Best LED Aux Driving Lights (at a reasonable price)?

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by JimVonBaden, Dec 15, 2012.

  1. andrewhtf

    andrewhtf Been here awhile

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    Genka, are you infected by those mods and admins from candlepowerforum? :D i saw your thread there and as usual their usual response are expected.

    Yes i know that, my aux lights are not on all the time, only in situations when the high beams are needed.

    Well on my bike the stock high and low beam uses the same bulb and wattage giving the same amount of light. Only diiference is the reflector design that points the direction of beam.
  2. RTinNC

    RTinNC RT to GS in NC

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    These may turn night into day but a buddy has these and they do ZERO for daytime conspicuity.
  3. genka

    genka SUV hater

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    People on that forum are self righteous to the extreme. Anyway, I found what I needed without them. If the parts I ordered will work as intended, I might be able to improve on the light and maybe make it even better than TT or Cyclops offerings.


    Yes, these lights are intended to through the light on the road while avoiding eyes of other drivers. To improve daytime visibility it would be the best to use large lights with flood or wide elliptical beam.
  4. daught

    daught Adventurer

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  5. genka

    genka SUV hater

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    Good video. The author came to the same conclusion I did- the technology is developing rapidly, and buying expensive lights as a long term investment is not a good move.
    I am a bit skeptical about the light with 5 XM-L LEDs. If they are driven to full power, it would consume 50W. Even a 10W light gets seriously hot. To dissipate 50W the light needs a large heatsink, which that one doesn't have. Also their lumen claims are inflated. XM-Ls are rated around 800lm. Lenses and reflectors are 80-94% efficient, no way that light gets 7000lm.
  6. worwig

    worwig Long timer

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  7. genka

    genka SUV hater

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    If this light has a half decent PWM based controller, it should be able to deal with any voltage. I power the 10W light I have from a variable power supply, and its output doesn't change a bit with the voltage anywhere between 9 and 30 Volts. As the voltage rises, the current goes down, keeping the power at constant 10W. It would be interesting to know how they deal with the heat. Probably they have a temperature sensor, which cuts the power to LEDs if they get too hot. For such a small light to function, the power would need to be lowered by 50 to 80%.
  8. genka

    genka SUV hater

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    I bought three more of these lights. The first one came from the same seller I bought the light I discussed before. It looked the same, but it used only 7W of power. It operated at reduced levels of light and heat, although was surprised that it was difficult to notice the difference. I don't know how to explain it, even the lowest tolerance parts today are made within 10% of the target value. Also the light colors were not exactly the same, indicating different bin groups of the LEDs. Manufacturing of high powered LEDs is not the exact science, parts with a thicker layer phosphorus will have a lower brightness and warmer color. LEDs are tested at the factory and binned (sorted) accordingly. The most common bin for Cree XM-L is T6, it accounts for about 75% of production. It is not the best bin, but close. Lower bin LEDs may be difficult to source and even the cheap lights may contain T6 LED. Anyway, the difference between the lights is visible even on a cell phone picture.

    [​IMG]

    Two other lights came from different ebay sellers. They look identical to each other, but were a bit different from the first pair. The electronics boards inside were not the same as on the first pair. One of them used 8W, another one 9W. I left the first pair and one new light for 24 hours in a hot garage. The new light melted. When I took apart, I ripped off an inductor, which melted into the reflector. The LED itself has also darkened.

    [​IMG]

    It is obvious that this light has no thermal management, but I think this test was too harsh. I placed the lights in the hot environment with very restricted air flow. It wouldn't reach such a temperature on a bike.

    I removed the LED board and found that the thermal paste underneath wasn't evenly applied. The thread holes edges had some metal protruding outside, which prevented good contact of the board to the case, and it probably contributed to the failure.

    [​IMG]
  9. graygoat657

    graygoat657 Been here awhile

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    This quite an interesting thread. I have experience with both "branded" and Chinese lights. For me its like buying a ratchet wrench from Snap On or Harbor Freight. Both wrenches will perform the same job, but I know that the if the Snap On fails I have some recourse, if the Harbor Freight fails, its price dictates that it is disposable. Same thing with LED lights. If you want something that you will have for years and move from bike to bike, then there might be value in the more expensive branded lights that are backed by (in some cases) life time warranties and someone to talk to. If you are looking to save some money, and are not concerned with support or warranties, than there are quite a few Chinese products to experiment with.
    I do know, for a fact, that the TT and Cycleops lights are not made in the same factory or even the same country as the Chinese products.
  10. genka

    genka SUV hater

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    Yes, the Chinese lights are essentially throwaway items. Even if the sellers are willing to provide warranty, the shipping costs make it impractical. But otherwise why do you think Snap-On/ HFT analogy is valid? I don't see any dramatic differences in quality. In fact, the Chinese lights use newer LEDs.They are definitely better than the aquarium lights so popular on the forum.
  11. mouthfulloflake

    mouthfulloflake Not afraid

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    Good info Genka

    i was thinking of this like buying a chinese scooter, it works just fine, but you need to go through it first and make sure its put together well, that is a common theme on all of the LED stuff from deal extreme

    cold solder joints, loose screws, bad thermal paste, check those things, and those lights would likely last the rated 20K hours.
  12. graygoat657

    graygoat657 Been here awhile

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    What I have noticed, in informal testing, is the Chinese lights do perform the job they are designed to do. You could split hairs on the performance side, as far as output, beam spread, light temperature, etc. As you have found with your informal test, with certain lights, there may (I stress may) be a long term durability issue. Especially if the lights do not have any thermal protection circuitry. I know I can take a 10 watt Vision X light and leave it on for 24 hours in a hot garage and it will be working when I come back or will have gone into thermal protection mode. I supply lights to mining companies that use the lights in 24 hour duty cycles. I would not feel comfortable recommending them a Chinese product.
    So back to the wrench analogy. Both wrenches can and will perform the same function. But the SO will most likely still be in my tool box 20 years from now. It just depends what your value threshold is. Like wise I probably pay too much for the tires I prefer or even the chain and sprockets I use. But those are items I don't care to skimp on as I know the downside of those items failing can have catastrophic results. And for me, the same applies to lights.
    As far as the latest LED tech, VX just released a 25 Watt single LED fixture and has a 50 watt single LED fixture in the offing. Some time in the future the Chinese will probably have something similar, but not right now.
  13. worwig

    worwig Long timer

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    To do that, I would suspect that the die is HUGE. That would mean it would be hard to focus and you will get a lot of light scatter.
    I suspect.
  14. andrewhtf

    andrewhtf Been here awhile

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    Genka, you're hardcore! :clap
  15. genka

    genka SUV hater

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    Have taken Vision X lights completely apart? It would be interesting to see their assembly quality. After all, they also not quite Swiss made :) I don't think it is possible to properly evaluate the optical qualities at home This is the reason why vendors tend to be very optimistic with their lumen ratings. Some side by side photos sort of provide useful results, still the camera dynamic range doesn't come close to the human eye and photos often don't reflect the real world look. Electrical parameters are easier to measure. If the light takes 7W instead of 10, it would be safe to guess that the LED in it puts puts out about 600lm instead of 850.
    One type of the lights I bought might have a thermal protection. I say "might" because its power consumption went down only about 5%, which is not enough for the significant temperature reduction. These lights were hot, but they didn't suffer any damage from my 24 hour test. The big question is if this test is relevant for us. I had 3 lights locked together sitting on a top of already warm lab power supply I used power them. Airflow is critical, and bikes have plenty of it.
    If you take the Snap-On wrench, you'll immediately see quality, workmanship and mechanical performance superior to the HF tool. But the Chinese lights don't look any worse than Vision X and they performance is comparable. Reliability is unknown, but no one is going to rely on those lights with his life. Bikes are already equipped with the factory lighting and aux lights are usually installed in pairs, their simultaneous failure is unlikely.
    The only innovation there is by the LED chip manufacturer. Everything else is the same.
  16. genka

    genka SUV hater

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    Not in this case. Big die high powered LEDs have been on a market for quite a while. And you're right, the lights with these LEDs are available only in a flood pattern, they don't focus well at all.

    There are some basic laws of physics that can't be bypassed. When comparing lights, generally a single light source is better than multiple with the same total power, and a large reflector is better than a little one.
  17. genka

    genka SUV hater

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    There is a guy in a neighboring thread building a software controlled fuze panel and you call me hardcore?
  18. graygoat657

    graygoat657 Been here awhile

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    You can review the lights here:http://www.visionxusa.com/advanced_...lj0ue0vndocd16bdrrj9v5&search.x=10&search.y=9

    They are only available in a 10 degree spot. You can change the beam pattern by installing a snap on cover (which acts as an optic in conjunction with the reflector). The housings are similar in size to a 35 HID, maybe a little deeper. I have been playing with a set and they have a very focused beam which reaches quite far and remains focused. They a bit large to used on a motorcycle, but I am working on a way to fit a pair on my XR. There should be ISO Lux data available for them as well. And, yes, the reflector is large.
  19. jrozar

    jrozar Been here awhile

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    I agree Baja Designs Squadron #1


  20. PeterW

    PeterW Long timer

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    Not that bad, I retrofitted some in spot optics when I fried one LED reattaching a wire. The nearfield beam spot is larger, but the angle is only marginally worse. The higher efficiency means the light on the road is about the same, but coverage is wider. Not really a loss in other words. The reflectors I'm using appear to have been a compromise design with the fatter LEDs in mind anyway.

    Not disagreeing with your general comments, but the fact that the wide area LED puts out more light for the same input makes up for some of the losses.

    Pete