99 LEDs E27 Flame Lamps 9W 85-265V 4 Modes Ampoule LED Flame Effect Light Bulb Flickering Emulation Fire Light Yellow/Blue Flame (WHL #53)
For a quick feasibility check for a work project I somewhat recently (end of September) ordered a pair of E27 “flame” lamps. 4.35€ each including shipping, one of each available color – yellow-ish (very warm white) and blue (being a company color).
Big Clive demonstrated these a while back and I had hoped for a bit more oomph. Hence I bought the 9W version. Which turned out to be 9 China-Watts. Well, not even that, which is disappointing and kicked these out of consideration. Too bad, my colleagues liked the effect quite a bit, but it’s clearly too dim for any ambient lighting in larger spaces.
But first things first: The lamps arrived in their original boxes (shipping must have been rough), one even had their plastic cover popped off. No biggie, the caps do have a tight fit once in place, so it’s sufficient to just pop them back onto the lamp. No damage to the (accessible) parts.
These lamps offer multiple modes, so the main chip (well, the only chip) has a little power reservoir and senses the drop of the supplied voltage before brownout occurs. If turned off and on within some boundaries, it moves from a flame effect to static full-on mode, and to a “breathing” ramp-type effect. Technically, the regular flame effect upside down as governed by the orientation sensor would be a fourth mode. The blue lamp did this exactly once and never came back to life. Oops…
Well, as I got a refund for both lamps, which I will cover in a minute, it was time for disassembly and some testing. First, construction is amazingly simple and highly optimized: It really is just a flex PCB, soldered together to create a near-round shape.
There are two wires leading to the inside of the E27 socket, which is where the power supply hides. That’s it, no additional components, easy assembly, likely a huge profit margin (if it doesn’t fail within the first few minutes at the customer…)
The LEDs are mostly arranged in 2×3 clusters, meaning two LEDs per side, and the same pattern repeated in 120° steps. The very top LEDs are 1×3, in order to create more delicate patterns on the top of the flames – not applicable of course when put upside down.
As for the power supply, it actually is a real switching power supply with a wee transformer, not just a capacitive dropper. Maybe that’s easier for implementing multiple modes, maybe the power supply is capable of the 9W spec, I’m not entirely sure. The control chip is a FM6602S, for which I cannot find a datasheet. However, there’s one for the FM6602B with matching pinout (SOP-7) that also lists GU10 LED lamps as primary application. 5W rating! Interestingly the “SW” pin (top left on the photo) is unused – it’s not placed on an isolated solder pad, but instead there’s no pad at all and they added silkscreen underneath. Well, whatever floats your boat, let’s just hope there’s no track from the adjacent VCC pin underneath…
If the FM6602B matches the S model used here, the datasheet suggests the LED current is set by a resistor to the CS pin, at I = 500mA / R. At R=2.4Ω, current would be around 200mA, which sounds a bit low, but not unrealistic to me. The actual board layout does not follow the proposed PCB in the datasheet, they shuffled components around quite a bit.
Despite the control chip, power factor is pretty abysmal at 0.46, independent of load. Funnier is that power consumption is actually LOWER on full brightness (1.5W), compared to the other modes. Flame mode typically consumes 1.7W, and breathing up to 2.0W – when fully off. BigClive has had some lamps with similar construction, where “unused” power is diverted from LEDs to a resistor that consumes more than the real deal. Think of night lights that have the majority of their power consumption when the miniscule LED is suppressed during the day. Well, who would have thought.
Now that I do have an infrared camera, why not take some shots under different load scenarios…
Here’s the yellow flame lamp running in a lamp housing – all photos taken in steady state/thermal equilibrium.
It’s not even exceeding body temperature, which basically rules out the rated wattage right away – there’s no way to dissipate 9W through a bit of plastic and the E27 socket and not get toasty.
The blue PCB already underwent some testing – LED selection is excellent, no intensity or color mismatch visible:
When running at 5V (hint, hint!), it’s getting up to 80 degrees Celsius. That’s tolerable for a novelty LED lamp, even more so as this is not reached at the LED level, but it’s the voltage regulator(s) and the driver IC on the edge of the PCB. The LEDs are running way cooler.
Max temperature would be 120°C, which is reached at about 6.5V at 0.9A (still not rated wattage!). Again, this is not the LED temperature, and there’s a thermal cutout of the chip itself. Very good, still very deceptive to sell that as a “9W” LED lamp…
Quick demo of the two animated modes:
The second 120° block is visible on the right edge, the third is covered behind the lamp. Once you see it, you cannot unsee it The camera had a hard time focusing on that as you might notice.
Breathe mode: (flicker warning!)
I’m highly susceptible to low PWM frequencies (sub-500Hz,like most car rear lighting), but I didn’t notice that before taking the video.
Bonus: Here’s how to show AliExpress that your item is not working (at all/as expected) and get a refund within five minutes… (finally guilty of portrait mode smartphone videos!)
As I said, the blue one failed right away, and the yellow one not only missed rated wattage by a lot, but also does not operate reliably in upside down mode, it often switches back completely or alternates for some time. Asked for full refund – got a full refund. I’ll order again in an instant if you can give me a 9W lamp!
What’s more: I converted the blue PCB into a USB light. As shown, they do run at 5V just fine, power supply is dead (or at least I’ll never be able to make the two socket connections fit again), so why not whack a male USB connector onto it and make it into some aircraft marshalling wand? (Bet there’s a name for them!)
It’s currently sitting at work, but I’ll add a photo of it – it’s such an easy mod that it doesn’t really deserve a follow-up post. Just run the two wires to the appropriate pins of the connector, add some hot snot, sit it onto a power bank for correct alignment, and let it cool. There’s your portable flame lamp
Finally came around doing this: As you can see, it’s moulded to fit the cheapo power bank from WHL #1. A bit wobbly (as it’s just the USB connector holding it), but it’ll do for the occasional A380 in your back yard…
Power consumption is about 0.75A @ 5V via the added resistor, so this is getting warm quickly, but light output isn’t all that bad.