9 Things You Should Avoid When Upgrading to LEDs!

Ever had that situation where you buy an LED headlight online and go to install it only to damage the bulb either because there was not enough room or the connectors did not match?

Have you run into other problems where you wish you knew so that you can avoid this and save the trouble?  It can be related to getting pulled over, bulb size of your LEDs was off, or possibly a bulb that did not do any justice on lighting performance based off information you found online.

We have experienced our own situations when we first started using LEDs and so we want to pass some knowledge to you that we wish we knew before attempting our first LED install.

Here are 9 Things You Should Not Do With Your LEDS.

Do not attempt to install the wrong bulb size.

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On the left is a bayonet 27W incandescent bulb. On the right is our T25 Wedge type 3020 13-SMD White LED bulbs.

We have all been there before!  This can be very tedious experience especially on vehicles that have intensive labor involved just to gain access to the lamps.  Before attempting any installation, always check the connectors of your LEDs and compare to the connectors of the factory bulbs.  You can save yourself a lot of time and labor through this simple practice.

Most cars do not require intensive labor to simply check the headlight socket or bulb connectors.

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Correct bayonet sized LED bulb to replace the 27W incandescent bulb.

Also, check reliable sources that come directly from your vehicles manufacturer.  The owner’s manual and the factory bulbs are two of the most reliable sources that will help identify the size you need for your vehicle.  If you are not sure, the guys at JDM Astar can guide you.

 

Do not use the illegal colored lights on the road.

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Backup lamps are required to be white or warm white in most states.

Ever drive around a law enforcement vehicle with blue fog lights?  Have you come across other cars that have similar colored blue lamps?  Please do not do this!  In some states, certain colors and color temperatures are illegal for automotive road use.  A good example is using some blue lamps that impersonate a law enforcement vehicle, or any lamps that you see often on emergency type vehicles such as flashing/strobe white/red lights.

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Blue lamps are recommended best for show cars or off road vehicles.

Always consult your states local laws and regulations about legal color temperatures to be using for specific lighting applications like turn signals, backup lights, headlights, and fog lights.  If you are not sure what to use, just stick to the original color that the vehicle used from the manufacturer and you will be fine.

 

Do not leave any connections exposed when wiring an LED lamp or other LED components to your vehicle.

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A wire tap that is made to supply power to an auxiliary lamp must be sealed to protect against moisture contact.

Oxidation is a pain.  It can lead to shortages and in some cases lead to damages to the vehicle.  If you are working with light bars, any rock lights, or some unique LED auxiliary lamps, always seal up your connections that are not in a sealed housing.  This can also apply to other aspects such as wiring in a load resistor to bypass hyper flash.

Resistors are typically left outside of the lamp housings to prevent the heat from affecting the LEDs.  This applies to both universal resistors and pre-wired resistor harnesses.  This, unfortunately, exposes the connection to environment and so you want to seal up the connections or taps made.  Leaving them exposed is asking for trouble and may lead to rusted metal parts or possibly cause a short in the vehicles lamp circuit.

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Connections that are left outside of the lamp housing are exposed to moisture and are prone to oxidation if not sealed properly.

If you are converting from a factory HID to an aftermarket LED lamp then you should also seal up any taps made that are left outside of a housing.

 

Do not let your resistors or decoders just hang out!

In the automotive industry, the purpose of a load resistor is to trick a car circuit into detecting the power draw of a normal filament bulb.  In reality, you are actually using a 5W LED bulb combined with a 20W resistor is similar, if not the same, to the original bulb which typically have a wattage range of 20W-25W on turn signal applications.

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Resistors installed to a vehicle must be mounted to prevent direct contact to the resistor unit.

Like your factory bulb, these resistors draw a lot of power but rather then using it for a specific function, they simply burn it.  This translates to a lot of heat and by leaving the resistors dangling, it will melt any plastic components in the area that it has prolonged contact with.  If the resistor units have prolonged contact to a painted metal surface, of the car, the paint will eventually bubble up and damage and even affect the primer.  If the resistors touch non-metal material, you can expect smoke or burning smells in the area or whatever it contacts as resistors can run average temperatures as high as 235° F.

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“The weight may pull down on the LED headlight its connected to which will cause wear on any solder connections”

For decoders (some refer to them as CAN bus decoders, anti-flicker harnesses, Error Cancellers, etc), they do not run as hot, however, they are a lot heavier.  The weight, combined with road vibrations, may pull down on the LED headlight its connected to which causes unnecessary wear on any solder connections by the butt of the bulb.  Through time, and heat outputted by the fan/heat sink, this will eventually lead to a problem within the bulbs circuit.  Always mount them down to keep them from dangling all over the place or from potentially damaging your LED headlight bulbs as well as other parts in the area.

 

Do not use the incorrect type of LED bulb for the vehicles application.

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H11 80W High Power LED bulb designed to replace a 20W-35W fog light. On the right is an H11 55W Halogen bulb which are commonly found on low beam lamps.

Ever install a standard 5W LED fog light LED replacement bulb to replace a 55W halogen fog light and the results are no where near as bright as what you had?  What about installing this style LED bulb into a headlight type application to replace a 55W halogen bulb only to be disappointed by the results?

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Using this type of LED bulb as a headlight will actually reduce lighting results since the bulb is designed for driving or fog lamps which typically use a 20W-35W halogen bulb.

There is reasoning behind this and it’s mainly due to the wattage or type of bulb the vehicle is using and the type of LED bulb you are trying to use in order to replace it.

Here is a cheat sheet that will provide a reference on the suggested type of LED replacement to be using based off the wattage of the factory incandescent/halogen bulb(s).

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Let’s take a Honda Accord as an example.  Accords typically use an H8 12V 55W Halogen bulb.  A halogen bulb with a wattage range of 55W is commonly found on headlight applications for most vehicles on the market and essentially labels this type of bulb as a headlight replacement.  If you install an LED replacement bulb that has a wattage range of 5W (intended for running/fog lamps) to replace the 55W factory bulb( that happens to be a headlight) then results you want may not be what you expect. The factory lamps can be expected to be brighter simply because it uses more power.  Now, if you try a 25W ‘LED HEADLIGHT’ (uses a fan or passive heat sinks) to replace a 55W halogen bulb then the results can be expected to be brighter with your LEDs.

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“A good tip is that any halogen bulb that’s above 50W should be using an LED replacement that runs a fan or passive thermal heat sink.”

Always understand what the wattage range of your factory bulbs are to know what type of LED bulb you should be using on that particular lamp.  This mainly applies to front head lighting such as fogs, lows, highs, or dual beam headlights.  If you are not sure what LED to go for, just look at the wattage of the original bulb and reference the guide above.  A good tip is that any halogen bulb that’s above 50W should be using an LED replacement that runs a cooling fan or a passive thermal heat sink.

And of course, you can always reach out to the guys at JDM for any guidance on the LED replacement that you should be using for that application.

Never run an LED replacement right next to a filament bulb that is not isolated in the lamp housing.

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“When you have two filament bulbs that are setup in the housing this way, you should almost always have to replace both bulbs if you upgrade any to LED.”

A lot of vehicle housings, whether they’re front headlamp lighting or rear tail lighting tend to use 3-5 bulbs per housing and are typically isolated from the others such as turn signals, and headlights.    For those vehicles that run more than 1 bulb in the same housing and area, where the two bulbs are not isolated like a turn and low beam headlight, you never want to replace only 1 of those bulbs to an LED but rather both.

When you have two filament bulbs that are setup in the same housing this way, you should almost always have to replace both bulbs if you upgrade any to LED.  You must understand that LED technology has ALWAYS had a heat threshold as they are computer components/electronics, and like any electronic device, they do not like heat!  When you run an LED bulb right next to a filament bulb, there will be two heat sources in the housing one of the being substantially higher than what the other can handle.  The LED is capable of resisting temperatures generated by the LED bulb itself which means the increased heat of the filament bulb its sitting next to will have a major impact on the LED circuit and driver performance.  The heat outputted by an incandescent or halogen bulb is typically 2-3 times higher compared to its LED counterpart.  This is due to the amount of power driven to the bulb.  The heat outputted by the filament bulb will stress the diodes and IC driver.  Once temperatures begin to climb above the threshold, it may cause the LED bulb to fail prematurely.  The IC driver will first pulse the signal to the LED circuit in order to save the diodes but if temperatures continue to climb or stay excessively high then the driver will eventually cease or the increased temperatures may burn the diodes on the chips which my begin to brown up.

Always replace both bulbs to LED so that the amount of heat outputted by the two bulbs is maintained to a minimal in order to allow the LED to operate at its optimal temperatures.

 

Never leave your headlight housings exposed to the elements such as moisture.

Luckily, this does not affect all halogen bulbs/housings.  Only specific sized halogen bulbs will use an o-ring or some type of gasket to provide a water proof seal for the headlamp housing.  When going over to an LED replacement headlight, the LED replacement typically uses the same seals or gaskets that the original bulbs use thus providing the same peace of mind in protection of the housing against any moisture breach.

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H7 headlight housing using a fan style LED headlight that is physically too large to allow the factory cover to be replaced.

What about for those unique sizes that do not have gaskets such as H1, H3 or H7?  Well, you do not want to leave these exposed!  These housings tend to utilize a poly carbonate dust cap, or rubber boot cover.  The purpose of the cover is to protect and seal the housing against moisture and unknown contaminants such a dust or debris.  When upgrading to an aftermarket LED headlight bulb, the factory covers usually do not have enough clearance to allow the LED headlight bulb to fit under it.  Most will usually leave this off.  Since the original bulb lacks an o-ring gasket, the LED will have the exact same setup so by leaving the cap off, you will be exposing the housings to the elements.

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For H1, H3, and H7 headlight housings, you CANNOT leave them exposes as this will introduce moisture to the housing.

There are a lot of aftermarket covers available online that allows the LED bulb to have more clearance to fit inside, however, the better options are those that allow the LEDs to breathe.  You can certainly use dust covers and seal up any of our LEDs, however, this may affect the operating temperatures.  Being exposed to air flow allows optimal cooling of the bulb and will ensure a long life so always keep that in mind.  The covers we recommend should allow the LED headlight bulbs fan or heat sink to be exposed.  The areas around the LED bulb or dust cover can easily be sealed up by using automotive silicone or some type of silicone adhesive that is weather proof and seals against moisture.  With this setup, you can expect the LEDs to operate at its optimal temperatures while still provide peace of mind of protecting the headlamp housing.  Lastly, an alternative is to modify the existing cover and seal up any exposed openings.  Of course, we always suggest leaving the original parts unmodified but for some, this may be the best and most cost effective solution.

 

If your vehicle is a daily driver or driven frequently, DO NOT SMOKE or TINT THE LENSES!

This is a no brainer and only benefit is that it looks cool.  This, unfortunately, only works for automotive trade shows or show cars.

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Smoked headlight lenses can reduce light penetration by up to 40% depending on the tint.

By jeopardizing the clarity of your headlights or tail lights lenses, it will compromise the intensity of the lamp, and in some cases, render any type of bulb useless and unsafe to use on the vehicle simply because it’s not bright enough to penetrate the tint.  Most will usually use a 60W HID system on a smoked headlight for that overkill output, but at that level of power, the innards of the headlight housings will be affected by the heat and eventually lead to warped housings or damages to the lens or reflective properties of the fixture in the long run.

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Dark tints are recommended for show only as they compromise headlamp brilliance, driver visibility and drive safety.

This is a big safety concern and definitely something we never suggest to do on a vehicle that’s frequently used on the road.  Most states do not have laws and regulations in place for smoking or tinting your lenses but if the lamps are not bright enough, or pose a safety concern to you or other motor vehicles then this is probable cause for law enforcement to pull you over and may write you a citation.

 

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Smoked tail lights make it virtually impossible to see a brake light during daylight resulting in risks of rear end collisions.

If you smoke up your tail lights, it’s the same safety risks but instead of compromising your visibility you are at risk of being rear ended by others behind you.  This one is worse as you have no control over the situation.  If somebody is speeding behind you, a smoked lenses will make it difficult for that driver to see you stopping at a distance.  With a dim tail and brake light, it’s hard for the driver to see you slowing down and well….you know what may happens next.

If law enforcement gets involved then the smoked lenses may also be clear evidence against you so keep those housings red and do not tint the headlights either.

 

Do not compromise your LED headlights cooling mechanism!

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LED headlights will reach a high temperature fairly quick if the LED lamp is used without any cooling such as a passive heat sink.

This applies to aftermarket LED headlights that have mechanical fans or feature a thermal passive heat sink for cooling.  These type of lamp require those cooling mechanisms as a form of removing heat directly from the diodes.  Heat will dissipate directly from the light source, through the metal body of the bulb, and exhaust at the heat sink or fan.  Some LED headlights on the market allow the heat sink to be removed such as our 8th Generation Headlights.  These features tend to provide versatility when trying to install to the vehicles headlamp housing.  For some housings, leaving the heat sink off allows the bulb to fit in the confined area, however, this is how the bulb cools down.  Without a way to dissipate, the diodes will eventually reach temperature that will compromise performance, efficiency, and shortens the life of the bulb.  Heat and LEDs do not mix which is why most will utilize some type of cooling mechanism, whether it’d be a mechanical fan, thermal heat sinks, or something new we have not yet heard of.  NEVER run an LED without any way of cooling it down.

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“Without a way to dissipate (heat), the diodes will eventually reach temperatures that will compromise performance, efficiency, and shortens the life of the diodes.”

Most importantly, do not block the bulbs ability to cool down.  Some housings use dust covers/caps which you can use with LED, however, operating temperatures tend to climb higher so it’s usually suggested to allow the LEDs to vent out all heat.  Avoid trying to cram the LEDs drivers into a confined space where air flow will be extremely limited as heat will affect the performance of the drivers once it reaches a high temperature.  There are many options for a replacement dust cover which will easily fit and work with most aftermarket LED headlights. For those finicky sizes like H1, and H3’s, you can always apply automotive silicon paste to help provide a seal in any areas that are exposed or may potentially leak moisture into the lamp housing area.

For questions or concerns on upgrading to LED lighting, JDM ASTAR is available Monday-Friday 9:30AM-5:30PM PST for all your car lighting needs.

Give the guys at JDM at call and they will gladly assist you to help ensure a seamless installation with any LED you install or any lighting upgrades made to the vehicle, and remember…

“LED JDM Astar light your way down the road!”

-JDM ASTAR Team

 

 

 

Easiest, Best and Most Effective Lighting Upgrades for ANY car!

Car lighting is an essential requirement for driving your motor vehicle at night or for road-driving safety.

With how popular and advanced aftermarket LED has become today, who’s to know what lights you should be upgrading first?  If you have a burnt out incandescent bulb then of course that would be the first to go, but for those seeking brilliance and/or performance lighting, what lighting mods should you do first?

In this article, we discuss the most effective upgrades that will provide night and day difference and improve driving experience, safety, driving noticeability and visibility.  This revolves mainly around cost effective upgrades to the simplest installations that require minimal labor and provide a major difference from what was in there before.  There is no given order as to what should be done first, however, these would be the better ones to try out for first LED install before deciding on converting the entire vehicle over to LED.

 

Maps & Dome Lights

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JDM Astar patented T10 PX 3-SMD (US Patent D814,666) LED bulbs installed to the map and dome lights of a 2016 Honda Accord LX

This is the most cost effective upgrade.  Most vehicles come included with cab lighting and will usually feature 2 lamps that sit on the roof of the vehicles cab and typically by the driver and passenger sides.  Picture yourself holding a map and whatever lamp throws light to that map would be the map. Map lights commonly use a T10 wedge type bulb (ex. 194, 168, W5W, etc) or festoon bulbs (ex. 578, DE3175, etc) and typically run $8-$15 for a pair.  There are also 10pks available that will upgrade both maps and even have spare bulbs for other lamps in the interior that run the same sized bulb.  Most vehicles will use a 5W incandescent that is limited to an average of 50-70 lumens per bulb whereas interior T10 LED bulbs produces an average of 75lm-220lm.

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Side by side comparison between DE3175 5W incandescent versus 31mm 3020 6-SMD CAN bus LEDs on the map lights of a later model Toyota.

Dome lighting is very common on sedans, coupes, sport utility vehicles and trucks as well as other commercial vehicles.  Dome lighting provides light coverage for a majority of the cab or interior of the vehicle and usually have 1 lamp.  Like map lights, dome lights will use an average 5W incandescent bulb.  An aftermarket festoon LED can produce results as high as 200lm making it the only necessary lamp to turn on for your interior as well as the most cost effective upgrade that anybody can do.

 

Replacing an interior map or dome light is simple and anybody can do it.  Most vehicles do not require special tools and you can upgrade your interiors main lamps for as a low as $30!  Interior lamps are the most effective and affordable upgrades that can be made for any vehicle.

 

Backup Lamps

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2016 Honda Accord LX upgraded backup lamps with patented design 921 GX-3020 18-SMD CAN bus LED bulbs (US Patent D815,762)

Backup lights are essential for safety when in reverse and as important as safety, the brilliance and visibility is also important.  Most vehicle manufacturers will use a T20 (ex. 7443), T25, (ex. 3157) or a smaller T15 (ex. 921) wedge type bulb to provide light while reversing your vehicle.  Most backup lamps have an average wattage of 20W-27W giving you a luminosity that ranges from 150lm-400lm and usually have a dull warm white look.

With aftermarket LED, you can play with your brilliance.  On the market, most backup LEDs average from 500lm-1000lm!  Some unique options such as our patent 921 3020 18-SMD LEDs will even change the pattern and light disbursement providing advantages such as wider beam pattern, and/or further reach making reversing your car that much easier!

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Raw image of a side by side comparison between our patented 921 GX-3020 18-SMD LEDs versus the factory 921 15W incandescent lamp.

For safety, it is not question as to why every car should have an upgraded backup light LED installed.

 

Headlights

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When LED first made its way into the auto industry, the options were limited but as new and innovative designs were released, you now have options to play with and are capable of offering better results over other aftermarket options such as High Intensity Discharge bulb.

Most vehicles run either a single beam bulb or a dual beam bulb to provide lighting for low beams or high beams.  Brand new single halogen beam bulbs have an average of 50W-55W providing about 1000lm-1400lm where as a dual beam bulb runs at 55W/65W (Lows/Highs) providing a similar rating for the low beam filament and increasing the intensity as the high beam filament engages.

Keep in mind, older technologies such as halogen or incandescent burn the filament inside the bulb causing wear through time and usage resulting in loss of light.  Your headlights will not appear the same in light intensity after 1 year of driving the vehicle.  For aftermarket LED headlight, however, it’s an entirely different story!

Most of our LED headlights provide an average luminosity of 3000lm-4000lm that practically doubles if not triples the output of the factory lighting.  The best thing about using JDM ASTAR headlights is that there are options not just for the car but options for the driver.  There is a solution for both car and driver regardless of your budget so if you ever have any questions and not too sure what you would like to upgrade first, contact the go to guys of LED lighting.  Hit up JDM ASTAR and they can guide you to answer any questions about car lighting and help you find the best lighting solution for your car.

JDM Astar

Lighting up your world….one car at a time!

-JDM ASTAR Team

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Understanding Lumen, Lux, and Candela

You just got a new car and are eager to throw in some new LED headlights.  You find a source and see ‘4000 lumens per bulb’ and are probably scratching your head wondering, “What are lumens?”

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This is a question we see often and it’s definitely something to be looking at when planning on upgrading any lamps to an aftermarket LED bulb.

First, you must understand that there is more than 1 method to measure light and certain methods call for a specific scenario in order to understand how to measure the light to give you an idea of what type of lighting results you will see.

The most common methods at measuring light are Lumens, Lux and Candela.

What are Lumens?

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Lumens is total amount of light emitted by the light source.

Lumens is the preferred method to measure light for most manufacturers that produce aftermarket LED products as this is the simplest to calculate for most and easiest to understand for any professional mechanic or auto enthusiast that is new to the industry.

Lumens is the unit of measure of light which provides a total rating for light that is visible to the human eye or the total amount of light emitted by the source for short.  A flash light can produce an average of 1000-1500 lumens which gives you an idea of how much it will throw.  Most of our LED headlights produce an average of 4,000 lumens and go as low as 2,000 lumens or as high as 6,000 lumens depending on the design and what you need for your vehicle.  Smaller LEDs for interior produce an average of 50-220 lumens.  For aftermarket LEDs, lumens is the total amount of light being emitted by the diodes.

What is Lux?

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Photo credit by Instagram User @decams_grands_wj

Lux is short for luminous flux.  Lux is the total amount of light that hits a surface.  Let’s take your vehicles backup lights as an example.  You just installed an LED bulb that shines about 500lm per bulb.  If you take a flat piece of card board that is roughly 1 square meter then your readings will measure to 500 lux per bulb for light hitting the card board.  If you step back a few feet to where the light then hits 4 square meters or 4 pieces of card board then it will divide total lumen or 500 lux by 4 and give you a lux reading of 125 lux per bulb.  This essentially reduces light concentration among each square meter but covers a larger surface area.

As mentioned earlier, there are several factors that come into play when measuring lux and some cars are not fully stock especially those who love to mod there vehicles.  Sometimes you have 4in lift kits that changes height, or an aftermarket housing that focus the light differently to increase lux.  Other examples would be distance or angle of the light emitted.

lux and lumens

Lux is the total amount of light that hits a surface.

For this reason, most automotive lighting manufacturers prefer to provide a lumen rating but if you go to a local hardware store and want to pick up a flash light or a bulb for your living room, the lux ratings are usually displayed since the scenarios are very common for those type of applications regardless of how they are used.  For automotive, it’s a different game due to the factors that come into play such as the housing, bulb design, and/or light source.

Lux is good to understand so you will know how far out your backup lights shine or even your LED light bars but remember the distance from the surface and angle of the beam are the most common factors that will determine actual lux readings.

What is Candela?

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Candela is a professional term for candle power.  Candela is another unit of measure for light and not something automotive manufacturers prefer to use but definitely good to understand for anything related to lighting such as aftermarket automotive LEDs.  Candela is an obsolete unit of measure of light due to lumen ratings, however, for applications like law enforcement vehicles and/or aviation vessels are categories where this is used.  This would benefit other applications that need light noticeability or to be seen at a distance.

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High candela ratings are essential for lamps found in planes, helicopters, and emergency type vehicles.

Candela is the measurement to describe how bright the light source is.  You are probably thinking, “Is this not the same as lumens?”  There is definitely a difference between both. Lumens is total light emitted.  Candela is total light emitted that is visible at a distance to understand how bright the light source is capable of.   You can say candela is a way to describe brightness rather than how much light is emitted.  1 Candela is equivalent to light emitted by 1 candle.

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1 Candela is equivalent to light emitted by 1 candle.

A better way to understand candela is to take a laser pointer as an example.  The light from a laser will not be bright at all.  If you back up a 100 feet or so, you will still be able to see the light from the laser at a distance since all light emitted is concentrated to a single and small area.  Even at a distance, the concentration of light is still focused to a small area allowing you to see the laser.  The candle power, or candela will be very high, however, lumen and lux ratings will be low.

Next time you are in the market to upgrade your lamps to LED, don’t just scratch your head and research to figure this out.  Let us do the work for you!  We can guide you and help you find the best LED light source for your car to help improve drive safety, visibility, and brilliance.

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Photo credit by Instagram Sponsor @uptomyassinbrass.

And remember….

‘LED JDM ASTAR light your way on the road!”

-JDM ASTAR Team

 

LED chip placement and why it is essential to your headlights

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.

8th Gen Focal Point

 

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.

Flashlight spread

Light spectrum covers a larger surface area with reduced intensity

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.

Flashlight focused

Light pattern is focused and concentrated to a smaller area for a sharp beam pattern.

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.

Beam on the road

Properly oriented LED headlights with a light source that mimics filament position and size provides a focused beam pattern.

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!”

Fans or Heat sinks. Which one is better for your LED Headlights?

Aftermarket LED Headlights are available in various designs and now have many options in color, and output. One thing that most of these headlights have in common is how they are cooled.  Most economical or strong output LED headlights will utilize a fan, and the more efficient options will utilize a passive heat sink as a form of cooling the diodes.

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So what is better to use in your car?

This is an excellent question and we are sure most have come across.  Both are equally beneficial and we do not believe one is bad over the other as they both provide there advantages.

The best option is what caters most to the vehicle, and the driver.

By vehicle, it depends on the vehicle, the bulb size, how the factory bulb is secured, and the overall clearance available.

Here are two examples:

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(Sponsored 2015 Scion FRS by Armani Camacho IG: @frslow_armani)

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(Fellow JDM Astar team members personal daily driver vehicle)

By driver, it comes down to how long you intend to use your LED headlights, how much intensity you are looking for and where you would be driving through that will expose the headlights to different driving conditions such as snow, off road, or extreme weather.

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(Ayrton Senna da Silva was a Brazilian racing driver who won three Formula One world championships for McLaren in 1988, 1990 and 1991, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest Formula One drivers of all time.)

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(Big rig drivers or construction drivers drive and need lighting on nightly runs.)

 

A passive heat sink is the next big thing for automotive LED technology.

Passive heat sink designs tend to utilize a bulky metal heat sink that provides surface area for heat to dissipate through.  New designs offer thermal radiation through bendable fins or braided aluminum strips.  Passive heat sink headlights offer the following advantages:

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(NX Series LED Headlights with full aluminum body with a passive heat sink design)

Durability.  A passive heat sink is only capable to dissipating so much heat.  Due to the rate of cooling, the diodes and internal drivers must be durable and capable of handling higher temperatures.  Since cooling is not as fast, the diodes should be a premium type diode, or branded as to allow the ratio of lumens to wattage to be unaffected.  Branded diodes come directly from popular sources in the United States such as Philips, CREE, and other manufacturers.  The quality is higher is lumen to wattage ratio and efficiency will be high.

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(Philips Luxeon ZES offer high heat resistance and lumen to wattage ratio.)

No mechanical parts.  Heat sinks are made of solid alloy aluminum and some heat sinks may use different grades of aluminum for increasing thermal radiation.  Since there are not mechanical parts moving on the bulb, the LED will not make any noise and run silently.  The headlight can be exposed to off road conditions or conditions where there are lot of back/dirt roads where gravel or any type of debris kicks up.  With a heat sink, there is no concern for moisture to wet the fan and begin to accumulate dust and debris.  If you go mudding with your Jeep and the heat sink is caked on and full of mud then simply give it a rinse and go on about your day.

 

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(6S headlights use a flexible thermal heat sink with no mechanical fans)

Higher efficiency.  With heat sinks cooling rate being slower compared to a motorized fan, efficiency is key with this type of LED lamp.  Usually, the higher the output, the higher the driver power.  The higher the driver power, the more heat stress that is applied on the diodes. Since a heat sink can only provide a limited rate of cooling, the internal IC driver must be able to provide adequate lighting with minimal power consumption as to help maintain heat output to a minimal.  Also, the higher the efficiency the longer the operating times and lifespan.

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(Smart IC drivers offer the best drive power and efficiency for aftermarket LED headlights.)

Fans still hold the title as an optimal option for cooling any aftermarket LED. 

 

These fans definitely have their advantages over heat sink designs such as:

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Intensity.  With a fan that is capable of providing a higher rate of heat dissipation and cooling, there is a wider lighting spectrum in the intensity you can play with.  With a faster cooling mechanism, you can drive more power to the diodes to reach an intensity rating that is substantially higher.  Whether you need stronger lighting for commercial or work usage, or simply want something slick for a stance or show car, mechanical fans are definitely a good choice when seeking the brightest option possible.

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(G4 headlight low and high combo.  Get two sets at a similar cost of a premium set LED headlights.)

Fits any budget! Since high velocity fans are one of the first technologies introduced in the automotive LED lighting industry for cooling and with all the latest innovations that technology has, of course the cost will be lower.  Earlier technologies tend to retain a reduce cost from how they were sold when they first hit the market.  With new options for cooling being introduced, the earlier options will retain a lower value or cost since there is something newer or better available.  This allows anybody to try an LED headlight for their vehicle so if you are not sure and do not want to make a hefty investment but would like to improve lighting and drive safety, this is definitely the route to take.  You will certainly have options that fit any budget!

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(As heat radiates from the diodes, the fan is already extracting heat to maintain optimal temperatures.)

Can handle longer operating times.  Since day one that LED technology was invented, one thing that they have always had in common is the resistance to heat.  LED is just not too fond of heat as they are electronic components and fail in high temps.  They are not built like a filament bulb that translate a majority of the power used to heat, but rather take the power used to convert it to usable light.  With LED having a heat threshold, its essential to the life and operating time that the cooling mechanism is effective and capable of keeping up with heat emitted.  With fans being substantially faster at cooling any type of diode, it is the preferred choice to use in situations where power is driven to the LED circuit for prolonged amount of time.  A good example is a snow plow, or construction vehicles. These scenarios call for a headlight that can cool itself at the same rate that heat is being emitted which only a high velocity fan can deliver.

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(NX Series Headlights for low beam, or high beams that feature a passive heat sink)

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(Turbo Fan Series LED Headlights that push air flow for even faster cooling.)

Here at JDM ASTAR, we provide various options and designs.  We cater to every scenario, car, and driver.  Our various designs have continuously delivered and surpassed expectations for years and going so if there is something that does not work or fit well in your case, you best believe that we will have a solution available that not only caters to your car but caters to your safety and driving needs.

If you have questions about what to use?  Give the guys at JDM a call and they will gladly provide guidance in identifying your driving conditions and recommend a solution that will improve your experience in car lighting.

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Headlights that fit your budget….Welcome the G4 series headlights!

g4 2.jpgUpgrading to aftermarket LED lighting on your car can come off as a bit of a concern for some.  It can certainly look intimidating, at first, especially for those that may not have the experience or tools to work on their cars.

When automotive LED made its way into the industry, costs very high and as the market began to grow, competition went up and so many brands or sellers began to offer the actual value of the product they are selling and in order to continue offering such a competitive price, they must take short cuts on quality in order to meet the demand.

This exposed the LED market and eventually gave aftermarket LEDs a bad rep.  Nowadays, any time you see an inexpensive LED headlight option on Amazon, you are very cautious about buying yet alone installing them to your vehicle.

JDM Astar is here to help address that concern for those worried about short cuts on quality or risking a bulb failure that leads to hefty repairs on your cars.  Short cuts or low quality is just not part of what we do.  JDM Astar innovates and we WILL continue to innovate in order to create a foundation of what an aftermarket LED brand should represent.

With competition growing online, we have released a budget-friendly option that will provide quality, reliability, and give you the results you long for and need.  JDM has introduced the G4 headlights to their lineup of replacement headlights.

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The G4 series headlights sets the foundation for starter LED headlight kits. They offer aviation grade aluminum that increases density and allows more heat to radiate through the body of the bulb thus increasing how fast the diodes cool down.  Combined with a high velocity fan that clocks at 1200RPM, you will have an LED lamp that will sustain itself without any concern of overheating the diodes or damaging the driver’s circuit.  With a reduced load draw, compared to most low end headlights from foreign or unknown brands, you will achieve higher efficiency thus minimizing how much heat is generated by the diodes.

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Now of course, cooling mechanism is one of the factors that ensures your LEDs operate long but another factor is the light source.  The light source is key as we have come across many sources that claim to carry genuine diodes from branded manufacturers, but when you check the facts, you realize that they are falsely advertising what they use on there products. If don’t believe us, look up the cheapest LED headlight and check the light source manufactures lineup of diodes they offer. You’d be surprise what you will find with just a little bit of research!

A good example would be claiming your lamp is using CREE chips.  CREE is a manufacturer in the US and there costs for parts are not exactly competitive so this would reflect on the cost of the LED lamp you are buying and is typically combined with high grade components such as heat sinks, and Smart IC Drivers(whether external or internal).  Remember, if you hear a popular brand is being used as the light source with your LEDs, but costs are a bit too low, then be cautious and possibly steer away from that as you certainly do not want to experience the headache it may cause yet alone the risk of damaging your vehicles housing and/or wiring.

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The G4 headlights JDM Astar offers use customized type diodes and is exclusive from JDM Astar.  We are proud of this design and we call these diodes AEC chips which are a replication of what we use on our 8th Generation headlights, the Luxeon ZES chips.  Think of our AEC chips as a JDM brand version of ZES.  High quality, and value that fits the budget!  They offer high thermal resistance, low wattage consumption, and high load capacity all with a strong intensity rating of 4,000 lumens per lamp and lux readings averaging 4,150(@ 1 meter).

Next time you are on the market for your starter LED headlight kit, reach out to us!  We can guide you and find the perfect LED headlight that will surpass expectations all while saving you money so you can upgrade even more lights on your car!

JDM ASTAR….lighting up your world, one car at a time!

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Using aftermarket LED headlights on Toyota’s with DRL/High Beam applications

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Daytime running lights are a lamps that are automatically controlled by your vehicles system and typically run during the day and is shared to the same high beam bulb but at a reduced intensity.  Some cars have dedicated daytime running lights that are separate from the headlamp applications.  If your vehicle’s DRL is separate then your car is one of the lucky few that will never run into a flickering problem on the DRL system when running aftermarket LED headlamps.

For those that have experienced a dreadful flicker on their Toyota, this article may be geared towards your situation.

First, you must understand how a daytime running light system works.  You know what it is, but how does it turn on?

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Most vehicles will be programmed to meet certain conditions in order for the DRL system to actually turn on.  The headlight switch must be set to AUTO, gear must be in DRIVE or not PARK, and there will usually be a sensor on the vehicle’s dashboard which detects light.  Once the conditions are met, your vehicles system will immediately supply a reduced current to dim the factory high beam bulb.  This applies to most Toyota’s with DRL’s and high beams on the same circuit.  To understand if your vehicle runs high beams and DRLs on the same lamps, you may either physical test the lamps or consult the owner’s manual.  You may also reach out to JDM Astar for any guidance.

Once the DRL system engages, BOOM!  You get the fast flicker on your LED headlights!

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So how do you fix this flickering issue as it is not controlled by a CANBUS system that is monitoring the lamps for problems?

Well, the fix is very simple and after extensive research and testing of various model Toyota’s with DRL systems, we have determined that Toyota runs a pulsing system where the voltage supplied is roughly 10V-12V but pulses on and off very fast which causes an LED lamp, that is sensitive to power, to light up and shut off quickly.  This only works with older model lamps like incandescent or halogen as it will never allow the burning filament, of a factory bulb, to light up to full intensity or shut off completely.  The pulsing signal keeps the bulb in a dim state.  We now have a solution for you to allow you to run aftermarket LED headlights!

JDM Astar offers a decoder module that is actually designed for CANBUS but will also bypass voltage changes that pulse on DRL systems shared with high beam headlamps.

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How does the decoder work?

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Our decoder features a built-in capacitor. A capacitor will hold a small amount of charge that will allow the current supplied to the headlight bulb to be steady thus preventing the pulsing voltage from having any effect on the diodes of the LED lamp.  Since LEDs are very sensitive to power, a pulsing voltage will also cause the diodes to flicker at the same rate that it’s pulsing.  A capacitor will also simulate a much larger amperage which will also take care of a lamp out indicator that is either triggered by the vehicles circuit, or in some cases, a CANBUS system.

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If your Toyota happens to have a high beam lamp and DRL running on the same bulb and circuit then make sure you pick up a decoder harness from JDM ASTAR.  They are plug & play and will save you a headache, as well as a traffic stop citation.  If you ever have any questions or need guidance, contact us.  Our friendly and knowledgeable representatives will be glad to assist you on resolving flickering issues on your Toyota and remember….

“LED JDM ASTAR light your way on the road!”

-JDM ASTAR Team