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!”

Using LED headlights with complex headlamp systems

Automotive vehicles have come a long way from how they were first manufactured. Safety belts were not a requirement.  Fuel injection systems did not exist, and many cars had a lot of weight to run all the electrical systems on the cars such as the car lighting.

 

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With how much technology has evolved, it has most certainly improved cars and how they are manufactured today.

In this article, we are covering some of the most common systems that did not exist in earlier model vehicles, but are present in almost every car today.  These systems tend to be finicky with any change or problem the vehicle does not understand and so we devised this guide to help you remedy any problems you run into with vehicles that are sourcing from the systems mentioned here.

 

Pulse Width Modulation Signals

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Example of Pulse Width Modulation with high and low average voltage.

 

Pulse Width Modulation or PWM for short is a system intended to help extend of the operating life expectancy of traditional filament bulb.    PWM pulses the electrical signal to the circuit on and off at certain voltage ranges and time.  This system is used with automotive vehicles as it helps reduce heat generated by the filament bulb.  PWM can also be utilized to provide a form of dimming for an LED lighting application.  Unfortunately, due to the voltage ranges supplied by an automotive PWM signal, it creates other problems other issues that may have some scratching there heads.  As it is, an LED replacement lamp reduces heat outputted by up to 40% so using a PWM signal with an LED headlight will not have any effect on operating temperatures aside from making the lamp behave abnormally.

 

How PWM affects an aftermarket LED headlight

A PWM signal rapidly turns low or high voltage signals on and off. In the auto industry, it’s very common to see low voltage PWM.  With a filament bulb, this system can also be used to reduce voltage to the circuit and provide a method of dimming down a filament bulb and turn it into what we all call a “Daytime Running Light’.

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Flickering followed by automatic shut-off are signs of a PWM signal on the low beam circuit. (Photo Cred: Youtube Creator “Justin Buice” / Follow IG @justinbuice)

For an aftermarket LED headlight, it typically leads to one more of the following:

1) Flickering behavior that seems to go from a dim to high at a fast rate.

2) OBC (On Board Computer) faults or codes indicating a lamp is out.

3) Automatic shut off of the LED headlight as voltage exhausts from the circuit.

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Lamp out faults can be triggered with an aftermarket LED headlight installed to a vehicle that uses PWM.

To help bypass this signal, there are various modules, or harnesses (that most refer to as “Anti Flicker” or even “Error Cancellers”) on the market today that can be used to bypass. The module must offer internal capacitance in order to ensure the signal is not directly affecting the LED headlight circuit.

 

How to bypass a PWM signal:

 

  • Utilize our decoder module which introduces an inline capacitor. Voltage signals are sent to the capacitor, allowing it to charge, which then supplies a steady and supported voltage of 9V+ DC to the LED lamp circuit resulting in normal and full lighting capacity.

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Decoders do not require any wire-tapping and will easily adapt to any automotive LED headlight and vehicles factory headlamp harness.

 

Totally Integrated Power Modules

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“Some of the most common vehicle makes that use a TIPM are Dodge, Ram, Jeep, and Chrysler.”

These acronyms just seem to be getting longer as automotive technology improves.  A Totally Integrated Power Module (or TIPM for short) is a module that uses various fuses and relay modules that control power going to various applications on the vehicle such as the engine control unit, transmission, drivetrain, electrical systems, audio, fuel delivery system, ignition and just about any main application present on the vehicle that is powered by the vehicles alternator.

 

 

A TIPM is a power distribution control box that takes and sends commands from almost every electrical system on the vehicle in the form of voltage or ground.

 

 

 

For those experienced or ASE certified mechanics, this is probably nothing new, but for those new to automotive LED looking for some knowledge, a TIPM system is similar to a circuit breaker but with a bit more control.  If this trips, whatever circuit is open will cease any function and no power will be sent.  Similar concept with TIPM.  If a relay module fails or does not receive a proper signal, it may affect other circuits tied to the relay module and so this leads us to how LEDs tend to affect these types of systems and what these systems may do to your aftermarket LED headlights.

A TIPM system will indirectly share the same ground to various circuits.  By introducing an LED headlight replacement to the main lighting application, such as the low beams, the resistance value, amperage, and load simulation will also change on the circuit.  This is where you tend to see problems occur as the TIPM is not receiving a proper signal and with the change to the load, and resistance, whatever other circuits that are indirectly connected to your low beams, through the same ground, may also be affected.  This is where the vehicle responds negatively to the LED headlights in order to protect the circuit as well as allow the other functions tied to the low beams to work like normal such as a parking light, or tail light that turn on together along with your main low beam lamps.

 

How TIPM affects an aftermarket LED headlight

For TIPM system, you almost never see any problem when you install your new LEDs to your vehicle.  It is not until the ignition switch is in the ON position, engine is turned over (usually when OBC kicks in) that the TIPM system will engage and the problem will present itself.

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“Decoders provide a 10W load increase….help remedy lamp out faults or codes stating the lamp is out.”

Some signs of a vehicle with TIPM can be:

  • Lamp out indication light stating a lamp is out.
  • Sudden flicker that occurs at random between each LED lamp and typically have a pattern on the behavior.
  • LED headlights do not power on when the low beam switch is engaged to the ‘ON’ position.
  • Cuts power to the headlamp circuit and results in a flicker behavior for about 2 seconds and shuts off automatically.

 

To remedy any of the above issues, you may utilize the same Decoders used to bypass signal changes with circuits that have PWM signals.  The same internal capacitor will increase amperage on start up due to the charge of the internal capacitor and provide a supported DC current to the LED headlights as well as read back to the TIPM that a lamp is working here as it normally should.  The decoders provide a 10W load increase due to the resistors that are built into the module.  This alone will help remedy lamp out faults or codes stating the headlight is out.  Some of the most common vehicle makes that are notorious for using a TIPM system are Dodge, Ram, Jeep, and Chrysler.  It’s rare to see this type of system on foreign vehicles but with how beneficial a TIPM system is on these type of cars, it is no question as to when other vehicle makers will begin utilizing the same or a similar system.

 

Voltage Changes with Daytime Running Light (DRL) Circuits

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Most Japanese model vehicle utilize the same high beam circuit to operate the Daytime Running Light.

 

A daytime running light is an automotive lamp that provides front head lighting for an automotive vehicle and is primarily used to increase a vehicles noticeability making it easier for other drivers to see your vehicle at a distance.  These lamps tend to emit a white, warm white, or amber light.  DRLs can be tied to turn signal or headlamp circuits.

 

For turn signal circuits, the DRL function tends to be the same as the turn signal circuit allowing you to obtain the same light intensity as your turn signals during the day while your main low beam lamps are off.

Various Japanese vehicles have the DRL function tied to the high beams, and others are separate.  For vehicles that have dedicated DRL’s, the current supplied from the vehicle is usually around 12V DC and therefore supported by the LED lamp.

 

How Daytime Running Lights affect your LED bulbs

When you have those vehicles that run a high beam along with a DRL, on the same circuit, there tends to be a negative reaction from the LED headlights you install.  This is mainly due to the amount of voltage supplied while the DRL is engaged.

Some of the most common negative behaviors are mentioned below as well as why it occurs:

  • LED Headlights do not power on. The voltage the DRL circuit supplies is not enough to power on the LED headlight.  Most aftermarket LED headlights require 6.7V+ to show any sign of light and 9V+ to light on at full capacity.
  • Flickering that will not stop while the DRL is on. The voltage tends to be unsupported or too low.  Flickering occurs when voltage is still not high enough and usually between the ranges of 4.5V-6V DC.
  • Odd flicker behavior that appears to go from a low to high intensity light very fast. Light never fully shuts off with this behavior so no flickering, however, it does create a strobe effect.  This is due to a ‘pulse voltage’ signal where the voltage dips slightly but still not high enough to keep the lamp on steady.  The voltage supplied tends to pulse on/off very fast and usually has a range of 10V-12V which is why the LEDs show no signs of loss in light intensity.

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Daytime Running Lights are an added safety measure for driver noticeability during day time driving.

Bypassing DRL issues is very simple and depending on what category your vehicles DRL falls under will determine which of the following will be the best solution for your vehicles DRL with LED installed:

  • DRL circuits that are shared to a headlamp can utilize a Decoder harness to help bypass any flickering behavior. The light intensity, however, tends to have a small reduction and usually a small decrease in light intensity compared to the high beam.
  • Dedicated DRLs typically provide a steady current of 12V, however, they also tend to be tied to other circuits such a parking light. Error codes tend to be triggered or a dashboard light indicating the DRL is out.  Utilizing a pre-wired inline resistor harness or wiretapping universal resistors to the existing ground and lead wires of the socket harness will correct the lamp out indicators.
  • DRL circuits that utilize a pulsing voltage can use a decoder as well. The module will prevent the voltage change from directly affecting the LEDs through the internal IC driver and thus remedy any flicker behavior.  Light intensity tends to reduce slightly and this is due to how voltage is being supplied from the vehicle.

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Pulse voltage signals are common on Toyota and Subaru vehicles equipped with daytime running light applications.  (Cred. SlammedEnuff / IG: @frslow_armani)

 

Other Methods to Resolve Daytime Running Light Problems

Decoders are by far the best option to try and should always be the first to utilize on the vehicle as they are easier to install.

For those vehicles that do not accept an inline decoder module and still show the same problems then there is still hope.

Some of those solutions can be:

  • Flashing your vehicles software. This can be costly as some vehicles are only possible to flash through a local vehicle dealer.  If you are not prepared to cover any costs involved then this may not be the best solution for you.

There are also various 3rd party softwares that can be downloaded to a mobile smartphone device that will communicate to a wireless Bluetooth OBD reader.  The OBD reader connects to the OBD connector which then talks to your smartphone through the same software that is downloaded.   An example would be apps such as ‘Bimmercode’ and ‘Carly’ that allow you to code certain functions on the vehicle and it’s typically not just limited to lighting.  This type of solution is geared towards experienced DIY individuals or professionals as there is coding involved and extra tools are necessary in order to allow you to flash your vehicle.  With this option, you are essentially programming your vehicle that way you want it to be such as how you want your signals to flash, or disable the DRL function on your car.

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Unfortunately, we do not have specialize with programming vehicles but can certainly help you find sources that can better assist you.  Again, it’s not recommended to everybody but certainly an option to consider as it’s not as costly as going to a local dealer.

Other workarounds for DRL problems:

  • Taking it old school with a relay wiring harness. Using a wiring harness is very common to see with HID conversion kits.  Since ballasts do not support all headlamp circuits, the relay wiring harness is used to bypass the connection to the factory headlamp harness and allows the lamps to be wired directly to the 12V battery.  There is also a 40A fuse on these harnesses to protect your battery as well as the lamps from any short circuits so there will be peace of mind on using this type of part.

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“Disabling a DRL function can be as easy as cutting or de-pinning a wire that connects directly to the ECU.”

  • “DRL Delete”. Some vehicle makes allow the main console/head unit to edit there daytime running light settings and these are usually common with vehicles manufactured in countries where Daytime Running Lights are required by law such as Canada.  Certain European cars may also have this function but its best to contact a local dealer on how to go about changing how the DRL function works or yet alone how to make the changes and if its possible on your model vehicle and year.

There are also other more technical methods of disabling the DRL system as well.  We cannot go into detail as every vehicle is a bit different but for vehicles such as Tacoma’s, disabling a DRL function is as easy as cutting or de-pinning a wire that connects directly to the ECU(Not all vehicle makes).  Lastly, you can also contact a local dealer so that they may reprogram the vehicle.  Certain manufacturers program there vehicles to have a DRL function to accommodate for local laws and regulations and do require a DRL on the vehicle at all times.  They can also disable the DRL function all together eliminating any possibility for voltage changes from making the LEDs behave abnormally.

Using LED headlights can be something new for most and if you are ever not certain on whether or not such systems are present, give the guys at JDM a call.  Our friendly technical support team have hands-on experiencing on how to remedy these types of systems.  We can help alleviate the frustration behind a flickering headlight or save you some labor with your new LED headlight installation so if you have any concerns or just need some guidance, contact the car lighting pros!  And remember….

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

-JDM ASTAR Team

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.