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Project F150: Part Two - Lighting Things Up with LEDs! 

by S. Tate

 

In Part One, we started our journey for more power.  We saw significant gains with our MagnaFlow exhaust system, and plan to do a lot more soon.  Right now, we are going to take a bit of a diversion to do something about our feeble orange headlights -- enter "4x4TruckLEDs.com".

Adam is the enthusiast owner of "4x4TruckLEDs.com".  While there are plenty of lighting options in the aftermarket, the use of generic LEDs can pose some complications.  The same can be said about previous generation HID headlights.  We've all seen strange hues of purple and deep blue, glaring their way through the night with poorly aimed setups.  Adam ensures the kits he sells are customized to work perfectly with each truck application.  Newer trucks with CANBUS, like our own F150, are especially sensitive to such changes.  Without the type of tweaks used by Adam, your lights will suffer from flickering or simply not work at all.

A variety of palatable, socially-acceptable color temperatures are available too.  Adam actually owns an F150, so you can bet it's done right.  There are applications for other makes too.  Check them out here

So, what's the deal with ordinary halogens on our new truck?  Isn't this 2017?!  Right.  We tried our best to equip our custom-ordered rig with new LED units like the kind often found in higher trim-level Ford trucks -- and that is our problem.  We wanted to get the goods necessary to have a competent all-weather-fighter, but without incurring the costs associated with something like a King Ranch (or a shiny "Platinum" tailgate!).  Try as we might, we could not equip an XLT with LED headlights.  No, not even the Special Edition Sport.  If you must have them from the factory, you'll simply have to start with a higher-end trim level.  So why not just buy those factory units later?  Price them, and you'll get the same sticker shock we received.  They're fantastic, but at around $1000 for each side (housing plus wiring kit), we thought we could use that money better somewhere else.  The good news is that the rest of us now have an easy and affordable upgrade option.

We had quite a conversation with Adam!  If you're wondering about issues like legality (varies by state!), durability, light output, heat issues, and selecting the right color temperature, read on.  Here are some excerpts from our interview:

 

MotoIQ: Tell us how you got started in LEDs for vehicle lighting.

 

Adam:  I’ve always been into lighting [Adam started at StreetGlow back in 2000.  StreetGlow made neon lights for cars].  Fast forward to a year ago when I bought a 2015 Ford F-150 [bought it in January of 2016],  I had limited options but knew I wanted LED lights.  Since the truck didn’t come with them, I bought some from a popular online store.  However the lights were anything but great, and I ended up getting water in my housing with the poor design.  Later, I was sent a pair of lights from an old colleague in the lighting industry and they were great.  I still had the issue of water possibly getting into my headlights, so I ended up putting together a kit for the 2015+ Fords [trucks] to allow the installation of the bulbs while keeping a water tight seal.  It worked and gave outstanding light coverage, so it became an instant hit.  Today we can barely keep the kits on the shelf.  They are so popular, but we always have stock on hand.

 

MotoIQ: What makes an LED more or less suitable for use in a vehicle as forward lighting?  

 

Adam: LEDs are great, but they are not perfect. The same way LEDs in your home are great, but not perfect. You have to find that right mixture.  LEDs, like HIDs, produce different [color] temperatures. Warmer lights actually go further, but most folks don’t like the look of the yellowish lights. So, they opt for whiter lights or even bluer lights. The problem with white light is it does not do well in poor weather, but with LED kits you can throw a lot more light with less power, compared to halogen.  So the color itself is not as great, but you are throwing a lot more light down the road to make up for it.  LEDs last a really long time and are more durable than halogen lights. It's worth pointing out that you don't have to worry about touching the bulbs with your bare fingers, unlike halogen and HID bulbs. Also unlike HID lights, LED’s don’t lose their color over time. Eventually they’ll stop working as every light source has a shelf life, but the shelf life is much longer then halogen and HID combined.  HIDs are still a very popular option, but they typically cost more because of what it takes to design and produce the bulb. They also lose their color over time, and again, you cannot touch the bulb. The oils from your skin will cause the bulb to fail sooner then later. HIDs also take a bit to warm up, so when you first turn them on, they are not as bright. HIDs do produce a bit more light, however they use a lot more power than LED or halogen. This is why they usually require direct-wiring to a battery for best results. The newer LED kits on the market use better designs and they are starting to produce more light then the HID kits. This is why most of the auto manufacturers are starting to switch over to LED. LEDs are cheaper to make, last longer, and draw far less power.  Finally, LEDs are instant-on with a wide variety of color options.

 

MotoIQ: Does the brand of LED matter to you? Are there real differences between them? What do you do differently?

 

Adam: Cree and Philips are the top brands for LED components. They produce LED diodes for automotive, home, commercial, industrial, etc. We are partial to Cree because they seem to be the leader in the market now. I work with Cree products in my other line of work, and I can tell you they are on the cutting edge of technology. The things they are doing with LEDs blow everybody else away. So, we prefer Cree. Philips makes a great diode as well, but Cree diodes are our favorite. Our bulbs utilize the XHP50 and XHP70 Cree bulbs. These are great LED diodes that are very small, making them perfect for automotive packaging applications. The "LumiLeds" from Philips are another popular brand— in fact our fog light conversion kits utilize the Philips LumiLeds. LumiLeds are sometimes also called "Z ES" bulbs or "Luxeon", but are all the same LED. What makes the various LED kits different is how the kit is designed. We’re talking about the material of the bulb housing, how the bulbs are cooled, and how power is driven to the LEDs. Our kits utilize aluminum housings for effective radiant cooling and have integrated fans-- our fans can take abuse and typically outlast the LED itself!

 

MotoIQ:  What is an ideal color temperature? We're starting to see applications that are far warmer than old school, blue-light-special systems.  

 

Adam: The ideal temperature is in the 3000K range, which is what your standard halogen headlight is near. However, this is not a very popular color range in the industry. If you’ve ever watched a Baja race, you’ll find a lot of amber and yellow lights. This is because they cut through the sand/dirt clouds a lot better than a white light. Again, this is not very appealing to the vast majority of the public. Most folks prefer a pure white look [near the 5000K range] or a slightly blue look [when near the 6500K range]. Our kits utilize a 6500K temperature which appears completely white when paired with Cree XHP50 bulbs, and white with a slightly blue cast when using Cree XHP70 bulbs [XHP70 are for projector housings which cast light differently, bringing out that blue color]. Gone are the days of the pure blue and purple HID lights. Those actually became so problematic when HIDs first hit the market that some states outlawed the use of blue or purple lights [to this day a lot of states have laws that prohibit blue and purple lights, only allowing white and amber forward facing lights].

 

MotoIQ: Are there pointers about avoiding too much diffraction and glaring light scatter as it applies to being a “good citizen” for oncoming traffic?

 

Adam: Absolutely. LEDs [and HIDs] are not meant for every vehicle, as much as we wish they were. Every manufacturer makes a different housing. Some do it better than others. On some vehicles, you can install HID or LED kits and have no glare problems. With others, you may have real issues with glare. Our kits use the latest and greatest methods, so we feel the light is handled better than other kits before them. It’s why this style kit is being used by a lot of popular brands [Putco for example utilizes this style LED bulb along with XHP50 and XHP70 LEDs].  We’re finding our kits work better in housings compared to kits from years ago. We do see some issues from time to time, mainly with the dual high/low style bulbs. Take the H13 variety for example. With halogen bulbs, the low beam is at a lower wattage than the high beam. When your highs go on, you are throwing more light out. With LEDs, the technique is a bit different.  Our LED kits have the same output for high and low. What we’re doing is changing the diodes.  On the H13, there are four LEDs compared to two on say an H11 bulb. So the way we mimic that high beam mode is by switching two different LEDs on, resulting in a new beam pattern. The lows are already bright enough but you still need those high beams to be street legal, so that’s the way we achieve it.  When you look at HID kits that are dual mode, some kits effectively move the bulb to change the pattern. Ford, for example [and many others], who use an HID bulb in their single projector output actually move a shield out of the way to mimic that high/low. They block half the light for low and drop the shield to allow 100% of the light output.  So, you can see there are things to look out for in every application. Sometimes it’s better to just replace a badly designed housing with a projector housing and install the LED bulbs in that projector.  Projector housings create the best light the output, but that does not mean you can’t use LED in halogen housings, you just have to be mindful and pay attention to the beam patterns.

 

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Comments
M.Conte
M.Contelink
Friday, July 28, 2017 2:59 PM
I'm sorry, but this is all mostly just marketing B.S..... I am an optical engineer in the automotive field by trade, and I cannot believe this is being allowed on MotoIQ of all places.

These LED bulbs are simply rebranded Alibaba items, they have not had any say in the design or any real interest in anything engineering wise unless it'll make them a quick buck.

The massive CREE XHP70 dies are the worst for actually creating an optically correct LED replacement. The Z ES are much better. The reason is that much like how you don't put an HID in a halogen reflector because the HID doesn't match the Halogen filament, you don't put a massive LED die in a halogen reflector because the 5mm diameter XHP70 does not match the 1.2mm x 4.5mm long filament of the halogen it's replacing. The ZES is a much better match as it can be 1.5mm x 4.5mm fairly easily. The real key then is getting the chips close enough to each other that they are almost within the centerline of the original filament.

Is it possible to get a good LED drop-in retrofit? Yes. But it requires extreme thermal management since the key is to get as small of LED sources to fit as close to each other back to back as they can. Full copper boards, high performance thermal interface material to sandwich the board between that and the metal housing, and then effective fans that are pushing into well designed heatsinks to maximize the airflow with as little pressure drop as possible. You simply do not see this on cheap chinese rebranded bulbs. Some have good optical using the ZES, but poor thermal management and will burn out chips in no time. Others have good thermal management, but massively inefficient chips that are not replicating the halogen filament at all.

The newer F-150 halogen headlamps are one of the few that take well to a poorly designed LED bulb because of how much the optical reflector is designed to be receiving a horizontally fired light. As compared to somthing such as a 7" round, or a more conventional bowl-style headlight. This is also why the stock headlights aren't considered great because half of the lumen potential of a halogen bulb is "wasted" by going up and down, causing the light energy to just be wasted. This is why OEM's are moving to LED's because you can make a much more optically efficient headlight by collecting and using almost all the light that is being generated by an LED. Basically you can make an 1000 lumen LED have just as much light intensity on the road as a 2400 lumen HID because it's in a much more optically efficient housing. Typical projector housings are on the 40% optically efficient range, while newer LED housings can be almost 80%.

Feel free to contact me if you want a more detailed explanation of the optical side of automotive lighting. It's one of those spaces that is just absolutely full of mis-information and marketing garbage (like what's being peddled in this article) and very hard for the average consumer to become educated on what makes bad, good, and great lighting for the road.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Friday, July 28, 2017 11:49 PM
M.Conte, What light company do you work for?
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Saturday, July 29, 2017 12:08 AM
I have a question, if the system featured is poorly designed and poorly performing (marketing garbage) as you say, why is Mr. Tate experiencing much better performance than the factory lights? He is a very experienced all weather off roader and should easily know what good lights are. Although I haven't personally experienced the lights on this truck, his off road jeep has an excellent LED light system that I have experienced personally.
S. Tate
S. Tatelink
Saturday, July 29, 2017 8:31 AM
Part of what makes this community great is having experts like you, M. Conte.  Each of us have something to contribute.  Give us something more prescriptive, please.  Aren't you agreeing that the F150 has a headlight housing that will work with a setup like this?  That's the premise to claims here.  This is an economical alternative to the awful stock lighting, right?  This really is an appreciably better setup than what we started with. There are better options, no doubt -- including the OEM LED setup, which is mentioned, but comes at a big premium.

Can you agree this is better than the stock setup?  There's a good countermeasure in place here to deal with heat, and many F150s are running it with success. It’s backed up by hundreds if not thousands of real-world data points. Visit the forums and read for yourself. This is not a generic application, rather one that has evolved over time on a specific set of truck models.  

We are not designing something new, rather, discussing a large and addressable market that can use a reasonably priced product.  It's true, our industry is flooded with copy-cat products, but this is a functional, high value upgrade beyond aesthetics -- and based on a real OEM LED.  It's proven to be durable and produces far more usable light.

There's room for more than one solution in this space.  This represents the value tier, and lots of consumers are interested in an upgrade that doesn't break the bank.
Adam @ 4x4TruckLEDs.com
Adam @ 4x4TruckLEDs.comlink
Saturday, July 29, 2017 10:03 AM
So M. Conte makes great points and for the most part they are valid, with a few exceptions of course. As I stated in my responses to the questions asked of me by MotoIQ LED's perform different in every housing. Take a Nissan Frontier headlight... they do VERY poorly with LED replacement bulbs (I know this because I owned a Frontier and I've had customers with Fronties try dozens of LEDs, including our own). However trucks like Jeeps with that crapy round dome and F150s take well to the replacement LED kits we sell. Are they proprietary? By no means are they and we never state they are. There are a lot of manufacturers using the same style bulbs in their kits, we are one of many. However we DO have input on the designs, which is where I need to correct M. Conte. We speak with our manufacturer daily and give them feedback. Earlier designs had problems with H13 drivers as an example, where they caused issues with F150s. After communicating/sharing info and working with them, a new Driver was designed. So that's one point I want to correct.

We actually have a new G9 Series kit we are putting out next month using the Z ES bulbs, which as stated by M. Conte is a smaller chipset and will perform better as far as how the light works. The only downside is they can't produce a LOT of light. But it's really nice clean light that works great. So that's why we offer (or will offer) both kits. XHP series for the guys who want a TON of light and the G9 series for the guys who want direct replacements (the new G9 do use the aluminum/copper heat shielding technology mentioned as well as some other goodies).

Our #1 seller are the F150s because they work great. And we're the only company out there selling LED lights (that I'm aware of) that has a focus on SOLVING issues with LEDs and the F150. Other companies who claim to sell lights for the F150s never put much thought into the ISSUES that arrise, but that's where we stood out from the rest. We put out kits and did a lot of testing to ensure they worked. Are they perfect, not at all, there is no such thing, not even with the OEM LEDs from Ford but we've come a long way from when LEDs first hit the market.
M.Conte
M.Contelink
Saturday, July 29, 2017 10:29 AM
Mike,

I am not certain it is appropriate for me to mention who I work for, as I think that would detract from this being a pure engineering discussion, not a "buy this product instead" discussion that would probably be misconstrued if I mentioned my employer.

As for the better performance. For an engineered solution and evaluation, I would have suggested picking up a cheap lux meter to measure before and after improvements and check a few locations. Anyone who is serious about lighting both in upgrades and just comparing products should have this in their arsenal:

https://www.amazon.com/Dr-Meter-LX1330B-Digital-Illuminance-Light/dp/B005A0ETXY/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1501345581&sr=8-3&keywords=lux+meter

Basically what you want to measure is the light intensity at certain points. Most important being the "hotspot" which is what lets you see further down the road. This is where typical drop in LED replacements start to fall short. Because the headlight is designed to focus the filament of a certain size, it's attempting to focus that light on the hotspot to allow for greater downroad illumination. Designers have to balance beam width, cutoff sharpness, hotspot intensity, and foreground illumination, all within the confines of the lumen potential they are given with a particular bulb. Now this is kind of really hard to explain through words, and without pictures, but basically the lumens are just your potential energy of the system, and how effectively you collect and redirect those lumens towards what you want to illuminate is what defines your optical efficiency.

So what does this have to do with cheap LED drop in kits using the wrong type of chip (large rounded die LEDs or large square panel COB chips). It's basically putting a source inside a system that it was not designed around. Light is going to bounce at the wrong angle, and going to scatter in directions the designer never intended. So you could have a 15,000 lumen (total marketing BS claim if you see anything over 2000 on an individual bulb btw) bulb that is just a giant COB that's going to just throw light everywhere, and you won't end up with a focused hotspot. So what this is going to do is that when you first turn them on, looks bright! Wow! So white! This is amazing! because you are now basically throwing a flood pattern over your entire viewing area instead of a focused beam. At first it feels brighter than stock, but once you start actually driving, you will notice you can't really see downroad nearly as far. This is because of two factors. One, now you don't have a focused hotspot that's allowing you see further, and second, now you have your immediate field of vision full of white light, which essentially tricks your brain into "balancing" your vision, sort of like auto-exposure on a camera, or when you enter a tunnel and leave, how your eyes take a few seconds to readjust to the brightness. If you have too much foreground illumination as a result of unfocused LED bulbs (or HID kit in a halogen for the same purpose) then mentally you won't be able to see nearly as far as a properly engineered kit.


Now, if you could take a new stock halogen bulb, and compare the hotspot intensity using the lux meter to the new LED bulb, you'd probably find that it's either a little lower, or just about the same. However other area's would be brighter, but not always where you want them to be. That's why the test points on FMVSS 108 have areas of "maximum allowed brightness".

https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/49/571.108




The thing with this LED drop-in replacement space, it's similar to the LED lightbar space. 95% of everything comes from China, and just gets marked up by wholesalers who don't really understand the technology enough to actually stand behind their products beyond an instant warranty replacement because it costs so little. These bulbs being installed can be bought on aliexpress without the branding for $35-40. (https://tinyurl.com/y7pzbjb4), wholesale for $25-30 from alibaba if you buy a bunch . Pick and choose from the chinese manufacture of your choice, put your brand name on it and resell it claiming that you designed it per a certain spec or anything. http://www.ulightcn.com/product/index59.html , I'm sure their "G9" will be up on the site in a few months.

The thing with "it won't put out more light" is that it doesn't matter. As mentioned, you have an enormous LED chip with massive number of lumens. But if it's scattering everywhere and not going on target, what's the point? It's unusable, and instead makes it an overpowered chip that's running far too hot, bluing out the light and making it subpar. Do uneducated people think it's great because it's white and fills a lot of space? Sure. Some people think HID's in a halogen reflector are good too, but we've at least been able to start convincing people that it isn't. Now just need to educate more on what can make a decent drop in replacement.


Sorry for the massive wall of text, and somewhat rambling nature of how I communicate. I'm massively passionate about lighting, especially high performance lighting in daily driven cars, rally, endurance racing, and the home, and frustrates me so much to see a lot of mis-information out there, that I'm working on trying to help educate consumers so they can make educated decisions about products rather than blindly believing the massive marketing claims of huge lumen numbers (another topic in it's own right) that dominates the aftermarket lighting industry.
Adam @ 4x4TruckLEDs.com
Adam @ 4x4TruckLEDs.comlink
Saturday, July 29, 2017 10:56 AM
Very well written Conte. I'm sure I know who you work for now. Nobody ever said we designed the LED light... however what MotoIQ found was that, unlike a lot of online sellers, we knew Fords inside and out and put out a kit to fix a well known issue with the 2015+ F150s and led lights... the problem is that there is just no room in the headlight for a larger bulb and/or other companies who have tried, just cut holes in the back of the factory grommet, allowing water/moisture in. We went one step further and provided a kit that included everything needed to stop water from getting in and to allow the VERY hot LED Driver to be left mounted outside the cavity. So I think you are reading the article a bit wrong.

TONS and TONS of LED lights out there, and a lot of them are pretty decent. It's all about what you want and what you expect out of a kit.

And you are dead on, the whole "50 bajillion lumens!" marketing thing you see is all over. We market our new bulbs with REAL world lumens/lux. But the XHP series we still market with the "raw" lumen calcuation because if we don't, we lose sales on Amazon. Amazon is FULL of LED kits and they are all using fake #'s and what not. We try and just use the RAW lumen calculation (12,000 per kit) to help us out. But we've always been very honest and anytime we tell folks it's 12,000 lumen we always tell them it's a RAW lumen #.

One of my manufacturers is on the same page as you, they HATE using the "raw lumen" verbiage because it's not true lumen or lux (which is why our NEW G9 kit uses the real world #'s measured with the right equipment and we have the data sheets and test results to back that up).

But for the everyday guy who wants an LED kit on his car... we put out a fine one, much better then some of those cheaper kits you see online, WHICH i think is the point of this article as well. Not to use a Cheap $20 kit you found on amazon that used really poor bulbs and didn't actually do anything. And not those kits where the reviewers were PAID to leave positive reviews.

If the kit was garbage they wouldn't be so popular with so many big name brands like StreetGlow and Putco. Brands like these (and us) picked up this kit because it surpassed all of the other kits out there. Customers WANT LOTS of light.

I get where you come from, believe me. These big light bars that FLOOD light look great at first but don't do much. BUT customers WANT that. Some don't however and for those customers who DON'T want ALL that light and just want something simple and focused, we have solutions for them. But market research tells us customers want that really cheap and really high lumen system that lights up the road like the sun would.... is it wrong is it right? That's not for us to really decide. It's about what the customers want in the end.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Sunday, July 30, 2017 12:25 AM
I think Mr. Tate did a brightness study with a Lux meter. I know he has one and tinkers with that stuff.
S. Tate
S. Tatelink
Sunday, July 30, 2017 12:51 PM
Indeed I do, and I have numbers to share. I knew this would get complicated in a hurry. Take a few minutes to Google any headlight review or comparison out there. You won’t find many (if any) that include objective light output figures. There’s a good reason for this — most don’t have access to a light meter of any kind, or understand the basics behind the numbers. I don’t necessarily think you have to have them either. I agree that it gets murky when you are mixing different lighting elements (say comparing LED to halogen with radically different color temperatures and different housings/reflectors/lenses).

You don’t need a light meter to know this about our truck:

- Perceived light output is a brilliant white, not blue. Yes, the XHP 50 is 6500 Kelvin. That is clearly blue, but this particular housing’s reflector design shifts the color spectrum. It seems we all agree that this F150’s housing is unique in a few ways.

- It has a great pattern with a clear cutoff. It’s properly aimed and a good traffic citizen.

- It has a huge jump in perceived output. The coverage is better.


This very well designed housing not only tolerates the change, but is the stuff of a happy accident! This LED emitter works incredibly well. No, it was not designed for this, but simply works.

We know the market runs on claims of “raw lumens”. Yes, it allows a lot of convenience to “re-interpret” the output. Fortunately, there are objective ways to do this. We’ll talk about our light output expressed in lux only. You can derive lumens from lux, but not the other way, of course. When talking lumens, the spherical radius and surface area must be known. Even “small” changes can effectively double or half your lumen output.

Consider that one headlight, with one “bulb”, in low beam, produces 89700 lux (a real number at near “point blank”). If you calculate that with a spherical radius of .12 feet with a corresponding surface area of .2 feet, you get a bit over 1600 lumens. If you make the “small” change of calculating that at .1 feet, you get just over 800 lumens. I’ve over-simplified this a bit, but the math is right and illustrates how anyone can make wild claims of light output in lumens. Still, 89700 lux is a big number and real world output on a dark night measured at the front of a headlight...

I agree that isn’t where the important measurement happens. On a dark driveway, at exactly 20 feet out, the bright spot on a well defined patterns is 1440 lux. This is the data I have on hand right now.

If you want to read a very well written report on this subject, check this out:
https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/55198/UMTRI-2004-23.pdf

One particular graph stands out for me (Figure 2, Isoilluminance diagram expressed in lux). It represents a standardized study of passenger vehicles. The data is normalized to present median light output value as expressed on a typical two lane road. The X axis represents lateral distance from the vehicle centerline. The Y axis is longitudinal distance from the headlamps.

So...in this study, the median value light output value illustrates an island of highest output from approximately point blank to 15 meters away. That value is 100 lux. It decays quite rapidly and at 30 meters, is well under 50 lux.

Where am I going with this? At the same measured point, we make good on the claim that we’re producing 10x more output. Yes, 1440 lux is a real upgrade and a 10x value of a typical halogen light system’s output. I can also give you numbers from a 2016 F150 with the same headlight housing using a halogen bulb.

I will take other measurements to better match this diagram and would be happy to share them. I have tons of notes, photographs, and thoughts about where else this could go. Still, we can see that good science is applied and our modest understanding of illumination is validated with our test results. This isn’t completely apples-to-apples but close enough to be plausibly correct with known industry data points.

In closing, “Conte”, I treated you with respect. You said you were an “Optical Engineer” — none of us here are, but we are accomplished engineers in own fields. We know how to evaluate results, and know a good thing when we see it. You made a bold assumption about the worst of what the industry brings. By the same token, we are not in a position to make sweeping claims about how this applies across the board. Instead, we have one small example with a reputable vendor, backed by claims that our results yield a big positive change.
M.Conte
M.Contelink
Sunday, July 30, 2017 4:12 PM
Mr. S. Tate,

I hope you can understand my frustration when I don't see numbers involved in a subject like this. However there is a very standard approach for measuring and comparing, and a lux meter (a very inexpensive one) is a great way to compare, however just like a dyno, you cannot objectively compare numbers from one plot to another because of differences in equipment, enviroment, etc. When I started evaluating lots of LED bulbs we did a lot of objective testing where we would measure the hotspot and various points according to FMVSS 108 of a stock headlight with a stock halogen bulb, measurements taken at 10m or 32.8ft. Results were all over the map. Subaru's particulary had fairly underperforming stock headlights, and one that stuck out as a particularly good performing headlight was the newer generation of F-150's. Halogen hotspot was in the 1200 lux range, and the only headlight bulb that resulted in a higher hotspot and still maintaining the legal beam pattern at all points was the ZES based chips. One reason we ended up deciding not to sell any brand of Chinese bulbs was because of the overwhelming majority of them being unsafe for road use. In 75-80% of cases, the resulting beam pattern was worse, in some cases dangerously worse. Where it wouldn't even pass a standard FMVSS 108 test (300 lux peak hotspot). Hopefully can understand that this basically turned headlight bulbs into a true safety issue, just like slammed cars with horrible suspension geometry that are wearing away parts of the frame. It's part of why I get passionate (and admittedly a little hot headed, my apologies) about this subject.

As for the paper you linked, and the resulting measurements you took. I have to respectfully disagree on your measurement method. What they are doing is measuring 2.5*D at 20' (since they say 0.66m mounting height) and converting that into a road plot. It's how they are generated. You take the Candela plot from a goniophotometer (something we have in our building, and OEM's pay us to do some 3rd party testing on), and essentially convert the data into a road plot. Gives a fair representation of beam pattern on the ground at ground level, but near impossible to measure in real life. That's why the best comparison method for real-world stuff is to measure at 10m, then measure again at the same spot. You want to search around for the hotspot of the halogen lamp, mark that spot. Then put in your LED bulb and see what the resulting increase or decrease is at that same location. Reading charts from 13 years ago isn't exactly the most scientific method imo. :)

Again, I apologize for coming off rather harsh. To me it's a safety issue, and I treat it as such. I put a lot of time and effort into good optical design for the automotive aftermarket, and some of the OEM work we do, something that is very rare to find in North America beyond a few light bar manufactures.

I will be at PRI in December, I hope that I'll get to run into the MotoIQ crew, and I'll be thrilled to talk to you guys about lighting and the more intricate things that are hard to explain via an article comments section. Always been a huge fan of you guys for years, and hope that I can help educate some more on this very murky topic. :)
Adam @ 4x4TruckLEDs.com
Adam @ 4x4TruckLEDs.comlink
Sunday, July 30, 2017 4:18 PM
"One reason we ended up deciding not to sell any brand of Chinese bulbs" - yet you guys sell just that... bulbs manufacturer over in China... So I don't get what you are trying to do because the lights you sell are available in all of the wholesale sites as well. I see this all the time from Diode Dynamics (I assumed, based on your first cmoment, you may work there, and sure enough that is where you work is it not). Diode Dynamics tries to bash every competitor out there flauting their "lighting engineers" yet they sell the same style lights as everybody else. In fact, you guys promote the use of HID's in non-projector housings all the time. So what makes you any better then someone else online? Nothing, other then the fact you feel the need to trash everybody elses products, claiming yours are superior, when in fact, they are the same as everybody elses out there.

I mean we get it... you guys are bullies, but serioulsy, you guys at Diode Dynamics need to stop trashing everybody else out there. You're really giving yourselves a very bad name in the industry
Adam @ 4x4TruckLEDs.com
Adam @ 4x4TruckLEDs.comlink
Sunday, July 30, 2017 4:27 PM
BTW this is a prime example of why we decided to drop Diode Dynamics as a product we offered and sourced our own. We got tired of watching you bash everybody out there trying to sell aftermarket accessories, only telling folks YOUR products were the only ones out there. Feeding the same "engineering" stories and posting the same funny videos of the guy in the white lab coat. Sourcing our own products and giving our customers the same quality product for a lot less means works out a lot better.
stylngle2003
stylngle2003link
Wednesday, August 02, 2017 8:00 AM
Well that escalated quickly. I bet M. Conte doesn't work for Diode Dynamics, but I don't know him personally, since it sounds like they, as a company, run contrary to many things he said in his posts.

Here's a suggestion for Mr. Tate - why not just pull out the fancy lux meter, reinstall 1 new halogen bulb, unplug the other headlight, measure lux at the hotspot, and then reinstall the LED and re-measure at the exact same spot? Seems pretty easy, and more or less scientific. You could pick a few spots around the light pattern (hotspot, ground level, off to each side) and make it repeatable with a piece of tape or something on the ground. Throw it into excel (or email the data to me and I'll do it) and show the comparison. Easy peasy, and concrete.
S. Tate
S. Tatelink
Wednesday, August 02, 2017 8:53 AM
It really did, but we think this is a healthy way to handle any concern with an article. This is the great thing about online magazines — real-time feedback! We believe in full transparency. Every comment raised valid concerns, and we’re confident that we got it right.

Still, I am working on more test results just as you and others have suggested. When I wrote this, I had data that I believed was sufficient to support the claims (and still do!). It was intended to be a quick story about something that many consider an issue of aesthetics (but it is clearly about safety too!). It’s plainly better. It’s not just a conensus around MotoIQ, but everyone that sees it agrees that it’s a great upgrade.

I have some new data, but want to get something more comprehensive put together. I’d like to align it to a well-accepted standard or two (as discussed in this thread). This might even argue for an addendum that features more photos and graphs.

Here’s a powerful affirmation from the IIHS that supports our claim about the POOR output from the new F150 (both halogen and LED, but for very different reasons!). No it isn’t nearly as good as another poster suggested. Maybe supporting data for that claim could be made too? Anyhow, other years might be better, but we know that the new F150s with halogens are not very good in our experience.

http://www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/most-pickup-trucks-have-poor-headlights-iihs-tests-show

There you have it! We knew this intuitively, but it was good to see it validated by an official report!

Ford’s LED headlight setup is actually quite good, but received demerits for glare! It could just be a case of poorly aimed headlights. This supports something we already believe — many vehicles come from the factory with poorly aimed headlights. If you have not already done so, check your own headlights out. There’s a reason we have the position we do on the need to properly aim your headlights. Go on, check — you might be surprised by the results of your own car or truck!

stylngle2003
stylngle2003link
Wednesday, August 02, 2017 9:04 AM
Looking forward to reading your results. This is the best site on the web for tech-nerd car guys because almost everything posted has data to support it. Thanks for keeping your contributions in-line with the ethos of Mike and the MotoIQ braintrust, much appreciated!
engineered
engineeredlink
Monday, August 07, 2017 9:05 AM
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