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 Things We Wish We Knew🤦‍♂️…

Car lighting can come off as a bit of challenge for some especially when you have little to no knowledge on the vehicles electrical system.  Even for those experienced individuals, there are still some things that you will never learn until you get hands-on and do the work yourself.

We have created a list of the top 10 things we wish knew before we got into modding our own vehicles lighting.  These tips can help the experienced professional and just about any person new to the modifying there vehicles or just about any person wanting better lighting for their cars.  These 10 tips have proven to help you save money, a lot of time, hassle, and minimize the labor involved.

#1 Play it safe and wear protection!

Safety is always a priority!  When installing any parts to your car, you should always be play it safe. Safety should never be overlooked! When working with car lighting, use industrial grade nitrile gloves and any other safety tools such as safety glasses.  Nitrile gloves are heat resistant which means you can handle things that are as hot as an LED headlights heat sink or fan.  When replacing your factory bulbs or upgrading your existing LED headlights to JDM Astar LEDs then you should always wear gloves to help protect your hands, and the LED lamps.  It’s rare for the oils on our hands to cause a diode to over but this is not a reason to not

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Safety should always be a priority when performing any type of work on your vehicle.

Using industrial automotive gloves that offer a nitrile linear are perfect for handling extremely hot parts such as resistors and/or a high intensity discharge bulb (HID for short).

Next time you catch yourself playing Hot Potato with you factory bulbs, make sure you have your automotive gloves handy!

#2 Magnet pickup tools are lifesavers!

If you are working on an older car and have damaged or brittle sockets, you may have run into this pickle already.  We see this very often on classic cars or sockets that have excessive wear.  Sockets that do not secure a bulb correctly has known to allow the factory bulb or an LED to just slip off the socket and end up in the housing.

This can be extremely tedious and quite annoying to fish out especially if the bulb is lodged deep inside the lamp housing.

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“This can help save loads of time and minimize the frustration involved from trying to just bounce that bulb around until you can finally grab it and remove it from the housing.”

Try using a magnet pickup tool.  Most good quality aftermarket LED bulbs have metal bodies for heat dissipation.  By simply removing the lamp assembly, you can easily remove the LED bulb out by using the extender on the magnet pick up tool.  Some magnet pickup tools offer a bendable rod for even better reach should the LED be stuck in a corner of the housing where you cannot easily reach it.  This can help save loads of time and minimize the frustration involved from trying to just bounce that bulb around until you can finally grab it and remove it from the housing.

#3 No room to mount resistors?  No problem!

Hyper flash is a very common feature in most automotive vehicles today.  If you plan to upgrade to LED turn signals, you will almost always experience a hyper flash problem with your signals.  As you may know, the purpose of a resistor is to burn more power.  The resistor must then get rid of that power and so it just burns it which translates most of the energy consumption to thermal energy or heat.  Because of this factor, resistors must always be mounted to a metal surface for heat dissipation to help keep temperatures down and secure the resistor to prevent direct contact to non-metal surfaces.  This, however, can pose a problem if your car has nothing but plastic in the area, not enough wire length to reach a metal surface, or no secure metal surface to mount the resistor to.

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“As long as you have 1 resistor unit to compensate for the load of each turn signal LED bulb, on that same side, then it will still remedy the hyper flash problem for that entire side.”

Did you know that you can actually mount all the resistors to either the front or rear turn signal sockets?  Your car controls driver and passenger side turn signals separately.  To the car, it does not matter where you have the resistors wired up just as long as each side has the necessary load simulation that is equivalent to the turn signal bulb you replaced and is usually one per LED turn signal bulb.  The advantage of this is that you can install all 4 of your resistors to the front or rear.

As long as you have 1 resistor unit to compensate for the load of each turn signal LED bulb, on that same side, then it will still remedy the hyper flash problem for that entire side.  This means that if your car only uses 2 turn signal bulbs per side (driver or passenger sides) then you can wire up your 2 resistors to the front or rear while still keeping the factory turn signal flasher relay happy.

#4 Check your factory bulbs and car before you attempt the labor!

Most aftermarket automotive bulb type products are not vehicle specific but rather SIZE specific.  This means that it may be difficult to locate 1 LED or HID headlight that is specifically designed for your model vehicle.  However, if you can identify the headlight bulb size your vehicle is currently using, you will most certainly find hundreds of options to choose from.

Before you decide to pick up your own set of aftermarket LED headlights, you should ALWAYS check your factory bulb sizes before attempting to access the bulb especially when it is labor intensive.  This can save you time, and the frustration experienced when you find out that you wasted over 2 hours, to access the headlight bulb, only to learn that you do not have the appropriate sized LED headlight bulb.  Knowing what factory bulbs are in there now and how much labor is required will prevent those sudden surprises, not to mention the time lost and hassle of having to ship your parts back, and ensures the installation is seamless.

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The owners manual and factory bulb are the most reliable sources to find the bulb size needed.

Any of the following vehicle makes may experience additional or intensive labor that may require removal of additional parts to access your factory headlights such as front bumper, housing assembly, grille, a large quantity of plastic fasteners or wheel wells:

European vehicles– Alfa Romeo, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Fiat, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Porsche, Volkswagen.

Domestic vehicles– Some Chrysler models, some Dodge trucks (2000+) and sedans, some Buick models, newer model Fords, GMC, Jeep, Land Rover, Lincoln, and Ram trucks (2000+).

Asian vehicles– Some newer Acura sedans, some Kia sedans, Mazda sedans, Subaru SUV’s, Scion,

If your vehicle maker is listed here, check your owner’s manual to understand the steps required to gain access to the bulb you are planning on replacing.  There are good sources on the internet that will provide useful information as well.

If you own a very popular model vehicle, you will almost always find a source on sites like Youtube that provide the ‘How-To’ steps in replacing a bulb for your car.  Sources like Carcarekiosk.com are also very good for tutorial videos on accessing various light bulbs in your vehicle.  Research your car with these sources and make your new LED upgrades a breeze to install.

#5 Stay on top of your states periodic vehicle inspection laws!

The use of automotive aftermarket LED headlights is legal in most states and no state defines an aftermarket LED headlight replacement bulb illegal for road use.  States, however, do have periodic vehicle inspections such as emissions inspection, and automotive safety inspection.  For states that have safety inspections, make preparations before attempting to get your vehicle inspected while your LED bulbs are installed.  You should always check inspection requirements before attempting to install any aftermarket LED type bulb to your vehicle as to ensure you are complying with your states vehicle safety inspection laws.

Always check your states inspections laws instead of just reinstalling your stock bulbs and putting back your LEDs once you pass state inspection as we have heard and seen in many cases. Below, we referenced a chart that shows states that require yearly inspections.  If you reside in a state that require safety inspections, check your local laws and regulations from sources such as the Department of Transportation or the DMV websites.

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States that have yearly safety inspections will usually require DOT complaint lamps.  (Image credit Wikipedia.org)

DARK BLUE- Periodic safety inspection

LIGHT BLUE- Safety inspection upon sale or transfer

LIGHT GREEN- Safety inspection required to register

YELLOW- Emissions testing required in some areas

BROWN- Emissions testing required in all areas

GREY- No inspection required

#6 Replace your headlight bulbs ONLY with LEDs that use a fan or heat sink.

If you are planning to replace a headlight low beam or high beam bulb, you will require a HEADLIGHT type LED replacement bulb. There are many options online that go as low as $15 a pair and fit your low beams since they use the same size and physically appear like the factory bulb.  Those particular bulbs, however, lack a fan or heat sink and are usually a sign that the LED replacement bulb will not support a headlight type application such as a low or high beam.  Installing this type of bulb into a headlight assembly is not recommended as it is not safe to utilize as a headlight replacement and will almost always have poor results.  There is reasoning behind this though.

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“…a headlight type LED replacement bulb WILL ALWAYS use a high velocity fan, a passive thermal heat sink, or a combination of both.”

LEDs need a lot more power to support a headlight application.  Not nearly as much as factory halogen bulb but much more compared to a 2W-5W LED such as what is featured on the image above.  Higher power consumption translates to even more thermal engery that is generated by the diodes.  Since LEDs have a heat threshold, a headlight type LED replacement bulb WILL ALWAYS use a high velocity fan, a passive thermal heat sink, or a combination of both.  These parts usually protrude about 1in-2in after installing the LED headlight and are obvious visible parts.

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Thermal heat sinks do have any heat from friction caused by a fan, do not cease when worn out or exposed to driving conditions, and come equipped with premium type diodes such as (Phillips) Luxeon ZES chips.

The purpose of these components are to provide a faster method of cooling for the diodes and results in a balance between light intensity,  and efficiency to ensure a long life expectancy.  This is what helps prevent a burn out of ANY light emitting diode (LED).  A faster cooling mechanism allows the LEDs internal driver to maintain efficiency at its highest and therefore provide an even longer operating and lifespan.  If the bulb does not have this type of cooling mechanism then it is more than likely designed for other applications and lamp housings except a headlight type.

The last thing you want to do is buy one a wrong LED bulb and get stuck with results that are way too dim!  Way dimmer than your original bulb too!  This can be discouraging to some since you now have to go through the labor a second time to remove the bulbs.  And since the results you initially found were not the greatest, it can be discouraging to you from wanting to try that same brand again or not use LEDs on your car all together.

Save yourself the time and trouble and ALWAYS check if the type of LED replacement is appropriate to replace the existing factory bulb.  If you are ever not sure, or just need some assurance, give the guys at JDM a call and we will gladly guide you to find you the bulb you need to determine the best LED lighting solution for you and your car.

#7 Aftermarket headlight housings can create a nightmare!

Not entirely true as there are several aftermarket brands that have brought the industry some of the best headlamp assemblies that we have seen and even vehicle manufacturers are unable to replicate yet alone offer something that is just as innovative.

What we mean by this is that your aftermarket housings can change your factory bulbs to something different.  We came across this on our first cars we attempted to modify and most aftermarket headlight housings are known for using an H1 halogen bulb.  This is because an H1 halogen bulb is more cost effective since this particular bulb lacks any seals/orings, needs a dust cover to seal against moisture, and exposes electrical connections.  Some aftermarket brands do not use a headlamp assembly with a dedicated bulb( such as an H11 or 9006) or retain the factory bulb as it tends to cost the manufacturer or supplier even more to make and feature into the housing assembly.  This means that the consumer must also fork out a larger cost for the added convenience of retaining your original factory bulbs.

In the car lighting industry, we have seen many cases where a consumer or installer has taken every correct step to ensure the appropriate LED replacement bulb was ordered only to find that the size changed due to the aftermarket housing assembly.  Upon learning about this, it can also pose other problems such as limiting you to what LED replacement options you can use on your aftermarket housings, since H1 sizes are not very common, and the physical limitations your LED headlight now has because of the type of housing and bulb that is being used.  An H1 halogen bulb tends to require a dust cap or cover that seals the housing posing yet another fit problem since most LED headlights use a fan or heat sink.  The cover must now be modified or replaced.  There is also very limited clearance in the area which means you cannot use anything that is physically too large.

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“…your aftermarket housings can change your factory bulbs to something different.”

If you are thinking about putting both aftermarket housing assemblies and aftermarket LED headlights to your car, make sure you know what bulbs are being used with your new housing assemblies!  If you plan on building up your project car then you should always consider using a higher end housing assembly to help you retain your factory bulbs but if you opt to take a short cut and save some cash, make sure you know what you are putting into your car to avoid these types of problems.

Always check the housing the vehicle is using and you will save yourself money, time, labor, and the world’s most painful headache!

#8 Do not overpay for labor if your vehicle only takes a few minutes and no tools to replace your bulb!

We see this on a daily basis!  It is mainly from those that lack experience or do not have knowledge about their cars and almost always have to outsource a 3rd party to make an install for them.

If you are not sure, lack experience, or do not have the confidence to install to your car then you should always seek a professional for both safety and assurance that the installation is done correctly.

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Sources like Youtube & Car Care Kiosk both offer tutorial videos on replacing specific lamps on your vehicle.

For those that are okay with getting their hands a little dirty, or have some experience, check to see if your car is easy to work on first.  We’ve seen many cases where a shop charges a client an excessive amount of money and the labor involved only takes about 10mins.  A better example is a tire patch!  Many tire shops give free tire patches for the most minor holes.  Other places can charge as low as $10 which covers the labor involved.  There are some places, however, that will charge you $20 or more. For a tire patch?!  Same concept when replacing a light on your car.

Always familiarize yourself with the steps involved in replacing a bulb on your vehicle.  A good source is your owner’s manual! You can save yourself money, hassle of scheduling a shop visit and taking time off of work, and the satisfying and rewarding feeling of knowing you did the work yourself, and did not cost you a dime!

# 9 Have your resistors or decoders ready before you attempt to install.

This a very common thing that we come across often.  There are several vehicle makers that use a unique circuit or system on various lighting applications such as vehicle headlamp lighting.  These systems are infamous for creating various problems for an aftermarket LED replacement headlight or smaller sized LED replacement bulbs.

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Two of the more common issues are turn signals that hyper flash or flickering and/or auto shut off from a vehicles low beam headlamp circuit.  Research your vehicles make and model to see if there are any common issues that may arise when replacing any of your factory bulbs to an aftermarket replacement bulb.  When you plan ahead, it can help save time of going through the labor of installing your LEDs only to learn that a problem came up and now you have to go out of your way to buy resistors, and install them.

Automotive forums are one of the best sources for details like this or just call the guys at JDM Astar for any guidance.  We keep track of the various systems that are present in many cars today such as Pulse Width Modulation signals, Totally Integrated Power Modules, CAN bus, Pulse Voltage signals, or a voltage change (Ex. Daytime Running Lights).  These types of systems/circuits can be finicky with ANY aftermarket LED bulb and tends to make them behave abnormally.  Our research and testing has allowed us to determine what cars will require such parts so we can help you avoid getting surprised by a problem and ensure your LEDs operate as they are intended to.

#10 Always seek some guidance!

This applies to any person looking to replace a bulb in their vehicles.  Whether you are professional that works on cars daily or are new to working on your own vehicle, never hesitate to seek guidance.  If you are not sure of something, trying to figure things out on your own can create more issues than it does resolve not to mention the amount of time that can be lost.  Seek guidance from JDM ASTAR, contact a local dealer, get hands on and check your car but most important, never hesitate to ask for help!

JDM Astar is available Monday-Friday 9:30AM-5:30PM PST.  If your matter is not urgent, you can also reach out to us via email.  We guarantee responses within 24 hours or by the next business day.  We can also set up a time and date to reach out to you to help guide with upgrading your vehicles lighting or technical guidance to resolve any issues the vehicle has in adapting to an LED replacement headlight.

We are here to help and will remedy most car lighting issue, or get you that slick lighting mod to finally complete your car build!

Whatever the case may be….JDM Astar has YOU and YOUR RIDE covered!

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Get ready to be part of the world’s premier choice in automotive LED lighting!

“Lighting up your world…one car at a time!”

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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