Lawnmower LED Light Bulb - Failed A Third Time!

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NeutralFan
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Lawnmower LED Light Bulb - Failed A Third Time!

My lawnmower came with an LED headlight. I think it was designed more to help others see me than to light up the area in front of me. I’ve mowed a couple times when towards the end became dark and the headlight barely helped, but was better than nothing.

Then earlier this summer I noticed that the headlight started to flicker. The 1156 sized bulb has 19 LEDs in it and at first about a quarter of them started to flicker and turn off and then as you can see only 7 remained.

So I looked for a replacement bulb and given that I’m a BLF member and we like lumens, I figured an improvement was needed. I found these 1206 SMD LED bulbs with various designs and number of LEDs, from 22 up to 127 LEDs. I wanted to keep the size of the bulb similar to the current one, but also lean on the side of maximum LEDs. I also wanted warm white vs cool white, but that was not available with the design I chose – a whopping 85 LED bulb for less than $2 on eBay!

I installed it and was very impressed. It is a lot brighter than before and more than adequate to mow the lawn when it gets dark.

I’d rather use my flashlight around the house than turn on the lights.

Edited by: NeutralFan on 10/31/2018 - 22:02
MRsDNF
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Nice mod NF. Your neighbours must love you mowing the lawns at night. Thumbs Up

 

djozz quotes, "it came with chinese lettering that is chinese to me".

                      "My man mousehole needs one too"

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deleted-200707
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with the fire restrictions around here we can’t power mow 10AM to 8PM
I’m NOT a morning person, so given the option of mowing 8PM to 10PM
iffn I had adequate LEDs I just might query my 4 affected nabors to see what they preferred
although my acre of grass is only as high as an elephant seal’s eye presently

fixed it
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chinooker wrote:
with the fire restrictions around here we can’t power mow 10AM to 8PM
Would you mind explaining to someone from a wet place without fires how those two are related? Are lawnmowers known to start fires or something???
NeutralFan
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MRsDNF wrote:
Nice mod NF. Your neighbours must love you mowing the lawns at night. Thumbs Up

I prefer to mow on the weekends in the afternoon once the grass is dry, but when it’s growing crazy like it did this summer, I also need to mow during the week after work. And sometimes there are kid duties, so it gets pushed back even later, and now this time of year, sunset is a little after 7pm.

I try to be a good neighbor so it’s rare that I’m finishing up in the dark.

I’d rather use my flashlight around the house than turn on the lights.

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fixed it wrote:
chinooker wrote:
with the fire restrictions around here we can’t power mow 10AM to 8PM
Would you mind explaining to someone from a wet place without fires how those two are related? Are lawnmowers known to start fires or something???

I have mowed a fair share of grass in my day. It’s not uncommon for a Briggs engine to backfire and shoot a flame after it has been running on full throttle and quickly put into low throttle.
Not saying its impossible for a fire to start from that but for it to happen that grass certainly hasn’t been growing and didn’t need cutting. It would be dead and dried out.

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I got these for my rear-firing reverse lights on my car. Quite nice, aims the light where it needs to go vs relying on a reflector to do the heavy-lifting.

Would seem to be a better “fit” for your mower, as the original was that way, too.

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NeutralFan
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Thanks for the suggestion Lightbringer. If the new bulb goes bad, I may get them. When I was doing my research, I saw the bulbs with the lens in front, but wasn’t sure if they would be bright enough or if they would have too narrow of a beam.

I’d rather use my flashlight around the house than turn on the lights.

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vwpieces wrote:
fixed it wrote:
chinooker wrote:
with the fire restrictions around here we can’t power mow 10AM to 8PM
Would you mind explaining to someone from a wet place without fires how those two are related? Are lawnmowers known to start fires or something???

I have mowed a fair share of grass in my day. It’s not uncommon for a Briggs engine to backfire and shoot a flame after it has been running on full throttle and quickly put into low throttle.
Not saying its impossible for a fire to start from that but for it to happen that grass certainly hasn’t been growing and didn’t need cutting. It would be dead and dried out.

I have also put out quite a few sparks hitting rocks hidden in tall grass. Crying

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Well today when I was cutting the lawn (first time since I replaced the bulb) I noticed that the new bulb started flickering. Looks like 6, maybe more, LEDs on one side. The lawnmower must vibrate too much for the bulb. There are lots of solder joints on the bulb so I guess this was inevitable. Disappointing nonetheless.

This is what Lightbringer was suggesting. Looks pretty good, not too expensive, and should hold up better. Plus it should put more light in front of the lawnmower where it’s needed.

Any other suggestions?

I’d rather use my flashlight around the house than turn on the lights.

Lightbringer
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NeutralFan wrote:
Well today when I was cutting the lawn (first time since I replaced the bulb) I noticed that the new bulb started flickering. Looks like 6, maybe more, LEDs on one side. The lawnmower must vibrate too much for the bulb. There are lots of solder joints on the bulb so I guess this was inevitable. Disappointing nonetheless.

Hmm, that stinks. Sorry to hear that. Didn’t think soldered LEDs would give it up that fast.

NeutralFan wrote:
This is what Lightbringer was suggesting. Looks pretty good, not too expensive, and should hold up better. Plus it should put more light in front of the lawnmower where it’s needed.

Yeah, I had these a coupla years already, and thank B’harni (pbuh!), haven’t had the slightest hitch.

The lens is pretty close to the LED, so they do put out a fairly wide field of light. Quite nice for reverse-lights, actually.

Nice thing about the 2-pack is that even if one goes south, you still got another. Big Smile

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MRsDNF
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Thats a shame NF. Thanks for reporting back the results and good luck with the next ones. Thumbs Up

 

djozz quotes, "it came with chinese lettering that is chinese to me".

                      "My man mousehole needs one too"

old4570 said "I'm not an expert , so don't suffer from any such technical restrictions".

Old-Lumens. Highly admired and cherished member of Budget Light Forum. 11.5.2011 - 20.12.16. RIP.

 

NeutralFan
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After too many hours of research on Amazon and eBay, I have found these that look very good:

But there’s no way I’m paying $27 for them.

I’d rather use my flashlight around the house than turn on the lights.

NeutralFan
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My new bulb(s) came in the mail today. BTW, the eBay seller that sold me the 85 SMD LED bulb gave me a full refund. Here’s the defective bulb (I count 8 LEDs bad):

Here’s the defective replacement bulb with the lawnmower lens on (left) and lens off (right)(10 sec, F/20, ISO 1600):

Here’s the new bulb with the lens on (left) and lens off (right):

Again, here’s the defective replacement bulb with the lawnmower lens on (left) and lens off (right)(10 sec, F/18, ISO 1600):

Here’s the new bulb with the lens on (left) and lens off (right):

Here are my observations:

  1. The new bulb gets a lot warmer than the defective bulb.
  2. The new bulb is significantly brighter.
  3. Even though they are both cool white, the new bulb is less cool and shows the green of the grass better.
  4. The lawnmower lens kinda sucks. Even though it helps disperse the light, there are streaks that are noticeable with the new bulb.

The new bulb is certainly much better than the original bulb that came with the lawnmower. Rarely do I end up mowing in the dark, but it’s nice to have the extra light when needed.

Thank you Lightbringer/BLF for your help.

I’d rather use my flashlight around the house than turn on the lights.

Lightbringer
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NeutralFan wrote:

  1. The lawnmower lens kinda sucks. Even though it helps disperse the light, there are streaks that are noticeable with the new bulb.

The new bulb is certainly much better than the original bulb that came with the lawnmower. Rarely do I end up mowing in the dark, but it’s nice to have the extra light when needed.

Thank you Lightbringer/BLF for your help.

No worries, glad to help.

I’m betting that the (facetted) lens is meant to take all the light that’s bouncing around in that 5-sided cube (ie, 6th side missing) and just scatter it as best it can. Enough random bounces, and it’s “smooth”.

The bulb with a brazillion discrete LEDs all over, around, on top, everywhere, similarly threw light everywhere, to again bounce around the mirrored cube and out the front lens.

Now with a single point-source throwing light just out the front, the front lens is acting like a chopper for those pyroelectric person-detectors (alarms, auto-on lightswitches, etc.), ie, a “fan” of individual beams directed all over the place. So now, all those light/dark areas show up really well. Big Smile

If you can stick just a clear piece of plexiglass or something over it, to keep out grass clippings and other filth, you can have that nice smooooth light courtesy of the bulb’s aspheric lens. Big Smile

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Good idea ! But It’s just to be beautiful. I think the effect is not high

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NeutralFan
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Lightbringer wrote:
If you can stick just a clear piece of plexiglass or something over it, to keep out grass clippings and other filth, you can have that nice smooooth light courtesy of the bulb’s aspheric lens. Big Smile

Thanks for the suggestion. Another option would be to put something inside the lawnmower lens to smooth things out. Or if I really wanted to be experimental, I could sand down the inside of the lens, but that seems too risky. I’ll see what I have to put inside the lens and see if that helps.

I’d rather use my flashlight around the house than turn on the lights.

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Good luck with the latest leds. Its bound to be mentioned, DC fix though in this case it may not work.

 

djozz quotes, "it came with chinese lettering that is chinese to me".

                      "My man mousehole needs one too"

old4570 said "I'm not an expert , so don't suffer from any such technical restrictions".

Old-Lumens. Highly admired and cherished member of Budget Light Forum. 11.5.2011 - 20.12.16. RIP.

 

NeutralFan
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Last week I noticed the headlight was no longer working on my lawnmower. So I pulled off the headlight lens (it’s glued in) and looked at the LED bulb.

Well no wonder why, the LED fell off the MCPCB (see bottom left corner)! Wow, that must’ve gotten very hot in order to do that. My guess is that MCPCB must have dislodged from the bulb shelf due to the lawnmower vibrations and overheated. I see there’s nothing to secure the MCPCB to the shelf.

So it was my first opportunity to reflow a LED. I don’t have solder paste, so I tinned the MCPCB and put some flux on the bottom of the LED. Held it over my heat gun and as soon as the solder melted I took it off. It looked pretty good.

Since the bulb is essentially a hollow shelf flashlight, I wanted to improve the heat management. I found a washer that fits on the shelf, made some notches for the LED wires, flattened both sides, and used some thermal compound next to the MCPCB. I then used 2 very small screws to wedge the MCPCB and washer against the bulb shelf.

I also sanded down the aspheric plastic lens and made it frosted. The beam was too narrow before and showed lots of artifacts.

I’m happy to report that my reflow worked and the beam looks much better. Time will tell if my heat management mod actually makes a difference.

I’d rather use my flashlight around the house than turn on the lights.

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You sure that socket is a steady 12 volt dc? Might be running off the ac side of the stator and that could be the cause of some of your issues.

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Poll: how many BLFers have mowed their lawn in the dark with flashlights? haha. (I have)

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Hoop wrote:
Poll: how many BLFers have mowed their lawn in the dark with flashlights? haha. (I have)

Guilty……..A headlamp and two S2+‘s duct taped to the mower. I was headed out of town the next morning and forgot to mow.

"Everywhere I go, there I am"

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NeutralFan wrote:

Well no wonder why, the LED fell off the MCPCB (see bottom left corner)! Wow, that must’ve gotten very hot in order to do that. My guess is that MCPCB must have dislodged from the bulb shelf due to the lawnmower vibrations and overheated. I see there’s nothing to secure the MCPCB to the shelf.

Not surprised a bulb like this will fail when operated as a headlight, even if the power supply is good. These are not engineered to last, at least at $6 a piece.

I guess these bulbs were mostly meant to replace a reversing light – an application where they will typically not be on for very long periods at once. If not meant for that, it’s where these shine(no pun intended).

Some of these do work very well in many vehicles that have a very low powered and dim incandescent bulb that’s mostly a signal for others. In dark and rainy places an actual projector that helps to see a little is very necessary and one of these sometimes helps – even through the original diffuser of the rear lights assembly. Mostly it’s an illegal modification but may also be legal in some machines not operated on a public road – this will depend on jurisdiction and a bunch of details. I don’t endorse illegal modifications to vehicle lights, but this is worth noting and has served me well in an off road application. It’s nowhere near actual auxiliary reversing lights, but it gets some light behind the machine for $6, requires no modification and retains OEM look. It’s worth something that you don’t have to mess with the wiring harness or even drill extra holes in your machines.

This is why I, too, would attempt to modify the bulb assembly itself instead of just installing an aux work light on a lawnmower that already has the headlight. My recently purchased mower has none, so N/A and will not be participating in this endeavour but just installing a cheapo LED aux light – which is a viable alternative in case you need more lumens and/or won’t be satisfied with the miniature bulb performance.

Even in a car this is probably the controversial lighting upgrade that causes least harm to others. It’s nothing like amateur drivers blasting their front fog lights goin 100 km/h in darkness when it rains, or DIY HID kits or fubar’d halogen bulbs someone decided to cram in 15 tilted degrees. Angry

Making an actually usable 100% duty cycle modification is a respectable project. Thumbs Up

What I used was this style, but I have no idea if this is similar. Probably not useful for a headlight even if if could take the abuse of running continuously. www.gearbest.com/led-bi-pin-lights/pp_009171013619.html

NeutralFan
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neo71665 wrote:
You sure that socket is a steady 12 volt dc? Might be running off the ac side of the stator and that could be the cause of some of your issues.

My guess is that it is running off the battery and the stator is just charging the battery. But for the LED to actually fall off the MCPCB should be due to heat and possibly vibration.

I’d rather use my flashlight around the house than turn on the lights.

NeutralFan
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Keisari wrote:

Not surprised a bulb like this will fail when operated as a headlight, even if the power supply is good. These are not engineered to last, at least at $6 a piece.

I guess these bulbs were mostly meant to replace a reversing light – an application where they will typically not be on for very long periods at once. If not meant for that, it’s where these shine(no pun intended).

I think you’re right. This lawnmower does not have a light switch, so it’s always on when I’m mowing. It takes me about 45 minutes to mow my yard. We’ll see if my mod helps. I’ll certainly report back if it fails again. And if it does, I already have another mod in mind. Smile

I’d rather use my flashlight around the house than turn on the lights.

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Seems like it must be getting too much power at the light. Have you measured it yet?

neo71665
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My zero turn didn’t come with any lights. I mounted a 20 inch led light bar on the front of it so I can finish mowing.

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Couchmaster wrote:
Seems like it must be getting too much power at the light. Have you measured it yet?

No, I haven’t taken any measurements.

I mowed the lawn today and it still works. Thumbs Up Probably the last time until next year.

I thought about possibly reducing the power at the driver. Maybe by changing the R16 resistor?

I’d rather use my flashlight around the house than turn on the lights.

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that led looks cooked.
you might want to replace it with an xm-l series and see if your heatsinking improvement makes it hold up longer.
it will be underdriven and more efficient.
meaning less heat.

NeutralFan
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I’m sure that several of you are anxiously awaiting an update on my lawnmower headlight mod Wink , and I’m happy to report that it’s still working 2 years later!

It appears poor heat sinking was the cause for the LED failure and the addition of the washer resolved it. I’m also glad my first reflow continues to be successful.

And in case you’re wondering, I don’t mow my lawn at night. The headlight just automatically turns on when the lawnmower is running.

I’d rather use my flashlight around the house than turn on the lights.