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The science of LED headlights

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Old 06-04-2018, 10:55 AM
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The science of LED headlights

You've been there - driving at night on a remote 2-lane road, and some inconsiderate *** is driving toward you with blinding blue headlights. If you were to flash your highs, you'd probably discover the light burning into the back side of your skull was just the other driver's low beams, and the return flash of his/her high beams now scalds your face and knuckles.

To that I say... I don't want to be one of those guys that makes everybody flash their highs at me because my headlights are blinding them - but I want to see those suicidal deer before they bound into my path at night. Shopping for options, I see in the mad dash to come up with aftermarket LEDs, everybody is shooting for more lumens - with little or no regard for the drivers facing their product. You already know how you feel about too much blue in your face - but there is also the part about aim. Modern headlights have a cut line, where they shoot far enough down the road to drive highway speeds, but they don't shine into the glass line (windows on other vehicles).

Responsible LED headlight bulb purveyors are now offering "Adjustable Beam" LED bulbs. This may sound like some fun feature we can tinker with from the cab, like one of the police search lights - but that's not what this is. You can now spend a little time with a tool on the bulb, adjusting the cut line to match the factory cut line. It's a little trial and error, but it certainly beats returning to halogen because you can't keep the other drivers from flashing you at night.

I can't do much about the blue-ish hue, the best I can do is go for minimum K in the specs. 6000K is tolerable, but 5000K would be closer to ideal. I saw a product that bragged about 7500K color temperature - that's the blue we really hate. Install a set of those 7500K lights, get a coal tune, add some long freaking mirror arms - and you can be known as a "FINO" (Ford in name only). The Dodge guys will welcome you into the club with open arms.
 
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Old 06-04-2018, 11:58 AM
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When it comes to hitting deer, having too much light can be just as "blinding" to oneself... nevermind other drivers. The pavement can often have more reflectance than the surroundings off road where the deer and the antelope leap from. Just like the details in dark areas of a photo become obliterated when the contrast is turned up too high, a high contrast between light and dark (such as hard cut off lines that are required with brighter beams) closes down the eye's iris in order to resolve the brighter light and it's reflecting bounce off of the pavement, and in so doing, makes the dark areas peripheral to the road all the more darker, providing less warning time to see the deer lurking off to the sides of the road, outside of the stark and pronounced beam pattern of super bright headlights.

I've seen (and avoided hitting) many a deer while driving up and down through Idaho and Wyoming, with my factory dim yellow headlights. The low contrast and diffused distribution of light made it easier on the eyes to transition between fully illuminated, partly illuminated, and non illuminated areas ahead.

Slowing down a bit when "Game Crossing" signs appeared also may have helped. Some people snark that the deer don't read the signs... but the signs helped remind me of the risk, so in that sense they were effective.
 
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Old 06-04-2018, 04:17 PM
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The only real way to get an accurate beam with LED bulbs is with a projector. This means a quality retro fit or custom one off job.

Pointing them low or accurately will allow for other drivers to pass by without blinding them.

For those situations that a deer or game wish to throw themselves in front of my truck, I purchased a Ranch Hand grille guard for just under $600 shipped to the house by Amazon. The Ranch Hand may not stop a truck crippling hit, but it sure will help.
 
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Old 06-04-2018, 10:06 PM
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Im still scratching my head as to how these retarded pepboy led lights, are even legal
 
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Old 06-05-2018, 06:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Sous View Post
...For those situations that a deer or game wish to throw themselves in front of my truck, I purchased a Ranch Hand grille guard for just under $600 shipped to the house by Amazon. The Ranch Hand may not stop a truck crippling hit, but it sure will help.
Oddly enough, but ever since I went to the 38R with the S&B, they are like deer repellent - I haven't seen a deer on the road in the years since {wood knock}. I suspect there's enough "deer whistle" in the configuration to get the attention of those buggers. I've seen deer stop and stare well before the road, and I've seen them flee, but nothing in or near the road as I approach.
 
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Old 06-05-2018, 07:26 AM
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Creating your own projector headlights is very easy. Adding a few light bars and train horns is all you really need to deter wildlife. If your responsible, no one or nothing is ever negatively affected. Having extra lighting is very effective and appreciated by law enforcement when assisting first responder’s during severe vehicular accidents in the middle of nowhere’s-ville. Not everyone who can light them up is an idiot.
 
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Old 06-05-2018, 07:50 AM
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I run Trucklites LED's, their cutoff rivals my buddies Audi A4. The light is a crisp white and with the way I have them adjusted I've never be flashed even when loaded with a trailer.
 
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Old 06-05-2018, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by timmyboy76 View Post
Im still scratching my head as to how these retarded pepboy led lights, are even legal
I've given up flashing my high beams at people because almost everything on the road looks like high beams now. If it's not their headlights it's their driving lights.
 
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Old 06-05-2018, 12:02 PM
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I hear what you say Rich. Inconsiderate LED users are way too common.
I replaced my scratched up original headlights with some new original replacement headlights last year. The appearance of a new set of headlights makes the truck look newer. The stock halogen lamps have always done fine for me, I can't out drive my lights on high beam.
However on my Harley I have switched to LED. Besides having more light to ride by, the less current draw on my electrical system is a bonus. The light pattern of LEDs is a bit of a problem. Care must be used to assure not to blind another oncoming driver. They are not plug and play, they need to be adjusted.
Our Buick has the HID lighting and it took a bit to get used to as they are white light compared to halogen bulbs. I have gotten used to it and actually prefer it now. The blue tint light I don't care for at all.
 
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Old 06-05-2018, 12:47 PM
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Rich I feel you man but I couldn't bring myself to mess with aftermarket bulbs or housings, not only do I really really really dislike when other people have them facing me, I also am not a fan of the look.

Have you tried new (OEM) housings and bulbs? The new housings made a world of difference for me. Considerably better than buffing and glossing. They were very inexpensive (like $18 each on Rock Auto). I plan to just swap them out again once they start to fade. They put out plenty of light, I was driving around the hills of Appalachia all last weekend, and at night. It's super dark there with all the tree cover.. No problem!

I also added adjustable spot lights do the heavy work when I am off-road or no traffic is coming at me, OR when I want to flash some a55hole with mis-adjusted projector beams . They're like high-beams on crack.

As for deer, this was a concern of mine but so were snow-drifts and potential off-road hazards. I don't go out of my way to find 4x4 trails but I do go hunting in some terrain that can be difficult to navigate. A winch is necessary for me about once per season, usually in the oddest places... like big snow drifts out in the plains... but it pays for itself quick. I had to get a good winch/bumper with a 15k lb rating for the truck & camper. One fortunate side effect of this is that if I see a deer in the road that is unavoidable, I'll be calling Fish & Game for a nuissance tag and firing up the BBQ. Game on! Form follows function for me, but some people don't like the 4x4 look.

My truck is going in to the shop to get the door/fender fixed and clean up the surface rust here in the coming weeks. I'm excited to put the finishing polish on this turd!


 
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Old 06-05-2018, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by brian42 View Post
If it's not their headlights it's their driving lights.
People here wonder why I so strongly protest peoples' threads regarding wiring their fog lights to be on all the time (technically very few vehicles actually come from the factory equipped with "driving lights" as the statutes governing their use and enabling criteria are way different than the "fog lights" with which most all vehicles are equipped these days).

New Dodge (fine, "RAM") pickups are the worst in my not-so-humble opinion. The FOG lights are brighter and aimed higher than the headlights (low beams as per motor vehicle statutes for "fog lights") so it does no good to flash those selfish morons......either deal with the damned fog lights (where's the fog anyway?) Or deal with their high beams.

Any more, those non-DOT approved "light bar" monstosities are my biggest peeve.....and the *******s that leave them on driving into oncoming traffic. Oh to be a law enforcement officer for a week.......

​​​​​​​
 
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Old 06-05-2018, 12:57 PM
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With respect to the "deer whistle" that Rich mentioned. I had some on my 4 Runner and they seemed to work great. More than a couple of times they have saved my butt. I would also like to find some lighting option in the "whiter" spectrum. Blue light scatters the "bluer" it gets in the spectrum. Most likely why they need to be even brighter.
 
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Old 06-05-2018, 01:18 PM
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[QUOTE=cleatus12r;18021016]
Any more, those non-DOT approved "light bar" monstosities are my biggest peeve.....and the *******s that leave them on driving into oncoming traffic. Oh to be a law enforcement officer for a week.......

Believe it or not, WHEN the po-po's ARE out, ive seen them give tickets for just that. Now, if them bars are higher than the headlights(roof mounted), gotta cover'em up like the old days of the KC lights👍
 
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Old 06-05-2018, 02:30 PM
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This thread has nothing to do with headlight improvements, it is a not so thinly veiled way to bash people. Not much brotherhood there!
 
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Old 06-05-2018, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Whitey Ford View Post
This thread has nothing to do with headlight improvements, it is a not so thinly veiled way to bash people. Not much brotherhood there!
Perhaps from time to time there is a bit of wandering off the original topic, but I would not consider any of the previous posts to be bashing. If people with light bars, LED's, HID's, whatever use them inappropriately then it is a fact, not a bash or slander.

Headlight upgrades can be a great thing to do. Light bars can aid in a drivers ability to see the road or trail or whatever they are working on in front of the truck. That is that....

Brotherhood... There can be times of strife and conflict in any family, especially between brothers...

/hands everyone a cold beer, because I brought plenty...
 
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