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HID vs. LED

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Alright everybody, I wanted to good discussion on HID's and LED's. I would love to hear your personal preference,opinion, and experiences. Here are some facts on both, but I would like to hear what you have to say on the matter. So what do you like?!

HID(High Intensity Discharge) lighting is a quantum leap forward in off-road illumination. HID lamps produce daylight quality light(4200k) and brightness(3200 lumens). A single HID bulb produces the equivalent of 250 watts of Halogen lighting power, while consuming only about 45 total watts of electricity and generating far less heat. instead of a filament, HID bulbs fire a charge between two electrodes encased in a Xenon gas filled bulb. Since the bulb has no filament, vibration does not affect its operating life of approximately 2000 hours.

LED(Light Emitting Diode) lighting has been around for years, but is relatively new to the forward lighting off-road scene. Recent advances in technology have made it possible to produce high-output LEDs capable of reaching the performance & pricing of HID lighting. These lights have an extensive life(approx. 100,000 hrs.) and are very resistant to vibration. The benefits of LED lighting include smooth, even light patterns and the possibility of making the light assembles in many varying sizes and shapes.

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LEDs have a bright future! I think the lower operating temperatures of LEDs offer the possibility of really compact packaging for lights. The low current draw means more light without requiring alternator upgrading.

Also a simple installation compared to HIDs because they do not attempt a restart from a low voltage like HIDs.

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lumen for lumen, at a comparable distance and width of the throw. The LED will need a panel that doesn't really package well or look sightly.

LED's may be coming but they are not quite there for bike headlights IMHO. Quality can also be an issue, lots of diods are cheap, then over driven to increase their output. Good ones aren't cheap,

You can dig up some data from the national highway administration, where they have been testing led street lights to replace hid lamps. Short version is at similar mounting height they do not put the light on the road, more shorter poles would be required (at additional cost) and the light spread wouldn't be as uniform.

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there are cars now that have all LED lighting, including headlights

every 6 months a new generation comes out that's brighter than the previous, right now I run HID on my dualsport, when LED have good throw/flood and cutoff for highway use I will switch to them

they already have led race setups that are great, but absurd on the road

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LEDs have a bright future! I think the lower operating temperatures of LEDs offer the possibility of really compact packaging for lights. The low current draw means more light without requiring alternator upgrading.
The greatest problem with leds is heat, which unlike HID's or others, does not dissipate out with the light but rather stays at the backside of the diode. You can put a 75W hid in a reflector which weights 100 grams and that will be just alright, hot but alright. Similar led will require a large and heavy heat sink to deal with the heat not to melt the led. I have melted a couple of leds that way, they are very easy and small to pack into any kind of package, but start giving them some amps to get serious amounts of light and they get very, very hot because all the heat stays inside.

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At this point, there is really no comparison between the two. I think they are both good for specific applications but one is not necessarily better than the other. I think an LED that can be packaged and powered for present applications, and produces the same ammount and quality of light as an HID light is a way off but the technology is developing rapidly.

I do think LED's have an advantage where having the ability to change colors is desired (maybe a military application ?) when conditions warrant, or having a special characteristic like strobe-effect (?). Two things impossible with HID.

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At this point, there is really no comparison between the two. I think they are both good for specific applications but one is not necessarily better than the other. I think an LED that can be packaged and powered for present applications, and produces the same ammount and quality of light as an HID light is a way off but the technology is developing rapidly.

I do think LED's have an advantage where having the ability to change colors is desired (maybe a military application ?) when conditions warrant, or having a special characteristic like strobe-effect (?). Two things impossible with HID.

I dunno I think the leds in the audi's are just as effective

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The brighter and more powerful the LED, generally the less efficient it is. There actually is a point where HID lights are actually more efficient then LEDs.

A tiny green status LED on your computer might last 100,000 Hours, but not white LEDs, and certainly not high-output white LEDs. The best white LEDs will last around 50,000 hours, but will greatly reduce in output and start turning yellow as the phosphor coating on them starts to wear out. The hotter they run, the faster the phosphor (and the diode) will degrade.

Example: The Audi R8's headlight assembly is actually fan cooled to keep the diode temperatures in check. Very expensive setup.

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I am going to stick with HID for now as I expect LED prices to drop like a rock in about 2 years. They are a semiconductor and have the possibility of following Moore's law. LEDs will eventually become a commodity just like SD RAM.

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HID are the current way to go for seeing down the road/trail. LED's do have their place in the offroad world. Many rock crawler rigs use LED for low-draw lighting, under & around the vehicle to light up the immediate area surrounding the vehicle. The LED's light up the trail close-in very well. IMO LED's for close in work, HID for seeing down the trail/road.

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I honestly have no tech knowledge on the LED's themselves. I only know what I have experienced. With the exception of my cj5's offroad lights(HID)...every other light I own are LED (headlamps, tactical, reg. flashlights, ect.). I have yet, to have a LED fail. I have been using LED's since they became widely available, but were still very expensive.The vehicle powered LED's may very well be negatively affected from voltage flux, and I am just not aware of it. Since i don't like spending a $100 a day running my Jeep offroad, I'll likely never know.

Voltage fluctuations used to dratically decrease LED life, Maybe they got around it now somehow?

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From an engineering standpoint both sources have plusses and minuses. I feel that with the Cree XM-L the efficiency crown has passed to the LED camp. However, LED's still have a problem. It's concentration of light. I'm talking lumens per square millimeter. In this measure most of the latest LEDs like the XM-L are at best no better than the previous generation like the XP-E. What does this mean? The more diffuse source of the LED needs a larger optic to focus the same as a HID source. This is really the current limitation of LEDs.

Now the focusing issue is much more of a concern for night time desert riding and especially racing. I find myself limited by my lighting and I tend to keep the speeds to only 60 or so. I've been with guys who were running more powerful lighting and I just couldn't maintain the same speeds.

On trails it's a different story. Pinpoint focusing is not what works best. I find that LEDs do better in this environment.

HIDs are a mature technology. They are not going to be getting much better than they are now. LEDs are still evolving. They are also becoming less expensive and more powerful.

The XM-L's that I referred to earlier make about 1000 lumens at max drive and cost about $10. Now LEDs like HIDs need driving circuitry and optics so there is extra cost involved, but with current trends LEDs will become less expensive. As time goes on I have a feeling that LEDs are going to take over. One problem is that the market is driven by home and commercial lighting applications and not things like headlights. Good LEDs for a lamp on your table are not the same as a headlight on your bike.

I really doubt that the consumer really cares what the light source is. It's the light output, the cost, the form factor, and the reliability that people care about.

One thing that the market is lacking is a DOT LED option for motorcycles. Actually is there an HID option? I have a HID in my Baja Designs dual sport headlight that has that wonderful DOT marking, but that's with a H4 halogen in it and not the HID that I put in there. I'd rather see better than be 100% legal I guess.

Edited by cleonard

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Awesome a lot of great info and discussions guys, I am going to stay neutral on this for certain reasons. :smirk: I will say that most often it comes down to personal preference, if I am racing in the Baja 1000, I am going to mostly use HIDs at night because they are nearly impossible to outrun(unless I am going 200mph), which LEDs can be outrun at high speeds. If you are not a pro racer LEDs are the amazing lighting system you need. I will continue to post informative articles in this thread so feel free to keep reading and we love the input.

Thanks,

BD

I wanted to share some information regarding light sources and beam patterns that might be useful when discussing lighting options or comparing products.

Candlepower and Lumens

Don’t be misled by lights that are rated by brightness (candlepower).

Candlepower - ratings only measure light from a single point within a beam of light. A tightly focused beam of light may rate a high candlepower but if that light only falls on a very small area, the light will be less than useful. An extreme example of this would be a laser pointer. While the candlepower would be great, the light would be near useless for illumination.

Lumens - are a measure of potential light output. All 35watt, 4200K HID light bulbs produce essentially the same amount of Lumens. A light’s candlepower or lumens measurement is worthless if the illumination is not where you need it.

Light Distribution - Terms

The most effective off-road light will provide smooth light distribution without Sharp Cut-Offs or Hot Spots.

A “Sharp Cut-Off” is where the light drops off dramatically, creating a horizontal or vertical line into darkness. With the pitch and roll of the vehicle, the sharp cut-off affects your ability to see where you need to see.

A “Hot Spot” is an intense concentration of light in a small area. Hot spots can be very distracting while driving off road; your eyes tend to focus on just that bright spot of light bouncing in front of you.

Light Color

The color of emitted light, or "Color Temperature" is rated in Degrees Kelvin. The most usable light for the human eye is sunlight, which is rated at 4000K-5500K. Don't be fooled by lights offering higher temperatures than this - they tend toward the blue spectrum, which is only good for a "cool looking" light. 6100K and higher bulbs produce fewer lumens than the 4200K and 5000K and are less usable to the human eye.

Light Sources

Halogen Lights - like conventional incandescent lights, use bulbs with a filament. The major difference is that Halogen bulbs are filled with a pressurized gas to prolong the life of the filament and allow it to burn at a higher and brighter temperature. The have a color temperature of around 3200K, which makes them appear more yellow in color than sunlight or HID light.

HID (High Intensity Discharge) - lighting is a quantum leap forward in off-road illumination. HID lamps produce a daylight quality light (4200K-5000K) and brightness (3200 lumens). A single HID bulb produces the equivalent of 250 watts of Halogen lighting power, while consuming only roughly 45 total watts of electricity and generating far less heat. Instead of a filament, HID bulbs fire a charge between two electrodes encased in a Xenon gas filled bulb. Since the bulb has no filament, vibration does not affect its operating life of approx. 2000 hours. The benefit of internally mounting the ballast is easy installation and serves to protect the HID components from the elements.

LED (Light Emitting Diode) - lighting has been around for years but is new to the forward lighting off-road scene. Recent advances in technology have made it possible to produce high-output LEDs capable of reaching the performance and pricing of HID lighting. The lights have an extensive life (approx. 100,000 hours) and are very resistant to vibration. The benefits of LED lighting include smooth, even light patterns and the possibility of making the light assemblies in many varying sizes and shapes.

Beam Patterns

Pencil or Spot Beams - provide a longer and narrower beam that focuses the pattern further down the trail. These lights are designed to be used in conjunction with other wider beam patterns. Baja Designs pencil beams come with a 10 degree wide pattern than can be widened by 4 degrees if desired.

Driving Beams - offer better peripheral vision than the Spot while maintaining good distance projection. They can be used alone or with other beam patterns to create an excellent light system. Baja Designs Driving beam have a 20 degree pattern.

Wide-Driving Beams - are slightly wider than a Driving beam and are good for trail riding or filling in spots closer to the vehicle. They can be used alone or with other beam patterns to create and excellent light system. Baja Designs Wide-Driving beams have a 28 degree pattern.

Wide-Cornering or Fog Beams - are the widest and most evenly distributed light pattern of the bunch. These beams are used for lighting the ground close to the sides of the vehicle and are great for turns or twists on the trail. In addition, this beam is great in dusty or foggy conditions. Due to its low and wide angle of dispersion, this beam should always be used in conjunction with other beams to provide the best possible lighting effect. Baja Designs Wide-Cornering beams have a 42 degree pattern.

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Also has anyone interested in a small amazing LED headlight or Lighting, you should check this out! The Squadron also comes in a Polisport shell for MC mount and we will have stock headlight mounts for certain models in about a month.

The Squadron 3" x 3" is available in two configurations. Driving and Spot using precision in house designed optics producing 3,600 Lumens.

* Weight: 12oz

* Waterproof, Submersible to 3 meters

* Hard coated polycarbonate lens

* Lifetime Warranty

* Front Lens: Hard coated Polycarbonate

* Power Consumption: 44 watts

* Uses four T6 Bin Cree XML LEDs at 5000K

* 25,000 hour LED life expectancy

squadron light.jpg

IMGP6759.jpg

IMGP6765.JPG

Squadron w Tecates for mc <a href='https://thumpertalk.com/link/click/4841/' rel='nofollow' data-ipsHover-target='https://thumpertalk.com/index.php?app=autolink&module=links&controller=content&id=4841' data-ipsHover target='_blank' rel='noopener' data-autoLink>manual.</a>JPG

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Any new opinions on this topic 2.5 years later? Where are the LED's now? I was going to get a 8" HID but then I saw this:

 

http://www.cyclopsadventuresports.com/Extreme-LED-Race-light_p_64.html

 

Pricey, but claims to outshine any 8" HID. I want to buy one but the seller can't seem to get in touch with whomever makes his frames for him. Never had a problem with someone not wanting make a $700 sale before. Anyway, Thoughts on LED technology now vs HID? 

Edited by 7FIFTY2

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LED's have made very significant gains in terms of light output in that time.  I have a flashlight powered by 3 C cells that produces 600 lumens from a single Cree LED.  It's a bit like holding a little chunk of the sun in your hand. 

 

I think that in absolute terms, the good HID's are brighter than existing LED's still, but the gap is closing, and HID's are fussy critters by comparison.

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Be wary if you're shopping on ebay for any LED pieces to adapt to a cycle.  First, it seems a LOT of these come from China.  They cover than with a "You return the bad one and we'll send you a new one" warranty.  The shipping to return them to China is many times more than the light is worth.  Also I see them playing a word game with LED's and HID's.  Several ads say "LED  Motorcycle Light" but you have to read ALL the ad and finally they will say something like "LED type" HID bulb.  Again, same problem if you ordered the wrong thing because of the ad's poor wording.  It would cost too much to return it.

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