Wednesday, March 31, 2010

LED lighting

I'm a big fan of LED lighting, but only if they're as bright (or brighter) than OEM filament light bulbs. The fact that they don't give off heat, they power on/off instantly, they last for 100,000 hours, and they consume far less power than conventional lighting...these are all very worthwhile benefits.

You can buy all kinds of LED lighting from any number of places on the InterWeb, inlcuding eBay, but not all LED lights are created equal. Many of the cheap ones are just plain junk: not bright, not well made, etc.  I've purchased from in the past and their products are exactly as they describe. They may not be the cheapest, but their pricing is reasonable. And they offer very cheap shipping ($5 for my entire order, shipped from the US to Canada). And the best part about this store is that if they say they're bright, then in my experience, it's been true. Not the case with some of the crap LEDs I've bought on eBay.

Here's a list of the items I purchased

Now I wanted to try both types of 1157 tail/brake lights -- the high power 18 SMD LED tower, and the 24-LED wide angle cluster (these appear as the 2nd and 7th items on the invoice list above). I knew the high-power 18-LED was very bright because I had one before when I was running the DRZ tail light, but it got ruined after water and road salt got inside the tail light assembly and rusted out the bayonet base of the socket...however, I wanted to compare with the rear-facing 24 LED cluster to see how it would perform. As I expected, the 24-LED cluster isn't as bright...probably because it isn't called "high power" in the name. Bright, but not quite as bright.

 1157 RED 24-LED wide angle cluster

1157 RED high power 18 SMD LED tower

 24-LED wide angle cluster - tail light on

 24-LED wide angle cluster
**tail light
** about as bright as the OEM filament bulb

 24-LED wide angle cluster
**brake light
** hard to tell, but the brake light is slightly
less bright than the OEM filament bulb

and now, the high power 18 SMD LED tower
** tail light only

high power 18 SMD LED tower
**tail light only
**a little brighter than the OEM filament bulb

high power 18 SMD LED tower
**brake light
*** hands down winner for brightness

As I mentioned above, I used to have one of those high power 18 LED bulbs before it got ruined by moisture and salt. Now I've gone back to using the original tail/brake light housing and hopefully it won't leak.

Stay tuned for more LED lighting. You'll notice on the invoice above I also purchased an H4 bulb (just for fun) and some tiny wedge base LEDs for the instrumentation lighting (speedo, neutral, high beam indicator, turn signal indicators).

Oh, while I'm at it, I don't think I ever posted information about my LED turn signals... I didn't care much for the big, bulky OEM turn signals, especially on the rear because every time I would swing my leg over the seat getting on or off the bike, I'd kick the turn signals. So, I found a solution to de-clutter the rear blinkers:

a pair of billet aluminum high power LED turn signals designed to fit in the front fairing of a Suzuki V-Strom. They're made by Watsen Designs. They came with a diode soldered inline, and Suzuki turn signal connectors. How plug-and-play is that?? They're expensive, yes... but extremely well crafted pieces of art. I drilled out the mounting holes on my Suzuki accessory luggage rack and bolted them on. I did snip the wires and lengthen them to reach the connectors under the seat. It wasn't a big deal.

Watsen Design billet LED blinkers for V-Strom

They're tiny, but they're so bright 
they'll burn your retina if you look 
directly into the light.