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LED Tail Lamp shootout

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by ccrat, Aug 17, 2010.

  1. ccrat

    ccrat Dumb as a box of hair

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Oddometer:
    942
    Location:
    Mohave Desert
    Today I compared several tail lamps. I am posting the results and will let you decide which lamp is best for you.

    Please note that a caption follows each photo.

    [​IMG]
    Above are the four lamps I tested:
    • 1. Factory-installed 1157-style incandescent
    • 2. Red 63 LED from eBay vendor "ushd" ($2.99 US + shipping)
    • 3. Red 45 SMD LED from superbrightleds.com ($24.95 US each + shipping)
    • 4. Red 42 SMD LED from eBay vendor "superb_lights" ($16.99 US/pair + shipping)
    [​IMG]
    Here is the tail light turned off indoors.


    [​IMG]
    Here is the tail light illuminated indoors.


    [​IMG]
    Here is the tail light illuminated indoors with the building lights turned off.


    [​IMG]
    Here is the brake light illuminated indoors.


    [​IMG]
    Here is the brake light illuminated indoors with the building lights turned off.


    [​IMG]
    Here is the brake light illuminated indoors with no lens cover and the building lights turned off.


    [​IMG]
    Here is the tail light illuminated outdoors.


    [​IMG]
    Here is the brake light illuminated outdoors.

    I hope you find this useful, and please pardon my poor photography skills. For consistency, I used a tripod and automatic settings with the flash disabled.

    For the record, I am not associated with any of the vendors mentioned in this post, and I paid for every lamp that I tested.
    #1
  2. duck

    duck Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2004
    Oddometer:
    10,403
    Location:
    Seattle (Berkeley with rain)
    #2
  3. MaverickH1

    MaverickH1 Hummer H7 Rider

    Joined:
    May 9, 2010
    Oddometer:
    389
    Location:
    Roanoke, VA
    I completely re-lamped my KLR with turn signal lights, brake light, license plate light, cluster illumination lights, indicator lights, and even added some side marker lights from SuperBrightLEDs.

    I initially bought their 5 watt bulbs. One of the 5 watt bulbs separated from the base, and SBL replaced all of my 5 watt bulbs for a new 3 (I think) watt bulb for use in my turn signals and brake light. They are very nice. It is great to have an IMMEDIATE illumination instead of the gradual increase in light that an incandescent bulb usually brings. Definitely easier to detect to the human eye.

    The only problem I currently have is that both brake lights I have used seem to not be... perfect. I can turn the bulb a very slight amount inside the socket and the bulb will not shine brighter when brake is applied. My original incandescent bulb didn't have this problem, but both of the SBL bulbs have.

    That is a little annoying. It's a problem that I need to fix somehow.

    Anyways, good bulbs. It's actually debatable whether or not they put off MORE light than the halogen. The reflector on the KLR actually does a pretty good job of making lights bright, and the LED version that I have doesn't utilize the reflector, so the entire brake lens doesn't illuminate like it normally does, you just see the lamp light up more. Clear as mud?

    I purchased for power savings for heated gear, for the instant "on", and the cool factor :clap
    #3
  4. Higglesworth

    Higglesworth nub

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    29
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    Nice comparison...thanks for sharing!
    #4
  5. dirty adventurer

    dirty adventurer Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2008
    Oddometer:
    294
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    You just reminded me that I need a new tail light.
    My choice was the brightest.:D

    Thank you for providing the evidence.
    #5
  6. ccrat

    ccrat Dumb as a box of hair

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Oddometer:
    942
    Location:
    Mohave Desert
    [​IMG]
    Here's a photo of an "official license plate", under the following conditions:
    • 1. Tail light turned off indoors
    • 2. Tail light illuminated indoors with the building lights turned off
    • 3. Brake light illuminated indoors with the building lights turned off
    Yes, this is lamp #3. I'm too lazy to do all of them again.

    That's all folks. :jkam
    #6
  7. MadMax96

    MadMax96 Stay Classy

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2007
    Oddometer:
    311
    Location:
    Round Lake, IL
    So it looks like you get what you pay for. I was always interested in these types of bulbs but wasn't sure about which would be best. My bike takes a single bulb also and these results are perfect to help me decide on which one to use.

    Thanks for taking the time for this!
    #7
  8. Laconic

    Laconic Boomer Berserker Nativist Rube

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Oddometer:
    27,703
    Location:
    Moran Nation
    Thanks for doing all that, I need brighter bulbs for the Wee. :thumb

    For future tests, would you drop the blue font? I'm old. :brow
    #8
  9. Beto

    Beto RustyGasket

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,939
    Location:
    Mrs. Sauga & Dela-Where?
    Hey CC,

    Very interesting and cool stuff.

    I was reading the superbrightleds.com carbulbs notes section and came across this:

    Which Color LEDs should I use?

    For best results the LED color should be the same as the lens color or if bulb is behind a clear lens, use the appropriate color for turn and brake light functions. As an example: a red lens will filter out all but the red portion of the light so if the light is all red, none or very little light will be blocked by the lens. The light from a White LED contains very little light in the red portion of the visible spectrum so most of the light would be filtered out by a red lens.

    Kindda makes sense to me. So I was wondering if the effect can be even greater using the red LEDs for break light... just a thought
    #9
  10. theWolfTamer

    theWolfTamer Lupie on a Mission

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2009
    Oddometer:
    403
    Location:
    Firmly planted in the Georgia red clay

    I think it must depend on the lens. On my fz1, I had red LEDs that were not as bright as the clear stocker.
    #10
  11. dacrazyrn

    dacrazyrn ED RN Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    496
    Location:
    Greeley, CO
    Nice comparison. Manual mode on the camera would give a better idea through the photos...every pic shot with exactly the same settings would show it off better (and is more scientific). :thumb:
    #11
  12. jskene

    jskene Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2005
    Oddometer:
    227
    Note that your license plate must be illuminated by a white light to remain legal. You should use a replacement that has both red and white LEDs for this purpose.

    Otherwise you may attract unwanted attention.
    #12
  13. MadMax96

    MadMax96 Stay Classy

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2007
    Oddometer:
    311
    Location:
    Round Lake, IL
    I think it's a bigger deal if your plate is bent or vertically mounted - or tucked behind the rear wheel like many sport bike squids do. I haven't had a light on my plate in 7 years and never have been hassled.

    My bike: http://home.comcast.net/~madmax96/2003_back.jpg

    Stock Bandit: http://www.suzukicycles.org/photos/suzuki-history/1998/1998_GSF1200S_Bandit_620.jpg

    Most Bandit owners remove the light unit and move the plate bracket up in that spot.

    In the case with cruisers that rely on a light from a clear section of their tail light lens I highly doubt they'd get picked on.

    Maybe it's different in other states, but in IL we don't have any yearly inspections or anything so no one is checking this stuff anyway.
    #13
  14. jskene

    jskene Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2005
    Oddometer:
    227

    You're lucky.

    Here in Virginia I'm used to annual inspections where they check things like this.
    #14
  15. outriding

    outriding Jeff

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2009
    Oddometer:
    15
    Location:
    Northern California, Bay Area
    Nice, careful comparison! Thanks.

    Could you have predicted the outcome from the lumens ratings of the lamps??
    #15
  16. ccrat

    ccrat Dumb as a box of hair

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Oddometer:
    942
    Location:
    Mohave Desert
    I am probably the world's worst photographer. I stuck with "Auto" since I don't know what any of the other settings do. :D

    I'm glad you guys found the info useful. Being a cheap bastard, I was really pulling for those 2.99 lamps. :evil
    #16
  17. davidji

    davidji bike curious

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,544
    Location:
    california
    Nice report, and useful pics. Thanks.

    If you have the time/interest, I'd love to see the current draw for the different bulbs. That could be a big factor in deciding which bulb is best for some applications.
    #17