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Busdepot Mon Jul 13, 2020 6:49 am

Quote: Seems to me he’s talking about drop in LED bulbs, not replacement housings.

He discussed both and his summary related to both. But yes, he says there are a few purpose-built 7" round complete assemblies that are very good - the $850 JW Speaker 8700 Evolution-J3, the $400 JWS 8700 Evo 2, and the $200 Peterson 701C. Not that he said they are better than a set of E-codes with good bulbs, just a good execution of LED technology at this time.

However, these are 2x to 8x the price of the Hella E-codes even with good German bulbs. Which reinforces my point that the technology isn't ready yet. For now, you'd have to spend at least twice as much just to make a sideways step. Also, although not mentioned in the article, there is the question of reliability. Although LED bulbs are supposed to have long lifespans, I've already replaced a couple in my house that burned out even though the box said they were good for about a million years. These complete assemblies don't have user replaceable bulbs. If yours goes out, you're buying another $200 kit. By comparison, if the $8 H4 bulb in your E-code burns out, you're back in business for $8 and can get one at any auto parts store. H4 bulbs last years and years. Will these early-generation LED kits? We'll find out in years and years.

There is also the issue of the beam pattern itself. The European spec E-code beam distribution is widely considered to to provide superior visibility to the US DOT pattern. Which one is the LED kit replicating? A faithful reproduction of the DOT pattern, but done using LED's rather than HID's, would still be inferior to an E-code pattern. It is interesting that the Peterson kit for example states that it is a not legal in Europe, where E-code headlamps are mandated.

That being said, Peterson is one of the ones I looked at last fall at the SEMA trade show. Once the market matures and costs go down, they'd be a very worthy alternative if they were more like $100 rather than $200.
Eventually I'm sure that will happen. Personally I'm not married to any one technology, I just want to give my customers whatever will be the best bang for the buck. At some point the balance will shift. Based on what's out there right now it's likely to be a while still.

4Gears4Tires Mon Jul 13, 2020 6:54 am

Busdepot wrote: Not that he said they are better than a set of E-codes with good bulbs, just a good execution of LED technology at this time.

Yes, he absolutely did say LED housings are better than anything 30 years old.

Quote: JW Speaker 8700 Evolution-J3, which brings almost Star Trek-level technology to the old seven-inch round headlamp format.”

No one says star trek level of technology without it meaning that they are light years ahead in all regards. Even the replicas of the top of the line LED housings make good halogen headlights look like crappy DOT headlights.

Top of the line headlights are all purpose designed LED housings. Here's halogen at the bottom of the list and please don't tell me that a Vanagon E-code is better than a brand new BMW headlight housing. I will absolutely point out that no aftermarket LED solution will be as advanced as a mid level OEM LED headlight.
https://www.bmwblog.com/2020/03/15/guide-the-different-bmw-headlights-technologies-explained/

Busdepot Mon Jul 13, 2020 7:22 am

4Gears4Tires wrote: Yes, he absolutely did say LED housings are better than anything 30 years old. "JW Speaker 8700 Evolution-J3, which brings almost Star Trek-level technology to the old seven-inch round headlamp format.”
He only said that about the $800 kit. And you are extrapolating regarding what he meant by "star trek level technology." (He said technology, not performance or reliability, BTW.) I'm sure for $800 they're excellent. They'd better be. You could outfit 9 Vanagons with Hella E-codes (with easily replaced $8 bulbs) for that price.

Quote: please don't tell me that a Vanagon E-code is better than a brand new BMW headlight housing.
Please reference the Consumer Reports article I linked earlier in this thread. They compared new cars with headlight systems that used LED, Halogen, and HID, and determined that even on brand new cars with state of the art LED headlights purpose-designed for the vehicle, LED was not necessarily any better. To quote: "The problem for many consumers is that they’re paying more for the LEDs but not getting much bang—if any—for that extra buck." So while I'm not referencing BMW specifically, yes I _am_ saying that all things being equal (same car, even using the auto manufacturer's own purpose-designed headlight system in both cases), even much pricier LED lighting does not necessarily outperform conventional lighting at this time despite the higher cost. Here's the Consumer Reports link again for convenience:
https://www.consumerreports.org/headlights/led-hea...dvantages/

4Gears4Tires Mon Jul 13, 2020 7:55 am

OK, so for the sake of argument let's say that for a given manufacturer, ABC, their halogen headlights, developed on the latest lighting technology are just as good as their adaptive laser/LED headlights. To use CRs statement of not as much bang for your buck, that's the way luxury items go. All cell phones make calls, their primary purpose, the more expensive phones have lots of features. But your best bang for your buck for making phone calls is one that costs $20. But do we want that cheap phone/headlight/item? I certainly don't. Anyway...

I still don't think that is a solid comparison to say modern halogen headlights being equal to modern led headlights is the same as Vanagon E-Codes being equal to modern (admittedly aftermarket) LED headlights. I am absolutely willing to meet anyone in the DC area with E-Codes and halogens and compare it to the Harley Daymaker replicas. If I'm wrong, I will update this thread with the results. It would be great to be wrong, because as you said, you can update 8 or 9 Vanagons for the price of JW Speaker headlights.

I've done this dance many times in the e30 world and this is the order of lights I've experienced. DOT > E-Code w/ halogen > Projectors w/ halogen > E-Code w/ HID > Projectors w/ HID > LED housing swap > Custom bi-xenon projector retrofits with Morimoto HIDs.

zimflux Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:01 am

https://jalopnik.com/why-most-led-headlight-upgrades-dont-really-work-an-ex-1843070472/amp

All points to what Ron has stated for a while...

crazyvwvanman Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:14 am

I installed knockoff BusDepot H4 round headlights several years ago to replace the decrepit stock rectangular quads in my 87 Westy. They were fine for a couple years, until one of the lenses cracked for what seemed like no reason.

Since I was already set up for round, I decided to try those 7" LED DOT replacements that Waldo linked to.
Under $100, not much of a gamble to try them out IMO.
The light improvement is pretty dramatic.
I did need to lower the aiming point slightly
No one flashes me, I can see farther and better than before.
Are there even better ones for tons more money? Don't care yet.

Mark

?Waldo? Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:27 am

crazyvwvanman wrote: Under $100, not much of a gamble to try them out IMO.
The light improvement is pretty dramatic.
I did need to lower the aiming point slightly
No one flashes me, I can see farther and better than before.
Are there even better ones for tons more money? Don't care yet.

Well said. That aligns with my experience and my opinions exactly!

Oh, I forgot to mention that relays are not needed with them. The amps are lower than the stock bulbs despite the dramatic increase in light and visibility.

Busdepot Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:40 am

Quote: I installed knockoff BusDepot H4 round headlights several years ago
I presume these were out $34/pr ones? Those are different from the $79 Hella E-codes I have been referencing. Still better than stock sealed beams by a mile (or non E-code H4 generics for that matter), but not as good as the Hellas. These are the Hellas...

Pair of headlights only for $79 (bulbs $7.95 each, add to cart separately):
https://www.busdepot.com/0301600118

Upgraded kit with higher output bulbs and relays for $119:
https://www.busdepot.com/visionkit1

Note that these are not the same Hellas sold by GoWesty and others. Ours are European E-code headlamps with entirely different lenses.

?Waldo? Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:07 am

Busdepot wrote: Those are different from the $79 Hella E-codes I have been referencing. Still better than stock sealed beams by a mile (or non E-code H4 generics for that matter), but not as good as the Hellas. These are the Hellas...

Pair of headlights only for $79 (bulbs $7.95 each, add to cart separately):
https://www.busdepot.com/0301600118

Upgraded kit with higher output bulbs and relays for $119:
https://www.busdepot.com/visionkit1

Note that these are not the same Hellas sold by GoWesty and others. Ours are European E-code headlamps with entirely different lenses.

?Waldo? wrote: In different vans ... I have added relays plus e-code H4 7" rounds, I have used higher wattage bulbs in the e-code H4's, and I have installed the following 7" round LED's:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074T7JS1L/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Those LED's are hands down the best lighting of all that I have tried.

To be clear, the e-code H4's I mentioned are European Hella E-codes with relays and high wattage bulbs. The LED's I linked are dramatically better lighting and visibility, lower cost, and there is no need for relays. I had to adjust them per the Daniel Stern specs, but no oncoming traffic ever flashes me.

I paid $35 less than you propose and the result was an easier installation and dramatically better lighting. I call that a win.

flyboyaviator Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:58 am

M any input.

Busdepot Mon Jul 13, 2020 10:05 am

Maybe I wasn't clear about the pricing - $79 without relays OR (not and) $119 with relays and better bulbs, TOTAL for everything. So the most you could pay would be $119 if you went top-of-the-line. So it would be impossible to pay $130 less than that. :-)

?Waldo? Mon Jul 13, 2020 10:19 am

Busdepot wrote: Maybe I wasn't clear about the pricing - $79 without relays OR (not and) $119 with relays and better bulbs, TOTAL for everything. So the most you could pay would be $119 if you went top-of-the-line. So it would be impossible to pay $130 less than that. :-)

Ok, sorry for the mix-up. I will edit my prior post for accuracy. So the option you recommend is only $35 more than the LED's I recommended. So the added $35 buys me a more difficult install, and worse lighting. Your 'top-of-the-line' comment is silly. I already stated I have the 'top-of-the-line' option you recommend installed in one of my vans and it is clearly inferior lighting vs. the LED's I linked. Have you also tried both side by side? I have. Having tried both I would go with the LED's even if they were the harder install and cost more because the lighting is dramatically better. The fact that they are the easier install and cost less makes them the even more obvious choice.

crazyvwvanman Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:22 pm

Don't remember the cost but I kept the one that didn't crack. It has the city light, mfg dated 2014.
I'd go for the Hellas you have now and may do so for another Camper I plan to ship to Europe. That was part of why I installed the first ones.

Mark

Busdepot wrote: Quote: I installed knockoff BusDepot H4 round headlights several years ago
I presume these were out $34/pr ones? Those are different from the $79 Hella E-codes I have been referencing. Still better than stock sealed beams by a mile (or non E-code H4 generics for that matter), but not as good as the Hellas. These are the Hellas...

Pair of headlights only for $79 (bulbs $7.95 each, add to cart separately):
https://www.busdepot.com/0301600118 ......

old_man Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:05 pm

I went with the Morimotos someone else mentioned that were on clearence for $75 a pop. I actually removed my factory E-codes for these. They work nicely. Only downside is snow and ice accretion that doesn't get melted off, not an issue for most van drivers out there.

Irishcalifornian Mon Jul 13, 2020 3:07 pm

Stay away from South African LED halos.
Ya, I thought the looked cool (the halos) but they burned out in only 2 years. The night time headlights are awesome though.

Yellow Rabbit Tue Jul 14, 2020 7:10 pm

FYI, Walmart.com has a killer deal on GE Nighthawk 7” LED, which I believe are rebranded Trucklites. I just ordered a pair for $104 ea. That puts US assembled bulbs in close proximity to the cost of the knockoffs.

IdahoDoug Tue Jul 14, 2020 7:36 pm

Until they repeal a law of physics, I'll keep halogen headlamps. The LEDs cause too much light blowback from rain, snow and dust in the air and every reflective sign is a dazzling blowback that makes my hand instinctively shield it. LEDs seem to put WAY too much light right in front of the vehicle and don't penetrate down the road, or the light down the road is overwhelmed by blowback, etc. A couple buddies have now installed the pricey Trucklites in their Wranglers. They "like them because everything is bright now". Super....

If anyone has a set of square E codes they don't want anymore, let me know by PM as I am interested in buying them. Thanks.

Busdepot Tue Jul 14, 2020 8:34 pm

Yellow Rabbit wrote: FYI, Walmart.com has a killer deal on GE Nighthawk 7” LED, which I believe are rebranded Trucklites. I just ordered a pair for $104 ea. That puts US assembled bulbs in close proximity to the cost of the knockoffs.
Yes, if it's branded as GE it's probably a Trucklite. They were discontinued a year and a half ago so they must be old inventory. GE Nighthawk has become Tungstram Nighthawk, and when I was at SEMA last year they were trying to sell me on their new version - Chinese made and their first attempt at making their own. I've been around long enough to know better than to buy anyone's first attempt at anything. :-( The risk you take with the old version (besides the limitations of LED) is that there's no user replaceable bulb. If an LED fails you will probably be unable to find a single matching replacement at a reasonable cost (since they're long discontinued) so you'll have to dumpster the pair and buy a whole new pair of something else.
E-codes perhaps. :-)

Yellow Rabbit Tue Jul 14, 2020 8:49 pm

I’ll take my chances with 15,000 hours of LED rated lifetime, assembly in USA, and an older version. If I need to replace one down the road, so what, I always replace headlight bulbs in pairs anyway. Anything is an upgrade vs the 35 year old seal beam tech I’m running now, and I don’t have to modify my wiring to add relays.

Busdepot Tue Jul 14, 2020 9:00 pm

Yellow Rabbit wrote: If I need to replace one down the road, so what, I always replace headlight bulbs in pairs anyway.
Right. But a pair of replacement bulbs is only $15. A pair of new LED assemblies is over $200. Huge difference.
(That being said, you could do a lot worse than Trucklites if you were married to LED, they're a respectable product within the technology limits.)



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