LED Headlights 101 for the first time buyer

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Aftermarket LEDs can upgrade the headlamps and fog lamps of your vehicle.

Have you recently tried checking what your options are on a replacement LED headlight?  Did you notice the options that are available?  They are endless aren’t they?  We agree that this can pose a problem and may confuse most that are new to car lighting.

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Upgrading your headlights has never been easier with JDM ASTAR Automotive LED Lighting.

How do you know what to look for and what should you use for your car?  Well, we address the key factors too look for on a reliable replacement LED headlight bulb that performs correctly and does not distort visibility, create glare problems to oncoming traffic, is safe to use on the road, and does not crap out on you while you are driving.

In this article, we cover the key factors on what makes a quality replacement headlight.  From the light sources, to the cooling mechanism and the circuitry involved.  There are the obvious features that an LED replacement bulb should always have and then there are the 3 key factors we believe you should look for when shopping for a replacement LED headlight or any replacement LED bulb.

Welcome to LED headlights 101….

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Custom yellow or blue LED fog lights from our latest PX Series LED bulbs.

The LIGHT SOURCE Is Key!

This is where your light comes from and should never be overlooked.  The diodes used on your headlight should be extremely small.  So small, it should not be any larger than the original filament of the factory bulb you are replacing.  The filament is the small piece of metal inside the bulb which is also the light source that glows when power is running to the bulbs.  This pertains to headlamp lighting and any other lamp that utilizes a traditional halogen or incandescent bulb.  Smaller exterior types of lamps (turns, brakes, backup, interior map lights, etc) rarely have a negative impact on results when changing the light source position or adding more light sources.  Most smaller exterior lamp housings only need a bulb that shines in a 360° orientation to provide a bright running lamp.  Also, these type of reflector housings are not meant to project a beam but rather just show the light and concentrate it in a small reflector housing in order to improve noticeability at longer distances.  (The ability to see the light at a distance is referred to as ‘candela’ and you can find more details about this unit of measure on our blog article linked here https://jdmastarblog.com/2019/01/11/understanding-lumen-lux-and-candela)

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Light source replication and position is essential for an optimal beam pattern with aftermarket LED headlights.

Changing the physical size of the light source will always affect the beam pattern.  Within the first 10ft in front of the vehicle, the changes to the pattern are minimal but once you pull out of the driveway and spread your pattern 200ft in front of the car, the changes will become extremely obvious and you will notice loss of focus, and light concentration.

The positioning of the light is also just as important as the physical size of the light source.  The positioning will affect the beam angle or height.  The deeper the light source is in the housing, the higher or ‘straighter’ the beam will project and will focus it to a smaller area making it look brighter to the human eye.  The closer the light is to the lens, the more spread and wider lighting you will have and also reduces concentration thus making it appear dimmer than what it actually is.  (This is also how those handheld LED flashlights work.  The light source moves away or closer to the lens in order to change the focus of the beam when adjusting the lamp for more or less spread/focus)

If you noticed that your beam angle has changed completely, or the light pattern is choppy you are probably running a LED headlight that moved the light source (LED chips) to a different position and/or phyiscal size.

Light sources or LED chips that are branded by reputable sources such Samsung CSP chips, Lumileds (Phillips) ZES chips, or CREE XHP series chips are also more reliable compared to a generic type.  These branded manufacturers provide some of the best LED chips that offer high thermal resistance, high light efficacy, and the highest efficiency automotive LED technology has ever seen.

You should also( and always) consider an adjustable LED headlight over one that does not provide an adjustable collar as this is what works directly with the LED headlights light source and positioning.  Reasoning to this is because most aftermarket LED headlights are universal bulbs that work on any car that takes the same bulb size.  They are not specific to any particular vehicle make or model so having an adjustable headlight allows for peace of mind at achieving optimal results with your LED headlights beam pattern and angle regardless of the housing its being installed into.

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” LED headlight should only use two sides where a light source is mounted and they should both light up at the same time “

Lastly, the direction that the LED chips are facing is another important factor.  This only affects aftermarket LED headlight replacement bulbs.  Most LED headlights will offer more than 1 side where a light source is mounted.  For optimal results, the LED headlight should only use two sides where a light source is mounted and they should both light up at the same time.  The diodes should face from left to right as most reflectors work similarly in how light is distributed when comparing the right and left hand sides. The top and bottom portions of MOST lamp housing are always completely different.

Positioning the diodes to where they are facing left to right (or at 3 & 9 o’clock), provides symmetrical light disbursement which results in a wide beam pattern that is focused and similar to what your factory lamps project.  The intensity results, however, will blow you away!

LED technology has always had a heat threshold

Like most computer components, LED has always had a heat threshold.  Older technologies are built like tanks!  This is why your factory halogen or incandescent bulbs can run over 325° just after 1 hour of use and still work fine.  They are made of glass!  LEDs, however, tend to use a form of silicon such as the chemical element germanium which is the same material you see on a variety of types of LEDs. This material offers thermal properties similarly to the plastic wedge connectors on a traditional 3057K amber incandescent bulb which we all know runs extremely hot after only a few minutes.  The diodes (part that emits the light within the LED chip), however, cannot handle the same high operating temperatures.  This is why you will always find a metal body, a large heat sink, or a high velocity mechanical fan which are all designed for the same purpose.

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Ever noticed an LED city light that is flickering or an LED chip that is out? Most common reason this is occurs will usually source from extreme temperatures and the type of light source used on the lamp.

The purpose of these parts are to provide a form of cooling down the diodes or transferring thermal energy away from the diodes.  As the diodes are running, thermal energy that is emitted transfers to the metal surface of the LED headlight bulb and radiates through the shaft/collar and exits via the cooling mechanism.  If it’s a fan, the fan will extract more thermal energy and cool the bulb faster.  If it is a heat sink, a process referred to as ‘heat dissipation’ occurs and provides cooling but at a slower rate. Heat radiates through the body of the bulb and exits through the surface area provided on the heat sink.  When the heat sink is penetrated by air flow, it will provide even faster cooling for the diodes.

An advantage on our heat sink type headlights are that they use branded or ‘high-end’ light sources that perform very well in extreme temperatures. Best part is that there is no mechanical parts for cooling thus allowing you to take them on dirt roads without a concern of a fan failure.

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Thermal heat sinks require more surface area to radiate energy and tend to be fairly large in physical appearance.

An advantage for a fan style headlight is that fans are also available in various sizes and types.  Most fans use ball bearings to reduce friction and minimize heat generated by a rotating fan.  They cool down the bulbs at a much faster rate over any other cooling mechanism. Heat sinks do not utilize the same system and tend to be bulky, or large in physical size compared to the fan style options available so its definitely something to consider if you have your mind set on a fan less LED headlight.

Both a fan and a passive thermal heat sink are equally as advantageous and we do not consider one is superior over the other as this depends on the driver, and the car you are working with.

If you plan to expose your LED headlights to typical road conditions, and weather conditions are normal (maybe rain at the most) then a heat sink lamp will perform very well, or even a fan!  Of course, a heat sink will outlast the life of any mechanical fan so that would be the preferred investment to make.

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Bendable cooling fins allows an easier installation due to the heat sink being smaller and not as bulky.

If you plan to take your headlights off road, or reside in an area with a lot of dirt roads, a fan may not be the best idea.  Debris can cause any miniature fan to cease!  You have to understand that the fan will get wet and begin to collect dust.  This can then affect the RPM rate of the fan, may lead to friction on the fan bearings which results in even more heat or reduced cooling so a heat sink would be better in this situation.

Commercial semi-truck drivers that take long road trips tend to use their headlights for hours and hours at a time should consider a fast cooling mechanism.  A heat sink style lamp would most certainly be a good investment but being that the heat sink is limited on how much and how fast thermal energy will be removed, it may be better to have a faster cooling process so that the diodes remain low in operating temperatures and handle your longer than normal hours of usage in your night drives.

Costs are also lower with fan style headlights and heat sink style lamps tend to be higher in cost but with reasoning.  Being that a fan is one of the first methods discovered, to cool down an LED headlight, the costs are usually competitive whereas a heat sink style lamp is something new to the industry.  Heat sink type headlights are typically engineered with higher end or premium light sources (to handle higher operating temps) and this will certainly reflect on the total cost of the replacement headlight kit.

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“As the diodes are running, thermal energy that is emitted transfers to the metal surface of the LED headlight bulb and radiates through the shaft/collar and exits via the cooling mechanism “

Again, a fan or heat sink both have their pros and cons and what dictates which option is the best one for you is both YOU, the driver, and the car you’re building (or just upgrading).

The Brains of your LED Headlights

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Back when LED first hit the auto industry, the electronic circuitry involved in automotive LEDs was very minimal and/or limited.  You have to understand that 10-20 years ago, the technology was nowhere near its peak and due to this type of product being something new to the industry, your options were never there.  The knowledge we have about automotive LED chips today has allowed us to evolve this technology and make it to what it is today.

In the past, LED headlights had too much wiring going on and connections were not protected through a weather proof seal. You had to use your own automotive silicone grease and heat shrink to seal up exposed connections yourself.  All the tedious wires involved had to be tucked or cable tied somehow.  The drivers were not very efficient and would send too much power. This lead to a life expectancy that is nothing compared to what you find today.

The drivers are the brains of your LED lamps and are just as important as the light source and cooling mechanism.  The driver is what dictates how long you can use the LED chips before a problem arises.  A problem being a prematurely failure, overheating, flicker (like a fail safe feature from the driver to prevent a burn out to a diode) and sudden power spikes that lead to temperature increases.

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Our 8th Generation Headlights run a unique driver with temperature control features.

A drivers purposes is to well…..drive power and maintain it steady. A driver helps control power to the diodes.  They are the crowd controllers to a Disneyland ride line!

Without the driver, the diodes will simply receive whatever current is supplied by the car which we all know spikes up when you accelerate due to the alternator.  Voltages run at 12V when the engine is off, and idles up to 14V when the engine is turned over. Temperatures will be all over the place for the diodes which can lead to a problem for the whole LED bulb.

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“Without the driver, the diodes will simply receive whatever current is supplied by the car which we all know spikes up when you accelerate…”

Most commonly used LED chips, not limited to the automotive industry, cannot even handle more than 5V so can you imagine what the LED chips in your digital cameras, iPhone camera flashes or LED home lighting fixtures would be like today if drivers did not exist.  (Say good-bye to your iPhone X flashlight!)

If you are using any high powered LED replacement bulb, always ensure that there is a driver included with the LED bulb or at least has a driver built-in it.

Drivers that are away from the body of the bulb or not built-in work best as the heat generated by the diodes will not impact the efficiency of the driver and thus allow your LEDs a substantially longer operating times and an even longer life expectancy.

Another factor to consider are resistors.  And no, we do not mean the same resistors you run in a car to bypass a hyper-flashing turn signal as those are bit too hot to use in ANY LED circuit.  We are referring to an even smaller resistor.  Resistors that are present in various home appliances, computing machines in commercial warehouses, every electrical circuit in your car, and just about any complex computing circuit you’ve ever heard of.

The main purpose of a resistor is to limit the current in an electrical circuit.  In the automotive lighting industry, a resistor built-in to an LED lamp helps simulate a larger load (draw more power or wattage), or can also help limit current in order to reduce voltage.  With less voltage means less heat stress to a driver.

Less heat stress means longer operating times and of course a happy LED!

Small types of resistors should be used in ALL LED replacement bulbs whether it’s a headlight or a smaller type bulb for your interior lamps.  The resistors will limit the current to the driver which benefits the efficiency of the driver and allows it to maintain optimal performance.  With current being reduced to the driver, heat generated by the diodes is also minimized thus improving efficiency even more.

Our CAN bus festoon LEDs utilize a heat sink to maintain efficiency due to the higher draw of power.

Larger valued resistors are also used on ‘Error Free’ type LED bulbs.  Error free bulbs are replacement LED bulbs that offer the capability of remedying a lamp out code without needing to introduce extra parts to the car.  The same bulbs you see most advertise as ‘CAN bus’ type LED bulbs use those larger valued resistors.  These resistors range between 1W-8W in value which allow an LED replacement bulb to achieve a load that is up to 10W.  This is substantially higher compared to a standard ‘non-CAN bus LED bulb’ and offers a chance at bypassing a lamp out indicator without the need to install a decoder or wire an even larger resistor in an attempt to ‘trick-the-circuit’.

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“Small types of resistors should be used in ALL LED replacement bulbs whether it’s a headlight or a smaller type bulb for your interior lamps…”

What makes them a ‘CAN bus LED bulb’ is the fact that they draw more power which is achieved through the use of a built-in resistor.

Nothing more is added to a “CAN bus LED” and does not make it any different aside from having a large draw of power.

Other benefits can be tied to the driver as well such as a temperature control feature.   As the driver or diodes reach a high temperature, the driver will begin to limit the current to the diodes which results in a flicker and minor light intensity reduction.

You are probably wondering, “Wait, are you saying my lights are going to dim and flicker?!”

Well, if you have the night vision eyes of a carnivorous animal, then you will see how the driver affects the light but due to how the human eye works, it’s virtually impossible to see this.  Only way for the human eye to capture this is through the use of light measuring tools or a video camera with specific settings.

When you get a chance, try to hold up a smartphone video camera to the light emitted from any dim LED (that has a driver built-in), you will notice the flicker behavior on the video camera which is essentially the driver doing its job. Now hold up the camera to your incandescent map lights and see how the light has no flickering behavior.

Again, the impact to the light from the driver is impossible to see with the human eye.

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A video camera or light measuring tools will capture a flicker on an LED lamp and the human eye will never be able to see this due to how our eyes capture light.

EMC-jamming or RFI(Radio Frequency Interference) protection is another benefit that your LEDs should always have as it protects the vehicle circuit from any annoying static or feedback on your FM radio which is commonly generated by a driver or a motorized fan.  It’s normal for these components to generate some form of radio frequency as that is just how the technology works, but not common for the frequency to affect your FM radio when using an LED replacement bulb on your vehicle whether its a smaller exterior bulb or a headlight type. Always look for an LED product that is “FCC Certified” or offers some form of RFI protection.  Most of our core products will offer these benefits. More budget friendly options tend to lack these essential features.

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Most of our LED products use aluminum printed circuit boards for instant thermal radiation.

We Can Help You

Aftermarket LED headlight can come off as a bit of challenge with the various sources, and options available.  Do not struggle to try and research every option available. (Believe us, we have tried it!) and let us guide you and we will find you the best lighting solutions for your vehicle.

Whether it would to be finalize that build project car you are working on, needing better lighting for a work vehicle, or just want a slick mod on your car to restore and modernize the lighting for the added convenience of seeing better at night and having a safer driving experience at night…JDM ASTAR will always have YOU covered!

We have solutions for both YOU, THE DRIVER, and THE CAR!

So remember…

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

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“JDM Astar lighting up your world….one car at a time!”

The best, the brightest, and most budget-friendly LED Headlights!

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Our company Jeep, in its early build-stages, features our LED light bars and auxiliary LED fog lamps.  Visit our IG page @jdm_astar to see its current state.

With so many options online and many local sources, it can be a bit of a challenge for you to determine what the best headlight option for your car is.  Whether you are working on a domestic vehicle, Asian or any European type, we devised this article to help you gain a bit of knowledge on our top performance LED replacement headlights for your car based off your preference in either highest intensity replacement, optimal lighting and performance results, and an option that offers the greatest value offered.

Best Headlight for Intensity

So you are in the market for some new lighting on your headlamps as the factory ones are old and worn out, not bright enough for you, or you just prefer a modern slick look on your car.  For those seeking brilliance, our NX series LED headlights are rated the highest and are also the way to go!

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Pick up your set of NX LED Headlights on JDMASTAR.COM and use code JDM ASTAR to save on your purchase.

The NX series headlights come from our heat sink lineup and are equipped with Samsung 2nd generation CSP chips.  Single beam lamps use 8 CSP chips whereas dual beam lamps provide a total of 16 chips or 2 sets of 8 diodes to provide a function for the high beam application.

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Quality guaranteed with Samsung 2nd Gen. CSP chips on our NX Series Headlights.

Whether your NX headlights are dual or single beam lamps, the intensity provided is rated at 5,000 lumens per bulb.  Increase the intensity by 3’x the rated lumens of a brand new premium halogen bulb.  If your halogen bulbs have already experienced some wear and depreciated, the intensity difference will be night and day with NX Series!

 

 

They also offer an all-in-one design for a simple installation without any concern of having to mount or secure a driver harness.  Since they use heat sinks, no concern for any mechanical fan noise.

 

Best Performance & Results All Around

You need to upgrade your headlights to something better but do not want to settle for anything but the best.  You want the best performance but also need maximum efficiency.  You want the highest quality but also need durability.  If you agree to any of these, the best choice for you are our 8th Generation Headlights.  These are our flagship model headlights and currently have a pending US Patent.

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JDM Astar’s flagship model headlights are…the 8th Gen Headlights!

The 8th Generation headlights are equipped with 8 Luxeon ZES chips from Lumileds.  This manufacture is a subdivision brand by Phillips that develop, produce, and design light emitting diodes.  They supply a percentage of the worlds demand for lighting and light sources not just in the automotive industry.  This is a brand you can trust and is also a brand we utilize on our products as we are confident the quality offered by Lumileds will ensure our clients satisfaction and loyalty.

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“The 8th Generation headlights are equipped with 8 Luxeon ZES chips from Lumileds.”

 

The 8th Generation headlights are not our brightest option but definitely one of the brightest and much more powerful over the factory lamps.  They are rated at 4,000 lm per bulb whether the headlight is a single beam or dual beam headlamp.  They offer adjust-ability to achieve results you need in any vehicle housing whether domestic, Asian, or European.  With an external driver harness, you can expect highest efficiency known to LED tech to be maintained for over 30,000 hours of operating life span.  That equates to over 5 years depending on often you drive at night!  The heat sink can also be reversed for even more customization.

If any investment is to be made on your vehicles lighting, the 8th Generation Headlights are most certainly the best choice.  Like any investment made, your profit or return will be your satisfaction, confidence in using our 8th Gen LED headlights in your car, long life expectancy, lighting results you want and need, and security for you and your passengers safety while operating your vehicle at night.

Best Bang for the Buck!

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T1 Headlights are exclusively available on Amazon.com. Search ASIN # B07FDS39X5.

Working on a budget when you have a car build or just need to upgrade your headlights is now possible with our T Series Headlights.  We understand having a budget can delay the time before you obtain your car parts, or can prevent you from getting your preferred choice that does what you want.

With our T series headlights, you have options!  Our T1 headlights are one of the most powerful headlights that combats the NX series.  With the same 5,000 lumen intensity rating as the NX headlights, the T1’s will save you money so that you can invest on other lamps on the car such as your interior or even your high beams.  The high velocity fan provides maximum cooling for the entire bulb including the custom diodes we use on this lamp.

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T2 headlights are available for Amazon buyers and Amazon Prime members. Look up Amazon ASIN B07MKZFBZY.

For an additional $20 USD, you can also kick it up a notch to our T2 headlights.  These are an upgrade to the T1’s and will push intensity even further with a rating of 6,000lm per bulb.  The light sources are designed and manufactured by Edison and are there DF-4BS series diodes which means maximum thermal resistance, high lumen-to-wattage ratio, and maximum output!

They also feature an external driver to prevent the added heat from the higher intensity from affecting the driver circuit.  This combined with the density of the 6063 aluminum body makes this one of our most reliable fan style LED headlight replacement option.

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T2 series headlights provide the most compact fan allowing it to fit in the most limited housing areas.

 

Solutions for Your Car…and the Driver!

When you are in the need of a replacement headlamp, and do not want to settle for less, be limited to 1 design option, prefer to steer away from mechanical fans, or want the best of the best for your car, JDM Astar not only has your ride covered, but we take care of the driver too!

With options that cater to both the car and driver, it is no question as to why JDM Astar is the world’s leading lighting solution for your automotive vehicles lighting.

cropped-jdm-star-logo.pngJDM Astar…lighting up your world one car at a time!

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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.

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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

 

Innovating Heat Sink Cooling with 6S Series Headlights

We are at it again with yet another innovative design for aftermarket LED headlamp bulbs.  JDM ASTAR has introduced another heat sink type headlight to join others like our 4S and 8th Generation Headlights.

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The 6S headlights use a redesigned heat sink that offers improved and larger surface area for heat dissipation.  Rather than using standard aluminum, the 6S are built with the same aviation grade 6063 aluminum that are found on a variety of our existing LEDs today such as our 8th Generation Headlights or smaller bulbs like 3030 14-SMD Series LED bulbs.  This means that there will be a substantial increase in how much heat is radiated from the light source, through the aluminum body, and exhaust through the heat sink in order make cooling even faster.

So what is all the hype about with this new cooling fin heat sink that reminds us all of chopper ready to take off?

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Well, it’s not the traditional bulky unit that earlier designs offer.  We have been there before and have seen many cases where a fan or heat sink is a bit too wide to fit, or there is not enough depth to provide fitment for the cooling mechanism thus creating an even bigger problem.  Aside from the labor involved, you will also have to ship something back and we all know how much of a drag this can be.  When we buy stuff off Amazon, it better be right!

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The 6S headlights offer a bendable/mold-able heat sink.  The cooling fins use 6063 aluminum and are designed to be adjusted to cater to the clearance on your vehicles housing or area as well as allow fitment if the LED lamp.  The cooling fins will get extend to get air flow to improve radiation of heat.  This means the diodes will be able operate for a longer period of time, as well as provide thousands and thousands of hours of operating life.  So, if the 8th Gens were simply too big to fit, no worries, the 6S headlights still got you covered!

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Aside from cooling, the 6S Headlights also offer high thermal resistant diodes that are also found on our existing designs.  The lamp uses a total of 8 CSP (Chip Scale Package) surface mount diodes with 4 on each side.  For those dual headlamp bulbs, they will use 16 CSP diodes with 8 being dedicated to the low beam function and 8 for the high beams.  With CSP diodes as the light source, you can expect things to be lit!  That is an understatement.  Combined with an internal smart driven IC module, the 6S Headlights provide a whomping 4000 lumens per bulb competing with that of our 8th Gens!

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But wait…there is still more!

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Ability to adjust an aftermarket LED headlight today is almost a certain need with how headlamp housings are being manufactured on vehicle housings today especially with aftermarket!  Some include projectors and others are reflectors.  The 6S headlights, once again, have got you covered!  By loosening the set screw that is by the collar of the LED lamp, it will allow you to free up the bulb and clock the direction of the light sources.  Focus, light concentration, and beam pattern will all be able to adjust through rotation of the bulb.  Once you hit that ‘sweet spot’, mark your LEDs and repeat the same steps with the opposite side and voila!  You will have a beam pattern that is the same, if not similar, to the factory halogen headlamp bulbs.  If you are not sure which way to direct the diodes, check out our blog article titled “Which way should the chips face on your LED headlights?” There you will get all details needed on the suggested bulb orientation.

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So if you ever dealt with the headache of fitting the bulky fan or a large heat sink of your new aftermarket LEDs, consider the 6S headlights so you can bend that heat sink around and allow the bulb to easily adapt and avoid any modifications to the housing.

 

With the many fan style LED headlights cluttering up marketplaces like Amazon, eBay(and now Wish!), it is surprise if the 6S headlights sit right up next to the 8th Gens as one of the leading designs in aftermarket LED lighting auto industry!

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Stop by JDMASTAR.COM and pick up your 6S headlights today and remember….

 

“LED JDM Astar light your way!”

Our Experience at Our First Car Show Autocon 2017

JDM ASTAR was founded in Southern California and when we first started we were selling from home and marketing our brand.  Since then, JDM ASTAR has become the next runner up in the LED auto lighting industry.  With the support of car enthusiasts, loyal customers, and fans worldwide, we were able to expand and grow our company and now we have been finally able to attend our first official auto event.  We decided that our first official event will be Automotive Connection Show 2017 in downtown at the city of Angels.

JDM ASTAR went out to Autocon 2017 on March 26th at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  The drive was very close and the venue was as expected.  A bit small for us but we were still excited just being a part of this event as it was our first ever event that we attend as a company.  Here is a before photo of our booth.

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Here’s another shot of what a lot of event goers kept requesting us to do.  We just had to turn them to show everybody but could not keep them on for too long or Autocon officials would have given us the boot.

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We met a few vendors and even managed to see TJ Hunt!  TJ Hunt is a major influencer in the auto industry and is a runner up as one of the top Youtubers in the auto industry so heads up EricTheCarGuy, or Scotty Kilmer because there is a new kid in town.  He uploads vlog videos and tons of project videos where he works on modding “Selena” as well as other performance vehicles like his Subaru BRZ and Nissan GTR as well as other projects that he works on that involve his crew.

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When we learned about TJ Hunt and his crew attending the event we were more excited than what we were able to handle.  It was like seeing a celebrity.  Unfortunately, we were not able to meet and greet TJ Hunt but knowing that we were able to be a part of an event where he was a special guest is a privilege.  Here is photo of his 350z modeling at Autocon 2017.  The wrap on the vehicle is done perfectly by Premium Auto Styling.  Might just give them call to see what kind of mayhem they can do with our Jeep Wrangler.  The job they did on the 350z is flawless!

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We could not have attended this event if it was not for you guys.  Through the support that you guys provide, we were able to finally attend this event so we are very grateful and we look forward to meeting more new faces and maybe meet new vendors that will join our brand in innovating LED car lighting.

Again guys, it is because of your support that JDM ASTAR has grown to what it is today and we will continue doing our part in providing better and safer lighting for the world.

We thank you for your support.  We value each and every one of you that have allowed us to come this far so thank you very much for everything you guys have done for us and for continuing to be supporters of our brand.

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With your loyalty, JDM ASTAR will continue to light your way down the road so come join us and be a part of the revolution to help us change the world in how people use car lighting.

LED Lighting, you have been doing it wrong!

How are my headlights supposed to be oriented inside the housing?  What type of bulb should we use for a fog light on my car?  What is better, a fan or a heat sink?  These are all questions for which we have not seen a single source provide answers for and that is what we are doing for you today.  We want to provide you with some tips when upgrading your vehicles factory lamps to high performance LED lighting.

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One of the most common questions we hear every day is how your LED headlights should be positioned.  Well, this can be different for some cars, and even if the model and maker is the same, it does not necessarily mean that the body is all the same.  First, you should understand how your LED bulbs will insert into your housing to determine what the final result will be, once installed.  JDM ASTAR offers adjustable LED replacement lamps that will allow you to correct the orientation.  The position of the diodes (LED chips) should always be in a side to side orientation, meaning, you should have one set facing at 3 o’clock, and the other set facing at 9 o’clock.  This will allow a nice and even 360 light distribution throughout the housing creating an even beam of light as well as evenly fill up the housing.  We cannot stress enough how poor your headlights will appear if you have the incorrect orientation, not to mention the glare may cause to other drivers. The last thing you want to do is create a hazard when operating your car.  Be very careful as there are many brands and vendors that will advise that the bulbs are designed to be this way, but, we have tested several types of housings, and style of lamps and have learned that the proper orientation for LED lighting is to face the diodes side to side unless you integrate a 3rd side that will provide an additional side of lighting to cover a high beam application.

For dual headlight setups, that provide low and high beams off one bulb, will use the same orientation side to side orientation but there will also be some type of shield or cover which should always be sitting below the diodes after you orient the bulb side to side.  If the shield sits above the diodes then flip it around now!  The shield or cover helps prevent light from shining down to ensure it does not reflect at a higher angle so the cover should always be sitting below the diodes.  For those unique LED designs that have a 3rd side with diodes mounted, there will be an off set chip that sits closer to the fan or heat sink.  It sits closer or deeper in the lamp housing to provide a higher light beam angle.  The 3rd side will usually cover the high beam application which should always face downward. To summarize, LED designs with chips on two sides of the bulb should face left and right.  LED designs with 3 sides should have the high beam side facing downward and the other two will face diagonally upward to where one chip sits at around 2 o’clock and the other 10 o’clock.

JDM ASTAR offers an option that allows an adjustment to the orientation in case your vehicle is one of those unique models that simply has the chuck lined up a certain way to where any type of LED replacement headlight will have bad orientation.

 

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Another question we have been hearing a lot lately is what type of lamp is appropriate for your application.  Well, of course, you should always consider heat as the number one factor as this is the most common reason why an LED fails prematurely.  But what type of lamp should you be going for?  A good tip is to simply check the wattage of the LED replacement.  Here is a table to keep it simple and to show you what type of lamp you should be looking for when replacing a factory halogen bulb on your car.  The table will give you a range of what you should be looking for to ensure that you buy the right LED bulb type for the appropriate application.  We cannot tell you how many times we have seen a 9005 fog light type LED bulb being used in place of a low beam or high beam application.  So next time you are in the market to replace a bulb that has gone out, just check the wattage.

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To get the best results out of your LED light replacements to is to replicate the same or similar light distribution of the factory bulb.  Most vehicles on the market have housings that are designed to distribute light from a bulb that emits light in a 360 degree orientation.  This will provide optimal results both in how well the light fills the housing as well as project the light.  There are some factors on the LED bulb that will help provide optimal results, but the ice breaker is where and how the light is emitted.  Factory HID lamps are the only exception due to the design of the housing being different.  Factory HID lamps can get away with using an LED replacement that does not offer 360 lighting, however, if the factory bulb is an incandescent, or halogen, then you definitely should be looking for an option that will provide lighting from more than one side.  Next time you decide to upgrade the factory bulb to LED, call JDM ASTAR where you will not only get the appropriate LED replacement, but you will have a team of professionals that will provide friendly advice on how to get the most out of your LED replacements, and do it right the first time, and every time. . . .

 

-JDM ASTAR Team