The LED headlight thread

The_Vermonster

Well-known member
The problem with a lot of the retrofit bulbs is that you have to point them down so far to get the cutoff right, that they reflect off the road surface when it is the slightest bit wet. This was a huge issue when HID retrofits were popular. the NHTSA went so far as to block importation from a number of companies because they found the "for off road use" wording didn't seem to work.

DOT compliance is easy to achieve. You only have to pay for the cost of your tester. Hell, any one of us could do it. The methodology is available to all. You don't have to submit anything, just have it on record for when the government asks for it. It's ridiculous to say that something is DOT compliant when the manufacturer doesn't themselves. It would be the cheapest and easiest part of the entire process of designing and bringing a product to market. Plus they would be the first and only bulb on the market to be able to boast DOT compliance.
 

NPT90

Well-known member
Umm, no. I'm trying to provide information on all the "good" options out there. I'm not against full LED housings at all. There are a lot of great 7" LED headlights out there. But there are other good options as well and I think that if we are going to have a discussion, we should list out everything. This allows people to make intelligent choices based on their budgets and preferences.
Not suggesting you were 'against' LED lights, but certainly your posts thus far have been advocating for Halogen E-codes or drop in LED replacements vs full LED housings. On that point I would rather not argue semantics however. The discussion thus far has been largely productive and to be honest has shone some light on the halogen replacements for me.
 

NPT90

Well-known member
You must have reading comprehension of a 10-year old. My apologies.
Wow, personal slight, glad to have you on the forum!

I won't roll around in the mud with you on that note, nor defend my assertion that you should read the article I posted to discern for yourself the pro's and con's of the lights tested.
 

NPT90

Well-known member
The problem with a lot of the retrofit bulbs is that you have to point them down so far to get the cutoff right, that they reflect off the road surface when it is the slightest bit wet. This was a huge issue when HID retrofits were popular. the NHTSA went so far as to block importation from a number of companies because they found the "for off road use" wording didn't seem to work.

DOT compliance is easy to achieve. You only have to pay for the cost of your tester. Hell, any one of us could do it. The methodology is available to all. You don't have to submit anything, just have it on record for when the government asks for it. It's ridiculous to say that something is DOT compliant when the manufacturer doesn't themselves. It would be the cheapest and easiest part of the entire process of designing and bringing a product to market. Plus they would be the first and only bulb on the market to be able to boast DOT compliance.
I am not familiar with the process but thank you for summarizing. Though I imagine in reality its not quite as easy as it may seem (is any government form really straightforward?)
 

pmatusov

Founding Member
NPT90 said:
Wow, personal slight, glad to have you on the forum!
I thought you referred so something I said, not Red90. I take it back.

My fascination with the subject is the amount of emotional involvement vs. rational or objective matters.

For instance, Red90 offers two shots of his DOT-compliant halogen next to E-code halogen - he says he's used the DOT version for 10 years and is happy with it. I would have preferred E-code simply based on his two photos. Here's where I am not making blanket statements - I know the rationale behind the E-code lighting requirements, and I personally prefer E-code lights.

Likewise, LED headlights are here to stay, for a long time. But it is far more productive to design the optics for an LED from the ground up (which is what most car manufacturers do) than to try to adapt a LED (with a completely, drastically, inherent light distribution) to a incandescent-targeted reflector optics.
 

The_Vermonster

Well-known member
https://www.truck-lite.com/content/news/sae-vs-dot-truth-about-lighting-regulations

"In the US and Canada, lighting products are certified by the lighting manufacturer as compliant, and unless the certification is "clearly erroneous," the certification will stand. The reputable manufacturer will state that its products are "designed to conform" to the elements of the FMVSS-108 requirements.*

Some of the misuse of terminology stems from the fact that there are three products that must be marked with the "DOT" symbol: headlights, replaceable bulbs for headlights and reflective tape."

I get the potential bias coming from truck-lite but I have heard the same thing from other brands, including Philips. Basically, they trust a manufacturer is going to only certify things that actually are certified. If you make a product that fits in the FMVSS requirements than you're already half way towards proving compliance.

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Red90

Well-known member
I would have preferred E-code simply based on his two photos. Here's where I am not making blanket statements - I know the rationale behind the E-code lighting requirements, and I personally prefer E-code lights.
I changed housing because I needed a waterproof housing. No H4 housing is waterproof and I was tired of draining the water out of them when regularly driving through water over the hood.

Both lights work well on the road. The high beam of the DOT light is not shown but is nicer than the ecode.

The problem with your blanket statement is that you do not really understand the two lighting codes. I linked them earlier. The DOT code leaves a lot of room for different beams and thus any blanket statements are invalid.
 

Red90

Well-known member
It would be the cheapest and easiest part of the entire process of designing and bringing a product to market. Plus they would be the first and only bulb on the market to be able to boast DOT compliance.
I linked the regulation. If you read it, you would know that the bulb type must match the bulb type shown on the housing in order to be compliant.

Light source(s)
The lens of each replaceable bulb headlamp must bear permanent marking in
front of each replaceable light source with which it is equipped that states
either: The HB Type, if the light source conforms to S11 of FMVSS No. 108 for filament light sources, or the bulb marking/designation provided in compliance with Section VIII of Appendix A of part 564 (if the light source conforms to S11 of FMVSS No. 108 for discharge light sources). No marking need be provided if the only replaceable light source in the headlamp is type HB1.
 

pmatusov

Founding Member
I changed housing because I needed a waterproof housing. No H4 housing is waterproof and I was tired of draining the water out of them when regularly driving through water over the hood.
Boom, that's one short and self-sufficient explanation. That alone is sufficient to get LED headlights and never to look back, no need to rationalize otherwise.
 

NPT90

Well-known member
My fascination with the subject is the amount of emotional involvement vs. rational or objective matters.
The entire purpose of this thread is to illustrate different options, my emotional evolvement ends with the datasets and not why I ultimately went with trucklites over halogens (which I have already enumerated)

For instance, Red90 offers two shots of his DOT-compliant halogen next to E-code halogen - he says he's used the DOT version for 10 years and is happy with it. I would have preferred E-code simply based on his two photos. Here's where I am not making blanket statements - I know the rationale behind the E-code lighting requirements, and I personally prefer E-code lights.
I think that side by side shot is pretty accurate with regards to beam pattern. Interestingly enough I think it works to demonstrate the marginal gains with an e-code housing.
Stock (JK):


IPF E-Code:


E-codes throw more concentrated light with a sharper cutoff and better roadsign illumination but offer less spread (personal preference IMO). Not sure they are heads and shoulders better regarding beam pattern but the reflector seems to be of higher quality providing 'cleaner' light vs stock housings.

Likewise, LED headlights are here to stay, for a long time. But it is far more productive to design the optics for an LED from the ground up (which is what most car manufacturers do) than to try to adapt a LED (with a completely, drastically, inherent light distribution) to a incandescent-targeted reflector optics.
I think this is relatively unanimously agreed upon, however you cannot discount the drop in replacements purely based on initial offerings or cheap offerings being awful. Some of the drop ins provide a nice cutoff and are far brighter with minimal power consumption. They provide a decent option for a quick swap with minimal investment in wiring or relays. Even at $200 the swap is economical given that a set of e-code housings and associated relay (if required) will cost the end user at least that and provide almost no benefits in terms of power consumption (but have the added benefit of a heated lense).
 

Red90

Well-known member
Boom, that's one short and self-sufficient explanation. That alone is sufficient to get LED headlights and never to look back, no need to rationalize otherwise.
Well, except my headlights cost $100 with bulbs. Quality LED lights are $300 (today) or $400 with the needed lens heaters and were $1000 ten years ago when I changed.

I'm perfectly happy. They are brighter than 95% of the cars on the road.
 

pmatusov

Founding Member
Now that we're cross-talking - this is a response to NPT90:

Yes, but if you have valid reasons to go full-on LED, why try to find drop-in bulbs (if cost is not a concern)?

I have to admit to having gone the route of searching the drop-in bulbs... Still have a few in the "when I run out of options" bin, but I'll never use them in round DOT or E4 or Discovery housings otherwise.
 

NPT90

Well-known member
Well, except my headlights cost $100 with bulbs. Quality LED lights are $300 (today) or $400 with the needed lens heaters and were $1000 ten years ago when I changed.
Essentially why I finally bit the bullet this year. When I had previously wired in a relay the Trucklites were $850/pair and the speakers were over $1200. Neither had a heated lens option and most reviews for the first generation lights were negative.

Fast forward 3 years and the cost/benefit is definitely getting closer together. However there is something to be said for the ability to swap a relay or headlamp bulb at any autoparts store in terms of overall reliability. If I was spending a lot of time on the road it would be a serious consideration for me.
 

The_Vermonster

Well-known member
I linked the regulation. If you read it, you would know that the bulb type must match the bulb type shown on the housing in order to be compliant.
An led bulb is not a filament bulb, therefore not compliant in its most basic form. It doesn't meet the requirements for S11 either. That is also only in relation to marking the bulb, not generic compliance.

There have been two companies attempting to make an LED retrofit for halogens, and the NHTSA has denied both attempts.

The basic question persists, If Phillips makes LED bulbs for other countries, why do they not make them for US, Canada and the EU? The only thing those bulbs don't have is compliance. Why?

Edit: and I have read the standards, in and out. I have communicated with companies like Headlight Revolution and Supercheap Leds as well as the NHTSA. I have been looking for a solution to my wife not being able to drive at night for the past 6 years.

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NPT90

Well-known member
Now that we're cross-talking - this is a response to NPT90:

Yes, but if you have valid reasons to go full-on LED, why try to find drop-in bulbs (if cost is not a concern)?

I have to admit to having gone the route of searching the drop-in bulbs... Still have a few in the "when I run out of options" bin, but I'll never use them in round DOT or E4 or Discovery housings otherwise.
I don't fully understand.

-Full LED Housing, for anything worth buying (my opinion) will cost you $350-$750 for a pair (Nolden, Trucklite, JW Speaker). Heated options will run you $450/$800 (Trucklite/Speaker). Worth noting for this comparison.

-LED Bulbs (again anything worth buying) will run you $150-$200 for the pair and offer the ability to install in minutes vs an hour or so (your headlight retainers non-withstanding; mine had to be replaced). Drop in LEDs don't appear to be compatible with the E-code headlamps as far as I can tell. Lower amperage draw but will ice up in the winter/freezing rain.

-In order to install E-Codes you are looking at $80 for the pair. If you are going to up-rate the bulbs you will need a relay (minimum $50, likely closer to $100) if your truck doesn't currently have one (I believe 84-89 defenders didn't, not 100% sure on that one) plus likely a set of decent bulbs (optional but you would likely go ahead and do it) for around $40 for the pair. Grand total for that upgrade would be $120 for housings and bulbs or close to $200 if you need to wire up a relay. Pro for this setup is the heat generated from the bulb preventing icing in the winter. Con is the additional amperage draw (likely 6A/8A compared to 2A/4A for LED options).

That's just based on what I have researched these past several days. Your experience may vary.
 

Red90

Well-known member
An led bulb is not a filament bulb, therefore not compliant in its most basic form.
You are repeating what I just said. You stated earlier that you wondered why nobody had made a compliant LED bulb. They can't. The regulation prohibits it directly.

That said, there are bulbs that are perfectly fine and produce acceptable patterns to meet the regulation and that is all that matters. Nobody is ever going to check what bulbs are installed.
 

NPT90

Well-known member
Nobody is ever going to check what bulbs are installed.
Exactly, its sort of like having DOT markings on your auto-glass. When was the last time your vehicle inspection person actually checked all your glass/bulbs/housings for DOT stickers?

Basically you have to live with yourself for blinding other folks on the road!
 
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