Traditionally, vehicle lights have been made with incandescent bulbs and powered direct from the vehicle electrics (usually 12 or 24 volts). Incandescent light bulbs were incvented in the 19th century and consist of a coiled metal filament, inside a glass capsule (which contains a special gas) When Electricity flows through the coiled metal wire, it gets hot, so hot in fact that it glows.. and that is the light we see. Much of the electricity's energy is wasted as heat..
LEDs work on a completely different principle.
3 watts of LEDs produce about the same light as 30 watts of incandescent light bulbs
LEDs are much more vibration resistant
LEDs reach full brightness much faster than bulbs
LEDs last for 50 - 100,000 hours, compared to Incadescent bulbs 1,200 hours
LEDs can emit light at different wavelengths (colours) depending on the doping, so we can have LEDs which emit a pure red colour, or a pure Amber colour. Incandescent vehicle bulbs all emit a yellowy white colour light. This is a mix of all colours of the rainbow. To get Amber or Red vehicle lights using bulbs, the light that is the wrong color has to be filtered out, it is only what is left that we can see... this is very wasteful.
What is an LED
A useful desciption of what an LED is, and how it works can be found here http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/led1.htm
The LEDs We Use
In the boards we produce to replace vehicle bulbs, all the LEDs are 10mm 0.5 watt wide angle devices..
The amount of light they give out is related to the power they use, so six of them give out about as much light as a 30 watt light bulb, brighter than the 21 watt bulbs normall fitted to cars.
We use wide angle LEDs so that the lights can be seen over a wide angle, from the side as well as from directly behind. In fact, when measured, they comply with the appropriate legislation for brightness and viewing angle, unlike many replacement bulbs using small cheap LEDs which can only be seen from directly behind. In the image below, the stand-off leg design of the LEDs is visible, this is required for heat dissipation on these high power LEDs.
Many of our light boards use a unique method of support and electrical connection, a threaded rod with a bayonet cap on the end. A patent application has been filed for this invention.
Th Reflective surface on the boards is a Mylar film. It reflects any light that may bounce of the inside of the lens, and also means the board look good when the lights are off, it is possible for heat from the components to frost the reflective surface. This does not reduce the brightness of the unit as the frosted surface reflects just as much light.
There are several reasons for fitting LED lights, most of them are obvious, such as brightness, long lifetime, vibration resistance etc... but the most important is often overlooked.
Safety - The brake lights come to full brightness up to 1/5th of a second faster than conventional bulbs..At 75 mph a vehicle travels 111 feet, so brake lights coming on 1/5th of a second earlier is like having an extra gap of over 22 feet behind you !