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What to look for in an LED Bulb suitable for your Classic Vehicle

What are LEDs

LED lighting has been available for over 50 years. LEDs are semiconductor diodes which convert roughly 90% of the electricity consumed into light. Standard incandescent bulbs only convert around 15%.

LEDs last a considerable amount of time when compared to an incandescent. The useful life is usually in excess of 30,000 hours and can last up to 100,000. They don't burn out like traditional bulbs, instead the light output gradually fades over time.

LEDs are resistant to vibration and thermal shock. They are also great at being able to switch on and off frequently and do not need to warm up. When switched on, they are immediately on. This is particularly useful in giving early indications of braking. That earlier lighting bulb may make all the difference to someone hitting you from behind or not.

SMD Quality

The Lumen (brightness) output of many lower quality SMD will vary a great deal. Taking the 5050 SMD for example, the ones we use output 20 Lumen each. Many lower cost bulbs can be half as bright so although you may be buying a lower cost bulb, question the quality you are getting and the resultant life of the bulb.
If an advert does not state an accurate Lumen output or does not quote one at all for a 6000k white LED (coloured LED use a different scale) then question this. Good quality SMDs, such as those we use, will produce the following Lumen output per SMD:

SMD Type Lumen Output per SMD
1210 6
5050 18
5630 30
4014 22
1156 60

Build Quality

This varies a great deal too. Does the bulb feel fragile to touch? Does the head of the bulb twist in the base? Do they break when you try to fit them? Well they should not. Our bulbs are solidly constructed and put together properly by skilled workers. They then pass through a full quality control check before being passed over for sale.

It's hard to spot build quality from an online picture. Questions you can ask yourself are:

• Why are they cheaper?
• Are they CE and ROHS approved?
• Does the seller recommend you wash your hands after fitting? (lead, mercury and cadmium are poisonous - what are the bulbs made of?)
• Look at the electrical fitting contact point - is it a pointy contact or nicely rounded. The nicely rounded contacts show time was taken and will give a better contact in your holder which stops poor connections and flicker.

Why not stick with Incandescent Bulbs?

Incandescents are becoming obsolete. They are cheap and mass produced but they don't last long, don't like vibration or temperature extremes and take a lot of energy to light. They get very hot too which wastes most of the power going to them. They are not efficient.

LEDs are Solid State devices (SSL). They don't burn out. Useful life expectancy is in excess of 30,000 hours in use which means, though the cost is more expensive, you will have less maintenance to do and over time you will find they pay for themselves. Because they take a very low amount of energy to light they put less of a strain on older wiring and electrical systems.

Good quality LED bulbs are generally brighter than incandescent bulbs, all of ours have been developed such that they are. They will improve your visibility to other road users and also enable you to see your gauges and interior which can only better your driving experience.

Do LEDs work with Dimmers?

A very common Classic Car owner question. Briefly, yes they do with the old style internal variable resistor in the dimmer. This reduces the voltage available to the LED which in turn reduces the brightness. LEDs are far more sensitive than incandescent bulbs though which means a small change in the dimmer will have a bigger effect.

CE and ROHS approval

Electrical goods for sale in the EU need to have CE and ROHS approval. This is the manufacturers statement that the product meets the essential requirements of all European Directives. CE approval implies that the product has passed all the relevant evaluation and assessment procedures defined by the CE directives.

ROHS approval (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) originated in the EU and restricts the use of hazardous metals in electrical components. The substances restricted are Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrminated biphenyls and polybrominated diphenyl ethers. All of these are poisonous, hazardous to the environment, pollute landfill and are very dangerous in relation to occupational exposure. Believe it or not we've seen online adverts for some LEDs stating you should wash your hands after handling due to Lead content!

About us - Classic Car LEDs

Started in 2014 as a direct result of not being able to purchase good quality LED bulbs at a fair and affordable price. After many classic car restorations we ventured into adding LED lighting for safety and comfort reasons and found that the bulb qualities generally available were not to our satisfaction.
Months of research and testing resulted in the bulbs that we now have available. We continue to research and develop the ranges to improve lighting, colours and price for your classic car, bike or vehicle.

We've now also developed a good range of positive earth / ground products too specifically for those owners who require them.
We also appreciate that some owners want to add LED lighting but want to keep a classic look. Most of our bulbs are now available in warm white as a result which provide a brighter but softer looking light.

As far as pricing is concerned, we are acutely aware of over inflated prices in the classic markets and try and keep our prices as low as possible so that all can benefit from improved lighting at a reasonable cost.

Pre and After Sales

We are more than happy to give advice and assist in overcoming any issues or questions that you have. If you have any questions, please call us or send us an email. Please include the make model and year of your vehicle when asking model related questions. Please, though, be aware it's very difficult to diagnose wiring issues remotely.

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  • Richard Govier on

    I have just replaced all interior and exterior bulbs on my E- Type and with the help and knowledge of Duncan I am extremely pleased with results. I can now see and be seen with confidence. Great service and good value.

  • Matt Sewell on

    VW-Porsche 914 1975.
    I have just restored my 914 after twenty four years off the road and have fitted Italian spec clear rear light lenses. I had found coloured bulbs and thought that these would be suitable, but whilst driving the car home from the garage I had been using to restore the car my wife was following me and commented that the rear brake lights, sidelights and indicators were not very bright and could not be seen very well in bright sun light.
    I googled led classic car lighting when I got home and called Duncan. He was very knowledgeable and helpful and I ordered led bulbs for all the rear light bulbs (except indicators), a fog light bulb and front sidelight bulbs. These all arrived the next day and I fitted them straight away. The results are amazing, much brighter and crisper, I feel a lot safer now knowing that people following me will see my lights.
    I have now ordered and fitted all four indicator bulbs with one of Duncan’s replacement relays, fantastic.
    I shall be replacing the rest of the cars bulbs including the headlights shortly.
    Many thanks


  • Graham on

    I needed some LED lamps in a hurry, Duncan was able to facilitate this by providing next day mail for a reasonable additional cost. I bought the green LEDs for the gauges as the original illumination was green by way of covers over the bulbs which had long since disintegrated. The LEDs give a very pleasing green hue to the instruments without all the down sides of standard tungsten lamps.
    Then when I found I had problems, the cigarette lighter illumination, a warning light and an oil pressure gauge, Duncan was able to talk through the problem (apparently he had the same issue with the gauge on his car) and provide a solution. The additional items were sent out very quickly and shortly after I signed for them I got an email to follow up, had they sorted the problem, and they had.
    I am very impressed with the level of service I received and the product is great too, so often these days it seems that service is just too much trouble and an inconvenience to the vendor, not so here.
    Thank you.


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