LED replacement bulbs for cars

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cm64
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LED replacement bulbs for cars

There have been a number of topics about replaing car lights with LEDs but all seem to be 3-5 years old.
With the rapid changes in LED technology has anyone tried replacing stop/reverse/tail lights lately with any success ?

I have replaced interior (dome) lights with COB LED festoon globes. They seem to be OK, very bright but time will tell if they will last. A lot of the cheaper stuff from China stops working or starts flickering after a few months. Its very hard to know what the quality of these LED is like.

3 years ago, in a previous car I replaced the reverse lights with LEDs. I had to buy 4 to get 2 that had the same tint ! but the light was very bright & made a big difference over the standard globes.

Edited by: cm64 on 05/14/2019 - 08:47
M3CSL
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The first question is always: are Chinese / aftermarket LED bulbs legal to use in the relevant market? (DOT/EEC/other approval)

Then, as you pointed out, the cheaper variants may fail prematurely (I have tried and replaced cheap LED parts many times).

And, finally, many light applications may not be altered to use it legally on the road, this is especially relevant if as an example a headlamp is not designed for LED use and would required projector lenses or an entirely new design altogether. Many youtube videos and car forums will say otherwise, but your local state inspection/MOT/TUEV/other service will tell you that it won’t work.

There may also be other, smaller issues like check control on BMWs. Quality, cc compatible LED bulbs are more expensive.

My interior lights were replaced with LEDs but as you have stated, the quality wasn’t up for it. In the trunk I went back to old, incandescent light bulbs and they provide 100 CRI with warm white light which surprisingly never failed so far. (yes they need more energy but I doubt 2 bulbs will make an impact on fuel economy).

Newer cars I have driven are already 100% LED on the inside and they look really great.

Convoy S2+ 219b triple, Astrolux FT02, Maglite 3D, Solarforce L2t

power911
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I had success with cars that have separate brake lights and running lights (idk what they called, the running red light that is dimmer than brake lights?)

The type that uses philips 1157 dual filament style usually leads me to premature failure or extremely dangerous dim red light that has 2% difference in brightness from *not *braking and braking

The LEDs for the dual filament type are always crap and always underperform. The ones for singles are fine so far. I only had one flicker and die due to cheap honeycomb pattern.

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cm64
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@M3CSL The legal aspects can be confusing, depending on the country.
I would not use LED replacement for headlights, just not worth it.
The new COB LEDs seem to be bit more realiable than the older conventional LEDs. Time will tell.

@power911 Yes, I have not found any dual LED replacements that work. Cars with separate brake & tail lights seem to be OK. I have read that one must use red LEDs because using a white LED makes the light through the red glass/plastic look a pale pink. Red LEDs shine through properly as red. Agree the new cars that come with LED lights look great.

I’ll stick with internal lights for the time being & see how they last. I always buy extra just in case. There is no quality control out of China. I really like the interior white light.

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cm64 wrote:
@M3CSL The legal aspects can be confusing, depending on the country.
I would not use LED replacement for headlights, just not worth it.
The new COB LEDs seem to be bit more realiable than the older conventional LEDs. Time will tell.

@power911 Yes, I have not found any dual LED replacements that work. Cars with separate brake & tail lights seem to be OK. I have read that one must use red LEDs because using a white LED makes the light through the red glass/plastic look a pale pink. Red LEDs shine through properly as red. Agree the new cars that come with LED lights look great.

I’ll stick with internal lights for the time being & see how they last. I always buy extra just in case. There is no quality control out of China. I really like the interior white light.

I’m currently using this H4 bulb that has so called Lumileds Luxeon ZES for low beam and blazingly bright XHP50 for the high beams.
As an active cooling pair of front headlight bulbs they are pretty good in my case. Clean sharp cutoff from my big reflector and huge flood wall when on high beams.
Depending on your area, my country is fine so far and I didn’t blind my parents when I tail behind their car as a test.

I never really liked COB for car headlamp. Just too huge of a surface for glare. Practically made my cutoff line into a cotton candy diffusion

But really the brake lights I’ll just stick to stock. Get osram or philips from local stores. Chinese bulbs die too fast to be even worth. My osram 1157 works up till now.

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TheIntruder
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If you’ve made your way to a flashlight/lighting forum (and not a car modder forum), you’re probably aware that optics matter. Greatly.

And in the context of functional signal lights, the implications go beyond whether the tint/pattern is “ugly” or the output doesn’t live up to specifications; there are performance, safety, and legal implications as well.

To this day, I still don’t believe that there are any road-legal LED retrofits substitute for brake/tail/signal/reverse signaling bulbs.

There are a few designs from Philips new / old and Osram that have legitimate performance, but only if the lamp design is suited for them, yet they are still not road-legal.

Those resembling a corn cob, or a disco ball, with multiple emitters, are most often crude, ineffective solutions that ignore physics and are best avoided.

Ambient interior lights aren’t regulated, so one is free to experiment and outfit to taste. Less effort is made to refine the optics, so differing designs can still produce acceptable results.

In this context the one advancement that has proven to be beneficial is the development of “filament” LEDs. I’ve experimented with the cheap festoons from AX and they can serve as an almost indistinguishable substitute for traditional festoons, especially the “warm white” versions. These types of emitters have become much more prevalent in household bulbs with clear globes designed to mimic traditional filament bulbs.

They may not satisfy those who mainly seek the “gee-whiz” effect from their modifications, but their greater efficiency (~1W) allow for prolonged run time and less power drain, as opposed to the 5W/10W traditional festoons consume.

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Okay, now you’re getting into my territory. LOL

I converted all my interior bulbs to LEDs. What you gotta do is not just find out what bulbs go in there (194, 168, etc.), but physically open the thing and see how it’s oriented, how much space, etc., and then pick the right bulb(s) for that.

Eg, most 194 equivalents are 5×5050 COBs, 1 up top and 4 around the periphery, but you can get stacked bulbs with 9 or even 13 (2- and 3-tiers, respectively) if you can fit them.

So in the rear map-lights (top-center) and rear interior lights (near the door), I could fit… I think it was the 9s. Nice WW LEDs, hella bright, fit perfectly.

In the mirror, again, entry light and 2 map-lights, similar situation. Center dome, the bulbs “lie down” instead of fit in a hole, so I again used whatever WW bulbs fit.

Glovebox, center console, those are hard to get to, but do fit only 5-LED bulbs. Forgot which ones I changed and which I left. Leave the lights on a few minutes, and those that burn you when you touch ‘em are the original bulbs, whereas the cool-to-the-touch ones are LED.

Lights for the rear tag, dimmest NW LEDs I could find. I don’t like when they’re overly glaring, so as long as they light the thing enough to not get me a ticket, I’m good.

Puddle lamps (bottom of the doors), pain in the ass to get to, left those for now.

Rear lights, turn and reverse, are great.

You can see how they’re long and narrow on the bottom, so I got “bulbs” that were essentially flat, and oriented so that the light would shoot from the left/right sides. Reverse is NW-to-CW, not too bad, rather shockingly bright compared to the original hotwire bulbs, and the amber turns are amazingly bright as well, and I love the “snap” of LED vs gradual fade in/out of hotwire bulbs.

Now, the current is measured internally, and will show bulb-out warnings when activated, so I put something like 33Ω to 50Ω resistors — NOT NOT NOT the retarded 6Ω resistor kits you find all over the web — to shut it up. They draw only only only the minimum amount of current needed to shut up the warning, NOT act like a dummy bulb in itself (where you could unplug the LED bulb itself and still have it show fine).

Okay, other car, same dealy as far as interior bulbs.

Front ambers I got from JDM ASTAR on Amazon, kick-ass bulbs, hella bright. Yeah, same 3:1 bright/dim ratio which ain’t so great, but I could live with it.

Rear brake lights (dual-filament), the red JDMs are somehow amazingly good. Either the ratio is a lot more than 3:1 and closer to the proper 10:1, or it’s just the way they’re situated, dunno, but they outshine hotwire bulbs. And I was running 40W bulbs (3357, 3557, 3757, whatever) instead of the usual 32W ones. Click rate is determined by the relay, and y’know what? I left it. I actually like the fast-blink. More “nervous” and attention-getting when changing lanes.

Marker lights all around, either JDMs or Yitamotor bulbs (amber/red). The red ones in back, I got longlonglong 13×5050 bulbs, which still fit beautifully. Think the front ambers I only was able to fit 9×5050s.

My only issue is that in this car, the front ambers were the “CK” type, so they popped fuses when I put in “regular” bulbs. The rear bulbs were normal, not CKs, so that’s why I didn’t bother to check first. Stoopit mistake.

Anyway, the only issue with the front ambers is that they can get loose and either go dim or stop working. A good open-palm bitch-slap to the top of the headlight housing jiggles ‘em back into place. Probably will at some point either solder-coat the wires (to make ‘em thicker) and/or throw some Deoxit on ‘em.

Headlights for either car, I’m not touching LEDs. An H9-to-H11 “conversion” of the bulbs should be enough. 55W to 65W, yet twice the lemons.

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Lightbringer
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From previous orders:

Some nice 13-LED WW “194“s
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EDFM6R8/

5-LED WW “194“s
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00Y1CFCMY/

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The wife’s Honda. My Prev Patrol and current D-Max Ute.
I installed LED’s in all.
Chinese the first time.
After that I found the Osram more/better natural light But much more exxy.

Now. in Ute and happy with, I have CHINESE C6. (H4-6000K) COB. headlights. around $37AUD a pr .
Recommended by friend who runs a fleet of utes (15)
Clean. sharp cut off. great throw WHITE beams.

Incorporated with single row LED 20in Bar. I have 400+% more, white light. That see forever.

The local ones both, 3or4 x more expensive than Chinese and definitely give better beam and quality. But. These C6 are definitely waaaay better than std lights and been in ute for around 4 yrs now.
Half the home and the caravan are LED too.
Also, be careful with the Main beams and others too They come in multiple outputs. Get the highest rated. Some are insipid. The reverse are the worst.
I tried 2 sets.
Ended up buying 2 x square 4in, 4wd lights for $23 AUD del.
Mounting them on rear top of ute tray cover.
with a 3 way sw in dash. On. OFF. or Auto with rev lights.
Magic.
When clear behnd. they light up a good 40ft area behind ute for camping/fishing. and use NO power.

DavidEF
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I wish there were at least one known good company to buy LED headlight bulbs from, with no guess work. For some styles of bulbs, the exact placement of the emitters is crucial to the proper operation of the bulb. Also, the size of the LED matters a lot in most headlight assemblies. Most LED headlight bulbs seem to be made to get the most Chinese Lumens out the front. They use huge emitters that won’t provide the right beam profile when used in the stock headlight assembly. While I want a lot of lumens, what I want most is a nice, throwy beam of Neutral White light (most are Cool White Sick ). Also, some of my vehicles use dual element bulbs. The majority of the LED headlight bulbs I’ve seen get the emitter placement wrong, and for at least one of my vehicles, the switching direction wrong as well. If only Richard would make some replacement headlight bulbs and sell them at MTN LITEbar.

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cm64
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Wow – I did not realise that LEDs for cars would be so complicated. I think I will just stick with replacing the interior lights for now.
Maybe car lighting technology will get better & easyier in a few years.
I found these …
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1Pcs-6W-6000K-31-36-39-41mm-COB-LED-C5W-...

They are very cheap so I’m trying them. My car takes 3× 31mm festoon globes.

tatasal
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I recently tried this Suaoki car LED headlamps:

http://budgetlightforum.com/node/65956

Edit: I just fully read the op and it only asks for regular interior/signal lamps and not headlamps.

Scallywag
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There are options for professionally installed, DOT-compliant LED retrofits. It's a bit different than buying the replacement bulbs online from China. 

I looked around, and it's probably pretty tough to get any sort of official DOT-compliant certification for a drop-in LED replacement for halogen. In most areas in the United States, if you're going to try to use one on-road, I'd pay attention to the light cut-offs. If you pay attention, you'll notice factory LED/HID headlamps on low-beams will have a sharp cutoff that should stay level with the rest of the car. This is to prevent blinding others (though sadly ineffective when a lifted truck tailgates me). This is also generally enhanced with some sort of leveling system on the vehicle, so if you load 500 lbs over the rear axle, the headlights aren't suddenly aiming up by fifteen degrees. 

Another thing that I hate seeing is light bars everywhere on cars these days. Most states require that off-road lighting (classically the large halogens over top or on the grille of a pickup) be covered during on-road use. The same regulations would apply to light bars, but I never see them covered and it doesn't get enforced. 

Makes me want to get Anduril on my L6, configure tactical strobe to use the FET, and point it backwards for the next light bar I see...

(Sorry for the rant, can anyone tell I got tailgated by another light-bar Jeep yesterday?)

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I recently installed morimoto headlights in my 2015 f150 and they are awesome. They are a complete replacement.

Will be replacing my fog lamps as well and then look for different options for my tail lights.

Lightbringer
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Scallywag wrote:
Makes me want to get Anduril on my L6, configure tactical strobe to use the FET, and point it backwards for the next light bar I see…

(Sorry for the rant, can anyone tell I got tailgated by another light-bar Jeep yesterday?)

A colleague from way back had… some boxy old car, a Honda, I think… with a squared back/trunklid. He slapped on some of that garish 8” wide chrome tape that idjits slather all over their cars (bottom of the doors, panels, etc.), right across the trunklid.

If you were following with lowbeams on, no big deal, as they’d (if correctly aimed) be hitting just low enough to not catch the tape. But if you tried hitting him with the brights, you’d get blinded in return.

Was quite clever, I thought. Looked ugly as sin, but was functional.

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DavidEF
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Scallywag wrote:

There are options for professionally installed, DOT-compliant LED retrofits. It’s a bit different than buying the replacement bulbs online from China. 


I looked around, and it’s probably pretty tough to get any sort of official DOT-compliant certification for a drop-in LED replacement for halogen. In most areas in the United States, if you’re going to try to use one on-road, I’d pay attention to the light cut-offs. If you pay attention, you’ll notice factory LED/HID headlamps on low-beams will have a sharp cutoff that should stay level with the rest of the car. This is to prevent blinding others (though sadly ineffective when a lifted truck tailgates me). This is also generally enhanced with some sort of leveling system on the vehicle, so if you load 500 lbs over the rear axle, the headlights aren’t suddenly aiming up by fifteen degrees. 


Another thing that I hate seeing is light bars everywhere on cars these days. Most states require that off-road lighting (classically the large halogens over top or on the grille of a pickup) be covered during on-road use. The same regulations would apply to light bars, but I never see them covered and it doesn’t get enforced. 


Makes me want to get Anduril on my L6, configure tactical strobe to use the FET, and point it backwards for the next light bar I see…


(Sorry for the rant, can anyone tell I got tailgated by another light-bar Jeep yesterday?)


The thing I hate about those light bars is that they have almost no throw, so they’re not helping the idjit using them on the road anyway. They’re just one big glare. I’ve wished so many times for a Candela-seeking heat laser mounted to my car. It would automatically point at the offending source and take it out quickly and permanently. Crazy

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jaynick
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Hard pass on those.

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.com%2Fulk...
These “194/921/t10/t15” bulbs are sooo much brighter.
Ive installed a ton of leds over the years. I have an auto detail/customization shop. Ive tried buying from most of the suppliers, even expensive ones like vleds. Heres a truck i did the other day. You can see the difference between one of those 13 led type that you posted and the one i linked on the 3rd brake/cab light.

!http://imgur.com/ZPZE32A http://imgur.com/7IhIMRz http://imgur.com/24tYuRN http://imgur.com/d1oryEk http://imgur.com/ZXaR54v http://imgur.com/zsczD1l http://imgur.com/3EqGCBL http://imgur.com/ZBVGSVO!

quote=Lightbringer]From previous orders:

Some nice 13-LED WW “194“s
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EDFM6R8/

5-LED WW “194“s
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00Y1CFCMY/[/quote]

jaynick
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Morimoto round led foglamps are excellent and would match your headlights

bossf350 wrote:
I recently installed morimoto headlights in my 2015 f150 and they are awesome. They are a complete replacement.

Will be replacing my fog lamps as well and then look for different options for my tail lights.

Marc E
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Lightbringer wrote:
Now, the current is measured internally, and will show bulb-out warnings when activated, so I put something like 33Ω to 50Ω resistors — NOT NOT NOT the retarded 6Ω resistor kits you find all over the web — to shut it up. They draw only only only the minimum amount of current needed to shut up the warning, NOT act like a dummy bulb in itself (where you could unplug the LED bulb itself and still have it show fine).

Surely you’d want to know if a bulb fails, which would happen with the 6ohm resistor but not with the 33-50ohm resistor? Am i missing something?
Good info though, i have H9 bulbs in a projector lens which are dim, even with upgraded Philips X_treme Vision bulbs, Would be interested to know what you think of the H11 upgrade if you do it. (Am leaning towards to Philips Ultinon LEDS over the H11s at the mo).
Lightbringer
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jaynick wrote:
Hard pass on those.

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.com%2Fulk...
These “194/921/t10/t15” bulbs are sooo much brighter.

Ive installed a ton of leds over the years. I have an auto detail/customization shop. Ive tried buying from most of the suppliers, even expensive ones like vleds. Heres a truck i did the other day. You can see the difference between one of those 13 led type that you posted and the one i linked on the 3rd brake/cab light.

I’ve got something similar for my backup lights. Flat like that, most of the LEDs are facing the long-axis of the reflector (see the pic above). Went up’n‘down through my amazon orders, couldn’t find which bulbs they were, though.

Not for interiors, though. I’d get sunburn from something that bright. And I went out of my way for WW, because I just like that “relaxing” color, especially at night. 5-chip LEDs were okay, but the 13s were way nicer.

Thing is, my interior fixtures don’t have reflectors, just white-plastic to reflect light, and facetted lenses to spread the light. So when I found I could actually stuff the 13s in there and they’d fit, well, yay me!

Ever notice that so many backup lights are tinted? On VWs, they tend to be tinted gray, some GMs have they tinted orange-pink, even on my old Regal the openings are “slotted” to cut down on outbound light. Wtf??

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Macka17
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David EF.
2 things.
Headlights also have Left hand offset on beam and Right hand. Depending on left/right hand drive.
Buying from China check that. All the ones I’ve got. H4
have been simple drop ins as long as you have small hands.
Look on You tube for reviews. (Veh, LED’s)
There are some good Chinese ones out there.

With those Bars and throw.
Get the single row 10w LED’s NOT the 3w dual/triples.
The 3’s are spreaders.
Hence the combo’s of outer and inner lights on bar.
Single row ARE real good throwers.
Mine, 20in. throws forever. Cold White too. not warm white.
It gives clear sharp trees. over 600mtrs down our road here.

xevious
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cm64 wrote:
Wow – I did not realise that LEDs for cars would be so complicated. I think I will just stick with replacing the interior lights for now.
Maybe car lighting technology will get better & easyier in a few years.
I found these …
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1Pcs-6W-6000K-31-36-39-41mm-COB-LED-C5W-...

They are very cheap so I’m trying them. My car takes 3× 31mm festoon globes.


There’s essentially 3 things:
1) trusted source, 2) LED tint, and 3) cost.

You can pay handsomely from a place like deautoled.com, or store.ijdmtoy.com, where they assure error code free LED’s. Or you can try your luck with lesser priced LED’s from other sources. The cheaper ones seem destined for shorter lifespans. I’ve used about 3 different cheaper sources over the years, both auto and home… and most died after 1~2 years of use. I haven’t bought any newer ones lately, though I’ve been looking as the field has changed yet again (more aggressive offerings for good prices).

My dissatisfaction for interior LED’s had been with tint. Even the pricier ones seemed to go overboard on cooler tints, as if warm looked too much like incandescent and wouldn’t sell. Cool is too harsh. Ideally, I want something neutral white that leans warm. So cooler than incandescent, but not bluish like so many LED’s.

Lightbringer
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Czech out those 2 links I posted. Both are WW, both are quite nice!

Last week or so, I “argued” with someone as to whether/not my interior lights were LEDs or hotwire. He was insisting that LEDs are that nasty Angry Blue™ and mine have to be hotwire bulbs, because they look so natural. LOL

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