Vanagon – LED dash/control lights – commercial improvement?

You know how I have complained that the beam pattern from my home made and Van Cafe sourced LED gauge cluster bulbs is not optimal. The “standard” type LED projects most of  the light through the end of the diode, and even if you grind the end of the diode at an angle, or have ones that are flat ended (Van Cafe) it does not improve the beam dispersion that well. The stock incandescent bulbs project light from the sides as well as the end, and the bulb holders are designed to take advantage of that.

Well it seems that Go Westy are selling LED bubs that might address this problem. The heater control light looks like it has SMD units on the sides in addition to one on the tip. This should really make a difference. But jeez, expensive little buggers eh?

Go-Westy’s cluster bulbs do not have side mounted LEDs but appear to use a SMD unit. My limited experience with SMD LEDs makes me think that they have a much wider beam dispersion than the bog standard LED.

I have not tried any of Go-Westy’s LED so I am speculating based on the pictures.

Addendum: I’m remiss in not thanking Tom for the head’s up on the Go Westy bulbs. Also, I don’t want to appear to be endorsing Go-Westy’s stuff, I am not getting any kick-backs, sadly 🙂

  1. #1 by Old Fussbudget on December 19, 2011 - 11:32 am

    I’ve been dubious about LEDs for replacing incandescent panel/dash illumination for two reasons. First is that I think the incandescent lamps work just fine and last a long time. Having to replace them once or twice in the vehicle’s lifetime doesn’t seem like a big deal – so the beam-pattern problems of LEDs seem to me not worth much effort to overcome. That said, GW has a set of four panel bulbs with surface-mount flat emitters (which do indeed have a wide and even dispersion falling off smoothly toward 180 degrees) for USD10.

    The second is balance and range of the panel dimmer. What’s your experience with that? I’ve had trouble in the past when adding or changing illumination with the dimming curve not matching up between the original and added lights, and I’d expect that to be a potential issue with these. My guess is that the LEDs would tend to come up brighter at low settings, and that an all-LED panel would not dim sufficiently because the dimmer was designed for a bigger load with incandescent characteristics. This latter problem might be ameliorated by adding a load resistor in parallel to bring the total load back up to what it would be with incandescent lamps…

    • #2 by albell on December 19, 2011 - 1:48 pm

      I agree with all your points David. The SMD emitters GW is now selling is a new development and worthy of some notice. Dimming LEDs in the van is pretty pathetic, no where near a full range. I suppose you’d have to wire in some sort of PWM control box (seen them for this purpose for about 20 bucks or less). I’ve come to the conclusion the only advantage of LEDs in the dash is being able to have different colours. Come to think of it, if you felt like making work for yourself you could use some SMD RGB leds and a mixer control, have whatever colour suits your mood that day 🙂

      ab

  2. #3 by Marius Strom (@mariusstrom) on December 19, 2011 - 6:55 pm

    The GoWesty LEDs sure do look a lot like the 74-xHP3 bulbs from SuperBrightLEDs.com at only $3.49 a pop there. 🙂

    • #4 by albell on December 19, 2011 - 6:59 pm

      Marius,

      this one here?

      sort of does, doesn’t it?

      ab

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