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LED Headlamp Upgrade

Postby Aidan Handyside » 28 Jun 2017 11:24

Can any member recommend a LED Headlamp bulb upgrade please? I'm looking to go along this path and realise there's some rubbish on the market that I'd like to avoid.
Aidan Handyside
 
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Re: LED Headlamp Upgrade

Postby Mike Macartney » 28 Jun 2017 13:49

Hi Aidan,
I have not purchased headlamp bulbs, but many other types from Duncan Rickards at Classic Car LED's and been very pleased with the results. They can be contacted on 0800 246 5778, sales@classiccarleds.co.uk, their web site is http://www.classiccarleds.co.uk
Regards
Mike
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Re: LED Headlamp Upgrade

Postby Victor Smith » 28 Jun 2017 18:37

Aidan,
There is RV8NOTE386 on LED lights upgrades with a link to a copy of the fully illustrated article and RV8NOTE387 on an LED sidelight upgrade.
http://www.v8register.net/subpages/RV8NOTE386.htm
http://www.v8register.net/subpages/RV8NOTE387.htm

We also had a NEWS item "Concern with LED bulb upgrades on classic cars" following an article in Classic Car Weekly which noted "classic car owners should not replace exterior bulbs with LED items because it has discovered no LED replacement bulbs on the market in the UK can comply with legally required technical standards. Only LED bulbs in purpose-built housings are legal. Used in original housings some bulbs can dazzle oncoming traffic, while others are too dim". They quote "Tim Shallcross, head of technical policy at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, saying purchasers of LED bulbs may think they are enhancing their safety by fitting a conversion bulb, but good intention is misplaced".
http://www.v8register.net/sub/news161214leds.htm

The article also noted "a spokesperson for the Department of Transport says the Government position on LED aftermarket conversions is the same as it is on HID conversions which are only permitted when the entire lamp unit, not just the light source, is replaced by a Type Approved lamp". Bulbs are one of the few aftermarket replacement parts that have to comply with compulsory technical standards and LED bulbs do not do this. Using an LED conversion bulb might cause you to commit the offence of driving an unroadworthy vehicle leading to a risk of prosecution under the Road Vehicle Construction and Use Regulations (1986) and the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations (1989). Driving an "unroadworthy car" could create difficulties with your motor insurance too.

My personal view, and I stress this is a personal view and not a recommendation, is I feel replacing side lights and rear side/stop lights with LEDs has the dual advantage of firstly a brighter light and consequently a classic car is more visible on a "relative visibility basis" with other vehicles on the road which is a safer situation in those terms and secondly the power burden on an ageing wiring loom will be lower, but I would not replace a headlamp bulb with an LED. It's essential a headlight bulb is accurately focused and that it does not create any dazzle for other road users. So unless the supplier of an LED headlight bulb can also supply you with a fitting/housing for the bulb together with their written guarantee that when fitted to your car the combination of the LED bulb and the housing fitted in the car will result in a well focused lighting in your car, will not dazzle, is a Type Approved lamp and will comply in all respects with the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations (1989), I would not purchase their headlight LEDs or install them in the car. The annual MOT test will include a check on the headlights.
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Re: LED Headlamp Upgrade

Postby Nic Houslip » 29 Jun 2017 14:45

Aidan
The subject of LED replacements for incandescent bulbs gets more and more difficult. The biggest problem is that the lamp unit itself (reflector and glass) is designed as a system to focus the light emitted from a single filament that is about 0.5 mm dia and approximately 5 mm long and mounted in the only position that will ensure correct focus and more importantly produce the correct "Beam Pattern". This means that the light is focussed to illuminate only the necessary area, especially on dipped headlamps, where light does not shine to the front and to the right of the car and into oncoming drivers' eyes. When you switch from main to dipped it seems to the driver that the light beam goes down and slightly left. If you drive a LH drive car the beam goes down and to the right to avoid oncoming cars being dazzled. I have not yet seen a LED replacement lamp that has is light source as compact as a filament, so the resulting beam will not be as intended my the reflector/lens manufacturer.

There may seem to be some advantages in using LED sources, but they may be negated by the first MOT test when the tester does a Beam Pattern test. The large amount of money you spent may then be wasted. My MGB GT failed an MOT after I fitted new headlamps (complete) because it didn't meet the Beam Pattern test. Closer examination showed that the supplier had sent me LH Drive headlamps! I won't name them, they know who they are. I would be wary of making what seems at first sight a neat solution as you will not be compliant with the Construction and Use Regulations. If the supplier can supply the reflector and glass (on the RV8 it's a Bosch unit designed for Porsche 911s) with an appropriate LED light source and show you that the whole is Type Approved then it might be a good conversion, but so far I have not seen one.

On the subject of marker lamps, again the lens/reflector will have been designed for a filament, but the application is not so critical and some more lumens out may improve visibility; but the LED bulb will not be compliant and theoretically you are committing an offence. One small point I have noticed is that LED sidelights draw much less current and you may have difficulty maintaining a good connection in older lamp holders that have a few years corrosion in them. I visited a large automotive lighting manufacturer some years back, the testing of car lights is long and difficult and as my visit was to discuss the electronic driver for a LED replacement bulb, which never went into production, I think it fair to say that there were too many problems and too many different light units in the world to make it feasible. If your problem is lack of illumination it might be that the bulbs need replacing, or the reflector/lens has lost it reflecting power. Both of these are effects of age. Halogen bulbs do lose their light output, although not as quickly as regular bulbs. You can find "brighter" version of all the popular Halogen lamps in motor factors, I was looking at the range in Halfords last week, some claim as much as 130% more light and are still legally compliant as their wattage is still the same. You can also buy higher wattage versions, but these are not for on road use, they are intended for off road use only.
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Re: LED Headlamp Upgrade

Postby Chris Yates » 15 Jul 2017 12:24

I recently ordered LEDs from Classiccarleds.co.uk. Having fitted the smaller bulbs, side, number plate and reverse, I was about to fit the headlight LEDs1 when I read Victor's cautionary note about legallity. As a result, I corresponded with Dunkan Rikards and arranged to return them. Dunkan was understanding and most obliging. I have now fitted HALFORDS H4 which produce a good beam
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Re: LED Headlamp Upgrade

Postby Victor Smith » 15 Jul 2017 13:24

Chris,
When you fitted the side and numberplate LED bulbs to your chrome bumper MGBGTV8 did you notice an improvement in the lighting? When you view the car after dark with the side lights on would you say they are brighter and as a consequence your MGBGTV8 is more visible on a relative basis with other cars, particularly modern cars? When fitting the bulbs did you have to clean up the sockets for the bulbs to ensure a good electrical contact and what condition were the front and rear lens gaskets (57H5572 and 57H5356) in -was there any sign of water getting in? Did they need replacing?
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Re: LED Headlamp Upgrade

Postby Stuart McGuigan » 16 Jul 2017 18:53

I don't really know why anyone would want to retrofit LED headlights to a car with an alternator. They are no better than conventional halogen lights and the generator should have plenty of capacity to keep the latter going, even at low speeds. I have tried LED headlamp bulbs in motorcycles having limited generator output and found them pretty poor. Whilst I know of no complete LED headlamps suitable for RV8s, for those who insist on trying them, there are suitable units for V8s and other cars with standard 7 inch round headlights. They are known as 'Truck Lites' and were fitted to late model Land Rover Defenders, amongst other applications. They are self-contained light units with integral bulbs, rather like the old Lucas 7 inch sealed beam units and are more-or-less directly interchangeable with them, or with other 7 inch reflectors. They have plastic lenses and so care is needed to avoid scratches. Again, I have tried them on motorcycles and they give quite a good beam intensity and pattern, and consume about 30-35 watts on main beam.

I have also tried LED bulbs in rear/stop lights and not found much difference in intensity compared with ordinary 6/21watt incandescent bulbs - though the power consumption is much less. They are available with red as well as white LEDs; the former could be useful in restoring faded rear light lenses to a light of appropriate redness.
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Re: LED Headlamp Upgrade

Postby Ian Thomson » 17 Jul 2017 14:11

An interesting discussion though I fear some of it is somewhat confused. Basically it depends on what you are trying to achieve. LEDs, so far at least, find their best use as a means to lessen the load on the electrical system. I agree with Stuart therefore that LED headlamps give no gains for our cars as the technology they were designed with is more than adequate for the task while LEDs may even be a step backwards, as Nic points out. Perhaps the modern gas discharge lamps would be of use to those of you who find the need for greater output, however, and may well be available in legal housings. Victor's point about legality is an interesting one, though is somewhat redundant in view of these facts. It does, however, raise the question of our opinions of their use in cars which were built with older technology. MGs older than ours can, in my opinion, benefit from LED bulbs as their dynamo output is somewhat marginal. The use of LED headlamp bulbs in housings they were not actually be signed for, while illegal, do not in my opinion add to the danger on the roads and may arguably even lessen it. Older MGs suffer from both low output headlamps as well as poorly controlled, though leagal, beam patterns. This is arguably dangerous, especially to the car cand occupants concerned. LED headlamps used in these older housings will improve the light output, and thus improve visibility and thus safety at the expense of legality in much the same way as Victor's personal opinion on the use of LEDs in lights other than headlamps suggests. Owners of these older cars can stay legal and improve output with difficulty by going down the well established halogen route but the size of their older housings is too big for the reflectors and lenses which legal halogen bulbs were designed for without modification. The abilty of their generator to cope will become even more of an issue however without getting into the sticky arguments around originality. LEDs may arguably be a useful addition to safety in such cars. The legality of this must must be seen against the onward march of the modern technology which we were up against which, while legal is arguably less safe. I know this is a very contentious point but in my opinion the power output of modern car lights has become to high. The gas discharge lamps used on high end cars will trickle down to lesser vehicles resulting in the driver's of such cars benefitting from the higher output at the expense of those who are less well of. It is inevitable, therefore, that older cars will be at a disadvantage and may be the reason for this thread. Interestingly this has come about as the regulation were drawn up in the days of the older technology, where simply specifying power consumption was adequate whereas nowadays the technologies used arguably need a limitation being put on actual light output. Without such regulation for all road users manufacturers marketing departments will inevitably keep increasing outputs as selling points to the disadvantage of our cars and we will have to curtail the use of our cars at night as the owners of older cars largely have. I am sorry this has been such a long, and perhaps mainly off topic, piece but feel free you argue with me as I feel that a discussion is well overdue on these points.
Regards
Ian Thomson
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Re: LED Headlamp Upgrade

Postby Richard Lomas 1708 » 18 Jul 2017 07:30

I have found that the better way is to simply replace the bulbs with Oram Nightbreakers, the pattern and light is much improved I have changed the RV8, and my wife's car, and cost wise around £15 on that well known auction site.
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Re: LED Headlamp Upgrade

Postby Chris Yates » 18 Jul 2017 17:02

Victor
I decided to replace the front sidelights as the old units were corroded and the bulbs could not be removed. The rear lights were OK after a spot of elbow grease, but the rubber inside will need replacing The increase in brightness particularly from the front, is remarkable and the rear numberplates are almost too bright.
I intend to use all the sidelights as DRL on the journey to and in Portugal/Spain
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