LED car lights

LED car headlights are a promising technology. They have many advantages over filament bulbs (longer life, faster on/off times, lower power consumption) but the technology has still limitations. LEDs can be used as car headlight when the lighting system is specifically designed for LEDs. There are even some DIY projects for this.

The current LED products do not not seem to be ready for drop-on replacement of normal light bulbs used on card headlight. Generally LED bulbs are generally not as bright as standard incandescent bulbs. This is a common problems on many LED products: they consume less power and have higher efficiency, but majority of the LED bulb replacement products have considerably less brightness than the original bulb they try to replace. Also the light is distributed differently so they can appear brighter in some applications and not as bright in others, it depends on the size and shape of the bulb housing and reflector. LED bulbs may cause some newer vehicles to indicate a bulb is burnt out (because of their low power consumption).


H1 68 x 1210 3.4W White Light Bulb (DC 12V) bulb promises a lot: Increased more visibility when driving at night. Easy installation, plug and play with no modification needed. Too bad the beam focus will be a floodlight! The reason for that is that H1 filament is about 1/32″ by 1/4″ and the light reflector optics are designed to produce the intended light beam from that kind of light source. If you replace the small filament type light source with a rod covered with LED’s the resulting light beam be a mess: light everywhere, but not focused. Not what was intended by the original car light designer. And not what the car lamp approval bodies expect the get out from the lamp.

Also the total light output would not be what is needed. most probably “not enough”. A 55w halogen should typically be putting out 500-1000 lumens (maybe more), whereas a good 3.4w led would be about 250 lumens or maybe even less. So you would get considerably less light out output that you would get with the original light bulb and the light beam would be a mess.


H7 6W 190-Lumen 18×5050 SMD LED Car White Light Bulb (DC 12V) is another bulb replacement product. It seems to have also same problems as the previous product. An ordinary halogen reaches an excess of 1000 lumen, as you can see, this led is only 190 lumens. This could maybe used for decorative “day lights” but cannot replace the main lights. The light output would probably be also mess. So the end result would be that installing such bulb to your car would get you very dim lights that would probably not meet the regulations covering the car headlight performance.

Maybe it is not so good idea to replace the car light bulb with LED yet. LED replacement product promise a lot but usually do not live up to their promises. If anyone knows any real LED alternatives to card bulbs, feel free to post comments on them.


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  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    LED side lights / bulbs vs. CAN-Bus wiring system.

    As CAN-Bus is sort of ‘intelligent’ wiring it monitors lots of other features and one of them is the wattage / working state of light bulbs.
    When light bulbs burns out, consumption of electricity goes down to zero (this is base on Audi’s A8 system) and automatically system bring NO BULB warning.

    So because one of the main feature of LED light is a very low wattage/consumption, as soon you plug in the LED bulb, CAN-Bus records a lower consumption than a standard bulb (originally programmed in the system) and therefore brings the NO BULB ERROR as it thinks that bulb is burned, not so intelligent on the end of the day

    This days, you can buy an ordinary LED replacement bulbs such as fog lights or side bulbs or number plate bulbs etc, or the CAN-Bus compatible ones.

    But, it does not always do what it says on the tin.
    Very often you will need to connect them together with a resistor or get the ones with resistors already built-in.

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  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The changing role of LEDs in automotive lighting applications – Part 1

    20.1 Introduction
    The majority of roads in North America and much of the rest of the world are not illuminated by fixed pole- mounted roadway lighting systems (NHTSA, 2007). Because of this, automotive lighting is a key component for driving safely at night.

    The performance requirements for vehicle headlamps (such as those published in the United States as Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108) are based on standards and recommendations published by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and similar industry organizations. These requirements stipulate certain minimum or maximum luminous intensities toward different directions from the center of the vehicle lighting system.

    A similar set of photometric performance requirements exists for countries outside North America; these differ in the particulars but have the same objectives of specifying luminous intensities to ensure vehicle lighting systems provide sufficient light for drivers to see at night while minimizing glare to other drivers, and to ensure that vehicle signal lights can be detected promptly and without ambiguity.

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The changing role of LEDs in automotive lighting – Part 2

    LED sources are substantially different from filament lamps used in most present-day automotive lighting applications in a number of important ways

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Why Choose LED for Automobile Front Lighting

    Automotive manufacturers aren’t just adding LED lighting to the new models but they are also looking to upgrade the models that are already in production, retrofitting them with LEDs.

    In research published last month, analyst firm Yole predicted that the automotive lighting market will experience a compound annual growth rate of 23.7% between now and 2021.

    This means that it will represent a $28 billion annual business by the end of that period. The Yole research cites greater adoption of LED-based front lighting systems, namely headlamps and daytime running lights (DRLs), as the main driver for this growth.

    The attractiveness of implementing LED technology in an automotive context is clear.

    Its employment allows engineers to benefit from much greater energy efficiency than is possible with high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps.

    It also gives them access to more advanced functionality than HID solutions can offer (such as beam shaping, active light bending, etc.).

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Audi taps Osram for OLED taillights in sports car

    More niche business for organic light emitting diodes, following Osram’s similar announcement with BMW.

    Backing up its assertion that there will at least be niche markets for OLED lighting technology, Osram announced that a second automaker, Audi AG, is using the company’s OLED rear lights in a production model.

    Munich-based Osram said Audi is using the Osram OLED rear light module in the Audi TT RS, a compact sports car.

    Audi, part of Volkswagen group, introduced the car last spring, but Osram had not publicly stated that it is the supplier until now.

    In July, Osram announced a similar agreement with German carmaker BMW, which is using the OLED taillights in the BMW M4 GTS high-performance coupe.

    OLEDs — organic light-emitting diodes — are patches of material that emit light across their surface unlike LEDs, which are single points of light.

    The Audi taillight houses 4 OLED panels, and the BMW has 15, all mounted inside a fitting.

    “They do not cast any shadows and do not need any reflectors, light guides, or similar optics,” Osram said earlier this year. “OLED enables light sources to be designed in any shape and mounted on flexible carriers.”

    OLEDs are becoming increasingly common in gadgets and as television screens. Some enthusiasts believe they will literally work their way into the fabric of clothing, bridges, and buildings, transforming things like fashion and architecture.

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    LEDs have become over years better and better, and nowadays some LED replacement bulbs for car light application can be useful. Keep in mind that there are regulations that that car bulbs needs to to meed in order to be allowed to be used on cars when driving on public roads – and many LED bulbs do not have the right regulatory compliance markings in them.

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Driving down Automotive Headlamp costs at Renault

    Automotive headlight design is an important part of the Renault brand these days and our ‘C shape’ headlights are a signature part of the appeal of our cars. About 30% of the cost of automotive…

    Automotive headlight design is an important part of the Renault brand these days and our ‘C shape’ headlights are a signature part of the appeal of our cars. About 30% of the cost of automotive headlight assemblies can be found in the mechanics and 70% in the electronics. Hence, any savings that can be made on the electronic side will have a profound influence on the overall cost of these units. This article will outline how we have broken down our headlamp costs and used thermal analysis tools to incrementally optimize headlight designs to achieve a 50% cost reduction in the two years from 2014 – 2016 and how we intend to halve it again in the next few years.

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Changing LED into Gold: SEPIC Converters Tame Automotive Battery Fluctuations

    Sponsored by: Texas Instruments. Battery-supply voltage variations can wreak havoc in automotive LED-backlight driver designs, but drivers leveraging the SEPIC topology help overcome those challenges.

    The voltage on the battery line can vary from 6 to 24 V during normal operation, and from 120 to −85 V during transient or abnormal conditions.

    Normal operation with engine running: The voltage on the VBATT line is approximately 14 V while the engine is running and the alternator is continuously charging the battery. This can increase to 16 V or 18 V when the RPM surges during a throttle tip-in.
    Cold crank: Cranking the engine during cold temperatures requires the maximum current draw from the battery. The voltage can sag to as low as 3 V for a short time (around 15 ms), although 6 V is a more common specification limit.
    Load dump: This abnormal condition occurs when the battery (load) becomes disconnected while the alternator is delivering current. When this happens, the inductance of the alternator windings causes a large voltage spike on VBATT that takes up to 400 ms to decay. This voltage can be as high as 120 V, but modern centrally suppressed alternators include circuits that limit this to around 40 V.
    Jump start: The system must survive a 24-V jump start using two 12-V batteries connected in series. Using a 24-V system is especially likely in cold weather.
    Electrical transients: Since so many pieces of equipment draw their power from the VBATT line, it’s subjected to various switching transients up to ±85 V.
    Reverse battery: The vehicle’s electrical system must survive a sustained negative voltage due to the battery being inadvertently connected backwards.

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Infineon and Osram’s Intelligent Matrix-lighting System for Vehicles

    Video from ELIV 2017 illustrates how LED vehicle headlight systems can change the game in energy consumption and safety.

    With solid-state lighting taking over in vehicle headlight systems, there is an opportunity to use the addressable aspects of LEDs to provide increased functionality. In this video, an intelligent headlight demonstration from Infineon and Osram shows how such a system can not only save energy, but increase vehicle safety.

  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Rise of Adaptive Driving Beam

    With the whole tech world marching to its own particular robocar promotions, it seems trivial to pose the issue of vehicle headlights designed for human drivers to see better.

    After all, the utopia of autonomous vehicles is a future in which everybody will be safe without having to see anything beyond his or her nose.

    However, nowadays, almost half of all traffic fatalities occur at night. While we await the birth of George Jetson, it might not be a bad idea to improve road visibility in the dark — today.

    Car OEMs, Tier Ones and light source technology suppliers in Europe and Japan are already piling into the emerging market of Adaptive Driving Beam (ADB).

    “You can leave your lights always on high beam to provide maximum lighting,” while ADB adjusts the beam away from oncoming drivers, said Dirk Vanderhaeghen, senior director of global strategic marketing for automotive LEDs at Lumileds. “We are talking about lighting designed for safety.”

    In Europe, Vanderhaeghen said, participants in the ADB fray aren’t just high-end vehicle suppliers like Audi and Mercedes-Benz. ADB is coming to compact cars from Opel, Peugeot and Citroen. Japan’s Toyota is also big on ADB. “Even in China, we are now seeing RFQs for ADB,” he added.

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Smokin’ hot CANbus LED lamps. (230C in open air.)

    If you look for car LED lamps on eBay you will often see some referred to as being CANbus compatible. This is just an odd way of saying that they have an extra resistor soldered directly across the leads to make the lamp look like a high current tungsten one.

  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Inside a very clever LED headlight lamp

    This started off as a simple autopsy of a faulty lamp and turned into something so much more. It’s a very clever design that makes the circuit very universal.

  30. Brittany Lugo says:

    Was never a fan of LED car lights. They dont really look good as the originals

  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Laser PNP Headlight Bulbs are Here! Do they work though? | Headlight Revolution

    Table Of Contents
    00:00 – Intro
    00:28 – What Is A Laser Headlight and How Does It Work?
    02:00 – Why A Laser Headlight Does’t Work In A Reflector Low Beam Headlight
    03:09 – Low Beam, High Beam, and Fog Light Comparison (Beam Pattern and Brightness)
    06:23 – Laser Bulb Final Review

  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    VoltLog’s Custom T10 Automotive LEDs Are a Major Improvement Over Off-the-Shelf Equivalents

    After cheap off-the-shelf lamps kept failing, Florian C. has built his own — and the quality is markedly higher.

    Florin “VoltLog” C. found T10 automotive LED lamps available on the open market to be of insufficient quality for his needs — so, naturally, set about building one himself, complete with constant current driver.

    “I plan to use this in my car for the interior lights which were initially fitted with these incandescent bulbs,” VoltLog explains. “They shine a pretty yellowish light, and so the idea was to switch to some LED lights which would provide a cleaner white light while at the same time providing increased light output — also a consequence is they would be consuming less power.”

    “My first solution was to try various T10 LED bulbs from AliExpress, and to be honest it took a while due to long deliver times and the various models I had to try out before I found once that were close to my needs. The number one issue that was present with these AliExpress bulbs was the light output color, which was this bluish tint. It probably was something upwards of 6,500 K. Issue number two was reliability, because once I found the ones that were outputting a better color I was installing them and within three months they started failing.”

    VoltLog has written more about the project on his website, while detailed look at the resulting lamps and the decisions that went into its design can be found on the VoltLog YouTube channel.


  33. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Exploring An Aftermarket LED Headlight Retrofit Kit

    There’s plenty of debate about drop-in LED headlight bulbs, especially when they’re used with older reflector housings that were designed for halogen bulbs. Whether or not you personally feel the ultra-bright lights are a nuisance, or even dangerous, one thing we can all agree on is that they’re clearly the result of some impressive engineering.

    Which is why we were fascinated to see the teardown [TechChick] did on a “Ultra 2 LED” retrofit from GTR Lighting. Apparently one of the diodes was failing, and as part of the warranty replacement process, she was informed she had to make it completely inoperable. Sounds like a teardown dream come true. If a manufacturer ever told us we needed to take something apart with extreme prejudice and provide photographic evidence that the deed was done, we’d be all too happy to oblige.

    GTR Lighting | Ultra 2 LED Teardown, Liquid Cooled Headlight?

  34. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Tiedätkö, ajatko laillisilla valoilla? Monen auton sakkolamput ovat muuttumassa sallituiksi, kun uusia valoja hyväksytään kohta liikenteeseen

    Uudistuksen myötä osasta autojen hehkulankapolttimoiden tilalle asennettavia LED-polttimoita on tulossa laillisia myös Suomessa. Nykyisin suuri osa tarvikeliikkeiden LED-polttimoista on tieliikennekäyttöön hyväksymättömiä.

  35. tomi says:

    This blog uses to be slow (especially the administration) when it was running on some ISP virtual server. The reson for slow operation was poort MySQL performance that slowed everything…
    Now this blog uses Amazon’s cloud computing resources (EC2). The speed increase was huge. Cloud computing solved the speed problem here but is more expensive than cheapest other alternatives…


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