LED H4 bulbs are close to reaching focus-parity with halogen in reflector headlights.

Status
Not open for further replies.

MrPlow

Thread starter
Joined
Nov 22, 2020
Messages
516
Headlights do have foam filters, at least some that I have seen.
I would imagine in actual practice that any dust inside the housing would eventually cake to the bottom given cycles of humidity and drying over time. I also wonder exactly how strong the air current is from the LED bulb. Plus, even without the fan inside the housing, they still get bounced around a lot on rough roads and gravel, so it's not like they are an otherwise perfectly still environment.

Regardless, if I ever did an LED install, dust would not be something I would worry about, and if it became an issue, I could very easily figure a way around it. Which might be a moot point if housing already have proper filtering. I don't know enough about headlights to have any opinion on how well they are sealed.
 
Joined
May 7, 2004
Messages
12,233
Location
Nokesville, VA
I did some searching around and found some numbers on heat output. The standard H4 bulbs get to around 160 deg F, at I think is room temp ambient air. The Morimoto 3.0 gets to 132 deg F in the same test. With the fan running, I wonder how this might translate to the temp of the front glass/plastic of the housing.

Heat output is pretty much directly related to electrical input wattage. 1 watt of input power will give 3.41 btus of heat output.
 

MrPlow

Thread starter
Joined
Nov 22, 2020
Messages
516
So, I contacted Morimoto about the temperature of the lights and how they compare to halogen. First of all, they replied incredibly fast! I do find it hard to believe they never tested it against halogen, and suspect they willfully ignored the heating numbers when compared. With that said, heavy snow buildup on headlights is most likely to happen in wet snowfall at higher snowing temps, so if they can keep the front lens of the housing above freezing at higher driving speeds, then everything should be gravy deluxe. I can also say for certain that a larger housing with a larger surface area in front, and larger volume, will be harder for the LED system to heat it. This could be a case where a large housing with an H4 halogen bulb might be just barely hot enough to prevent snow buildup, and anything even slightly less would be inadequate. Since this light is brand new on the market, it might take a winter of users reports to get a sense of how effective the system is. Regardless, any added heat is superior to none at all when keeping things snow free.

Here's their reply on the topic:

"We have no specific data on the temps, but in testing we had yet to see a scenario (unless the weather is just that extreme) where they were not able to break up and melt build up on the headlights."
 

MrPlow

Thread starter
Joined
Nov 22, 2020
Messages
516
I purchased a cheap set (but highly rated) of LED bulbs to test out in my van's halogen reflector lights. While setting them up and aiming at a white wall, I noticed that the rotational adjustment of the LED bulb in the housing can be used to create a dead spot in the area of the driver's side light that shines into drivers coming straight on the other way. Compared to the halogen, which can't be rotated, the preliminary result is that the LED can be adjusted to less light output in this area by just a couple degrees of rotation. While this does not address the brighter light hitting drivers on curves and crests, it does remedy the main problem often cited with LED conversions. I will have to try doing readings with my light meter to see if there is indeed less light hitting this region or equal to halogen. In doing a couple quick swaps back and forth, it appears to be actually less if rotated correctly and maybe equal or just slightly more not rotated. The rotation does not appear to have any major effect on the illumination of other areas or the general cutoff line as long as the rotation is not too great of a delta from TDC.

This is the LED unit I experimented with. It's the Katana H4 LED.

Screenshot_2021-01-06 Amazon com KATANA H4 9003 LED Headlight Bulbs - CREE Chips w Adjustable ...png


One funny thing about adjusting these while turned on, is that the fan is exposed out the back of the unit. I accidentally touched it with my finger while staring at the wall and adjusting the rotation and it buzzed my skin pretty hard. Scared the brownies out of me for a second, as I thought I had been shocked at first. LOL
 
Joined
Oct 16, 2010
Messages
2,455
Location
california
I admire your spirit of experimentation.

Highly rated by whom?

Amazon reviewers , if legitimately reviewing the specific product, and not all products that brand name sells, are hardly qualified, and if they were, it would only be in their specific reflector/vehicle.

Most likely care about light color, and judge performance by the amount of pupil constricting, distance acuity reducing, foreground light.

Any beam pattern on a garage door proves next to nothing, and glare above any well defined 'cut off' can still be excessive.

What reflector/housing are you using? If these are sealed beam replacements, which ones?

Snipping off the tabs of a halogen h4, to allow rotation, is certainly possible. I'd say I can rotate the H4's about 1 degree in the Hella vision plus 6054 DOT bulb receptacles as the tabs are not super tight in the receptacle.

The computer fans, I assume they blow into the heatsink, are they easily removed? If you can remove them and wish to, ...Peel up the sticker, where the wires enter the hub, and cover those solder contacts with something like dielectric grease or Amazing goop/ shoegoo, if you leave them in place.

Almost Every computer fan failure I have had, is because of corrosion where wires attach to circuit board in the hub, the wires breaking/corroding off the circuit board. Not too hard to fix, but in this case failure will take out the circuitry of the bulb.

Which might be a blessing for driver's on the opposite side of the road.
 

MrPlow

Thread starter
Joined
Nov 22, 2020
Messages
516
I admire your spirit of experimentation.

Highly rated by whom?

Amazon reviewers , if legitimately reviewing the specific product, and not all products that brand name sells, are hardly qualified, and if they were, it would only be in their specific reflector/vehicle.

Most likely care about light color, and judge performance by the amount of pupil constricting, distance acuity reducing, foreground light.

Any beam pattern on a garage door proves next to nothing, and glare above any well defined 'cut off' can still be excessive.

Which might be a blessing for driver's on the opposite side of the road.
Highly rated by bulbfacts.com at least relative to others in the price range. Also by forums and youtube etc. I'm not sure how much more one can get in terms of data on bulbs? Everything I read and watched matches what I am seeing. The H4 version of their bulb has a very nice cutoff line.

Also, I think people get WAAAAAYYY too critical of light modifications because of idiots putting HID bulbs in halogen reflectors, or using cheap LED assemblies that have no cutoff. They are basically driving with high beams on all the time, which is no doubt far worse than the best LED systems with great cutoff. Many people in a state without inspections don't have properly aligned headlights to the smallest degree of error. A person with halogen bulbs, but poorly aimed, is going to cause more issues than someone with decent modifications and careful aiming. All of that still doesn't mean squat when many of vehicles sold in the USA are tall trucks and SUVs. Even when properly aimed and no mods, stock vehicles can blind the heck out of people in older, smaller cars. I don't blame anyone at all for wanting to make their car safer against new models of vehicles.

I've worked off and on as a professional, and steady enthusiast photographer for decades. I have a very good sense of light levels and distribution. A headlight is not some sort of magical device. It's just light, lenses and reflectors for the most part in terms of projection. I have serious doubts that carefully using a wall to measure light distribution is somehow so error prone that it holds no validity to making soft conclusions to the results. With a matte surfaced white wall, with diffuse light reflection, it's really not rocket science to measure one light against another. The human eye is a non-linear light gathering and sensing device. Small differences equaling a fraction of a Exposure Value (1 EV = double the photons) is not going to be anywhere close to the amount needed to go from perfectly fine to OMG I'M BLIND!! :)

Also, if the DOT specs were meant for absolute safety, they wouldn't have so much illumination spent towards lighting signs above the road. E-Code lights are arguably safer, IMO, because they do not allow as much light to spill above the cutoff line and into oncoming traffic. The available light is better spent where it counts. E-Code lights light up stop signs and deer on the shoulder perfectly well. Missing an exit because of not seeing a sign is less of a safety issue than shining light into oncoming traffic. I think some states even allow E-Code lights on vehicles.

Sorry for going off topic a bit too much there, but just because there are laws and regulations, doesn't always mean those laws and regulations are achieving the best results.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Oct 7, 2019
Messages
404
Location
USA
Do they get hot enough to keep headlights clear of snow and ice in the winter?
 
Joined
Nov 11, 2018
Messages
5,266
Location
Great Lakes
My biggest gripe I had with my Diode Dynamics SL1 LED’s was the awful color temp and CRI. Yeah, they’re “white” but it washed everything out, even more so in inclement weather. I’d love for some 4500-4800k LED’s that rival the Philips Xtreme Vision HID’s I had on my Durango. That was like driving with pure sunlight coming out of my headlights.
 

MrPlow

Thread starter
Joined
Nov 22, 2020
Messages
516
So new bit of info from tonight's testing. It's 42 deg F outside with a humidity level over 90%. The ground is warm and wet from recent heavy rains and fog is forming. The headlights were coated thick in condensation and had ZERO cutoff or beam aiming. They were completely diffuse and shining everywhere.

The LED light FAILED MISERABLY in clearing the condensation off the front of the lens from fog.

I put that in big letters because this an issue in an area prone to cold and freezing fog. After leaving the lights on low-beam for around 20 minutes, there was no less moisture on the housing. For comparison, I had another vehicle parked next to it equipped with 55w low beam halogen H4 reflectors. While the halogen setup has smaller volume housings which helps, it was a huge difference. The halogens cleared the moisture away in less than 5 minutes. I think I could have left the LED ones on for a lot longer without any difference.

Now, this scenario isn't as bad as covering the whole thing in thick snow, but it is still an issue. If the air is a few degrees above freezing, driving will help clear some of it after a while. If below freezing, then I don't think they stand a chance.

I have other projects where I can use these LED bulbs, so not much of a waste. :)


I might try out the heated LED Morimoto bulbs, but I don't have much faith they can put out enough heat. Stupid LEDs being too energy efficient! LOL


No es bueno. :(
IMG_7625.jpg
 
Joined
Sep 10, 2008
Messages
441
Location
Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada
Well, yes, but if you have snow covering the front of the lens, that light is going to turn into heat right there, isn't it?
If the snow was black, then yes.
Snow, last time I checked, isn't black.
Observing snow-covered headlights indicates the light eventually makes its way through the snow in an extremely diffused way.
 
Joined
Sep 10, 2008
Messages
441
Location
Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada
Missing an exit because of not seeing a sign is less of a safety issue than shining light into oncoming traffic.
... Until you add idiots to the equation (and believe me, there are a lot of idiots on the roads). Then you have people reversing on the highway, pulling u-turns on blind corners, or slamming on their brakes to make an exit instead of just taking the next exit and coming back.
 

MrPlow

Thread starter
Joined
Nov 22, 2020
Messages
516
I managed to do a snow driving experiment with one LED light installed. Drove on some very remote back roads for a few miles before being fed up with the LED light being covered in snow and ruining the projection of the light. The worst aspect is how the light scatters once snow has built up and makes in very difficult to see through the snowflake Star Wars hyperspace. I took this photo comparison right before removing the LED bulb and putting a halogen one in to keep the snow off.

Another thing to note, which isn't easily seen in the photo, is that the halogen bulb still had some snow buildup in the corners when I first stopped to check them. It melted fast once the car sat, but was there while driving. I would assume that the Morimoto LED bulb with the housing heater function would not be sufficient in keeping the headlight clear, even at 36 degrees outside. It's only 20-something watts, which isn't much energy being turned into heat compared to 55/60watts of the halogen bulbs. Just no way.

IMG_7669.jpg
 

MrPlow

Thread starter
Joined
Nov 22, 2020
Messages
516
I've also come to the conclusion that cooler (more blue) color temps in the LED bulbs is actually not sufficient for driving in my region of climate and flora. Here are some impressions of the matter:

1. A color temp in the mid 5000K and up reflects too much from green vegetation, white surfaces, and road signs compared to warmer color temps. What this means is that objects like deer and tree trunks, which around here are more in the warmer color range, do not stand out very well at all. Deer and tree trunks are more dangerous than branches. This also proves troublesome in white snow as the cooler color temp seems to reflect harder off the white surfaces compared to other non-white surfaces of important objects beyond the snow that is falling.

2. Because of the poor color temp and also poor CRI (color rendering index) of cheaper LED bulbs, the LED bulbs have to be MUCH brighter to compensate so that the road and objects can be better seen. As a consequence, this puts more strain on other drivers because the light hitting their eyes is not reflected off surfaces as it is for the driver with the LED bulbs. So for the cooler temp LED lights with poor CRI, other drivers are blinded at a higher rate than the LED driver gains in visibility of the road and objects.

3. On the plus side, the white lines on the roads reflect much better with LED light and are easier to follow at night.

4. At this point in my testing and research on the topic, I think the bulb focus is actually the least of the major concerns about LED bulbs. Color temp, low CRI, and poor snow melting ability are aspects not done well at all, even by the more expensive brands. A bulb with an extra 30 watts of heating, a CRI of 90+, and color temp in the 3500k-4500k range would be vastly superior and would not have to overdrive the lumens to compensate for junky light.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Mar 29, 2016
Messages
1,473
Location
CA
I've also come to the conclusion that cooler (more blue) color temps in the LED bulbs is actually not sufficient for driving in my region of climate and flora. Here are some impressions of the matter:

1. A color temp in the mid 5000K and up reflects too much from green vegetation, white surfaces, and road signs compared to warmer color temps. What this means is that objects like deer and tree trunks, which around here are more in the warmer color range, do not stand out very well at all. Deer and tree trunks are more dangerous than branches. This also proves troublesome in white snow as the cooler color temp seems to reflect harder off the white surfaces compared to other non-white surfaces of important objects beyond the snow that is falling.

2. Because of the poor color temp and also poor CRI (color rendering index) of cheaper LED bulbs, the LED bulbs have to be MUCH brighter to compensate so that the road and objects can be better seen. As a consequence, this puts more strain on other drivers because the light hitting their eyes is not reflected off surfaces as it is for the driver with the LED bulbs. So for the cooler temp LED lights with poor CRI, other drivers are blinded at a higher rate than the LED driver gains in visibility of the road and objects.

3. On the plus side, the white lines on the roads reflect much better with LED light and are easier to follow at night.

4. At this point in my testing and research on the topic, I think the bulb focus is actually the least of the major concerns about LED bulbs. Color temp, low CRI, and poor snow melting ability are aspects not done well at all, even by the more expensive brands. A bulb with an extra 30 watts of heating, a CRI of 90+, and color temp in the 3500k-4500k range would be vastly superior and would not have to overdrive the lumens to compensate for junky light.
Thanks for your posts on this topic.

I agree that the whiter light is problematic in some scenarios. For me, it is during rain that things look a little wrong.

Otherwise it is ok and the overall improvement in brightness I have is worth it, especially on unlit or poorly lit roads.

I didn't seek LEDs that tested to have significantly more lux than the average budget recommended ones, and what I ended up with is enough. If anything, it is maybe a little too much as it sometimes creates a bigger contrast between light ahead and darkness on the sides, and it would be great if my beam was a little wider than they are.

After initial install, my beam was higher and I got flashed once. I then reduced the height and haven't been flashed in months now.

To choose the bulbs, I used bulbfacts.com and then compared the pictures of the recommended ones to the pictures of other brand names on Amazon. I ended up ordering a set for near $40 and one for near $20 and they were identical. At the time, they were offered with a 2 year warranty, and so far (6 months), so good.

Hopefully the next improvement in these bulbs will be color temp, CRI and heating. And maybe compatibility with some sort of dimmer control!
 
Joined
Jul 5, 2020
Messages
128
Location
Sioux City
I know that a TacomaWorld Thread has already been posted but these are much more recently updated and show some interesting info. Especially in the Tacoma OEM H11 projector housing which is much more forgiving than a reflector. The biggest thing to note is that while an LED may perform mostly satisfactory for beam pattern, you'll notice that the light intensity drops off at a faster rate as the distance increases vs a halogen. This is well demonstrated in the H11 comparison and carries over to theH4 as well.

Now with H4 being reflector based the amount of glare is increased substantially, even with glare caps/cups and getting closer chip mounting. Even if somehow the chip placement gets to the same point as a halogen filament, you'll likely get a small amount of shadowing where the chips simply cannot provide light since they can not produce 360 degrees of light, like others have noted. This is less prominent in a projector, but still sometimes seen.



If you want to see some amazing SAE Fog light comparisons, take a look at this thread!


Regarding the new Morimoto 2 Stroke and the fan operation.....here ya go.


Either way you slice it, I could not recommend any PNP LED for any car. A quality Halogen (like the GE/Tungsram Megalight Ultra +130 or Philips Racing Vision) that is stock wattage is equally as good as the "best" PNP LEDs with less intensity drop. High wattage (H9-H11 or H4's) halogens are even better. Plus the safety factor of halogen that it will actually melt snow/ice almost no matter the outside temperature.
 
Joined
Jul 18, 2021
Messages
5
Much better than any single halogen h4.

No glaring, much broader and stronger lighting, no black spots. (I can't believe it, started just as an experiment).
There is no air entrance from the environment. Only re-circulation within the headlight is more than enough.

The Maria. Twin, h4 halogen, mkII..JPG




A step further is The Excellency. The stronger halogen headlights ever, if you can have a dedicated horse power for them:

The Excellency.JPG

more
 
Last edited:
Joined
May 24, 2019
Messages
226
Location
Ontario Canada
First of all, this is purely a thread about the advancement of LED tech as a legitimate replacement for halogen bulbs in reflector housings. I know this is a knee-jerk topic where once someone reads LED and reflector headlight they automatically go into attack mode about blinding other drivers. As tech advances, it's prudent to observe the changes to that tech and not fall into a constant loop of luddism. :)

Thank you for posting this! 👍

This is not a post about breaking the law or about the ethics of modifying headlights. It is only about the tech and how close it is getting to halogen parity. Just nerdy car people being geeky about cars. :)

In the last several years, LED bulbs have come to the point where there is no practical desertion between halogen and LED in terms of light focus and spread. The main variables now are brightness and color temperature.

The main contention with LED bulbs is that the LED emitters themselves on many models, for many years, were too far spaced apart, enough that the optical design of the reflectors would be out of alignment with the point sources of light from both low and high beam emitters. The newer designs are getting very close to the same specs required of halogen bulbs, and seem to be falling well within the margin of error for proper optical alignment.

There is a very interesting website, called bulbfacts.com where LED lights are put through controlled tests to determine all pertinent factors in what makes a bulb a good choice. One of the main pieces of data are the pattern tests done in reflector housings.

There is a great comparison table at https://www.bulbfacts.com/led-kits/chart/

One of the top performers in their tests for light scattering is this model https://www.bulbfacts.com/led-kits/reviews/lumibright-xt1-led-kit-review.html
If you check out the visual test, it's quite impressive how well it maintains the cutoff in low-beam mode. While it could be argued that they are ridiculously too bright regardless of light focus, the fact that the light is so well controlled in a halogen housing is very impressive.

An interesting thread was started by a fellow (user: spiderman302) who claims to have helped advance the newest generation of LED bulbs designed with both the proper emitter locations and proper low-beam cutoff.


One important aspect of his post is a cutaway view of a halogen bulb and a new model of LED. As you can see, the LED emitters are getting incredibly close to the same width and point source as the halogen, even including the same cutoff dome and offset emitter for high beams.

Image credit to spiderman302 from https://advrider.com/f/threads/h4-l...me-focus-as-h4-halogen-bulb-new-2018.1286743/
eW007W2.jpg


The mounting plate for the emitters on the new design is 0.037 inches thick, where as older LED designs might be in the 0.235 inch range. A standard H4 halogen element is 0.068 inches wide.

Below is one of the newest designs for LED compared to halogen. Notice how the cutoff dome and offset of the low and high beam emitters are very similar.

View attachment 39170 View attachment 39171

When looking at the patterns produced by LED H4 bulbs in reflector housings, the best performing models are clearly within the range needed to perform in parity with halogen bulbs. While there still might be some light loss in certain areas of the beam pattern, there is no added percentage of light in areas where there should not be any added glare for oncoming drivers.

Going forward, I think the problem of poor focusing from LED lights is going to be a non-issue for upgrading existing halogens. What might be a new issue and something worthy of debate, is over the brightness and color temp of the bulbs. Thankfully, there is a HUGE spread of LED lights that vary in brightness and color temp. Some are even capable of close proximity of the color temp and lumen output of halogen bulbs.

I highly recommend checking out the bulbfacts.com website.

EDIT: Another aspect not often covered in LED conversions, is the fact that they emit very little heat through the light pattern of emitters themselves, at least enough to heat up the lens of the housing. LED lights will get covered very quickly in snow storms and be a very dangerous situation. This has to be taken into major account when swapping from halogen to LED. If anything, when using LED in an area prone to snow, carry a set of halogen bulbs you can swap in for added snow and ice melting ability. The halogen bulbs can increase the temps inside a housing by 50-60 degrees over outside ambient temp. (numbers are just a rough guess on my part, but much hotter than LED, no question.)
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top