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Myth Busters Busted: The 3-Watt vs 5-Watt LED Non-Debate

5w vs 3w -

Myth Busters Busted: The 3-Watt vs 5-Watt LED Non-Debate

Recently an article (written by a competing LED light therapy company) was brought to our attention by a customer.

This article is a very poor (and often misleading) attempt to myopically claim that 3w LEDs are somehow superior to 5w LEDs. The reality is that LED size is simply one design element of a light therapy device - other important elements include quality of the LEDs, beam angle, number of LEDs, spacing between LEDs, how much power is driven through the LEDs, etc. Nevertheless this article raises some issues specific to LED size, so we quickly address the claims below.

The article begins by claiming that smaller LEDs are more efficient than larger ones. While this may be true, it is not relevant to the consumer shopping for a RED LIGHT THERAPY DEVICE.

A buyer in the market for a red light therapy device should be primarily concerned with finding the most EFFECTIVE light therapy device, not necessarily the most energy efficient

Having said that, any increased energy consumption from the use of 5w LEDs is trivial. LEDs are highly efficient which is why they are THE industry standard for light therapy products. Furthermore, the reason for driving more energy through the LEDs is of course, to generate increased light output i.e. higher irradiance

We discuss some more key parameters shoppers should consider in detail in our Definitive Red Light Therapy Buyers Guide. 

Next the article claims that the 5w LEDs may run warmer. While this may be true, it is essentially just a restatement of the first point above. Yes, it is obvious that LEDs which are larger and have more electrical energy powered through them may run slightly warmer.

Again this increased warmth is trivial and the use of higher powered LEDs is a purposeful part of our overall design to drive higher irradiance and ultimately create the most EFFECTIVE red light therapy devices.

The article then asserts that LEDs that run warmer will not last as long. This may or may not be true as the life of an LED is going to depend primarily on the QUALITY of the LED.

Our LEDs are thoroughly quality tested and rated for 50,000 hours. We also offer an industry leading warranty of up to 3 years. Our devices properly cared for, will last many, many years. 

Next, the author moves on to the topic of irradiance and attempts to make a direct comparison of one of their light therapy panels vs one of our models.  

To do this they show the chart below: 

Plat LED Light Therapy Chart

On the surface this would appear to be a relatively straightforward comparison of irradiance at 6 and 12 inches of one of their light panels vs the MitoMOD 900.

The author claims these measurements were taken with a Tenmars TM-206 solar meter. As we've discussed in our Definitive Red Light Therapy Buyers Guide, solar meters (available for as little as $70) are notoriously inaccurate and highly variable when it comes to measuring irradiance of these types of devices. 

Furthermore, these measurements can easily be gamed by taking the measurements slightly off-center and/or by angling the device ever so slightly. 

This is why we recommend buyers engage in healthy skepticism when evaluating irradiance claims made by RLT manufacturers. Instead buyers should trust manufacturers that conduct and publish independent diagnostic testing at professional laboratories. Our independent 3rd party diagnostic testing results can be found here.

However, for the sake of continued discussion, let us assume that the data above is presented without bias and is a fair comparison of the irradiance of the lights as measured by the TM-206 solar meter. 

Even making that leap, this may be the most disingenuous product "comparison" chart we have ever seen.

To understand why this is the case, please see an expanded chart with some additional information added below. 

 *Competitor panel price taken off their website and accurate as of 12/16/20.

Conveniently omitted from their simple irradiance comparison chart are the very relevant facts that their panel contains nearly TWICE as many LEDs and is priced nearly TWICE as high! 

Does this seem like a fair, apples to apples comparison to you?

In fact, using their own data, they have (inadvertently) demonstrated the superior value that the MitoMOD 900 represents over their panel. 

In terms of dollars spent per unit of output (as measured at 6 inches) the MitoMOD 900 represents a 23% better value.  Again, this is based on THEIR data.