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!”

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!

 

 

 

Redesigned 4S LED Headlights

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2nd Generation 4S LED Headlights suitable for automotive headlamp and fog lighting applications

Remember back when LED headlights first hit the auto industry? The options were limited.  Designs had minor engineering flaws and color options were not there.  Most would simply go to HID as the market trend led most manufacturers to improve those type of lamps.  And through the magic of time, LED has been improved and here at JDM ASTAR…innovation is what we do!

We are excited to announce a new re-engineered design of our previous LED headlight model, the 4S headlights!

These were a huge hit on our online retail stores such as Amazon and was mainly due to the color options included.  Most aftermarket LED headlights will limit you to a single color temperature, with the exception of those extremely abnormal designs which have different colored diodes from those oddly named foreign vendors or brands you see saturating the market.

So what exactly allows the 4S headlights stand out from the competitors and some of our existing designs?

 

The Light Source

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4S LED headlights combine the best light sources LED technology has to offer into a single lamp!

Our redesigned 4S headlights are using a customized light source.  Rather than using traditional surface mount diodes, we are using a custom type chip that integrates both Lumileds Luxeon ZES and the very popular CSP (Chip Scale Package) chips.  They provide a xenon white light to modernize the look of your ride.  We can go into details on other  advantages of a customized diodes, however, they are more geared towards a manufacturer as the applications that these light sources can be used for are endless and not just limited to the auto industry.  To the consumer, these types of diodes provide stronger thermal resistance allowing the bulb to operate for longer as well as offer a substantially longer lifespan.  They can withstand temperatures as high as 180°F!  With 20W that are driven by an internal IC driver, the high-efficiency allows the 4S headlights to be a perfect replacement for your factory lighting on headlamps or even fog lamps.  Rated at 4,000 lumens per lamp, it is no question as to why this headlight holds its own as well as a place as one the brightest LED replacement lamps with high track rate.

 

The Exoskeleton 

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The 2nd Gen 4S headlights are carefully constructed from the light sources all the way down to the last screw.

Unlike other brands, its not all about aesthetics such as what you see with more entry-level headlights that have several parts welded into one or epoxied together to form an LED headlight replacement lamp.  The 4S also use a passive thermal heat sink which provides even more surface area than the previous generation thus increasing thermal radiation from the light source, through the body, and out of the heat sink!  Its like increasing how fast the diodes cool down in temperatures.

The 4S LED headlights are the next ‘cool thing’ to have on your ride.  All pun intended!

 

The Spectrum

Using white LED headlights will modernize any vehicle, but what do you do in hazardous driving conditions such as fog, rain or snow or how do you prepare your vehicle for the winter season?  Using a white light will definitely look bright but not at all when there is light bouncing off of fog or when light is reflecting from a wet road or even snow fall distorting visibility?  With the 4S headlights, you can tackle any road condition!  You can run your LEDs in a xenon white 6500K temperature during summer nights, and later apply a warmer temperature to the headlights so you can obtain improved visibility in poor weather conditions or winter season.

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Tackle most weather conditions such as heavy fog, snow, and rainfall with DIY color films that provide a gold, yellowish amber, and all the way up to a crystal blue 10,000K colored light.

You have to remember, warmer temperatures will ALWAYS penetrate darker environments, improve visibility in poor weather conditions and are easier on the human eye.  This is why most vehicles come this way from the manufacturer.  Most LED headlights today are only available in a white color, warm white, or a yellowish look.  But why limit yourself to just that one color?  Why not adjust your lamps to your driving conditions so you can take your ride on a road trip without a concern of a rain or fog causing a driving safety problem, or random deer’s that take a leap of faith in front of your vehicle.

With 4S LED headlights, it will include 5 color options so you can have white headlights and keep deer away, or throw them on the fog lights with yellow color films to compliment your LED headlights and combine both to obtain a warmer white temperature for those darker environments or poor weather conditions.  The headlights use a thermal-resistant film that acts as a filter which is applied over the glass quartz lens.  As light penetrates the filter, the color of the light will change to the desired color or film applied.  The headlights include 2 pairs of the following color options; 3,000K for a gold look, 4,300K for a vibrant yellow color, 6,500K for a luxurious xenon white look, and goes up to 8000K and 10,000K for those auto enthusiast that love modifying their rides for projects, off road use, and automotive trade shows.

 

The Verdict

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“Most aftermarket LED headlights will limit you to a single color temperature….not the 4S Headlights!”

Intensity, performance, and durability are all a given with any lighting solutions from JDM ASTAR.  If you plan on taking long road trips, drive in dark roads or are like us that love to modify and modernize cars then the redesigned 4S headlights are surely an investment worth making for yourself and for your vehicle!  Take care of your vehicle and your vehicle will take care of you on the road.

If you ever have any questions about using gold yellow or crystal white headlights or fog lights or simply need some guidance on a slick mod for your fog lights then give the guys at JDM ASTAR a call.

They will guide you in identifying your driving conditions and driving needs to determine if the 4S headlights are the perfect lighting solutions for your vehicle(s).

And remember….

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

-JDM ASTAR Team

 

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

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

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

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

 

Maps & Dome Lights

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Backup Lamps

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

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

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

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

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

 

Headlights

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

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

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

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

JDM Astar

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

-JDM ASTAR Team

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Review of NX Series LED Headlights

Watch out 8th Gens because there is a new player in town taking the hype for  heat sink style replacement LED headlights.

Introducing a new addition to our lineup of headlights…the NX Series Headlights!NX 1

NX Series headlights suitable for automotive front head lighting or fog lamps for most American and domestic vehicle makes.

The NX series headlights offer many advantages over the options available online including some of our existing line up of LED lamps.

We will break down the best advantages for you to help you determine if the NX headlights are the perfect option for both your ride and the driver.

 

Lighting Done Right…

NX headlights come equipped with 8 High Power 2nd Generation CSP chips (Chip Scale Package) per, and are available for most bulb sizes.  They run a light color temperature rating of 6,500K for that modern luxurious look.  This color range adds a small hue of blue that is invisible to the human eye in order to give you that crisp cooler white look over dull warm white or illegal colors like a Dodger blue color.  CSP chips offer strong light efficacy, high lumen to wattage ratio, and low thermal resistance.  This light source have made their presence established themselves as one of the top light sources to use for automotive LED lighting and even compete with other leading brands like OSRAM, Phillips, or CREE.

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NX dual beam sizes offer light sources to cover low and high beam functions in a single lamp.

Each bulb is equipped with an internal driving IC which drives 20W of power to each LED lamp allowing the light sources to reach intensity levels as high as 5,000 lumens per bulb. With supported temperatures ranging from -40°C – 80°C, the lifespan is expected to be long like all other options including our premium headlights…the 8th Gens!

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“CSP chips offer strong light efficacy, high lumen to wattage ratio, and low thermal resistance.”

The physical size of the light sources also mimic the size of the filament of the factory bulb allowing the same light pattern to be retained thus preventing glare to oncoming traffic, or poor light patterns such as dark spots, hot spots, or scattered light.

 

 Say Goodbye to Fan Noise!

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No fan noise nor concern of dust or debris affecting fan speeds!

Fan noise can be a bit of a concern for those that drive in dirt roads or roads with a lot of debris.  With NX headlights, your LEDs will run silently and will cool themselves down through a passive thermal heat sink.  Each lamp is constructed using aviation grade anodized 6063 aluminum alloy which radiates heat much faster over standard aluminum.  Combined with a passive heat sink, you have a bulb that will cool itself down without any concern of fan noise or a fan failure.  You can get the bulbs caked on with mud and still be able to run without any concern of a fan going out and lead to a heat failure.

 

All in One and One for All!

The NX headlights will cover all front lighting applications such as fog light, or headlamps.  Upgrade your fogs for visibility in poor weather conditions or improve your rides headlights for added brilliance whether your vehicle runs a dual beam bulb or separate low and high beams, the NX Series has got you covered!  With an ALL In One design, you do not have to worry about mounting an external driver or trying to tuck the entire unit under a dust cover.  The lamp is built to have the LED bulb and a single connector making it easier to install to the vehicles headlamp housing.  Its non-polarity design is another advantage that will allow this headlight to adapt to most, if not all, vehicles on the market!  No need to modify existing wiring nor adjust how the connections are made.  The product is also rated IP65 allowing peace of mind through a full waterproof housing. This means you can tackle all types of road conditions including off-road terrains where dust and debris are heavily present.

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NX offers a rubber seal, light shield reflector, CSP chips, thermal PC board, and an aluminum alloy body all in a single LED lamp.

So next time you are in the market for a new headlight bulb or simply want to achieve brilliance on your ride, check out the NX series headlights and take your driving experience to the next level and remember…

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

-JDM ASTAR Team

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