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Automotive LED Bulb and LED Lighting Shopping Guide
iJDMTOY, Automotive LED Bulb and LED Lighting Shopping Guide
The car makers installing oem LED brake lights claim their faster illumination time equates (from memory) to an extra 8 meters of warning to the driver behind at highway speeds. LEDs generally have a lifespan as long as 10 years straight, and are not damaged by being flicked on and off a lot. They are more vibration resistant, and produce very little heat, which over time would eliminate heat damage to tail light reflectors. Because LED's do not rely on heat to produce light and they are color matched to the lens they shine through, they are extremely low in wattage terms compared to incandescent.
The downside is not only cost, but it is generally agreed that the best LED bulbs are rarely as consistently bright as conventional incandescent. Also, in some applications it will be necessary to add resistors due to malfunctioning indicator flashers etc that rely on the higher wattage of incandescent to function correctly.
The ultimate has always been the full retrofits that involve taking apart the tail light, gutting the reflector and replacing it with a custom-made board of LEDs. This is commonly discussed and requires a certain level of knowledge. A much easier method involves taking truck LED lights and fitting them into passenger car housing. If the right truck LED is available, this would not be too difficult. All these methods should provide better than OEM lighting and can be customized to individual tastes. But for most people, this is more work and/or risk than is justifiable.
In bulbs, there are 3 types of LEDs used. The 3mm, 5mm and the flux-type. The latter is easily the brightest, and is distinguished by being square in shape with a small 'dome' on top. The flux-type is the only one to have 4 pins so it will sit more flatly. The HID Planet guys will strongly urge retrofitters to only use flux LEDs, for example. Some bulbs use combinations of different LED types. High powered LEDs, such as 1, 3 and 5 watt versions, are not yet available in bulbs, presumably because they get extremely hot and can burn themselves out if not installed correctly.
What to look for in bulbs
the most important qualities in a bulb are as follows:
* 360 degree illumination:
* Good low/high distinction:
* Brightness: Whilst this can be a weakness of most LEDs in general (short of OEM or full retrofit), some are far better than others. The general rule is that the highest number of the largest LEDs wins.
* Easy fitment: Small and weak LED bulbs are very easy to fit into the housing to replace other bulbs, whereas bulky ones can require a lot of filing around the tail light bulb entrance to fit.
Some of the best LED bulb suppliers I have tried are as follows:
iJDMTOY.com, http://store.ijdmtoy.com, These guys have a big range, over 200 different types of LED bulbs in inventory and they are very knowledgeable about their business. Of course, good price.
All my cars' exterior lighting is 1157 for brake lights, 1156 (the 'single filament' version) for indicators and 194 for parkers. Many other bulb types like 3156 or 7440 I have not dealt with. However, the bulb options are similar for all and the general rules below will apply to buyers of all types.
18-SMD-5050 1156/7 Utilizing all SMD LEDs, this is an older design- but was the first 'good' bulb type I ever tried. It is similar to the early forward-facing LED bulbs except added 15 pieces surrounding-
40-SMD-Super White1210 1156/7 'Light Tower' The famous tower, with 40 pieces 1210 SMD LEDs, is a bulky piece of equipment and can be difficult if not impossible to fit into some cars' housing without modification.
40-SMD Super Red 1156/7 This is only available through iJDMTOY.com and seduced me with its high LED count. However, it is a very small bulb in reality and uses all 1210 SMD LEDs! As a result of its design, it gives good illumination of the housing but on a sunny day would be almost invisible. I would not recommend this bulb for conventional applications.
48-SMD Dual Color Switchback-LED 1156/7 Another iJDMTOY special, I was eager to try this one because it has 24-piece Xenon White LED for driving lights and 24-piece Amber Yellow LED for corner lights. It is a brand new product on the market and light up very nice.
12-SMD-LED T10 194 The 194 is the universal wedge bulb used in dash lighting, parkers, side indicators/markers, door lights and various other applications. However, for a long while there has only been 1 highly recommended type. The 4 LED has a single forward-facing SMD LED, and 8 LEDs shining around the sides. It is believed the only 194 to have sideways illumination.
Other 194 types include the 6-LED, which has 6 bright 3mm LEDs all facing forward. It appears as a spot of light but has very good visibility. It will suit some applications. The cheap 1-LED bulb is available in wide-angle and is a good budget solution.
You can check iJDMTOY.com website at http://store.ijdmtoy.com
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iJDMTOY offers a varieties of Automotive LED bulbs & lighting accessories. We carry LED car interior lights, Euro LED daytime running lights, Lexus style LED license plate lights, and LED strip lights, etc. Our products will make your car look super nice.
Page Updated Last on: Jun 30, 2010