Achieving brighter results with aftermarket LED headlights is a given with practically any option available on the market. With aftermarket LED, however, brighter is not always better choice for your car.
In our years of experience in the auto industry, we have come across many designs that will utilize diodes on several sides of the LED bulb and some extremely odd designs that even introduce a projector lens inside the headlight assembly. These are neat designs and all but which ones work better for your housing? Maybe you have projector lens that are retrofitted, or a traditional reflector housing that most cars come with from the factory.
Again, brighter is not always the better choice as you will lose a lot of intensity and focus with a design that does not mimic the same light source position (and size!) as the filament when using the factory lamps. Sure, the bulb will be extremely bright outside of the housing, but you need it to be bright down the road as well! What good is it to have a very bright bulb that does not focus the beam correctly? And, it must also project a beam pattern so that the higher light intensity does not distort any oncoming traffic or blind others through their rear-view mirrors.
The LED chip placement and physical size is essential to both the light pattern and focus of the beam.
So how exactly do you achieve this?
It’s simple! Use a light source that retains the same physical size and chip placement as the factory filament.
Why is this necessary?
Well, an easier way, for anybody, to understand (and explain) why this is essential to your light pattern is to take a hand-held flashlight as an example. Flashlights have an adjustable knob to allow you to adjust the focus and help concentrate the light to a single area. The housing has been scientifically measured to use the light source in the exact position to create a proper beam that works well with the adjustment feature and reflective properties of the housing. The adjustment, essentially, just moves the light source in and out of the housing.
To get a wider light spectrum, you have to bring the light source closer to the lens by twisting it one way and you will see the light pattern begin to spread as well as begin to reduce the light intensity, however, you cover a larger area where light is hitting.
If you twist it in the opposite direction, the light source moves deeper in the housing creating more focus and reduces to a smaller area allowing more light to concentrate.
The intensity also begins to increase due to where the light is being concentrated.
Here are how the patterns may appear for flashlights and it’s a similar concept when comparing to diode position and size with aftermarket LED headlights.
It is a similar concept with aftermarket LED headlights.
If you introduce multiple light source to the handheld flashlight, the added light source will project its own beam and work differently with the adjustment feature and the reflector. Aside from the original bulb in the flashlight, the added light source will also cast its own beam and you will see the focus and concentration change as the bulbs adjusted in focus. This is when you begin to see dark spotting, and some hot spots where the two light patterns overlap and provide light concentration. This works for a handheld flashlight, but not when you are operating your vehicle with other drivers where safety is very important and regulations are in place to ensure the safety of yourself and others driving around you.
With aftermarket LED headlights, if you introduce more light sources, it will begin to change the focus and concentration of the light beam. In a sense, it’s almost like you are putting in multiple bulbs to the housing and if you have more than 1 bulb, well, you can image what type of light pattern you will see as every bulb will begin to cast its own pattern creating the same dark spotting and hot spots as described above.
For most headlight housings, an optimal LED headlight bulb should be able to emit light evenly in the housing so that it provides symmetrical light coverage in the housing. One side cannot be brighter than the other and the diodes should be in a similar position to the filament to be as close to the factory filament as possible.
Two sided LED headlights are, by far, the best options to be using for all types of headlight housings as they will allow a symmetrical light disbursement versus designs that introduce multiple sides like our G1/G2 series headlights or those very weird headlights we have seen from many China manufacturers that use 4 sides or even a projector lens!
The physical size of the diodes are another important factor!
The housing, whether it’s a reflector, or projector, has been manufactured and design to work with the bulb it includes. If you change out the bulb, you want to keep the light source the same both in physical size and placement, compared to the factory bulb to retain the original light pattern. The housing has been scientifically measured to project the best pattern and provide the best focus through that light source size and position. By using this position, it allows an optimal light pattern for the headlight housing whether you are at 10 feet or 150 feet away from a wall or another driver.
So next time you are driving with your factory headlights on, ask yourself? Would you prefer brighter results with ‘who-knows’ what type of light pattern you will see, but the bulb is bright, or would you prefer to keep the same light pattern you have now, but reap all the benefits of LED technology.
If you are not sure about what option is best for your headlight application, give the guys at JDM a call!
We can guide you in finding the best LED lighting solution for not just the driver, and the car, but for the headlight housing as well.
‘JDM ASTAR…making America bright again!”