LED Crazy

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Feb 26, 2004
After installing George’s LEDs, I decided to go a step further and want to share my experience in case anyone else has considered LEDs. I know George’s tasklights have been discussed at length here, so beyond saying his dome lights and maps are awesome and worth every penny, I’ll leave it at that.

For the door lights, I went with superbrightleds.com 194 replacements, WLEDx5, which are the wide angle lights. I think these work the best in the doors and shine the light in all directions. They provide some light on the ground, but more towards the floor and seat. The light is MUCH brighter and whiter than the stock bulbs and use about 8 times less power. .240 amps for the incandescent 194s and .030 for the LEDs.

I was so impressed that I set about installing LEDs for the parking and taillights
LED Parking, Tail and back up lights.

The reason I did this was power reduction. I wanted to be able to leave my parking lights on for hours at a time, with minimal affect on the battery, while I’m camping or parked in the woods, etc.

The front parking lights and rear side marker lights also use 194s or similar, so I ordered colored bulbs and again went with WLEDx5. I figured the wider angle would be good for this application, but that might have been a mistake. The rear side marker red LEDs work just fine and are at least as bright as the stock bulbs. Incidentally, I found the housing on the driver’s side rear marker light to be melted! That’s justification enough for me to switch to LEDs. I imagine the lightbulb came loose at some point and made contact with the housing melting it.

The front amber parking lights were not as bright as I thought they would be though. This is where a slightly brighter or more focused LED might be more beneficial, but the WLEDx5 still works and I'll leave it in for now.

On comment on installing the WLEDx5 bulbs in the marker lights. I never had any problems with doors, but for some reason, the contacts didn't work very well in the marker lights. I had to bend the little contact wire outwards slightly on the bulbs to get them to stay turned on.

License plate lights were also swapped out for WLEDx5 in white. There are two 194s here. The LEDs are so much brighter than it actually lights up the whole back of the Land Cruiser, which may not be so good. Also, I could imagine getting pulled over by some cop thinking that the white light has a bluish tint to it and that I’m generating blue light to the rear. A lower intensity and probably directional LED would be better for the license plate light. Or going to just one license plate instead of two, which I might try.

For taillights, I went with SBL’s 3 watt luxeon 1157s in red. These are the brightest LED taillights they make and they work awesome! I would say they are definitely as bright as the stock bulbs, if not brighter.

I went the next step and ordered white 3 watt luxeon 1156s for the back up lights. These did not work well at all. And considering the stock incandescent back up light is 27 watts it’s not surprising why. A 3 watt LED is impressive, but 27 watts of incandescent does put out more light.

As for turn signals, I left the stock bulbs in since they are only used with the engine running and don’t drain the battery. I did test the white LED 1156 in the rear turn signal to see if it would flash and it did. I didn’t test it in the front turn signal.

First picture show LED on the left and stock bulb on the right in taillight mode. Second picture shows LED brake light on the left, stock brake light on the right. Third picture, shows LED back up light on the left and stock back up light on the right. The picture makes the LED backup light seem nearly as bright or brighter, but it effectively wasn't. Stock back up lights went back in. As far as the taillights, there wasn't much difference, but the LED did seem slightly brighter in taillight mode and about the same in brake light mode to my eye.

By my calculations, the parking lights and taillights use up about 4.5 amps of power. With LEDs, I’m only using about .310 amps or roughly the equivalent of a single stock 194 bulb. For leaving the parking lights on long term, the dash lights can be turned off with the rheostat on the dash.

A 40Ah battery will drained by the stock parking lights in less than 9 hours. That’s completely drained. The LEDs would take 129 hours to completely drain, or more than 5 days. Basically, my goal was to be able to leave the lights on overnight with minimal affect on the battery and this definitely accomplishes that.
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I also added a 1 watt luxeon utility light to the rear hatch. I RTV’d the light to the lower inside rear window and wired it into the stock rear light. When the hatch comes up, the light automatically comes on along with the rear dome, with George’s Taskled. I also tapped into the wiring in the hatch and hooked up a switch, which allows me to turn these lights off, with the hatch up.

The position of the hatch LED is perfect for working on the rear tailgate or seeing items in the rear drawers as they are opened. I added some smaller accent lights in the side compartments. Sorry no pictures of any of that yet.

These same 1 watt bulbs were used as engine compartment lights. I used two this time and RTV’d these to the underside of the hood. With the hood open, they shine directly into the engine compartment. They work great, because the natural light doesn’t screw up the colors in the engine compartment. A toggle switch in the engine compartment turns them on and off. I worried that heat and water might affect the LEDs. So far, so good, but the jury is still out as far as durability. As far seeing the engine, they’re awesome!

These pictures show the switch that I installed on the cruise control cover, and the LEDs installed on the hood. The lights are very bright, but only draw a combined .260 amps. Or a little more than a single stock 194 bulb, but much brighter and whiter. Having two of them covers the entire engine comparement very well, as opposed to a single center light. These lights could literally be left on for days at a time, without making the battery flinch.
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Great write up. I've also been wanting to replace some of the bulbs for the sake of less power consumption.

This helps, thanks.
Thanks for the great write up. I have yet to do a mod, but the LED's will probably be my first. I think you have a good idea in doing the parking lights for added illumination around a campsite, plus it looks cool.

By the way, I really enjoy your website and check it regularly.
thanks for the write up, I did not know there were Luxeon 1157's out there, the original multi LED 1157's were weak, did not make as much light as a regular incandescent light.

I am going to have to give those tail/brake lights a try, the faster on time increases safety.
Very cool. Thanks for trying these out and writing them up. Very helpful.
Great writeup. Thanks!

For the 1157 red LED used in the brake/parking lights, did you use the single 3 watt luxeon from http://www.superbrightleds.com/specs/115x-xLX3.htm or the 3 watt luxeon with 10 side-facing LEDS http://autolumination.com/1156_1157.htm ?

Regarding the 194 replacement WLED-W5 (White Matrix LED): I'm using them in the the door lights and and the license plate lights. I've already had 2 failures (out of 6 bulbs). I would recommend ordering spares. I'm considering upgrading them to the high powered SMT 194 bulbs with 5, 9, or 25 LEDs http://autolumination.com/194.htm

I'm also using the 194 replacement WLED-R5 (Red Matrix LED) in the rear red side markers lights. The brightness is exactly the same as the incandecent 194 bulbs, but the LED has less power draw.

The 194 replacement WLED-W5 (White Matrix LED) bulbs in the front corner lights are too dim. I ended up replacing the 194 bulb sockets with Toyota 1157 bulb sockets, which was a direct fit into the stock light housing. I plan on ordering the Luxeon 1157 bulbs to put in there.

For tail lights, I have the crystal clear/red LED taillights from Mot. Only the parking/stop lights are LEDs, which consistes of a 25 LED module in each light housing. The crystal clear lens also give off more usable lights from the backup lights than the stock backup light housing. Since I really need some extra backup illumination, I changed the 28 watts 1156 bulb out with A3108 35 Watt fog light bulbs.
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A cheap way to make the 194 LED's brighter in the doors is to get some chrome trim tape (auto parts store) or chrome monokote trim tape from a hobby shop. Cut into strips to cover the inside of the bulb housing. It will bounce the light around a little more, like the reflector of a flashlight.

I bought a couple of spares when i purchased my LED's since shipping wasnt going to be extra. I think I bought the 5 led bulbs wled-x5's that spray light around the fixture, rather than straight out. I was happy with the results without the chrome mods. I also did 9LED festoons in the two switched overhead lights. I have not done the map light yet. I have some extra festoons for that,and also ordered a couple of red's if I wanted to try lowlight.
The superbright LEDs do go out fairly fast. I just had one go out on me last week after 1 year of use. I was using the 4-LED festoons (3022-x4 LED Festoon bulb) on all 4 doors plus the 2 dome/overhead lights. It was the front overhead/dome bulb that went out. These ones are about $2.84 each for the white ones.

Since the 4-LED ones didn't produce enough overhead light, I replaced both of the dome/overhead lights with the 3022-x9 LED Festoon bulb. This is better than before, but they were $4.95 each for the white ones.

I've yet to order George's maplight bulb since it's the most costly to replace at about $50 including shipping. I don't think there's any bulb at superbrightleds that fits the maplight for the cruiser.
The superbright's festoon are no comparison to George's LED lights in terms of light output. I still have a bunch of their festoon that i yanked out years ago from my 80 and minivan.
Thanks for the kind words. I used the single LED 3 watt luxeon for the tail light.

The info about the socket size being the same for the front marker is interesting. I might try that mod and use these 3 watt LEDs instead, instead of sending them back.

I've heard that the SBL's have limited life. We'll see how they do.

As far George's light and especially his map light, there is no comparision to anything that SLB sells or probably anything else. It's a very, very high quality and very bright light. I'm sure it will last a long time too.

The only draw back is that it's almost too bright, especially if you want to turn it on while you're driving for the passenger or to find something. Some kind of rheostat on this light would be really cool, if that was possible.
The info about the socket size being the same for the front marker is interesting. I might try that mod and use these 3 watt LEDs instead, instead of sending them back.

The front turn signal (1156) and the front/side marker (194) light sockets are interchangable. This means that you can put the 1156 socket from the front turn signal into the front/side marker light housing vise versa.

I decided to source two 1157 front sockets from the bone yard and replace the 194 front/side marker socket with these 1157 sockets. Now I have both marker and turn signal functions from the front/corner light housings :)

Note that the Toyota 1157 front sockets are different than the 1157 rear sockets. They are not interchangable unless you modify the light housing as the retention notches are different. The front ones are gray colored while the rear ones are black.
The only draw back is that it's almost too bright, especially if you want to turn it on while you're driving for the passenger or to find something. Some kind of rheostat on this light would be really cool, if that was possible.

They do have these. It's not a traditional rheostat, since the LED driver circuit should provide constant current. It's actually a digital device that does pulse with modulation, i.e. turns the light on and off at a high frequency. The perception is a dimmer light.

Here's one I was considering, but I haven't done this job yet: http://www.theledlight.com/pdf/controls/mini_dimmer.pdf
Bump - Hey Brian, what is with the story on the Taiwan flag in your garage.

Oh no story really. I’ve had that flag for years. I just hung it up a few years ago to cover up wall space. I am a supporter of Taiwan since they are a free democracy, unlike our biggest trading partner. I think it looks better up there than a Communist Chinese flag.

Sort of reminds me why I shouldn’t shop at Wal-Mart and why I do everything in my power to avoid Communist Chinese made products. Not that it always works. Heck, that’s probably exactly where these LEDs came from.
I like the hood lighting-- I'm planning to do something similar, but instead of hard-mounting the LEDs, I was thinking I would mount one onto a strong magnet, then I could move it to where it is needed. Just have to figure out how best to do the wiring so that it doesn't get in the way.
Great writeup. I love the engine bay lights.

FYI, I have halogen rear running lights, brake lights, blinkers and reverse lights. They provided an immediate and easily noted upgrade in brightness for all the lights back there. While these don't provide the instant on of an LED brake light, it is worth noting that they've been in there for some 150,000 miles without a blip. If you're behind my truck at night at a stop light, you'll definitely feel like you're behind a school bus or similar vehicle with upgraded rear lights. Slightly annoying. In poor conditions, they stand out however and my family and I are often driving in foul winter weather on isolated roads so I felt it was a needed upgrade.

Why are these super bright LED's burning out, BTW? Anyone know? I thought one of the chief LED advantages was long life. Are they overdriven and have no control circuits?

The stock 80s already have the LED third brake light, but I'd sure be interested in a high output LED brake light bulb - suggestions?


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