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Automotive Led Bulb Types


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#1 The Only MTS

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 03:45 PM

Originally posted by "Troutman"



With the arrival of yet another 1157 bulb type I can safely say I've tried every major 1157 on the market. Here is a rough guide.

Benefits of LED
The car makers installing oem LED brake lights claim their faster illumination time equates (from memory) to an extra 8 metres of warning to the driver behind at highway speeds. LEDs generally have a lifespan as long as 10 years straight, and are not damaged by being flicked on and off a lot. They are more vibration resistant, and produce very little heat, which over time would eliminate heat damage to tail light reflectors. Because LED's do not rely on heat to produce light and they are colour matched to the lense they shine through, they are extremely low in wattage terms compared to incandescent.

The downside is not only cost, but it is generally agreed that the best LED bulbs are rarely as consistently bright as conventional incandescent. Also, in some applications it will be necessary to add resistors due to malfunctioning indicator flashers etc that rely on the higher wattage of incandescent to function correctly.

Full retrofits
The ultimate has always been the full retrofits that involve taking apart the tail light, gutting the reflector and replacing it with a custom-made board of LEDs. This is commonly discussed on the LED forum of HID Planet and requires a certain level of knowledge. A much easier method involves taking truck LED lights and fitting them into a passenger car housing. If the right truck LED is available, this would not be too difficult. All these methods should provide better than OEM lighting and can be customised to individual tastes. But for most people, this is more work and/or risk than is justifiable.

LED types
In bulbs, there are 3 types of LEDs used. The 3mm, 5mm and the flux-type. The latter is easily the brightest, and is distinguished by being square in shape with a small 'dome' on top. The flux-type is the only one to have 4 pins so it will sit more flatly. The HID Planet guys will strongly urge retrofitters to only use flux LEDs, for example. Some bulbs use combinations of different LED types. High powered LEDs, such as 1, 3 and 5 watt versions, are not yet available in bulbs, presumably because they get extremely hot and can burn themselves out if not installed correctly.

What to look for in bulbs
The most important qualities in a bulb are as follows:
* 360 degree illumination: The earliest LED bulbs (and cheap ones still available) shone only forward. They were visible as a small circle of light in an otherwise dark housing. This also means they would be invisible if not viewed from behind.
* Good low/high distinction: When LEDs replace 'dual filament' incandescent bulbs they do so by simply having 2 levels of brightness. But in most if not all cases, there is not a great difference between low and high modes. This is important when you are driving with the headlights on and apply the brakes.
* Brightness: Whilst this can be a weakness of most LEDs in general (short of OEM or full retrofit), some are far better than others. The general rule is that the highest number of the largest LEDs wins.
* Easy fitment: Small and weak LED bulbs are very easy to fit into the housing to replace other bulbs, whereas bulky ones can require a lot of filing around the tail light bulb entrance to fit.

Bulb suppliers
Some of the best LED bulb suppliers I have tried are as follows:
warden_jp2002 on Ebay Warden has the best prices known to mankind and some of the cheapest shipping. Some people have had delays with arrival times but for me it has always been almost next day delivery. Their products are usually good but range is extremely limited. They only sell the most common bulb colours such as 1157 red and 1156 amber, so one must look elsewhere for specialist products.
superbrightleds.com These guys have a big range, particularly for smaller bulbs for instrument clusters and so on. They also sell replacement flasher units which for some cars (not Milleniae) will solve indicator flashing problems (as does Warden). Their prices are generally good and they do bulk discounts for people buying 50+ bulbs, as I have done through them in the past.
http://superlumination.com Almost identical to autolumination.com and possibly others, SL is the king of high-powered LEDs. For some smaller items the price premium is substantial, but nowhere else sells such a good range of big flux-type LEDs that in some cases seemingly can't be found elsewhere at all. They also sell resistor kits which are the 'other' means of solving indicator flash problems.

Bulb types
All my cars' exterior lighting is 1157 for brake lights, 1156 (the 'single filament' version) for indicators and 194 for parkers. Many other bulb types like 3156 or 7440 I have not dealt with. However, the bulb options are similar for all and the general rules below will apply to buyers of all types.


24-LED 1156/7 Utilising all 5mm LEDs, this is an older design now - but was the first 'good' bulb type I ever tried. It is similar to the early forward-facing LED bulbs except added 6 backwards-shining LEDs to illuminate the housing. The low/high distinction of the 1157 is a serious weakness, but otherwise I have found them the best budget solution and have had them in my cars for some time without incident.

- - - - - - - - - -


20-LED 1156/7 'Light Tower' The famous tower, with 20 flux LEDs, is a bulky piece of equipment and can be difficult if not impossible to fit into some cars' housing without modification. They are also very expensive at up to US$25 each! However, they shine like no other in all directions, and are simply the brightest replacement bulb out there. There are 18-LED versions which lose 2 of the 5 forward-facing LEDs which are still impressive. Also available are 16-LED versions for 7440/7443 bulbs, and watered down 13-LED 1156/7 which are compromised, but should compare well to the the 24 LED mentioned earlier.

- - - - - - - - - -


48-LED 1156/7 This is only available through Warden and seduced me with its high LED count. However, it is a very small bulb in reality and uses all 3mm LEDs! As a result of its design, it gives good illumination of the housing but on a sunny day would be almost invisible. I would not recommend this bulb for conventional applications.

- - - - - - - - - -

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35-LED 1156/7 Another Warden special, I was eager to try this one because it seemed to be a 24-LED design with a higher LED count. However, closer inspection has revealed that the only difference is that instead of 6 5mm LEDs shining backwards, there is a larger number of sideways/backwards shining 3mms. Back to back testing has revealed that the 35-LED is consistently dimmer than the 24-LED in both low and high modes.

It has long been a strong rumour that companies such as Osram are going to be introducing new 1156/7 bulbs to set new standards in the industry. However, there has been nothing seen as yet.

- - - - - - - - - -


5-LED 194 The 194 is the universal wedge bulb used in dash lighting, parkers, side indicators/markers, door lights and various other applications. However, for a long while there has only been 1 highly recommended type. The 5-LED has a single forward-facing flux LED, and 4 x 3mm LEDs shining around the sides. It is believed the only 194 to have sideways illumination.

Other 194 types include the 6-LED, which has 6 bright 3mm LEDs all facing forward. It appears as a spot of light but has very good visibility. It will suit some applications. The cheap 1-LED bulb is available in wide-angle and is a good budget solution.

It is also worth noting that a new 194 type is listed on the autolumination site and claims to be the best on the market. However, it has not been compared to the 5-LED at this time so the results are yet to be seen.

Pictures
As a practical demonstration, here are some recent pictures of my Eunos:
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4 x 24-LED (5mm) 1157 red brake lights
2 x 20-LED (flux) 1156 amber Light Tower rear indicators
2 x 18-LED (flux) 1156 white Light Tower reversing lights
5-LED (3mm & flux) 194 red third stop light, amber side indicators, white number plate lights

Update: I notice Autolumination.com are calling the 20-LED tower the "Light Tower II", and selling the less powerful 18-LED as the Light Tower I. Apparently there is a substantial difference between them, and nothing on Ebay can compete with the Tower II.

Now for today's discussion:
Instrument Cluster LEDs
Every car I have thus far dealt with uses a combination of 194 and small wedge bulbs, known as 74. My Millenia, for example, has 3 x 194s and 1 x 74 for backlighting as BHR mentioned. As usual I use nothing but the 5-LED 194s which are available from all good LED suppliers. On the other hand, there seems to only be one type of 74 LED bulb, which thankfully is a wide-angle design that generally works well. The Millenia warning lights are mostly 74s with a few 194s as well. If the dials are not coloured, like the Millenia, you can replace the bulbs with any colour you may like. Remember that the usual rules apply - blue, for example, won't illuminate the red part of the tacho. I chose white for an OEM look. The below picture (which doesn't do justice) shows my dash with a 100% LED conversion, including details like colour-matched green 5-LED indicator bulbs and red 74 warning lights. To determine the appropriate colour of each warning light, I removed each bulb and shone a torch through. High beam is blue, traction control lights are amber, etc.

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A few reasons why I have subsequently decided to redo the job:

* I later realised there is no park brake warning light among other things. The bulbs sometimes need to be removed and reinstalled 180 degrees out before they will work, and with some warning lights it is not possible to test them simply by turning the ignition on. I will be using a 12 volt power supply to test bulbs.

* Secondly, there has been some erratic behaviour with certain warning light bulbs not extinguishing completely when they are supposed to. To avoid too much stuffing around, I will replace these with standard bulbs.

* And thirdly, I have found a cheap fix for the age old problem of 74 bulbs being difficult to fit snugly into the stock holder - and the stock holder with the LED bulb being difficult to fit back into the cluster. Superbrightleds.com sells 74 bulbs with or without holders. The holders (currently US$1.79 each including any colour bulb) are proper LED ones which fit in perfectly and will be far more reliable. From now on I will not use anything less. Better yet, autolumination.com (though not superlumination) sells what I believe are the same 74 LED holders seperately, for just US$0.29 each! Great for piece of mind - I plan to make my bulk order tonight!

A couple of new Tower products are out from Autolumination. One is a red 1157 that flashes rapidly when pressed for the first 2 seconds, then illuminates constantly. There's a 24-LED version also. Scroll down at:

http://autoluminatio...m/1156_1157.htm

The second product is a combination white running light which can flash yellow as an indicator. The first 'useful' colour changing bulb I've seen. Imagine one of these in the parking light housing of a Milly - it would mean the lights in the bumper would no longer be needed, plus you'd have insanely powerful parkers!

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QUOTE(Saint @ Oct 14 2008, 12:26 AM) View Post
QUOTE(Frankzao @ Oct 13 2008, 09:06 PM) View Post

BHR has not learned that driving a milly can also be fun........he still thinks it can't tow, remember?


Tow? He thinks it is made of sugar and melts in the rain :)


#2 Synesthesia

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 05:54 PM

I would like to add that www.superlumination.com is the officially LED and bulb vendor for all of MW.net, enjoy great prices, full stock, and fast shipping.
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#3 Arsonist

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 10:33 PM

I'd also like to add that there's still experimental information regarding LED setups in the Millenia. There are known bugs such as the dashboard lights going on/off whenever the brake pedal is pushed when there's LEDs installed in the trunk tail lights.

According to some experiments of mine, that would be a reaction from the ECU when it detects that there isn't enough watts being drawed from there, but then again this is inconclusive since a dying bulb would also have a low resistance yet the bug won't appear.

I'll keep you updated on more results. I'll be trying some resistors on those harnesses to see how things go.

#4 ///BHRpowered

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 12:16 AM

I myself have had led's in the dash since june and have never had a problem with them gonig out, now with led's in the tails I have experianced the cruise issue, but 01-02 owners have had nothing
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#5 DoN_BLaZe34

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 12:40 AM

i still haven't figured out mine
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Dallasaurora: Now that's not funny....I spent the last hour trying to sweep the board, then DoN comes along and wipes out all my posting hard work in like 10 minutes! Damn, that sucks!!!
J-allan: Don, how can you sleep at night knowing your car is available to drive 24/7? IPB Image Very, very tasteful mods, IMO, from the signal mirrors to the hids and engine compartment, well done!
Kat_Daddy: btw, i think plat still holds the milly crown here. Don is moving into the #1 contender spot though...
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we will have to see where this goes before i take him under my wing

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#6 Troutman

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 01:29 AM

No good Don sad.gif

Arson, please keep us posted, I'll be very interested to hear results. I can see no logical reason why resistors wouldn't address the problem.
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#7 Troutman

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Posted 03 May 2006 - 11:34 PM

The high power 194 LED is now priced for the masses! Warden_jp2002 is selling them in both amber and blue for less than half the price of some others...

http://stores.ebay.c...4QQftidZ2QQtZkm
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#8 The Only MTS

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Posted 04 May 2006 - 06:27 AM

Nice Trout.... the LED Dementia King
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QUOTE(Saint @ Oct 14 2008, 12:26 AM) View Post
QUOTE(Frankzao @ Oct 13 2008, 09:06 PM) View Post

BHR has not learned that driving a milly can also be fun........he still thinks it can't tow, remember?


Tow? He thinks it is made of sugar and melts in the rain :)


#9 Troutman

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Posted 04 May 2006 - 11:17 PM

There is also a 31mm festoon bulb utilising the same high power LED. I have purchased one as an experiment from Warden, though it seems to only be available in blue at this time.
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#10 The Only MTS

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Posted 05 May 2006 - 05:59 AM

Do us proud Trout, we are sure there will be a nice report with pics...
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QUOTE(Saint @ Oct 14 2008, 12:26 AM) View Post
QUOTE(Frankzao @ Oct 13 2008, 09:06 PM) View Post

BHR has not learned that driving a milly can also be fun........he still thinks it can't tow, remember?


Tow? He thinks it is made of sugar and melts in the rain :)


#11 Synesthesia

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Posted 05 May 2006 - 12:51 PM

I feel it is important to note that just recently, superlumination, an offical vendor of mw.net, has introduced a new 194 bulb designed for gauges. these ultra low profile high flux leds are the newest on the market and not yet sold in many parts of the country. Designed for an ultrawide, even beam spread, these are ideal for all gauges
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"In an Alex Ross-drawn, Paul Dini-penned thesis, psychiatrists ponder that perhaps the Joker is sane and fakes insanity to keep himself out of prison. It is suggested that he is completely in control of himself but is a savage sadist, and uses his disfigurements as an excuse to terrify and murder his victims. Ironically, the doctor who came up with this theory was Harlene Quinzel, whom Joker later transformed into his insane accomplice, Harley Quinn."

"Grant Morrison's graphic novel Asylum suggests that the Joker's mental state is in fact a previously unprecedented form of 'super-sanity', a new mode of perception to cope with the insanity of the times."

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#12 DoN_BLaZe34

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 10:18 PM

i didn't know they were a vendor for us..
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Dallasaurora: Now that's not funny....I spent the last hour trying to sweep the board, then DoN comes along and wipes out all my posting hard work in like 10 minutes! Damn, that sucks!!!
J-allan: Don, how can you sleep at night knowing your car is available to drive 24/7? IPB Image Very, very tasteful mods, IMO, from the signal mirrors to the hids and engine compartment, well done!
Kat_Daddy: btw, i think plat still holds the milly crown here. Don is moving into the #1 contender spot though...
Roof: Don has the makings of a good padawan.
we will have to see where this goes before i take him under my wing

BH: the true post of a post whore can only be measured over time. He must remain constant throughout the ages

#13 Troutman

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 12:03 AM

I must update my site when the new 1156s are tested.
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#14 DoN_BLaZe34

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 12:41 AM

why the hell don't we get some type of discount if they're a vendor?!?
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Previous: R.I.P - Gone but NEVER forgotten...97 Millenia L
Current: 02 Millenia
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Dallasaurora: Now that's not funny....I spent the last hour trying to sweep the board, then DoN comes along and wipes out all my posting hard work in like 10 minutes! Damn, that sucks!!!
J-allan: Don, how can you sleep at night knowing your car is available to drive 24/7? IPB Image Very, very tasteful mods, IMO, from the signal mirrors to the hids and engine compartment, well done!
Kat_Daddy: btw, i think plat still holds the milly crown here. Don is moving into the #1 contender spot though...
Roof: Don has the makings of a good padawan.
we will have to see where this goes before i take him under my wing

BH: the true post of a post whore can only be measured over time. He must remain constant throughout the ages

#15 Troutman

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 03:53 AM

Or at least news of upcoming products before they come out?
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#16 The Only MTS

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 08:48 AM

Indeed
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QUOTE(Saint @ Oct 14 2008, 12:26 AM) View Post
QUOTE(Frankzao @ Oct 13 2008, 09:06 PM) View Post

BHR has not learned that driving a milly can also be fun........he still thinks it can't tow, remember?


Tow? He thinks it is made of sugar and melts in the rain :)


#17 DoN_BLaZe34

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 09:46 PM

that'd be nice as well...bh what's goin on?
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Mazdaworld Federation - Lt. Commander

Previous: R.I.P - Gone but NEVER forgotten...97 Millenia L
Current: 02 Millenia
IPB ImageIPB Image
Dallasaurora: Now that's not funny....I spent the last hour trying to sweep the board, then DoN comes along and wipes out all my posting hard work in like 10 minutes! Damn, that sucks!!!
J-allan: Don, how can you sleep at night knowing your car is available to drive 24/7? IPB Image Very, very tasteful mods, IMO, from the signal mirrors to the hids and engine compartment, well done!
Kat_Daddy: btw, i think plat still holds the milly crown here. Don is moving into the #1 contender spot though...
Roof: Don has the makings of a good padawan.
we will have to see where this goes before i take him under my wing

BH: the true post of a post whore can only be measured over time. He must remain constant throughout the ages

#18 Troutman

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Posted 25 May 2006 - 12:16 AM

Giant 1156 / 194 LED bulb comparative test!

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G'day all,

With the eagerly awaited arrival of my 3-LED Velocity 1156a and Raybrig 194 bulbs, I thought a comparison against the established LED bulb champs is in order! Below are some of the other bulbs being compared. Of the 1156 bulbs on the left we have the 48-LED bulb from Warden_jp2002 on the bottom, followed by a chrome-coated amber incandescent, with a regular incandescent up top. On the extreme right is a white Raybrig 194 beside the classic white 5-LED. The car is a Eunos 800.
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1156
48-LED
First up, the 48-LED 1156 has a few talents like high LED count, compact size and first rate housing illumination. Unfortunately it is made up to rather low-powered 3mm LEDs and would be a struggle to be noticed in broad daylight.
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Amber Incandescent
The amber incandescent is a known quantity - including the fact that efficiency is very low due to being a warm white light with a coloured filter blocking all but the amber portion of the spectrum. Nonetheless it is an excellent benchmark and very difficult to top with even the best LED bulbs.
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Chrome Amber Incandescent
The chrome-coated incandescent is a neat invention that adds yet another layer over the old fashioned 1156. The chrome makes the bulb look 'invisible' in the housing of a clear-lense indicator and eliminates the 'egg yolk' look of a visible amber bulb. It does lose some brightness in the process. In addition, the photographs were difficult to take when the incandescents fade on and off. A multitude of pictures were taken and the brightest were used here.
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3-LED Velocity High Power
Here is the newcomer, the Velocityleds 3 x high-power bulb. It is one of the most compact yet, and delivers impressive brightness. As it has no direct sideways illumination, (one wonders if they could have at least angled the LEDs to not point straight ahead) it will not illuminate the housing as evenly as, say, the 48-LED. Nonetheless, the maker's claims that it is the equal of incandescent is not far-fetched.
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In this front-indicator application, the Velocity does a nice job of illuminating the housing, even when viewed from another angle.
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It was only when tested in a jewelled housing, such as my tail lights, that the Velocity's hotspot bordered on unacceptable. I will thus be using them only for front indicators. Whilst the Velocity is available for other applications such as reversing lights and brake lights, it is my personal recommendation that high-powered LEDs only be used as indicators, as they get hot if left on indefinitely and lifespan is reduced.
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20-LED Light Tower
The famous 20-LED tower from Superlumination.com is still a difficult act to beat, despite lacking the comparatively blinding power of the Velocity's hotspot. The tower has 5 x forward-facing LEDs and 5 groups of 3-LED rows shining around the side - all flux-type. The tower's bulk is an annoyance, however, and custom work had to be done to fit one in my reverse light housing. As soon as someone combines high-power LEDs with tower-style sideways illumination, it will be curtains for this classic design.
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194
High-Power / Superstar
The high-power 194 bulbs like this one have a reputation for being as bright as they come - if lacking in housing illumination - but they get very hot and it is doubted they will last very long in a non-flashing application such as this parking light housing. This is believed to be the same LED type as the 3-LED Velocity 1156, but of course there is only 1 required. I do use this bulb type (amber) in my side indicators, however, and can recommend them highly. In an indicator application, the bulb has a chance to cool down between flashes.
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5-LED
The 5-LED is available almost everywhere and is noted for its good housing illumination. It includes a forward-facing flux-type LED and 4 x 3mm LEDs shining around the sides. It is also as reliable as they come, and for constant-on applications it still can't be beaten.
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Raybrig
Sadly for the poor Raybrig from Warden, it is totally outclassed in this competition despite costing more than the other two combined! It appears to be an older design with its respected Japanese brand name the main selling point. Despite looking like a high-powered bulb, it does not appear to have any heat issues. However, colour temperature is noticably colder and brightness is well down on the others. I cannot think of any application where I would recommend it over the 5-LED. Warden currently sells the 5-LED for A$8 per pair, compared to A$21 for the Raybrig.
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#19 Troutman

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Posted 15 October 2006 - 08:16 PM

Whilst it could be seen as an indictment of the original high power 194/Superstar, it is good to see an attempt has been made to address the heat issue. Meet the new Autolumination 'Supernova'.

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'07 Holden Caprice

#20 Arsonist

Arsonist

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 11:55 AM

Excellent reviews.

As for me, I'll be preparing a report on the mysteries of the trunkdoor tail lights LEDs and why they 'cause the dashboard lights to blink on and off.