- What is Incandescent? What are LEDs?
- How I used LEDs in/on my truck
- Custom-made LED modules: Exterior: Rear Lighting
When it comes to lighting on cars, energy efficiency is typically not a concern, and as a result cheap, inefficient incandescent lamps are often used. However, lighting efficiency becomes much more of a concern for Electric Vehicles because reducing energy consumption even a little bit helps to fulfill the goal of achieving as long of a range as possible. This goal to reduce energy consumption as much as possible led me to convert the incandescent lighting on my Jeep to LED Lighting.
What? (Incandescent and LEDs):
If you're wondering what in the world Incandescent and LED refer to here's a fairly short explanation (okay, maybe it'll be a bit long):
Incandescent lamps are the traditional type of lighting still used in many applications. Incandescent lamps contain a filament (like a thin wire) which is enclosed in a sealed glass lamp. When electricity passes through it, the filament begins to glow red hot (it produces light). However, Incandescent lamps aren't energy efficient; the majority of the power they consume is turned into waste heat rather than useable light. In general this means that incandescent lamps are grossly inefficient compared to other, more modern types of lighting (i.e. Fluorescent lamps, HID/Arc lamps, and LEDs). Although it is truly amazing that incandescent lamps are still being used 100+ years after their invention, I believe that they're "past their prime" and are no longer the best choice for many of the applications in which they're still used.
LED (or L.E.D.) is short for Light Emitting Diode. LEDs are a relatively new form of lighting, and are popping up in more and more applications as the technology continues to mature. An LED emits light when electricity is passed from it's anode (positive leg), across a plate containing a colored dye, to its cathode (negative leg). A Single LED is typically only 5mm or less in diameter and encapsulated in epoxy. Their availability in extremely small sizes is a reason why LEDs have been and are used extensively for display/ indication purposes (such as in computers, VCRs, stereos, clocks, microwaves, etc..). However, LEDs also have many other benefits which make them desireable for use in a wide variety of applications. These benefits include:
- Energy Efficiency -- LEDs consume very little power for the amount of light they produce.
- Long Life -- Typically rated to 100,000+ hours (compared to 1,000 hours or less for incandescents)
- Unbreakable -- LEDs are made of solid epoxy which cannot crack or shatter (unlike glass incandescent lamps)
- Cool Burning -- LEDs produce a minuscule amount of heat (compared to most incandescents which become too hot to touch during operation)
- Small Size -- LEDs can be used in very small/tight spaces and even embedded into things like clothing and jewelry.
- Vibration resistant -- LEDs have no fragile filament so are unharmed by vibration
- Pure Colors -- Colors are pure and don't fade over the life of the LED (unlike colored incandescent lamps)
Traditionally the only downfall of LEDs is their relatively low light output. LEDs use to primarily be used only in indication applications where high light output is typically not required. However, as the technology has and is advancing, brighter and brighter LEDs are always being created. Some modern LEDs have achieved extremely high light outputs such as the Luxeon Star LEDs manufactured by the Lumileds company. Although, super bright 3mm and 5mm size LEDs are becoming very common as well.
How I used LEDs in/on my truck:
Custom-made LED modules: Exterior: Rear Lighting:
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