Shine On LED
Custom LEDs designed and delivered.

Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions


What is an LED?

A Light Emitting Diode, or LED, is a solid-state semiconductor device that converts electrical Energy directly into light. One or more LEDs combined with a driver, housing and other components create a complete LED system. On its most basic level, the semiconductor is composed of two regions. The p-region contains positive electrical charges while the n-region contains negative electrical charges. When Voltage is applied and Current begins to flow, the electrons move across the n region into the p region. The process of an electron moving through the p-n junction releases energy. The dispersion of this energy produces photons with visible Wavelengths.

What are the advantages of using LED fixtures?

The short answer: LEDs are both the wisest financial choice and the most environmentally sustainable technology in lighting. LEDs last 25 to 50 times as long as Incandescents, use far less Energy and generate far less heat than any of the alternatives, contain no dangerous materials, and have a surprisingly short return on investment. For a full analysis, please see Why LEDs?.

Why do LEDs cost more than other types of lights? Are they worth it?

LED is still a new technology, and the expense of producing quality product is still high. However, pricing has come down dramatically from just a few years ago and prices are expected to continue to drop. In terms of whether LEDs are worth the extra cost, it’s helpful to look at the cost to operate a Bulb in addition to the up-front cost. The Energy savings realized in a switch to LED means that the extra up-front cost is often paid back rather quickly, and you’ll wind up saving money over the life of the bulb. For example, for a customer who has the light on for just 10 hours per week, the payback may be over 10 years. On the other hand, a Retail or restaurant client who is burning lights for 90-100 hours per week may calculate their payback to be less than 18 months. Estimate your return on investment when deciding if LED is right for you.

How long do LEDs last?

LEDs are extremely long-lasting. Many LEDs have a rated life of up to 50,000 hours. This is approximately 50 times longer than a typical Incandescent, 20-25 times longer than a typical Halogen, and 8-10 times longer than a typical CFL. Used 12 hours a day, a 50,000 hour LED will last more than 11 years. Used 8 hours a day, it will last 17 years! For more detailed information, please see our WHY LEDs page.

Where can LEDs be used?

LEDs began to be used in the late 1990’s typically in aesthetic, effect, or specialty lighting applications, including architectural highlighting. The use of LED Luminaires in applications such as street lighting, area lighting, parking structures, security lighting, and even General Lighting for interior spaces is viable today both economically and from an illumination performance standpoint. LEDs can be used in ‘damp’ locations, but the Power supplies and controllers must typically be located in ‘dry’ locations. A ‘damp’ location is defined as a non-climate controlled environment with minimal water exposure (a few droplets) at least 7′ from any potential standing water. ‘Dry’ locations are defined as less than 75% humidity and no water exposure. ‘Wet’ locations are defined as being exposed to non-climate controlled environments, wind driven rain and/or pressurized water, and condensing moisture. In response to customer requests, we have developed kits that enable you to set up a complete LED system with the confidence that all components are compatible with each other; we provide lists of suggestion applications (under counter, architectural highlighting, etc) as well as locations (outdoor / Indoor) so you can easily find the right kit for your application.

What is CRI, and why is it important?

Color rendering index (CRI) is defined as a light source’s ability to render color. The higher the CRI, the better the light source renders every color in the visible spectrum. Incandescent light sources have a CRI of 100. A good quality LED should have a CRI between 82 and 92 CRI (a very good approximation of natural light). Shine On LEDs all have a CRI of 85 and above. To quickly evaluate an LED’s color rendering, hold your hand under the Lamp. If your skin seems to turn grey, it has poor color rendering.

Pre-Sales Questions


Why should I buy from Shine On LED?

We take great pride in our products, and for good reasons!

  • Made in USA – Designed and developed in San Francisco, assembled in the USA
  • UL Listed – Certified safe and shock resistant by Underwriters Laboratories
  • Quality PCB – Our boards are stronger, thicker to dissipate heat more evenly
  • Soldered In-house – Custom in-house soldering ensures secure LED connectivity
  • Brightest LED – We use 18 LEDs per foot, the maximum, versus 10 per foot.
  • Quality 3M Tape – Very high bond adhesive secures the LED lights to aluminium bars and other surfaces.
  • Custom White – You pick the shade, from warm to pure white to cool
  • Custom RGB – Pick a custom RGB color by connecting the LED lights to your computer via USB
  • 18 Gauge Wire – Quality 18 guage wire versus thinner 24 gauge
  • Clear Heat Shrink – Better than black; see the solder connection.

Also, we create kits that take the guesswork out of matching compatible components with each other, and test them all before shipping. For more reasons to buy with confidence, please see Why Shine On LED?

How do I select the right components for my application?

We’ve applied our years of expertise in developing cutting-edge custom lighting systems for high-end clients, and created pre-configured kits of compatible components for most common applications. We recommend that non-experts first browse our kits and see whether one is right for their needs.

Whether designing your own solution from scratch or using one of our kits, you should first evaluate whether you need white or RGB light, whether your application is Indoor or outdoor, and whether your installation is permanent (hard-wired Power supply) or temporary (plug-in power supply). Then determine the length of LED lights you require. If configuring your own system, you will then need to match that length of LED light to an adequate power supply. Add up the Wattage requirements of the LEDs, then select a power supply that meets or exceeds that wattage while matching the Voltage requirements of your lights (12V / 24V).  Then, choose a light controller that works with the type of lights you have chosen and the Voltage they require. Finally, select the connectors needed to put it all together.

Can you select the lights I will need for my application?

We are happy to help you find the right type of components for your application, and to review your choices before you make a purchase.

Please keep in mind that our advice will likely be limited by a few factors:

  • It is not possible to give good layout advice without physically being at your home or project site.
  • Everyone’s perception of light output is different! You may find that 12 lights iwith 18 Watt Bulbs in each is just right for your driveway, but others may find it too bright or too dark.
  • Local codes sometimes dictate the selection of lights, especially for outdoor applications in densely populated areas.

We highly suggest hiring a local lighting expert at an affordable rate to help you choose your lighting (and perhaps recommend a licensed electrician to install it). Even if you will be doing the job yourself, we suggest you at least pay a professional a minimal fee to help you choose your lights with your requirements in mind and with an awareness of local codes.

Finally, if your needs go beyond one of our kits, remember that we design and build custom systems for clients of all types, and would be happy to discuss a custom solution for you, including installation.

Can you tell me how to wire up my LED system?

Our pre-configured kits are pre-wired and all components are selected to work together. If you are not a professional, we recommend you start with one of our plug-in kits because they take the guesswork out of properly wiring up LED components, and simplify the installation down to a simple matter of positioning the lights and plugging into a wall socket.

We are sometimes contacted by hobbyists seeking advice on how to wire up components themselves. We are happy to offer advice on selecting compatible components, but please keep in mind that only Licensed Electrical Contractors working in your specific state and local codes should give you wiring advice; giving such advice over the phone endangers your safety and property, and is likely illegal. As such, we highly suggest hiring a local licensed contractor to help you install LED systems that you have assembled. Even if you will be doing the job yourself, we suggest you at least pay a professional a minimal fee to help you choose your lights with your requirements in mind and with an awareness of local codes.

Beware so-called “telephone lighting experts” that just want to sell you their products by ignoring these issues, especially with regard to wiring!

Are Shine On LEDs ‘green’?

Yes! Shine On LED products are among the most green products available today. The LEDs we produce are extremely Energy efficient and will provide many years of reliable service. Longer life means less re-Lamping of spent Bulbs, which means less waste in landfills. LEDs also contain no harmful materials, unlike CFLs and HIDs which contain mercury or lead. The U.S. Department of Energy has estimated that increased adoption of LEDs over the next 15 years would also reduce electricity demands from lighting by 62 percent, prevent 258 million metric tons of carbon emissions, and eliminate the need for 133 new Power plants. 72% of the energy produced from raw coal is wasted due to inefficient lighting! For a complete discussion of this topic please see our Why LEDs? page.

How do you verify the performance of your products?

All Shine On LED kits and components are bench tested at our San Francisco shop before they are shipped to you. We do not simply ‘drop ship’ like some of our competitors.

What is your return policy?

Please refer to our Returns page.

Still have questions?