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I know this has been discussed elsewhere but I'd like to get some more up-to-date feedback.

I'm looking at LED headlights for me ED. First off, there seems to be the question of what size bulb works for the Smart. I am finding multiple sites list the H11 and the H7. Not sure what size to look at.

My main reason for looking at the LED is mostly vanity. I installed some LEDs in the lower grill to serve as DRLs. They are pretty white/bluish and my headlights are pretty yellow. That color mismatch drives me nuts.

Also hoping to save just a tiny bit of power but I know that won't amount to a whole lot.

Any input is greatly appreciated.


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To summarize what the other threads said: LEDs need cooling, either large heatsinks with fans, or odd copper braid cooling ropes. Either require hacking the rear cover of the headlight, leaking to leaks. No word yet on reliability.

Oh, and aftermarket LED "bulb-replacements" just don't work in projector headlights like the 451. The light sources are not in the same place as the filament in the halogen bulb leading to less light on the street and more in the trees and eyes of oncoming drivers. Same is true for most aftermarket HIDs, although some good ones exist.

If you value color over light output you're better off with blue-tinted halogen bulbs. Less light, but at least you're not blinding anyone.
 

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If you want to know what the best light bulb is for a particular application try the automotive transportation section of www.candlepowerforums.com. The moderators obviously work in the lighting industry and really know their stuff. To sum up what I've learned from there, LED upgrades are rarely street legal unless tested to be, HIDs are the same, and they will not help about changing from incandescent to these as the most likely glare would be hazardous to not only others, but to you as you blind oncoming traffic.


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I have been playing with different bulbs for a few years as 85% of my driving is at night, down an empty back highway I have found that most of the high output bulbs do not last too long, and last even less on a smart. I assume with the short wheelbase, and rough roads, the bulbs beat themselves to death. When you are looking at a 'brighter" or 'whiter' bulb, take into account the life of the bulb. some are really short and will quit after a few months. My latest testing is on a set of Eiko Clear Vision Supreme bulbs. Sadly testing was cut short by a deer that thought she needed the road more than me, and an oncoming SUV that was flashing his lights effectively blinding me instead of warning me of the deer. Even after the crash, the headlights still worked...
 

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I have been playing with different bulbs for a few years as 85% of my driving is at night, down an empty back highway I have found that most of the high output bulbs do not last too long, and last even less on a smart. I assume with the short wheelbase, and rough roads, the bulbs beat themselves to death. When you are looking at a 'brighter" or 'whiter' bulb, take into account the life of the bulb. some are really short and will quit after a few months. My latest testing is on a set of Eiko Clear Vision Supreme bulbs. Sadly testing was cut short by a deer that thought she needed the road more than me, and an oncoming SUV that was flashing his lights effectively blinding me instead of warning me of the deer. Even after the crash, the headlights still worked...

The moderators over on the lighting forum will take difficulty of changing into account for their recommendations. They are that detail oriented.....


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To summarize what the other threads said: LEDs need cooling, either large heatsinks with fans, or odd copper braid cooling ropes. Either require hacking the rear cover of the headlight, leaking to leaks. No word yet on reliability.

Oh, and aftermarket LED "bulb-replacements" just don't work in projector headlights like the 451. The light sources are not in the same place as the filament in the halogen bulb leading to less light on the street and more in the trees and eyes of oncoming drivers. Same is true for most aftermarket HIDs, although some good ones exist.

If you value color over light output you're better off with blue-tinted halogen bulbs. Less light, but at least you're not blinding anyone.
Well... while that generally IS the case that the light sources aren't exactly in the same place as a halogen bulb, there are now bulbs coming out that are replicating halogen filament placement more accurately, including having metal shrouds to try to create a more clean cutoff for the low beams. I actually have a set for my 453 (which only has reflector housings, even), and there is a quite easily distinguished cutoff for the low beams, and not really any noticeable scattered light above it. Nobody flashed their high beams at me when i was using them. only reason i'm not using them right now is because i'm debating if i want to go through with modifying the rear cover for the bulb to run the wires through it. That, and being winter time now, the radiated heat from the halogen helps a lot when it comes to melting snow buildup off the headlights.
 

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after playing with LEDs on my smart for 4 years, i've finally found 1157 red LEDs for brakes and amber 1157's for the front turn signals that are brighter than their incandescent counterparts. i'm not holding my breath for H-7's for the headlights. when i get my next job, i'm aiming for second shift, so i'd be driving 50% at night. as previously stated, cooling fins and other contraptions make for a nightmare install. i get the cool "hyper-flash" on my turn signals, which i think draws more attention to my directional intentions. on an EV, i think 50 watts an hour is negligible, considering you're moving a ton of stuff around. for headlights, i'd stick with conventional bulbs for the next few years.
 

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after playing with LEDs on my smart for 4 years, i've finally found 1157 red LEDs for brakes and amber 1157's for the front turn signals that are brighter than their incandescent counterparts. i'm not holding my breath for H-7's for the headlights. when i get my next job, i'm aiming for second shift, so i'd be driving 50% at night. as previously stated, cooling fins and other contraptions make for a nightmare install. i get the cool "hyper-flash" on my turn signals, which i think draws more attention to my directional intentions. on an EV, i think 50 watts an hour is negligible, considering you're moving a ton of stuff around. for headlights, i'd stick with conventional bulbs for the next few years.


I read somewhere the police might find issue with "replicating" the flash rate of an emergency vehicle. (Just a heads up...)


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The moderators over on the lighting forum will take difficulty of changing into account for their recommendations. They are that detail oriented.....


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Just observations from my personal use. I do not have any way of testing the output of the lights, or any time tracking equipment. just what works for me.
 

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I have been unable to find any specs for the ForTwo to aim the headlights. I did the HID's a couple months back and was worried about them being too high. Now I have them way too low and they shine on the road about 15 feet in front of the car with a sharp cutoff point. If I knew the beam should hit on a level road say 50 feet in front of the car, then I would have something to go by. It's just so hit or miss to pull up to a building and try to adjust them that way. That method could take 15 tries and still not get it right, whereas pulling it somewhere level and adjusting your beam to hit XX amount of feet out from the front of the vehicle makes more sense to me. The HID's are a much whiter color of light and it would be much easier for these old eyes at night, but I don't want them too high to blind others, but would like to get them high enough for me to at least see with them. Mine bounced around when hitting bumps and I found that both adjusters had been previously broken inside the headlight assembly, so I had to repair them as I installed the HID's. So now I have no base point to begin with. Thinking of pulling the Kia out on the road and measuring the beam, but it is halogen, so it really wouldn't help me determine where my HID's should shine. Everyone that has them on the forum says adjust them down a little when you install them, but I couldn't do that because the adjusters were broken to begin with. And I'm sure halogen, HID and LED would all aim to a different spot on the road. We need cold hard specs and I javen't been able to find them, especially for modded non stock healights. DCO.
 

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There is not that much science to it. Just make sure they are a bit below level.

i.e. on a level surface shine your headlights on a wall. Cutoff should be closer to the ground than the center of the headlight lens.
Or, if you don't have a tape measure with you, test by slowly rolling toward that wall: the cutoff should be rising.
 

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To summarize what the other threads said: LEDs need cooling, either large heatsinks with fans, or odd copper braid cooling ropes. Either require hacking the rear cover of the headlight, leaking to leaks. No word yet on reliability.

Oh, and aftermarket LED "bulb-replacements" just don't work in projector headlights like the 451. The light sources are not in the same place as the filament in the halogen bulb leading to less light on the street and more in the trees and eyes of oncoming drivers. Same is true for most aftermarket HIDs, although some good ones exist.

If you value color over light output you're better off with blue-tinted halogen bulbs. Less light, but at least you're not blinding anyone.
I've actually been doing a lot of research on this subject, and next week I'm going to start testing with Phil (since reflector housings are easier to add LED lighting to than projectors). LED tech advances like computer processors, and there in fact are drop in LED replacements that work well nowadays.

Leaks are not an issue to be honest. The particular area of the 451/453 headlamp is not exposed to water or most other elements, and most kits come with a seal ring that at least I've found for HIDs, seals just as well as stock, so water/dust will be of no issue unless one botches the cut.

Also, much like with HIDs, you really really really really have to know what you're doing when you buy them. There are a plethora of bad ones out there and ones that will not work with projector housings. There are LED driving lights designed for projectors (or at least compatible) without giving monster glare...but again, you have to do tons of research first. Not every LED and not every HID is the same.

If your LEDs/HIDs are pointing for the trees/traffic and/or aren't producing a lot of forward light, you have the wrong bulb. Unfortunately, the really good ones aren't super cheap, so there's that caveat too.
 

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Just observations from my personal use. I do not have any way of testing the output of the lights, or any time tracking equipment. just what works for me.
I think your statement was pretty spot on. There is a tendency that if they "burn hotter", that they "burn shorter". I was just impressed with their level of knowledge, when I asked a question about a reading light because my son complained that it was too dim and yellow, they came up with some suggestions including light output.

Someone over there asked for a sticky about best light output, or longevity, and they would not agree to do it, because of exactly the concern you noted, that the higher output ones tend to burn out quickly, and if it takes a dealer visit to change the bulb, they would consider that in their recommendations.

I have been unable to find any specs for the ForTwo to aim the headlights. I did the HID's a couple months back and was worried about them being too high. Now I have them way too low and they shine on the road about 15 feet in front of the car with a sharp cutoff point. If I knew the beam should hit on a level road say 50 feet in front of the car, then I would have something to go by. It's just so hit or miss to pull up to a building and try to adjust them that way. That method could take 15 tries and still not get it right, whereas pulling it somewhere level and adjusting your beam to hit XX amount of feet out from the front of the vehicle makes more sense to me. The HID's are a much whiter color of light and it would be much easier for these old eyes at night, but I don't want them too high to blind others, but would like to get them high enough for me to at least see with them. Mine bounced around when hitting bumps and I found that both adjusters had been previously broken inside the headlight assembly, so I had to repair them as I installed the HID's. So now I have no base point to begin with. Thinking of pulling the Kia out on the road and measuring the beam, but it is halogen, so it really wouldn't help me determine where my HID's should shine. Everyone that has them on the forum says adjust them down a little when you install them, but I couldn't do that because the adjusters were broken to begin with. And I'm sure halogen, HID and LED would all aim to a different spot on the road. We need cold hard specs and I javen't been able to find them, especially for modded non stock healights. DCO.
I'll still lulling over the resistor talk over on the spark plug side. My apologies if I don't respond there so quickly. I missed the whole debate completely, probably before I started driving I'm afraid. I did think about it some. Is it the voltage that causes the fuel to burn, or the current. It'd be nice to find out whether just applying a voltage to the plug would make the fuel explode, or when the spark actually jumps the gap, (the current), and how the gap size relates to a better burn. Resistors definitely will decrease the voltage to the gap, series resistors are voltage dividers for sure.....

Anyways, sorry for sidetracking here!

Found this link from a thread in the candlepowerforums site:

Daniel Stern Lighting Consultancy and Supply
 

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I think your statement was pretty spot on. There is a tendency that if they "burn hotter", that they "burn shorter". I was just impressed with their level of knowledge, when I asked a question about a reading light because my son complained that it was too dim and yellow, they came up with some suggestions including light output.

Someone over there asked for a sticky about best light output, or longevity, and they would not agree to do it, because of exactly the concern you noted, that the higher output ones tend to burn out quickly, and if it takes a dealer visit to change the bulb, they would consider that in their recommendations.



I'll still lulling over the resistor talk over on the spark plug side. My apologies if I don't respond there so quickly. I missed the whole debate completely, probably before I started driving I'm afraid. I did think about it some. Is it the voltage that causes the fuel to burn, or the current. It'd be nice to find out whether just applying a voltage to the plug would make the fuel explode, or when the spark actually jumps the gap, (the current), and how the gap size relates to a better burn. Resistors definitely will decrease the voltage to the gap, series resistors are voltage dividers for sure.....

Anyways, sorry for sidetracking here!

Found this link from a thread in the candlepowerforums site:

Daniel Stern Lighting Consultancy and Supply
Well for the plug voltage issue it is voltage that changes based on demand and not the amperage so much. You have a firing voltage of 40,000 volts to as much as 80,000 in some car ignition systems, but an amperage in the millivolt range. When you get shocked by electricity it is the amperage that can kill you. You can grab ahold of a 40,000 volt spark plug wire and it will give you a good jolt and cause you to pull your arm away and jump. The 40,000 volts didn't hurt you too much because it's ultra low amperage. If there was much amperage involved you would get shocked by a spark plug wire and be instantly dead because it would throw your heart into a-fib. If there was much amperage we would have spark plug wires so heavily insulated that they would be larger than jumper cables. Your 12 volt wires to your tailights are 14 gauge, but your battery terminals are way heavier because a tailight bulb might draw 1.5 to 2 amps and your starter may draw 375 amps under a light starting load. If you look at the spark on a spark plug you should see a nice bright sharp blue arc. That blue color indicates voltage. If you were to hypothetically start adding amperage to that arc it would change from a blue color to a red color, and in DC voltage red is the most dangerous because of the red color it's heavier on amperage.
Now as I understand it the spark plugs need more voltage to fire when the engine is pulling hard at a lower RPM as in flooring the accelerator in high gear while pulling a big hill. Opening the throttle plates to allow full atmospheric pressure to enter the intake causes cylinder pressure to increase alot, and it's those high pressure combustion chamber conditions that causes the most need for alot of voltage to force the arc acrossed the electrode of the spark plug. That engine pulling at 2,000 rpms is putting out it's maximum torque and horsepower for that RPM. If the engine were revving at say 5,000 rpms pulling that same hill cylinder pressure would most likely be lower because at higher rpms the engine would in fact be making more power and therefore be under less load, so that translates into the need for less voltage to fire the plugs. And it's a good thing that less voltage would be needed at 5,000 rpms because less voltage is all you could get at that rpm. Let me explain....
A coil is 2 sets of windings around a core. 12 volts is passed through the primary winding which is a certain amount of winds around the core and is essentially an electromagnet. When the 12 volts is stopped in the primary that field collapses and it induces a voltage into the other set of windings called the secondary windings and there's many many more winds of that wire around the core than the primary. So that on and off cycling of the primary (12 volts) magnetically induces voltage into the secondary windings (40,000 volts). Now it takes time to cycle that coil so the primary has time to reach maximum voltage so that max voltage is induced into the secondary winding. But at higher RPMS the coil doesn't have enough time to fully energize the primary windings so therefore you don't get full voltage on the secondary windings either. So the coil loses efficiency at higher RPMS so less voltage is there to fire the plugs.
Now my analogy is a few decades old. I graduated with my degree in automotive technology well over 30 years ago. So I'm sure that with computerized technological advances that they have surely overcame some of the coils' shortcomings and they have to some extent. Instead of a one coil firing alll 8 cylinders they went computerized with a crank sensor and use a coil on each cylinder. It's much easier for a coil to fire one cylinder than it was the old way of one coil to fire eight cylinders. But the basics still apply and there is much more detail that affects spark plug voltage such as the altitude the engine is at, whether it's carburated or fuel injected, richness or leaness of the fuel mixture at a given load and rpm, and the theory and execution adds many variables that can be debated on forums until the cows come home. Blah blah blah blah, everyone wake up now, it's over......I step down from my soapbox now. DCO
 

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I've actually been doing a lot of research on this subject, and next week I'm going to start testing with Phil (since reflector housings are easier to add LED lighting to than projectors). LED tech advances like computer processors, and there in fact are drop in LED replacements that work well nowadays.

Leaks are not an issue to be honest. The particular area of the 451/453 headlamp is not exposed to water or most other elements, and most kits come with a seal ring that at least I've found for HIDs, seals just as well as stock, so water/dust will be of no issue unless one botches the cut.

Also, much like with HIDs, you really really really really have to know what you're doing when you buy them. There are a plethora of bad ones out there and ones that will not work with projector housings. There are LED driving lights designed for projectors (or at least compatible) without giving monster glare...but again, you have to do tons of research first. Not every LED and not every HID is the same.

If your LEDs/HIDs are pointing for the trees/traffic and/or aren't producing a lot of forward light, you have the wrong bulb. Unfortunately, the really good ones aren't super cheap, so there's that caveat too.
Neon you were most helpful to me and gave me good advice on what HID's and LED's to buy for my Fortwo and I sincerely thank you for all your help and advice that you bring to this forum. I'm sure your research on LED headlights will be most informative and helpful just as you have been helpful in the past. Please keep the advice coming. Thank you. DCO
 

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Just about every vehicle I run into at night (and lots during the early hours) could benefit from adjusting the driving or fog lights. There are many times when they produce more glare than the headlights.
 

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Just about every vehicle I run into at night (and lots during the early hours) could benefit from adjusting the driving or fog lights. There are many times when they produce more glare than the headlights.
Well, the fog lights could benefit from being turned off when it's not foggy. Few drivers seem to remember what the fog part of fog light means.
 
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