LED lamps for cars

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LED bulbs for cars can be an interesting way to modernize the look of your car.  The advertisers lead you to believe the light will be brighter, but in some cases thats not true.

They also make a big deal of saving energy.

Well lets put that in context.  If you have a small car - a 1.1 petrol engine will be about 60hp.  Thats 45000W.  All your sidelights and rear lights together add up to about 100W.  Thats 0.2%.    Better to save your money and hoover out the air filter element.  It costs you more to drive with a window open.

So lets look at brightness.  The value that tells you this is the lumens.  Here are some typical ratings for ordinary car bulbs, compared with values for LED bulbs

w5w                             60 lm        w5w white led using 5 * 5050 SMD: 80 lm  

The light from an ordinary bulb comes out in all directions. The w5w is made to do the same.  So you will get a little more light, and a lot whiter.  Thats good.

P21                              240 lm      18*5050SMD etc200lm  : Cree Q5 5W red brake light  300 lm

Pick the right bulbs and you will get more lumens.  If it doesn't tell you how many lumens DONT BUY IT.

The light from an ordinary bulb comes out in all directions. The Cree q5 brake lights and similar put all the light out in 1 direction so you will get more light where its wanted.  And because it starts off red, there is not much lost through the red tail light lens.
The same for yellow indicator leds.  So these can be good replacements.

However  be aware the light IS more directional, so while cars directly behind you will see you better, those to the side will not; so bulbs that combine a CREE led with some SMD leds may be a good compromise.

H1 halogen headlight   1200 lm      
LEDs cannot compete for two reasons.  First, high power LEDs get hot, and your headlight housing has no provision for keeping them cool.  Second, the headlight unit is designed to focus the light from a very small filament like the one in the H1 halogen bulb.  So it doesnt matter HOW MANY LUMENS the bulb produces, if its not coming from a tiny source its no good.

In short

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