LED Sidemarkers Compared: Diode Dynamics vs eBay Imports

Hi, Paul with Diode Dynamics, and today we're gonna take a close look at some LED side markers.

Now, we're one of the only manufacturers of these products in the United States and that's a fact we're proud of.

There's a lot of knockoffs on the market though.

So we get questions like, "Is it really worth the extra price?" or "What's the difference in your product versus that one on eBay?" We're going to take a look at some of our side markers and put them next to the competition, to show you some of those details.

So to get started, we've got our 2015 Ford Mustang side markers.

We were the first on the market with these and we've got a lot of knockoffs.

Some of them are exact clones of our design, some of them are even worse.

So we've got one here that I ordered on eBay.

You can see it showed up just like this.

So for the unboxing we're gonna to take a look.

A little bit of bubble wrap.

Take these out.

Looks like they're together in here.

There is this film on here.

We've got those there.

Now, see the Diode Dynamics packaging.

Note, there's no instructions or anything with those.

Of course, like all Diode Dynamics products, you've got instructions for the installation.

And then, of course, the product itself in that blow-molded insert so that there's no damage possible to the products.

Taking a closer look at the products, at first glance they seem pretty similar.

The shape is the same.

The first thing I notice just holding them is that, if you just feel the plastics, one just, this one just feels very, very almost thin.

The same way that an aftermarket light feels like it's a thinner housing or something, if you've ever felt one of those.

The Diode Dynamics one is a nice thick plastic material designed just like the factory one, whereas the knockoffs will often use thinner materials all around.

And it just seems more brittle, like it might be prone to cracking.

Not to say it will, but it's just something you can feel the difference in the hand.

The next thing I'll immediately notice that you might not, is the reflector design on these.

So again, at first glance, they both look sort of like reflector designs.

But only one of these is an actual retro-reflector.

And what we mean by that, is it has to have a cubic optically design pattern in this lens.

And the result is you can shine a light at any angle, it will bounce and then shine back at that same angle.

There is a retro-reflector actually on the moon that you can shine a laser all the way to the moon, bounce it back so they can see how far away the moon is.

Same concept here in a much cheaper version.

But we need to get that correct retro-reflector in there to have the reflectivity.

This one is designed with almost it looks like pyramid structures, just four-sided triangles.

And that's not going to reflect the light back at all.

And we can easily show that just by grabbing a phone here with a flash on the camera.

Turn our flash on.

And if we shine it at both of those and take a photo with the flash on.

Let's take a look at that photo.

And with that flash, you can see one is brilliantly lighting up, the Diode Dynamics one there.

And the one that's not an actual reflector looks about the same as it does just in person.

And that's because it's not shining any of that light back.

The retro-reflector is gonna have that reflective appearance, just like, you know you take a picture of a street sign or something, because we're actually reflecting light back.

That's an important safety feature.

And the reason that a lot of these knockoffs don't have that, is because it is much more expensive to get the correct optical design.

We have tiny, tiny cubes that have to be molded with a machine called an EDM to get really fine detailing that steel mold.

We have to get a very, very sharp as well so that all the corners can't be rounded off at all.

With this, we have some weird design happening and rounded corners.

Much cheaper to do this type of mold.

So you'll see this a lot with the knockoff side markers on the market.

Now the final thing we're going to compare with these is the way they actually light up.

So we're gonna grab our power supply here.

And we'll just try plugging them in.

A couple of leads.

These do have a similar connector style with that factory plug size.

Light up the Diode Dynamics one here, you can see it's a nice solid line of light all the way across.

Light up the knockoff one.

You can see, it's also a solid line of light all the way across.

But we get closer in, you can see, the dots are very visible in this knockoff side marker.

And that's because there's more LEDs used that are larger.

Larger LEDs are actually less expensive with this power level, because you just don't have as many of them.

They're going to put out enough light.

We're under-driving a lot of tiny LEDs here to give you a full solid appearance all the way across.

So again, this is the type of thing you're not going to see in the pictures on eBay or on Amazon.

It'll just look like a solid line of light.

And sure, when it's really dark out, they might look similar.

But in person, you can tell.

Solid line of light versus a dotted appearance across makes a big difference in the cosmetic of the vehicle.

The next model we're going to compare is the side markers for the new Jeep JL Wrangler.

Now this is a different manufacturer.

Again, we got our Diode Dynamics one on the right side.

Let's take a look at these first.

Again, just a simple cardboard box.

There is an insert in here that says go online for the install instructions.

We checked though, there's no installation instructions at that link.

So, you gotta figure it out yourself.

Got a little insert and then the units themselves.

Again, just with that film covering them, packaged in that cardboard.

Not bad.

Probably will protect it enough.

Now for the Diode Dynamics ones.

We'll see, as always, with the Diode Dynamicsproducts, you've got your installation guide.

This is actually our second revision.

We've made improvements based on feedback just to make that installation as easy as possible.

So you know you'll be able to install it very easily with the help of those.

Then we have the units, again in the blow-mold packaging, nice and protected.

Now again, initial impressions are that they look very similar, but the first thing we notice right out of the gate is that the Diode Dynamics one is a nice smoked color.

Versus the competitor, it's a little bit darker than clear.

I wouldn't really call that smoked.

I don't know about you, but if I'm going for a smoked look, I want it to be nice and dark.

Now, we do a lot of testing to make sure there's enough light still bouncing out of those reflectors.

I will say this one does have a pretty nice reflector pattern, unlike the other one we looked at.

But, the color on the Diode is definitely superior.

Now taking a look at the backside.

Another thing sticks out to me right away, which is these wires.

You can see, they both have the factory style connector, but these are loose wires here versus a wire sheath on this one to protect those wires.

This is just like factory.

So again, they look similar, but you can tell, this one they're trying to cut pennies off the cost wherever they can.

At Diode Dynamics, we try to meet those factory design standards, including those small details.

You can also tell just by looking at thismolds.

The way this plastic piece was molded, on the last one I said it feels cheaper.

This one doesn't necessarily feel cheaper, but it definitely looks cheaper.

On close inspection, you can see all kinds of differentparting lines, lots of different sizes of text.

They do have a RH indicator here.

A couple of serial numbers, no material markings.

Versus the Diode Dynamics one, has a nice clean Diode Dynamics line.

Of course that's not required, nobody is going to see that, but it does say a lot about the quality of the tool and the overall quality that this part was made with.

You see a lot of these cheap ones you're is going to have a "QC OK".

They tested it one time, maybe.

At Diode Dynamics, we use a serialized sticker for that.

So we can actually track that back and look down to the component level what all went into this exactly when it was made.

So if there is any kind of a problem, we can use continuous improvement to eliminate that problem for our process and to keep improving the products.

That's not something you're going to see on too many imported products.

Now the last difference that I will notice is that on the Diode Dynamics one, it's smoked, so they're not visible at all, but we do have diffusers over the nice strip of LEDs inside.

On a lot of these imported ones, you'll have the LEDs directly visible through that lens.

So this is designed just like the factory one, it's just going to be a couple dots.

With Diode Dynamics, we're always going to add that nice styling feature whenever possible.

Finally I will say, one thing that's near impossible to see on camera.

If you compare these two, is that one fits well in one doesn't.

And you might have already guessed which one does fit correctly.

We do a lot of testing, a lot of 3D printing on vehicles here at our facility, in order to make sure this installsproperly and everything fits up perfectly just like the original part.

This one looks pretty close but on the manufacturer's web site, they actually say, "There is going to be a gap of 1.

5 millimeters on this edge.

And if you want to fix, it you can Dremel some things on the back, in order to get it in position".

You'll never see a Diode Dynamics product that requires Dremel-ing to get the correct fitment.

That's just not how we do things.

You can be sure that the fitment will be correct right out of the box.

I hope you learned a little bit about what separatesDiode Dynamics LED side markers from other cheaper knockoffs that are on the market.

Now, like a lot of other U.

S.

manufacturers, we're going to continue having our productsknocked off and copied at the lowest price possible overseas.

That's disappointing because we put a lot of time and energy intodesigning these products and then manufacturing them the highest standards possible.

We hope you'll consider choosing Diode Dynamics for your nextpurchase.

If you want to learn more about our production and engineering processes, or find these products, please check out our web site, or use our dealer locator to find them at a dealer near you.

Thanks for watching.

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