the Underwriter's Laboratory? My whole life I saw those tags/labels on every electrical appliance, until a couple of years ago I had to buy a couple of new table lamps for the living room and noticed that the UL tags had been replaced by a prominent warning that if you left the lamps on too long they might cause your house to go up in smoke. 'Scuse me? Oh yes, the lamps were made in China.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 12:43 PM

3. I bought a bunch of end-to end light strings -

when we took them out of the box, we found that they had a plug/socket combo - on one end only!

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Response to hedgehog (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 01:35 PM

16. a little quality control issue there, eh?

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Response to hedgehog (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 02:47 PM

18. We got that too. Then when you plug them in, only half the strand works.

Returned...same thing. Garbage. All of them.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 12:47 PM

4. Beautiful! nt

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 12:49 PM

5. I bought my first 2 LED strings of lights.

The red string was lighting my front light post and the white was beneath greenery on top of a hutch. With other/older strings of white lights, the new ones looked cold, so I pulled them out and used a softer/warmer string again. I tried to give away the LED string of white lights and no one would take them...for free.

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Response to Frustratedlady (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 12:54 PM

10. You will think I am a dork but...

I HATE those cold colored lights!! I bought a bunch of bulbs for the house and they ended up being that horrible cold color...so, I took a yellow marker and a red marker and I colored on the bulbs. It turned them a pinker tone that was really nice! This was on 40 watt bulbs but I'd bet it would work on your lights. Though....it might be annoying to do so many. It worked good on the full-sized bulbs though.

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Response to Frustratedlady (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 12:58 PM

11. And I know what you mean--we bought LED for the tree, put them on, then took them off

Too harsh of color.

When I bought the new LEDs I actually plugged in every set at the store to check the color. The LEDs have two different blues: one is rich and deep and beatuful and the other blue is drab and really grey -looking. The white ones, I've noticed are the same--some are bright and pretty but some are this weird grey color that isn't pretty at all.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 12:53 PM

8. I completely agree....

I also have a vague recollection of American made goods and their quality. But most of my memories are products from Japan like Sony Trinitron (I believe they did not pay the RCA patent), Sony Walkman, Toyota Corolla. These products were highly innovative and of the highest quality. Manufacturing in China is pretty much bottom of the barrel, as there is simply no culture of quality. I can hardly wait for manufacturing to move back to the United States, as I would have no problems paying more for quality and having my money stay locally.

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Response to physioex (Reply #8)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 01:04 PM

13. I have several boxed sets of 1950s Japanese Pagoda lights (little bitty silk lanterns with a teeny

tiny screw in bulbs. They are of very high quality but if one bulb goes out, the sets die. ugh...then you have to check each bulb until you find the bad bulb. Sounds easy but my giant American fingers have a hard time fitting in those tiny Japanese pagodas.

I had an 81 Toyota that had 199,900 miles on it when a woman rearended me and killed it. I've been very happy with my Japanese products.

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Response to physioex (Reply #8)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 03:24 PM

20. you're not old enough to remember the jokes about japanese products that broke after the

 

first few uses? it was before walkman.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #20)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 11:38 PM

30. You are probably correct....

I do know little about the history and when the early Japanese cars came, the quality was terrible (not that American cars were all that great). But then they met a man called Edward Demming, and things changed pretty quickly. It was pretty sad that most manufacturing companies in the USA never heard of this person who was idolized in Japan. Anyways, I hope we can go back to the days when quality was more important than quantity.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 12:53 PM

9. Wonderful post ! I still have my parent's big "honking" C9

box of bulbs they used every single year, up in my attic.

I may have to get them out next year !

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 01:03 PM

12. LOVE Your Light display!!!

What a wonderful gift for your neighbors!!!!

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Response to Howler (Reply #12)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 01:05 PM

14. NO! No!!!! Not my yard!! I just thought it was funny!!

Mine were pretty and more... discrete. (all blue and green and mostly just in the bushes and trees)

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 01:17 PM

15. I agree 100 percent

We keep a strand hung over the back porch and they do not last at all. My husband has to get up on a ladder to put them up and he is not getting any younger and I hold my breath when he has to replace them which is often.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 02:35 PM

17. I wish I could read a story like this a million times a day.

Most people of a certain age know, or can vaguely remember, the quality of Made in the USA products. But for many reasons, price has become the overwhelming factor when making a purchase decision. What stories like this show people is that not only are USA-made products superior in almost every way, they are also the best VALUE.

Maybe then the lights will go on. I remember repair shops for appliances, because instead of throwing something away, it was built to last. Now I am amazed whenever I buy anything at all how cheaply things are made. I bought some lamps for my living room and literally as I was pulling it out of the box and marveling how every part, every screw was made hollow to eek out just that extra penny. All the innovation and care is not put into the construction of the product, it's put into making it as cheaply as possible and the packing for shipping around the world. I thought to myself, these might last 6 months!

The way I learned for certain that Made in the USA is superior in every way: I started manufacturing products myself. And every single detail is the highest quality we can find. We make textiles and have set up a network of seamstresses in a town where the biggest employer moved to China and everyone was laid off, some of whom had worked there for 30 years and are master craftswomen. Our products are about 10% more expensive but the quality is so superior it will last and look beautiful for years. We make only enough to keep going, but we are extremely proud of what we make.

I know that times are tight and not everyone has tons of cash to throw around, but I wish more people understood that a well-made product will not only last, but will be a joy to use, making it a great value. If everyone shared more stories like these, perhaps Americans would remember and pass on to future generations the importance and true cost/value of quality.

So thanks very much for sharing your story. I know I am a long-time reader and have never posted before, but I wanted to share the passion I have for the American-made products. I read the Walmart stories last year with great interest and was amazed at how many people felt they didn't have a choice but to shop there. I wish there was a way for small companies like ours to show everyone that if you really want to save money, shop for quality and not quantity and you will truly save in the long run.

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Response to BrotherIvan (Reply #17)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 04:03 PM

21. I'm curious how any guarantee/warantee offered with your product compares to the China competition.

Most people would pay 10% more for something that lasts twice as long, but what assurance do
they have that that is the case ?

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Response to PoliticAverse (Reply #21)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 05:15 PM

24. We guarantee all our work

We 100% guarantee all our work. If there is a defect or a product does not hold up, we replace it. We make blankets and items for babies and kids which take a lot of wear and washing. We have used the very best fabrics and notions available and have tested them again and again, so we know they last (but because we use only natural fibers, we do not claim they are indestructible). Though we know people may take advantage of that guarantee--it hasn't happened yet--we prefer to have satisfied customers who buy from us again and again. They hand it down or use on the next child. That's quite a boast when talking about baby gear.

The dominant company who makes similar product is all made in China of completely inferior materials. Made for children by children. Many of their customers complain in reviews that the fabric quickly tore or disintegrated in the wash. But they sell in all the big retailers and spend far more on their advertising juggernaut than their products. We can't afford the margins of the big retailers because our costs are too high and so have chosen to sell online. We rely on word of mouth and are doing surprisingly well. People who take the time to search out quality are happy to find us.

We all are trying to build a company to be proud of, where the craftspeople are paid fairly and our product is the best it can be. None of us are looking to get rich, we just want to put our effort toward something worth doing. Sometimes people think it's crazy, they've bought into the idea that a company exists solely to gauge as much profit out of as possible. It's very old-fashioned and rather shocking to think that the success of the company can be based on something besides extraordinary profit. And I don't mean just to talk about our company, there are LOTS of small companies springing up all over with the same mission sold through Etsy or Amazon with amazingly innovative, high-quality work. I'm just hoping that more people see the value of high quality over cheap junk.

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Response to BrotherIvan (Reply #24)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 05:36 PM

25. Best wishes to your company. n/t

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Response to PoliticAverse (Reply #25)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 06:06 PM

28. Thanks very much!

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Response to BrotherIvan (Reply #17)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 04:18 AM

34. Welcome to DU, BrotherIvan!

I wish you every success with your business.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 03:24 PM

19. Does anyone have a link to where I can buy quality American-made Christmas lights? nt

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 04:42 PM

22. LEDs are not blue, they are white -- pure white...

Not saying I agree or disagree about the aesthetic merits, but let's be clear.

2700K = incandescent light (old fashioned Christmas lights)
5400K = natural sunlight
6000K = commercial grade white LEDs (cheap imported LEDs)

Now, LEDs do not mean the dreaded China is involved. The majority of lights are made for dumb American consumers who demand cheap product. So you wind up with commercial (bulk) grade white LEDs. Add on top of that the narrow guage thin-wiring so typical in poorly made products and sure, you'll get stuff that breaks if they flex too often.

If you want LED lights that are closer to natural sunlight (or even if you want yellow incandescent), just search for "warm LED christmas lights". You'll get a product that might cost a bit more, but is made for the discerning Christmas enthusiast.

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Response to ReverendDeuce (Reply #22)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 05:43 PM

26. Here's a challenge for people: I swear I have seen outdoor lights that are

strings of green/red/gold. I can't find them anywhere. Has anyone else seen them?

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 05:54 PM

27. 50 years ago things were made to last a lifetime

then someone decided that they weren't making enough money and changed the program. Everything now is made to be replaced within a few years. Those huge flat screen TVs- about 5 years. Refrigerators- I remember my grandmother only having one. In my 30 years as a homeowner I'e replaced mine 3 times. And let's not forget the countless small appliances such as irons, mixers, coffee pots, toasters, and blenders that I've replaced multiple times. But my grandmother's mixer and electric knife from the late 60's still work.

I don't think that the Chinese are unable to produce quality products. I think corporations don't want quality products produced.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 06:48 PM

29. We had a particularly bad time this year.

We had a bit of trouble maintaining the Christmas spirit.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 02:22 AM

31. Ha, I threw out every goddamned string of those crappy broken cheap

strings of modern lights. I too have many strings of the old C-9's, and henceforth they will be the ONLY kind of lights I will use both inside and out.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 03:05 AM

32. Thee pre-lighted Christmas tree went dark this year.

GOOD LUCK figuring out that POS and how it works.

I got it from my mom who had used it for one year then she went to a smaller tree that fits on a table top. She paid a shitpot full of money for that thing and not ONE light works on it this year. It isn't a bad looking fake tree but I'm probably gonna have to now buy Christmas lights to put on it and that just peeves me to no end.



Laura

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 03:47 AM

33. I totally agree with your post, I have had exactly the same results. nt

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