Thanks for asking this question, many people have asked us this over the years so this is a good place for us to answer a very common question:
Most people who make their own LEDs are dealing with the low wattage 5mm LEDs, those are super cheap, perhaps ~ $0.25 per light, you add some resistors, and a power supply and you get going... great. I've even made a cheap version of a "mini pinspot" by having a cheap LED + resistor + paperclip + heatstrink =) it works.
However, when people are looking for more light output out of LED technology, the waters get deep, VERY quickly. High powered LEDs get hot and need proper thermal management in order to not cook itself. Thermal management means high efficiency in the drivers and good heat sinks. The components for high power LEDs is no longer as simple as a resistor + LED, it's more like a mini computer switching power supply + LED.
To get deeper into the technical stuff, your standard low voltage power supply gives you 12V... your actual LED only needs about 3V. What are you doing with that extra 9V? In cheap homemade LEDs, you're usually burning that off as heat through a resistor. That's OK when you're using a small 1/16 watt LED (20mA, 5mm LED). Now if you used a 1W LED (or brighter) and dropped 9V through a resistor, you're BURNING 3W off as heat... so you end up having a 4W device with only 1W becoming light. That's TERRIBLE efficiency (only 25%) and a LOT of heat that will cook your LED in a few hours or days. With a switching power supply, you're about 80-95% efficient. The low heat output and better efficiency of a professional LED spotlight will allow the product to last over many many seasons, 50,000 hours minimum rating.
not to mention, when you hook up these high powered spotlights, they are so bright that you only need 1 or 2 per scene, instead of 10 small home made lights... imagine how much time you'll save from all that wiring and fussing.
- Homemade LEDs are typically not weather protected, our products are all sealed (potted circuit boards) and some are even submersible.
- Homemade LEDs have bare wire connectors, you have to solder or tape lots of wires together to get it working, our products are plug and play and have built in terminal blocks
- Homemade LEDs don't work when you plug them in reverse. Our LEDs are dual polarity, so you can't get the black and red wiring wrong... if you wire up enough lights in the dark, you'll probably get a few hooked up in reverse, you don't have to worry about that with our product
- Homemade LEDs aren't always approved by your fire marshal, depending on how much they like you.... our products are UL listed, the haunt owner has a piece of mind that the lighting will not only perform well but will be approved by their local authorities.
- Homemade LEDs don't always hold up well to abuse from installation and customer interaction, our products get dropped and stepped on and survive because they are machined aluminum fixtures. We have installations where people just pot the product into concrete... If they want to move it, they chisel out the fixture.
- Homemade LEDs aren't trusted by all the major theme parks because they aren't designed to endure 365 operation over 10+ years... we sell to Disney, Universal, Six Flags, Cedar Fair, Sea World, and most of the well known haunts in this market because the product is designed for professionals.
so all in all... it's really like comparing a Huffy bike to a Tesla Roadster (noticed I picked an electric car for comparison ;-) )... they will both get you places, but one of them does a heck of a better job at doing it.
if someone tries to actually hand build a product comparable in features and output as what we offer, they'll quickly realize the cost effectiveness of our products and that it actually takes an engineering degree to build professional LED systems. In many other markets (theatrical, architectural, theme parks, museums), our products are actually considered very inexpensive.
I hope this response is thorough enough to explain why many professionals rather purchase our products than to build their own...
Thanks for the answer.