Way back in 2004 Customized Designs was founded and revolutionized the way people displayed their alcohol in bars. Not long after, we started experimenting with led lighted furniture designs. No one else was doing this at the time and most hadn’t even considered the concept, but like most great ideas and products the lighted furniture idea has caught on like wildfire in recent years prompting many companies to cash in on it. Unfortunately, there are still very few companies in the US that actually build lighted furniture and the market has been flooded with cheap, crappy Chinese made furniture that looks great in well taken, perfectly lit photographs but in reality isn’t nice enough to be sold at a flea market.
With our curiosity piqued, we decided it was about time to see what we were up against as far as the quality of products all these companies were pushing. We chose three different online retailers based in the US and when we received our tables 4-6 weeks later we were dumbfounded and relieved at the same time. Dumbfounded because we couldn’t figure out how a company could sell these products with a clear conscience and relieved because it confirmed how superior our products are.
Reason #1 – Quality
When ordering online it’s really hard to tell what you’re getting. All you have to go on are the pictures provided by that company and possible reviews if you’re lucky. If you’re only given one or two images to base your purchase on you really won’t know what you’re getting until it has arrived. This was the case with the tables we ordered from three of our competitors. They had a few decent looking pictures on their site but when the actual tables actually arrived they were the very definition of cheap Chinese made junk.
Personally, I’ve never seen such horrible craftsmanship, even coming from China.
2/3 of the tables we ordered were made from fiberglass and literally painted with white paint. Fiberglass might be a good option if you’re making a custom subwoofer box for your car but it’s a terrible idea to make furniture out of it. The fiberglass fibers create a completely inconsistent surface on the inside and outside of the table which makes the LED lighting look blotchy and almost as if the table is covered with a layer of dirt. The paint over fiberglass was already scratched, chipped and cracking by the time we got the tables. I can only image what would they would look like after a week in a busy nightclub.
Polyethylene Molded Plastic
The third table is made out of rotation molded polyethylene and although looks much better than the fiberglass, but still has a foggy haze look to it as if it’s dusty. There are also a ton of drawbacks to using polyethylene for furniture. Sure, it’s great for making trash cans and water tanks but it’s not something that should be taken seriously when considering high-end furniture.
One of the biggest problems of the rotation molding process is that the mold leaves the end piece with imperfections and defects. On the website we ordered it from there is actually a disclaimer at the bottom of each product page that reads:
“All sides of the led cubes & tables will have irregularities and or imperfections. All sales are final. No Returns”
Not exactly reassuring considering they’re being sold as high-end lounge furniture.
Another problem with furniture made from polyethylene is that is susceptible to heat. Especially when you add hundreds of lbs on top of it. I have many clients tell me they’ve tried to use these tables but the tops start to cave in when they use their cubes as seating in the blistering California heat.
The biggest flaw of PE furniture is the inevitability of dealing with table tops that are never flat. When the PE table is removed from the mold it shrinks and caves in slightly. This creates table tops that sink in and aren’t flat. No big deal if you’re sitting on them but when using them as tables your bottles, glasses or anything else will likely topple over. To fix this, the online retailers recommend putting a glass or plastic top on the table, which obviously costs extra and either has to be screwed in or secured in some other ridiculous way. Glass is also heavy and very dangerous to be using in a commercial environment. There is a good reason you’ve probably never seen a glass table in a bar and clear plastic is extremely susceptible to scratching.
What we use
All of our furniture is either made from 100% acrylic, or cabinet grade MDF finished in counter top grade formica type laminates. None of the above problems I just listed apply to any of the materials we use.
Reason #2 – LED Lighting
All three of these tables coincidentally use the same remote control for their led lighting which only has 24 buttons compared to our NeXus remote which has 44. With our remote, you’re able to
make custom static colors along with custom color changing sequences. On their remote, you’re only able to use preset color changing modes or the 16 preset colors.
Only 2/3 of the tables actually worked when we got them. The highboy is completely non-functional. We flipped these tables over to find their lighting was hot glued to a piece of thin foam board and screwed into the bottom of the tables along with the controller and battery that came with them. I have to say I’ve never seen such shoddy wiring in my entire life. Once we took the panel out of the high boy it was quite clear why it wasn’t working.
Every lighting module had been completely fried which is why each one is a brownish color. In the same image, you can see a
comparison between their included battery and one of our batteries but I will get into that later.
Needless to say, when compared side by side, our LED lighting is superior in every way.
When you’re shopping for something like LED Furniture for you bar, nightclub, event rental company or even your home you can sometimes lose yourself in all of the awesome pictures online. Even I am still captivated by some of the awesome pictures our customers send us using our products and other things I have seen done with LED lighting online. The problem is you become so focused on picture shopping vs. information shopping. This may not be a huge issue if you’re purchasing a coffee table for your house, but if you’re considering buying 20 tables for your lounge or rental company, you’re going to have to deal with the flaws of those tables for a long, long time so it’s very important to really know what you’re getting into before it’s too late.
Reason #3 – Functionality & Common Sense Design Flaws
Here at Customized Designs, we are the designers and manufacturers of everything you see on our website. As soon as we see a design flaw with one of our products, or come up with a way to make our products more functional, we change it immediately. We spend countless hours trying to figure out the pitfalls of using our tables in every application and trying to design around it. You won’t find that with our Chinese competitors, or even with a lot of our US competitors.
Switches and plugs on the outside of the table
At first glance, this might seem like a pretty nice feature. Especially if you plan to move them all the time. Just plug and go. I actually find this is one of the dumbest design ideas ever. First off, those
red switches and plugs are ugly. They take away from the overall look of the table. You’re also stuck with the inability to hide the cord. Even if you have an outlet directly underneath the table, you still have to plug the power supply in on the outside of the table, which is another huge problem. Having a 1.5″ plug that sticks out and a switch on the outside of the table may not be a problem for a table in your basement man cave but in a nightclub or bar filled with drunk people, it’s taboo. People are going to see that switch and you’ll have idiots tinkering with your tables all night, or completely unplug it. That’s if you’re lucky and someone doesn’t accidentally kick the plug sticking out from the table and totally destroy it leaving your table utterly useless. We find it’s best to put everything on the inside of the table. Even if that means you have to tip it over to plug or unplug it.
Lighting components that are completely unserviceable
Your tables will eventually have problems. It may not be tomorrow, it may not be 3 years from now, but at some point, you will have to replace something inside. If your cell phone is any example, batteries do not last forever and if you are using your tables on batteries on a regular basis you can bet your ass you will be having to replace it every 1-2 years. I have seen so many tables that are either completely enclosed or have components that are permanently attached to the table itself in one way or another making it in impossible to repair any potential problems. These tables are no exception.
Although you can remove the sketchy lighting panel in the bottom of these tables, you can see that there are wires that lead to the switch on the outside that are soldered to both the switch AND into the controller which makes them impossible to work on. I work on things like this all the time and I still was confused as to how things were wired. So, if you did have problems, like we did with the high boy’s lighting…you’re totally screwed without the help of a master electrician. I think the fact that the lighting, battery, and controller all glued together being a major design flaw is a no brainer.
Reason #4 – Batteries
These days there has been an increase in the need to run furniture on batteries. For event companies, it’s pretty much a necessity and you’ll find that nearly all furniture coming from overseas includes a battery. Great feature, right? Not so much. 2 of the 3 tables we got had batteries. The third dome shaped table simply had no room for one. The battery that comes with this furniture is completely useless. It’s a 12v 1.3ah lead acid battery. For a quick comparison the batteries we recommend using for our furniture is 12v 12ah…9 times bigger. We weighed both batteries and the Chinese battery weighed in at .5 lbs and the battery we use weighed in at 7.5 lbs, 15 times heavier and when it comes to battery life, weight matters. I took the liberty of contacting an overseas company to see how much I could buy these batteries direct and they quoted me $3 per battery so it’s no wonder they throw these crappy things in for free.
I left the bigger coffee table running yesterday with the LEDs set to white and in less than an hours time the LEDs were already at half brightness. 2 hours later the battery was only outputting 10v which is the danger zone for 12v electronics. 15 minutes after that the table died completely. Needless to say, unless you only plan on running these tables for an hour or less, the battery included with this furniture is worthless.
If you’ve made the mistake of buying these tables the only option you’re left with is to replace the battery with one that is much bigger, but then your problem is dealing with the calamity of wires and glue that is burying the battery. At this point, you’re going to end up destroying the entire panel anyways so you might as well start over from scratch.
Another major flaw with the batteries in these tables, and tables from the majority of other led furniture companies, is that the battery is permanently installed inside the table. If your table arrives working great and you have no problems with the 1 hour battery life then you may not see the problem, at least until you try to charge them. With our furniture, we purposely make the batteries easily removable. In most cases, they simply sit on the floor fitting through a hole in the bottom of the table. This might seem like a pain in the ass but when you’ve got 10-20-4o tables running on batteries, do you really want to run 40 extension cords all around your venue to charge them? I seriously doubt it. With removable batteries, you’re able to easily charge them all in one central location. This is also helpful if you forget to charge the batteries before a big night or event. With the cheap furniture, you’re totally screwed. With our tables, you simply switch out the dead battery with a charged one.
Yet another flaw with charging these tables is that the plug in 12v adapter acts as the battery charger also. I can’t stress enough how bad this is. Because the 12v power adapter acts as both the power source and charger when you use the tables with the adapter you are always charging the battery which will eventually overcharge, overheat and nuke the battery. There is a reason 99% of battery chargers for your phone, cordless drill or car battery will turn off once the battery has reached the proper voltage. It is even possible for an overcharged battery to overheat so much it will boil the acid water mix and melt the battery. Needless to say, the way in which these tables are is extremely dangerous.
Our chargers are UL listed and won’t end up burning your venue to the ground.