It's raining inside my headlight. Any recommendations on LED replacements?

Discussion in 'Discussion Forum' started by dllubin, Nov 10, 2018.

  1. dllubin

    dllubin True Classic

    I was checking the exterior lights on my car when I noticed the passenger side headlight was a little dim and flickering in an odd way. Not having been turned on in over 20 years, I was not surprised that there might be issues, but what I found was quite unexpected. I looked at the light and saw water streaming down the inside of the glass lens - like looking through a glass shower door with the water running. What appeared to be happening is that water trapped inside was getting boiled by the filament and then condensing on the cool glass. The miniature rainstorm went on for about a minute before the filament burned out. I haven't tried the high beam yet.

    Anyway, I was thinking this might be a good opportunity to upgrade to LED headlights. I know that the performance of LED headlights has been mixed as manufacturers have come down the learning curve, and was wondering if there were any recommendations out there on which ones to consider or to avoid?

    Thanks,

    Don
     
  2. Dan Sarandrea (Phila)

    Dan Sarandrea (Phila) Waitin' On Parts...

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    When Xenon headlights (the real ones, not the cheezy eBay so-called HID bulbs that are installed in the socket of a regular headlight) first came out, we had a discussion about them here and IIRC Greg Smith (aka "Budgetzagato") pointed out that most if not all of the true Xenon headlight offerings at the time had a very bug-eyed side profile. IOW while the headlight would fit into the standard housing inside the headlight pod, the Xenon units had so much forward protrusion that they would likely foul on the bodywork as the headlights were retracted. As powerful as our headlight motors are, such fouling would probably have instantly destroyed about $500-750 (at the time) worth of headlights.

    So the moral of the story is, whichever headlight you are considering, don't forget to check clearances!
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2018 at 4:28 AM
    dllubin likes this.
  3. 7982X

    7982X True Classic

    Location:
    Colorado
    I think you may be misunderstanding the symptoms......It sounds like your X has that rare option of self washing headlights (without the wipers that many newer models have).
    At any rate, Dan's comment has merit. The first LED units we purchased a couple of years ago have a heat sink and fan on the back which stick out considerably more than an H4 bulb. Ours had no interference issues, but some might. The second set we purchased for our other X do not have a fan, but DO have a heat sink. We opted for units that didn't have a fan this time as a fan is something else to fail. Also, the way the X1/9 headlight pods work, there should be more air flowing around the rear of the headlight than in most cars, which have the rear of the headlight in a hot engine compartment. I have only driven the car a short distance at night, but was very pleased with the light the LED bulbs produce. The lines in the road seemed much more visible and the bulbs seemed to light up the road better. One thing we noticed was that some sellers claim outrageous lumens, like 200,000 + lumens, where I think 4,000 is a much more realistic number. There is a lot of "debris" in the ads to sift through.
    You may also have to fool with the bulb fastening mechanism a bit, as the heat sink/fan can be a bit in the way when installing the bulbs in the housing. You just get creative.
    Bottom line is that I really like the LED headlights so far.
     
    dllubin likes this.
  4. dllubin

    dllubin True Classic

    Hmm. For about $12, I can get a Philips halogen replacement bulb. For the amount of night driving I plan to do in this car, it may be more appropriate. I think that bulb that sprung a leak was a factory original so I don't exactly go through them very fast. I was originally thinking the LED bulbs would be significantly more efficient but if they are generating enough heat to need fans, I wonder. The incandescents draw under 5 amps on high beam so that would be about 60 watts. Sixty watt equivalent (800 lumen) household LED bulbs use under 9 watts so I wonder why a sixty watt equivalent LED headlight needs a fan?
     
  5. ng_randolph

    ng_randolph Bjorn H

    Location:
    SF Bay area
    The filament in a halogen bulb is perfectly happy at 2500°C, and with the high temperature most of the heat is radiated away. LEDs run much cooler; Cree rates the performance of their LEDs at 85°C and specifies a max temperature of 150°C. At these temperatures, very little heat is radiated away from the die. Instead heat has to be conducted away to some sort of heat sink, and then removed from the heat sink by convection. This is why LED headlights have fairly elaborate cooling schemes.

    If the only objective is working headlights, I would get a set of brand name halogen replacement lamps. If the goal is an upgrade, I would suggest looking at LED. I have a pair of Sylvania Zevo L6024 LED sealed beam replacements on mine, but mostly out of vanity. These comply with FMVSS108 (i.e. they are "street legal" in the US) and work very well. Trucklite makes a similar sealed beam LED replacement (also sold by GE) thait is street legal as well.

    I would not bother with HID. Not much (if anything) to be gained over LED, and with HID you also have the hassles of mounting a ballast somewhere.
     
  6. dllubin

    dllubin True Classic

    The thing I wonder about is why a 60 watt equivalent headlight is generating so much more heat than a 60 watt equivalent household bulb. On the household bulb, the heat sink is in the base and they can get pretty hot to the touch but nowhere near hot enough to need a fan or an elaborate heat sink. No doubt the automotive application requires operation over a much wider temperature range than a household bulb, but I don't know if that if enough to explain the difference (LED light output has a negative temperature coefficient so they have to be driven harder as the temperature increases to maintain the same light output).
     
    7982X likes this.
  7. ecohen2

    ecohen2 True Classic

    Location:
    Arlington Va
    I have had success with two different styles of LED bulbs.. The biggest issue is the pigtail on most of the bulbs is pretty long and somehow will find its way into the open/close mechanism. The two big things you need to look for on LED bulbs are the color temperature and the lumens/brightness. The first set I bought were bright but where very blue compared to what my eyes normally see. The second set are much whiter and brighter. In both cases they are much better than normal headlights.

    Two biggest things I noticed? Much lower power drain on the car and way brighter. A simple and affordable upgrade..

    Ed
     
  8. 7982X

    7982X True Classic

    Location:
    Colorado
    Could it be that the internal mounting of the LED on an aluminum substrate is limited to a smaller size due to space restrictions and therefore needs more heat sinking or fan to remove the heat from the actual chip/substrate? Also, heat may be relative, meaning that the actual temperature might not be that high (to the touch), but it is to the chip?
    Merely speculating here. Intimate technical knowledge on the subject is limited.
     
  9. Eastep

    Eastep Dub-ing

    Location:
    PA
    Worth a watch
     
    dllubin likes this.
  10. Eugene Harvey

    Eugene Harvey Daily Driver

    Location:
    Auckland, NZ
  11. dllubin

    dllubin True Classic

  12. dllubin

    dllubin True Classic

    Thanks. Definitely worth a watch.
     
  13. Eastep

    Eastep Dub-ing

    Location:
    PA
    This is the easiest, most cost effective and most common means of replacement, and has its place. For others (like myself) have different lighting requirements. For me a high quality LED ie. One that has a strong output with a non scattered or defusing beam, is very much needed. With the center of my headlights in the 17-18in range, road illumination is typically limited to around 30-40yards of practical lighting. While driving in town or in traffic, this drops to around zero, due to the ambient light from traffic and street lighting. If the roads are even the slightest bit wet, the light produced from my car seems literally sucked into a black hole. Its terrible. Another reason I need "move the F#*@ over" intensity LEDs, is because the dim and low to the ground lighting emitted from my X is usually not enough so that other drivers see me. Don't even get me started on when I drive the pitch dark country back roads that's infested with deer and rodents that seem to materialize out of thin air.
     
  14. Eugene Harvey

    Eugene Harvey Daily Driver

    Location:
    Auckland, NZ
    For those with an 80's X1/9 I'd go down the path of installing some proper auxiliary driving lights, as the molded alloy front bumper has pre-drilled fixing holes for doing just that, about 6 inches in from the indicators. Mount some nice little Hella driving fog/driving lights, maybe some FF 75 Spread Beams, and light up the road, maybe add them to your high beam relay.
     
  15. dllubin

    dllubin True Classic

    The rodents flatten out nicely when you run over them, the deer not so much. I was once riding my bicycle on the main road through the mountains here when I saw a deer begin to cross just as a pickup was coming toward me. The deer tried to leap over the truck but hit dead square on the windshield which propelled the deer about 15' in the air. He managed to come down right on the roof of the cab reducing the headroom substantially. The guy in the truck was unhurt but quite freaked out. There was a long pause between the windshield hit and the roof hit as the deer flew through the air and I'm sure the driver was not expecting to get hit twice by the same deer.
     
  16. Eastep

    Eastep Dub-ing

    Location:
    PA
    Typically yes. My cars seat pans are only about 2 inches above the pavement, so rolling over anything much larger then an ant, gets pretty interesting. Did I mention I don't have windshield wipers, sun visors, practical headlights or suspension travel? My X is basically unusable, but man it looks good!
    Its also stupid loud!
     
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  17. bensonbe

    bensonbe True Classic

    Location:
    Carlisle, PA.
    Mike I have the Midwest Bayless led's very nice.
     
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  18. dllubin

    dllubin True Classic

    The only thing I found on the MWB site were the H4 LED bulbs. Is that what you have? If yes, any issues finding the headlight assemblies?
     
  19. bensonbe

    bensonbe True Classic

    Location:
    Carlisle, PA.
    they sent the when I ordered the H4 LED and the assembly's came with them, very easy and package deal.
     
    dllubin likes this.
  20. MikeHynes

    MikeHynes True Classic

    Location:
    Goodfield, IL.
    Don, any idea why you ended up with rain inside your sealed beam headlights? I thought they were sealed?
     

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