Modern automotive LED lighting applications fall into two categories: interior and exterior. The latter is also divided into the front and rear lighting. Fog lights, high and low beams, turn signals, and daytime running lights (DRLs) belong to the front exterior lights. Rear lights include stop, tail, backup, and license-plate lights.
A LED light consists of separate small LEDs making clusters or matrices. And, to avoid the dot look of a LED light, each LED must get the same current. Such current sources are called drivers, and they operate LED clusters. Typically, you will see white LEDs, but amber and red colors are also available. LEDs may have different sizes and light intensity.
The statistics claim that the standard LED bulb failure is only 3%. LED bulbs do not fail as unexpectedly as halogen ones, but they degrade as the years pass. LED lights become less bright because, over time, the diode generates less light. Interestingly, LED light emittance is a function of temperature and time that decreases exponentially. Consequently, the hotter the surrounding is, the earlier LEDs degrade, so thermal management may be a good idea. However, each LED light is protected against low temperatures, which helps them not to crack in the freezing cold.
Often LED lights may look just like those produced by well-known and trustworthy brands. But do not let similar logos, packaging, part markings, and numbers mislead you. Reputable manufacturers design their LED lights with regard to safety, usually owing patents and trademarks. Here are two parameters that you need to verify before you buy the LED: UL and DCL.
UL (Underwriters Laboratories) mark proves that the LED was inspected, tested, and validated as safe. However, any UL can be checked at the UL Online Certifications Directory if this UL really belongs to this LED or its producer (at no cost). Though the UL mark is not mandatory, it is the most reliable and popular in the US, and around 22 billion products get UL-labelled every year.
Design Lights Consortium (DLC) is an entity that was opened specifically to prevent LED lights from failure. It is a non-profit institution that qualifies LEDs and LED products against certain performance requirements. The LED items evaluated and tested by DLC comply with high standards that secure the quality of the components and issue a five-year warranty.
Headlights are supposed to make you see what’s happening on the road 50 to 100 meters ahead of your car. So, your beams should be bright enough and, at the same time, must not blind drivers in cars that drive towards you, as well as behind you. You see, in this case, brighter bulbs are not always safer. You also need to mind the headlight color, since only white and yellow (not blue) are allowed. These colors have a color temperature range of 3,000K-6,000K, but, for instance, California allows using the neon tint with 0.05 Candela light output per square inch.
Legal headlights are those you can use in the streets, while there are no limitations for the off-road use of light bulbs. In most cases, we want our cars to drive on the official roads, and we need to understand that changing the halogen (or HID) bulb for the LED one does not work. There are two options for you to use LEDs legally, and let’s see why.
Headlights are not so simple as they may seem. These are not separate details that work together and can easily be replaced with analog ones. The headlight capsule is a complex optical system with many angular points, and strict requirements to lenses, bulb shield, reflectors, beam source, and light attach angle. Each headlight system is specifically designed, tested, and certified either as a halogen, HID, or LED bulb. That is why changing the lighting principle (different intensity beams sent in the wrong directions) becomes an issue.
This means that you have two legal options to boast the replaced LED lights on your car. The first is when you already have factory-installed LED high and low beams and just want to replace them for some reason.
The second option for you is to change the whole headlight assembly and have it aligned. Yes, you can try doing the alignment yourself, and for this, you will need to put your car on a flat surface 25ft away from some wall where you can make marks. And you need to do it in the dark :) But if you are not sure, better use car service.
Just like when replacing your halogen with an HID light, you will also need a conversion kit for your LED light. This one lets the car ‘translate’ the halogen-aimed power supply into the LED language. LED conversion kits include bulbs, a wiring harness, and a ballast. Lower-wattage LEDs need to have all the fittings and circuits checked to function correctly.
In a single-beam bulb, you will find only one LED bulb that generates one beam of light. Such a bulb has one filament and can either be used for your high or low beam. H11 LEDs are popular for low beams, for example. A dual-beam bulb is still one bulb, but it has two filaments inside. These bulbs work for both beams simultaneously, and one of the best LED dual-beam bulb models is H13 LED. You can install dual-beam headlights only if your car allows the dual-beam option. Please note that single-beam and double-beam bulbs can not be interchanged.
OPT7, Auxbeam, JDM Astar, Genssi are among the leading manufacturers of LED lighting used even by racing teams. Typically, the LED light price depends on the number of lumens and falls into three categories. You can buy good-quality LEDs starting from only $50. The ones for $50-$100 will boast wider and farther lighting due to higher lumens, while the more expensive versions will serve you much longer and may have up to 10,000 lumens.