LED lights - Legal?

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LED lights - Legal?

Post by Honkytonk » Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:14 pm

Not sure if this is the right place for it, but I've just been to Halfrauds (to buy a pack of standard bulbs to sort out my sidelights) and had an interesting discussion with one of their 'specialists' (*cough*) so thought I'd ask the brain trust on here what they think.

"LED lights are illegal to put on the outside of a car if it didn't already come with them"

This is apparently the case, which I can understand (don't dazzle other people, excellent idea, as anyone who's driven an RX8 around anywhere there are too many SUV's will attest :roll: ).

However, the S2 comes with LED lights as standard(?), so does that mean the S1 (which is predominantly the same car and can fit the lights without much bother), can also fit them? Or can it only fit them 'legally' (still not sure on that) if it retrofits the S2 light clusters? Or if you retrofit the S2 clusters are you not legally allowed to use LED's because the car 'Didn't come with them'? :-k

Obviously the many many advantages of LED over antique bulbs make me want to fit out the car with them where possible, but the interesting conundrum came up where it's technically illegal to replace the external ones despite them providing nothing but advantages, except in the rare use case where someone's low enough to be dazzled by your sportscar.

Obviously where things like decats etc. are involved this is completely by the by as you're already technically breaking the law, but I found the discussion interesting and thought I'd extend it to the forum...
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LED lights - Legal?

Post by GreySilver Beast » Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:26 pm

R3's don't have LED Bulbs as they are Xenon's :P
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Re: LED lights - Legal?

Post by Ainmhidh » Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:30 pm

LED tail lights, but they're not dazzling anyone any time soon.
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LED lights - Legal?

Post by GreySilver Beast » Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:38 pm

I lost count how many times I got flashed while driving the Camry the other night, as the car has powerful LED Lights including the Auto High Beam :lol:
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Re: LED lights - Legal?

Post by ChrisHolmes » Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:43 pm

Isn’t it just the headlights this applies to. Another one of those illegal to fit but not illegal to sell laws?
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Re: LED lights - Legal?

Post by warpc0il » Mon Jan 13, 2020 3:47 pm

All vehicle exterior lights must be CE approved and bear the mark to prove it.

The S1 rear lights are CE approved with the correct tungsten bulbs and the (non-replaceable) LED strip.

The R3 rear lights are CE approved as a unit with LEDs.

However, fitting R3 rear lights to an S1 also means fitting the R3 rear bumper, which in turn requires major surgery - as Clive discovered when he converted his.

Aftermarket LED rear light clusters are available for the S1 and should be an MOT fail, but I've yet to hear of anyone having this issue.

Similarly, fitting LED bulbs should be an MOT fail, even in the rear lights, as they're not CE approved either.

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Re: LED lights - Legal?

Post by Dr. FrankenRex » Mon Jan 13, 2020 5:35 pm

Wading in with the experiences I've had modifying headlights and tail lights...

Firstly, and I touch on it in future - DON'T REPLACE EITHER YOUR DIPPED OR MAIN BEAMS WITH LEDs.

Headlights

- If a car comes with halogen lights, anything other than halogen should be an MOT fail. Would a tester pick this up? Almost certainly not on the RX8 as they are unlikely to go to the effort of putting the VIN in to the system to determine whether it's a 192 or a 231. By 'go to the effort' I mean give a damn.
- If a car comes with Xenon lights it must have headlight washers. If you were to swap these out for LED bulbs your average MOT tester probably wouldn't notice.
- If you swap out either halogen or xenon headlights for LED bulbs you're going to have a bad time. Nothing on the aftermarket comes close to halogen in terms of output and coverage (the second being important, output can be massive, but very very focussed on a single spot - thus making the lights functionally pointless). This comes from experience, frequenting of headlight modification forums and the experience of others. Whether you spend £20 or £200 on a set they will still be pants. Factory/ OEM LED headlights use incredibly high power ballasts, a shed load of cooling and purpose built lenses and reflectors - no aftermarket LED bulb can hope to replicate this. The only thing that ALMOST comes close is an aftermarket LED projector (look up the Morimoto MLED) and even that isn't worth the money compared to a good HID setup.
- Upgrading a 192 to xenon lights would potentially be a good thing to do. Although it is technically illegal.
- Sidelight bulbs - nobody cares about them, MOT testers, plod or otherwise. Whilst the MOT test might have a problem with them in a very literal sense, nobody is going to bat an eyelid at it - this is coming from someone who has an R3 with LED DRLs which are on all the time the car is. Nobody cares (at least official people anyway, other people think they're cool... Honest...)

TL;DR - if you want to increase your headlight performance, open them up and swap in a decent bi-xenon projector like the Morimoto D2S Mini 5.0 or similar. I'm now running the Mori D2S 4.0 bi-xenon and it's great. Failing that, get yourself some decent (read expensive) OSRAM Cool Blue Intense HID bulbs.

Tails

- As Dave has said above, legally you should do it, but there are a few considerations to take in to account if you do want to change out or modify tail lights.
- LED replacements for the reversing lights is an AMAZING upgrade, do it now and thank me later.
- LED replacements for the indicators (either front or back) will require resistors or modification to the indicator relay due to their lower resistance. If not they will 'hyperflash' and you'll have a headache (both from your interior clicking away like mad, and from the police who don't like it).

tail and brake lights

Firstly, the tail lights and brake lights should either be A ) different brightnesses, with the brakes being significantly brighter or B ) separate lights/ LEDs or bulbs entirely so a trailing car can clearly see when you apply them. I don't give a rat's ass about legality, this is about safety. If someone following can't tell if you're braking, it'll cause an accident and if your tail lights are pants then the tailing car won't necessarily be found at fault for the accident. As such make sure you can see them, for the love of god...

As has been covered above, no RX8 ever came with LEDs at the front from the factory. R3s AND S1s came with them at the back from the factory, but for different functionality.



As a final note, for those interested, the RX8 contains a non bi-xenon variant of the RX350 projector. In headlight circles this is regarded as one of the best performing OEM HID projectors available. The RX8 ballasts aren't too great, but they are adequate. The thing that inhibits the headlight performance the most is the lack of clear lenses and the fact they aren't bi-xenon. The lack of clear lenses is to smooth off the headlight cutoff and thus reducing dazzle for other drivers, but it also diminishes a little of the lights' output and spread.

#LessonOver

Sounds like it would be useful for me to do an aftermarket headlight modification video at some point lol
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Re: LED lights - Legal?

Post by Shagrington » Mon Jan 13, 2020 5:45 pm

warpc0il wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 3:47 pm
Aftermarket LED rear light clusters are available for the S1 and should be an MOT fail, but I've yet to hear of anyone having this issue.
I have these (with smoked glass 8) ) and MOTs have not been a problem at all - I know from following other S1s with these fitted that they are a lot easier and safer to follow than S1s with the standard rear lights as you can actually see when they are braking or indicating a lot clearer than with the original rear lights - this is despite them using the original brake and indicator bulbs.

You can also swap out your front side light bulbs for LEDs without any issue for MOTs etc. The originals are almost yellow and very dim so hardly anybody can see they're on. White LEDs will match your headlights and don't dazzle anybody but they can at least be seen as lights.

I also have LED halo lights (around the dipped beam headlights) that turn on with the side lights ... no issues with the MOT with these either.
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Re: LED lights - Legal?

Post by SprintRX8 » Mon Jan 13, 2020 5:59 pm

If a car comes with Xenon lights it must have headlight washers. If you were to swap these out for LED bulbs your average MOT tester probably wouldn't notice.

Not strictly correct
You can fit Zenon to Halogen headlights.
But the beam pattern must not scatter
The reflector does nearly all the aim ETC
But could fail if the headlamp lens is marked should have DCR on the lens.
Vehicles used after 1st September 2009 must have headlamp cleaning and Auto headlight adjustment
If fitted pre 1st September 2009 then they must work.
There was a MOT Special notice about this but I can’t find it at the moment.

4.1.6. Headlamp cleaning devices
You must inspect vehicles first used on or after 1 September 2009 equipped with headlamp washers.
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Re: LED lights - Legal?

Post by Yorindesarin » Mon Jan 13, 2020 6:46 pm

Dr. FrankenRex wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 5:35 pm
Sounds like it would be useful for me to do an aftermarket headlight modification video at some point lol
Do eitttttttt.

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Re: LED lights - Legal?

Post by Honkytonk » Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:36 pm

This is precisely the kind of thread I hoped this would spark, thanks everyone. =D>

I wasn't planning on replacing my mains, those xenon's cut like a knife, but for 'dressing' like sidelights, indicators and the like, I don't see any reason not to go for LED's as long as they're not worse than the halogens or cause horrendous glare. I certainly don't want anyone blinded on the road, people are bad enough at driving as is let alone with lights in their eyes.

I'm going to have to take a closer look at yours next time I see you shaggy as it sounds about spot on for what I've been thinking of doing...
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Re: LED lights - Legal?

Post by New Duke » Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:59 pm

Dr. FrankenRex wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 5:35 pm
Sounds like it would be useful for me to do an aftermarket headlight modification video at some point lol
I'm still hoping for smoked headlights. It's the only exterior mod I need and will even out my tinted rear lights.
Honkytonk wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:36 pm
I'm going to have to take a closer look at yours next time I see you shaggy as it sounds about spot on for what I've been thinking of doing...
Will ask shaggy to light them up at a Kent meet and will get some footage for ya.

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Re: LED lights - Legal?

Post by Shagrington » Tue Jan 14, 2020 4:27 am

Honkytonk wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:36 pm
I'm going to have to take a closer look at yours next time I see you shaggy as it sounds about spot on for what I've been thinking of doing...
You'll be very welcome to take a tour of my lights 8)
New Duke wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:59 pm
Will ask shaggy to light them up at a Kent meet and will get some footage for ya.
Or this could save you the trouble. :thumleft:
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Re: LED lights - Legal?

Post by Dr. FrankenRex » Tue Jan 14, 2020 9:17 am

New Duke wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:59 pm
I'm still hoping for smoked headlights. It's the only exterior mod I need and will even out my tinted rear lights.
You sure as hell better mean smoked internals and not smoked lenses, because smoked lenses is one of my biggest pet peeves! :lol:
Honkytonk wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:36 pm
sidelights, indicators and the like, I don't see any reason not to go for LED's as long as they're not worse than the halogens or cause horrendous glare.
Finding suitable indicator bulbs that are bright enough in the day time was a challenge when I was doing it, I went through quite a few sets trying to find the right balance. Not saying it's impossible, but just an FYI. The last thing you want is your indicator going off and nobody being able to see it - we all know how hideously annoying it is when people don't indicate :lol:
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Re: LED lights - Legal?

Post by sKenDread » Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:53 am

I hope I don't tread on anyone's toes here. I used to be a lighting designer for large establishments in NZ i.e opera houses, theatres, and major live events.

The one thing that gripes me the most is the way that LEDs are advertised. They use a term you would all recognise "Lumens". While this term is fundamentally correct, it doesn't mean jack to the end-user unless they are considering the 'glare' of the entire assembly known as the Luminaire.

In the case of headlight luminaires, we have to consider not the Lumens but the LUX instead.

The easiest way to understand the difference between Lumens and LUX is Lumens is the measure of light from the source ( LAMP not Luminaire(entire assembly) ) and LUX is a unit measurement of light which hits/passes through a surface.

So LUX is more important than Lumens. Especially when considering changing tungsten lamps to LED lamps. Standard Tungsten and Xenon emit light more evenly than LEDS as LED lamps are made up of LED chip arrays mounted on the verticle plain (sideways) to try to achieve the LUX equal to traditional lamps. Whereas traditional filament type lamps emit light on the verticle and horizontal plane thus making them better distributers of light.

Hopefully, I'm making sense. The source might be bright as hell but what counts is the surfaces being illuminated sufficiently which should be at least equal to or better than the original.

In all tests I have done in the past, I have found that LEDs are still not illuminating surfaces as well as traditional lamps.

There is a dump load of the science behind the scenes and I don't really know enough to explain. Kind of like a plumber who does plumbing but doesn't need to know the chemical compounds involved in making the tools.

With regards to side marker/indicator lighting where the lamps are used to indicate intention/show presence. LED's would be ok due to their nature of design as a lamp. Using only low lumens enough to be visible from a distance and beneficially reducing the amount of current drawn.
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Re: LED lights - Legal?

Post by sKenDread » Tue Jan 14, 2020 11:12 am

Oh and also I forgot to mention about kelvins. Natural sunlight is around 5k Kelvin. If we change that temperature to higher, its also in effect reducing the amount of visible light. So whiter isn't necessarily brighter.
That being said, if we drove a lamp rated at 35w with 55w and that lamp was measured to be 5000k we would effectively reduce the temperature but lux and lumen would be increased. The inverse goes the other way around.
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Re: LED lights - Legal?

Post by warpc0il » Tue Jan 14, 2020 12:38 pm

I'm an amateur photographer so familiar with the concept of Lux and "illumination" as in how well something is lit.

Recently I've been amazed by how poor many led batten lights are, while being sold to replace fluorescent tubes.
They have seemingly impressive lumens but are totally crap at lighting a room.

This is another case where replicating a previous technology fitment produces such a compromise in performance.
On the other hand, strip lights designed for leds can, if you're prepared to pay a lot more, be very effective.
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Re: LED lights - Legal?

Post by Lemon » Tue Jan 14, 2020 1:06 pm

warpc0il wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 12:38 pm
I'm an amateur photographer so familiar with the concept of Lux and "illumination" as in how well something is lit.

Recently I've been amazed by how poor many led batten lights are, while being sold to replace fluorescent tubes.
They have seemingly impressive lumens but are totally crap at lighting a room.

This is another case where replicating a previous technology fitment produces such a compromise in performance.
On the other hand, strip lights designed for leds can, if you're prepared to pay a lot more, be very effective.
conversely i've been replacing blown bulbs with LED filament bulbs and i'm finding their output to be almost on par with the filament bulb that they replaced (domestic lighting that is)
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Re: LED lights - Legal?

Post by Delanor » Tue Jan 14, 2020 2:25 pm

As has been said forget LED bulbs I have tried several and they give a bright white light but the intensity is pitiful in dipped and main beams even compared to Ye Olde Halogen bulbs, the only way to improve lighting is with an HID kit and in the 190 bhp car it is a good improvement and due to the Projector lenses an MOT shouldn`t be a problem because the MOT tester cannot see what sort of bulb it is and the beam pattern due to the lense passes OK a really stroppy tester may note that the HID bulb warms up so it is a bit of a giveaway.

That is for dipped beams now I also have HID`s in the main beams and I checked with my friendly? neighbourhood MOT tester and because it is an open reflector you can see its a HID bulb but as far as he was concerned beam pattern is not a problem with the main beam and if the the lamp extinguishes when dipping that is OK and my car has always passed in two different MOT stations for several years now.

Technology has moved on with HID bulbs and now a shorter "masked" H7 HID bulb is available to use in an open reflector which I use in my 911 dipped beam as the Halogen bulbs again are awful in those headlights the beam pattern passes an MOT it already has washers and the bulb sits in a cup so you cannot see what sort of bulb it is but as I said more importantly the beam pattern is correct and doesn`t affect other motorists unlike the normal H7 HID bulb which causes light scatter - unfortunately as the RX-8 uses a H9 main beam bulb this is no good.

Also there is now available "quick start" ballasts as using normal ballasts does give a slight delay when using for main beams but it is not a problem because it is literally a couple of seconds to reach full intensity as dipped beam stays on when switching to mains.

I recently swapped my trusty Kuga with its awful Halogen headlights and moved into the 21st century with a Skoda Karoq with adaptive LED headlights and they are awesome even as it uses Auto dipped beam and alternate fog lights for cornering, not been flashed yet by other drivers but I am not overly convinced by Auto dipped beam as I find there are times when the lights dip when I want them on but you can over-ride the system but with LED`s the difference is literally like night and day - every car should have them IMHO.

When it comes to LED`s for side lights a friend had his car fail an MOT because the tester complained they were too blue although I have never had a problem in any of my cars I do find with LED`s some are bright white some are less so and some have a blue tinge, the 40th Anniversary car has blue tinted fog lights which really look blue when switched on but blue and yellow is legal (our crackpot MOT reg`s)

I went down the road of LED rear bulb indicators to match the after market LED rear lights by modifying a flasher relay but if a bulb fails you are given no warning as the missing low amperage does not cause the modified relay to react so I abandoned that idea.

Can`t wait to see what is coming with headlights:

The BMW Laserlight system – which is available in some European BMW i8 models – improves high-beam output by two, meaning you can see twice as far down the road and the technology creates light that’s 10 times brighter and more intense than traditional Xenon or LED headlamps.

But that’s not all, BMW Laserlight high-beams are also designed to prevent blinding oncoming traffic and the system is GPS-enabled, helping to better light turns in the road.

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Re: LED lights - Legal?

Post by Jester » Tue Jan 14, 2020 6:02 pm

Great thread, just up my street.
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Re: LED lights - Legal?

Post by jackrhysgreenwood » Wed Jan 22, 2020 4:06 pm

I have a minor obsession with retrofitting LEDs and my experiences thus far:-

Things you can get away with -

Tail light modifications in general as long as they are the correct colours. MOT nor plod care. I've had everything from led conversions to sweeping audi style lights to full custom LED units, and never had any issues.
Led numberplate lights - as long as they are a cool white/yellow and not unnecessarily bright.
Indicator modifications front and back, as long as they are the correct colour. (Side indicators, headlights, tail lights)
LED DRLs, external or internal to headlight.
LED sidelights, as they are low light output.

Things you can't get away with -

LED or Xenon full beams or dipped beams where they were not originally fitted as standard. You can fit them if you can find a CE marked unit (or one that looks vaguely OEM at least) intended for your vehicle (or a higher spec model's lights, i.e 192 to 231). What plod and MOT testers care most about is those chinesium LED 'bulbs' that fit into your standard hook fitting. These are painfully obvious to spot and completely illegal.

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Re: LED lights - Legal?

Post by Delanor » Wed Jan 22, 2020 4:44 pm

Forget LED bulbs they are hopeless as replacements for dipped/main beams, HID lamps (Xenons) are good replacements for H7 Halogen bulbs but you need H7R bulbs in an open reflector or a H7 HID will work OK in the RX-8 projector lenses never had a problem with either of these.

Have had H9 HID`s in the main beams in the RX-8 for over 10 years now again without problem.

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Del.
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