How to Choose the Best & Brightest LED Headlights Bulbs?
What factors are considered when find so many brands and types of LED headlights bulbs for auto cars, trucks, motorcycles' headlights upgrade for better vision, safer driving and luxury looking?
We know what specs to look for when shopping for cars: low mileage, high MPG, horsepower and torque. But what about your headlights?
What are the most important specs for LED headlights?
This is the most frequently asked question by customers who are shopping for LED headlights. As a manufacturer, this is also the most important question we keep in mind when we design, manufacture, test and make improvements to our LED headlights.
These are the top five specs that you should look for when shopping for LED headlights.
LED Headlights Brightness
LED Headlights Beam pattern
LED Headlights Color temperature
LED Headlights Fitment
LED Headlights Lifespan.
Question One: What factors affect LED headlights' brightness?
Brightness for LED headlights does not just refer to how much light a bulb gives off, but how much of that total light contributes to safer driving.
There are two common units used to measure brightness, total lumens and lux.
You can imagine Lumens as the total weight of a table, and Lux as the weight left on the single spot under one of its many legs.
Question Two: How can we find the number of total lumens and lux for LED headlight bulbs?
Total lumens is widely used by manufacturers during the LED bulb design and is often measured by an integrating sphere after the bulb has been made.
We can also get the total lumens even before the bulb was made, during its design, by using this formula; Total Lumens is equal to Light Efficacy times Power.
What is Light Efficacy?
Light Efficacy is Lumens per Watt
Light Efficacy is one of the most important ratings for LED chips. Think of it as a factor like MPG in your car. The most efficient and price friendly LED lamps have an efficacy of 200 lumens per watt.
However, when it comes to LED headlights, it’s not just about total brightness. There is a unique factor called beam pattern, that makes this industry different and hard to move forward without cutting edge LED technology.
There are many different LED chips with a high light efficacy,
So why don’t headlight bulbs just use a 200 lumens per watt, high efficacy LED chips?
Most of them cannot be used on LED headlights due to road illumination safety concerns which is regulated by the D.O.T. We will cover this in detail in the beam pattern section of this video.
Then what is the efficacy commonly used in LED headlight bulbs?
Lots of LED headlights on the market use LED chips with an efficacy of less than 100 lumens per watt. The highest efficacy headlight bulb in our product line is up to 138.8 lumens per watt.
So how do you figure out the total lumens for an LED bulb?
Let’s make it simple, if we start with an efficacy of 100 lumens per watt and you have an LED headlight bulb consuming 40 watts, then 4,000 lumens can be expected.
Question 3: Why not add more power to a bulb to increase the brightness?
It’s simple, LED chips do not withstand heat well. The average power consumption for an LED headlight bulb is very limited, usually from 15 watts to 45 watts, before it gets too hot and burns out.
Now with this knowledge, you cannot be fooled by an ad like this:
630,000 Lumens (which is over 10 times a typical LED headlight bulb’s lumens ) divided by the 4200 watts (which is 100 times higher for a typical LED headlight bulb), equals 150 lumens per watt (which is a very good efficacy, however, it is uncommon on low end LED headlights).
Question 4: Why not make LED headlights with a more powerful heat dissipation system to handle more power?
Because the large heat sink will not fit most vehicles, which we’ll talk about later in fitment.
Now we can test these theories in the Lab.
Lux is light intensity at any single spot you measured. Compared to total lumens, lux can be easily tested with a portable light meter.
We use a SEKONIC meter in most of our tests.
To consumers, Lux provides more information than total Lumens, because you want to know how much light will be directed in front while driving, and don’t want to waste a lot of light spilling into higher spots and causing blinding, or losing light with lots of dark spots.
Just like a very strong boxer can only win if he punches in the right spot with the right intensity.
So, a high value of lux that is measured at lower spots with light being spread evenly in front of the vehicle, helps increase driving visibility and safety.
What to look for when shopping LED headlight regarding brightness?
Like we said, you can get different lux from the same bulb measuring from different spot. It’s important to know how far? how high? and how close to the center the meter is, but the total lumens from an LED headlight is set when it was designed and manufactured. That’s why you see lumens instead of lux on ratings and marketing spots.
Keep in mind, total lumens is how much light an LED headlight can produce, lux is the reality of how good your night driving experience would be.
And, the highest total lumens bulb might not be the best bulb.
- Spec Two: Beam Pattern
- What is beam pattern?
Beam pattern is the angle of the light coming from your LED headlight. The S.A.E regulates this correct angle, which can be concluded in one word… “Safe”. Safe for both you and other drivers. For you, you want the road in front of you to be seen clearly, (that’s usually where you want to set a lux meter);
For other drivers, S.A.E guidelines don’t allow the light to exceed a certain angle that would be blinding to other drivers.
What angle should my headlight be shining at?
According to SAE Guidelines, if the height of the vehicle’s headlight center is less than 36 inches above the ground, the reference point should be at the same height as the optical center. If the optical center is more than 36 inches, the reference point should be 2 inches below the headlamp optical center.
How can you install a bulb properly to get a good beam pattern?
It depends on what type of LED headlight and what type of headlight housing you have. People ask, are LEDs safe for automotive use? The answer is yes and no. There is nothing wrong with LED technology itself, as long as the light is designed properly for the headlight housing you’re installing it in. You can even get a bad beam pattern from a poorly designed halogen bulb. Just like your engine can run smoothly with the right type of engine oil from different brands, but will not work properly with wrong formula oil even from an OEM oil manufacturer.
Let’s look at a factory halogen bulb design working in a projector housing and reflector housing
What’s wrong with lots of LED headlights?
In order to have a replacement light source work as well as the stock bulb and get a clear beam pattern, we need to design the replacement light as close as original as possible. Let’s look at some examples.
This is the reason we mentioned earlier that although there are a lot of high power/high efficacy LED chips available, only a few of them can qualify to be used in LED headlights. And often, we choose to design and customize LED chips for LED headlights to ensure the design is as close to the stock bulbs as possible.
Are LED headlights better for reflector housing or projector housing