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Author Topic: Headlights – What is legal and right?  (Read 9119 times)

Offline Iancider

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Headlights – What is legal and right?
« on: 27, November, 2015, 07:30:36 PM »
Sorry to keep you all waiting for this but I know you have been on the edge of your seat waiting for this!   

Headlights part 4 – How bright is bright?


There are no regulations on brightness or intensity. 

Surprising isn’t it!  BUT if you dazzle somebody and cause an accident you could be found entirely liable.  There are many ways you could achieve a conviction and a conscience about a collision:  Bad adjustment – dips too high, failing to dip, Uber bright lights (which are not illegal) and lights that wobble up and flash the oncoming driver.

So what is bright and what is sensible?[/i]

Light power is measured in Lumens – not to be confused with Candella which just measures the intensity of a point source (bright spot). 

An old fashioned bulb headlight with a standard reflector from about 1970 would have been about 3 - 500 lumens. 

Modern halogen bulbs at 55 Watts are about 900 Lumens. 

Now, what about super-bright bulbs:
 
Category one: 55W with a blue filter

– these are a bit dimmer but blue-white and useless.  Only use these if you find your current bulbs too bright!  It is possible to pay as little as £5 a pair for these and you will have wasted at least £25 because you will then buy proper replacements as well.

Category two: Ultra-bright bulbs. 

There are a lot of very tall claims here.  For instance 150% brighter.  Now that actually means 100% plus half as much again which is really 50% brighter or 1350 lumens.  It is a pretty decent gain and useful but you will pay up to £12 per bulb for a bulb that is run too hot and will go pop in half of the time.  If you do buy these always carry a spare and expect them not to last more than a year.

Headlights 5 – Colour temperature

There is such a high degree of complete bolleaux spoken in this area it would not be surprising if nobody understood it. 

Colour temperature is measures in Degrees Kelvin [K] (Degrees Centigrade starting from absolute zero at -273 degrees). 

Now Mr Kelvin was a pretty clever chap and he noticed the colour would change as temperature increased.  Actually Blacksmiths had known that for years but they didn’t go to university.  We get to dull red at about 1000K then go through brighter red to Orange and then yellow and brighter yellow at about 3000-3700K.  We all know that last range because that is where household lighting sits.  Halogen lights sit at the upper end of that band and are still yellowish. 

Now if you wind up the heat we get to “white heat” – see the blacksmiths knew it all along!  We are now at 4000-5000K. 

At around 4500-4700 we call that pure white or natural daylight. 

Lighting regulations allow your headlights to be white or yellow. 

At above 5000K the white becomes distinctly cool blue and at 6000 very blue.  That colour is reserved for the emergency services so you are not allowed to show blue light. 

If you are completely nuts and without any sense it is possible to buy bulbs at 8000K – this is the colour of a plasma arc and that is Violet. You will then be arrested for being a complete pratt and an embarrassment to civilised society.

None of this so far has suggested brightness but just colour. 

The colour in headlamps has nothing to do with brightness. 

Going from 3000K to 4500K means the colour will go from yellow to white but the output in lumens might actually be less. 

A white light is better for colour rendition but if you want brighter you need MORE LUMENS.  More on this in part 6 – yippee!

Ian

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Re: Headlights – What is legal and right?
« Reply #1 on: 27, November, 2015, 09:31:37 PM »
Where have parts 1 to 3 gone Ian? I can't find them!

Offline Iancider

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Re: Headlights – What is legal and right?
« Reply #2 on: 29, November, 2015, 08:58:30 PM »
They disappeared with a lo of other stuff FHO - I will repost them

Ian

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Re: Headlights – What is legal and right?
« Reply #3 on: 29, November, 2015, 09:07:29 PM »
Here are articles 1-3 re-posted

Headlights – what is legal and right?
I thought I would do some research because there is so much BS out there about what is legal and what is not.  So I am going to do short series of posts about how this works for kit cars and where others are contravening the law.  I have tried to make this readable and I will publish one item at a time.  It will be wise to place an ice-bag on your head after we pass part 4.  Starting with parts 1&2.

Headlights part 1 – placement

They must be 400mm or less in from the outside of the vehicle.  There is no minimum spacing between them.  The height must be less than 1200mm above the road – that is easy then!

Headlights part 2 – Dip beam
In the UK the dip pattern is complex but down and to the left but with a kick-up allowance on the left hand side. 


 To assess you own - Drive the vehicle to within approx. 600mm (24”) of a wall, and with the headlamps on dipped beam:

Do both headlamps aim at the same height? If they do not, the best you can do is ensure the adjusters are free and then adjust one to match the other. See the pattern above.
(This does not apply to kit cars) Does the in-car adjusting device work? then if it does - Do both headlamps go up and down together?

Do both headlamps dip to the left? If you have changed a headlamp unit, you may have been supplied with one designed for use on the continent. Continental dips are downwards only with a flat beam pattern but that is the pattern used by motorbikes so if you have used motorcycle lights the same applies.

Headlamps part 3 – HID are they legal?

No but not for a simple reason.  High Intensity Discharge lamps are very bright because they are an arc lamp.  The arc is as bright at welding and could blind you very rapidly.  The light tube has a silvered crown to stop you looking directly at the arc. The arc’s light has to widened and bounced to produce flat white light.  That is nearly impossible as an after-market upgrade and so in the EU the HID lamp has to be E marked and fitted in an HID designed E-Marked lamp housing.  So unless you use the whole self-levelling fitting from a donor it ain’t going to be legal. 

How do you know if you have seen an illegal one?

It will be the last thing you see!

They also have another defect and even some of the early approved ones are known for rainbow fringing where the light is prismatic at the edges (Chromatic corona if you want to impress). As these irritating vehicles pass you will gain an impressive but blinding multi-colour light show in your mirror.  Just after they pass they will receive a blinding light in their mirror from the guy they just dazzled.



Offline Iancider

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Re: Headlights – What is legal and right?
« Reply #4 on: 29, November, 2015, 09:15:26 PM »
Okay so this may be coming n a bit of a torrent now!

Headlights 6 – Watts

Watts are the measurement of the bulb power but that does not translate directly to brightness. 

You will notice that old filament household bulbs were sold in WATTS and we knew 25 Watts was for very tight people, 60 watts meant they were careful but it was 100 watts if you wanted to see. 

But then along came Halogen bulbs and they can run their filaments a lot hotter because the filament will not burn out in Halogen gas so easily.  So a Halogen 25 watt bulb today rivals an old 60 Watt bulb.  An old style 100W household bulb was about 800 lumens which is close to the 900 lumens of a 55 Watt Halogen headlight bulb. 

That works out at about 20 Lumens of light per watt of power.  That is an important measure that I will mention again when dealing with LED’s.

It is the Lumens that matter and that is why LED bulbs and low voltage Halogen domestic lamps are normally quoted in LUMENS.  Just to be really awkward, Mains GU10 Halogen bulbs are 50 Watts typically but that is about the same as 120 Watt old filament bulb or about the same as a car Halogen headlight.  Lumens don’t get a look-in when its mains halogen!  Why?????

It’s getting easy now isn’t it!

Just to define what really, really bright is – those outdoor 500 Watt floodlights are about 4,000 – 4,800 Lumens.  Remember that when looking at headlight intensities.

Offline Iancider

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Re: Headlights – What is legal and right?
« Reply #5 on: 05, December, 2015, 12:39:39 AM »
Headlights 7 – Dip and full beam

The most common dual-filament bulb is the H4 pattern and it has been around for a long time.  One filament is for the main beam and is often 60W rather than 55W to be a little brighter.  This filament is fully uncovered and all of the light will be projected forwards by the reflector in a round pattern or may be shaped by a rectanguloid reflector.
The dip filament is separate and typically 55 Watts.  Next to it you will see a little silver shield and reflector – it is both at the same time.  For this next part you have to think 3 dimensionally.  The shield is just under the filament and just to the left from the driver’s perspective.  It is also polished as a reflector.  Behind it, it casts a shadow to the bottom left of the headlamp reflector and reflects light to the top right of the headlamp reflector.  Top right of the reflector sends light back towards the ground biased to the left of the vehicle - easy isn’t it!

Headlights 8 – Projector lamps


These are much easier to understand.  They come in sets of four – sometimes more.  Let’s stick to four for now.  There will be two dips and two main beams, one of each on each side.  A car dip projector produces a dip beam down and to the left.  Motorbikes just dip downwards. The full beam projects a round beam forwards.  Big advantage – the dips stay on with the full beams because the heat is in four rather than two lamp housings so you will light with 4 x 55 Watts and have a total of around 3,600 Lumens.  Most cars are projectors now.

Headlights 9 – 100W bulbs are illegal?

I keep seeing this but no they are not illegal. 
They may not be suitable for road use though because they could be too bright and frankly they won’t last long.  Also they are so hot that they can melt plastic lenses on standard saloons.  Most halogens will do 2,000 hours but these kiddies might do 500 if you are very lucky.  They are really for rallying.  100 Watt bulbs should be in 100 Watt fittings. Experiment at your peril!

Offline sanzomat

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Re: Headlights – What is legal and right?
« Reply #6 on: 05, December, 2015, 07:08:50 PM »
All great advice but what I need to know right now is how this all applies to fairy lights. Got them down from the loft and how ever much I wiggle them there is nothing doing and the bulbs appear to be obsolete.

I'm guessing in this modern age it needs to be LED but what type to go for???

Offline benchmark51

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Re: Headlights – What is legal and right?
« Reply #7 on: 05, December, 2015, 07:55:03 PM »
All great advice but what I need to know right now is how this all applies to fairy lights. Got them down from the loft and how ever much I wiggle them there is nothing doing and the bulbs appear to be obsolete.

I'm guessing in this modern age it needs to be LED but what type to go for???

Are still on the naughty step? ;D ;D ;D
Well I was looking at these

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/100-200-300-400-LED-String-Fairy-Lights-Indoor-Outdoor-Xmas-Christmas-Party-LEDs-/301770958060?var=&hash=item4642f364ec:m:mupvU5FYfncDoOKv81tpODg

Offline Facial Hair Optional

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Re: Headlights – What is legal and right?
« Reply #8 on: 05, December, 2015, 08:10:58 PM »
All great advice but what I need to know right now is how this all applies to fairy lights. Got them down from the loft and how ever much I wiggle them there is nothing doing and the bulbs appear to be obsolete.

I'm guessing in this modern age it needs to be LED but what type to go for???

If you have got any really old lights Dave, they are worth a few quid now, especially the old glass screw in type. I so wish we'd kept all my mum's old ones!

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Re: Headlights – What is legal and right?
« Reply #9 on: 05, December, 2015, 08:12:43 PM »
Are still on the naughty step? ;D ;D ;D
Well I was looking at these

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/100-200-300-400-LED-String-Fairy-Lights-Indoor-Outdoor-Xmas-Christmas-Party-LEDs-/301770958060?var=&hash=item4642f364ec:m:mupvU5FYfncDoOKv81tpODg

Keep looking at them Dave, that is what they are for!   ;D

Ooops, I am defo on the naughty step for that one!  :P

Offline Iancider

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Re: Headlights – What is legal and right?
« Reply #10 on: 06, December, 2015, 08:02:51 PM »
I didn't think anybody still had any bulb Christmas lights any more. 

So yes go for LEDS - indoors they will last for 20,000 hours which is about a Century of Christmases.  And also note that outdoor Christmas LEDs are not properly waterproof and they will fail progressively over about three years.

Anyway thanks for the diversion - it is actually a GOOD LINK to LED headlights yehhhh!

See below.

Offline Iancider

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Re: Headlights – What is legal and right?
« Reply #11 on: 06, December, 2015, 08:19:36 PM »
Headlights 10 – LED’s

I left the best bit to near last – this is the future. 

LED’s are capable of producing stonking amounts of light from very little power. 

So how much power = 1 Stonk?  Sorry, just being silly – had to lighten up because this next bit might hurt your head!

LED’s don’t produce much heat but they are extremely sensitive to heat and suffer from a thing called “thermal runaway”.  [As they get hotter the resistance goes down and that takes more current, gives more power etc till they burn-out].  So every scrap of heat has to be conducted away so that they don’t burn out.  Normally fat copper wires on the LED is a good way to take the heat safely away.  Big LED’s need heatsinks – those big Aluminium finned jobbies and bigger ones even have fans!

In “Headlights 6 – Watts” I referred to a benchmark standard of 20 Lumens per watt of power for a Halogen bulb.  That is a pretty good bright bulb but LED’s can do a lot better.  As much as 100 Lumens per watt is possible.  That means that one fifth of the power is required for the same brightness same power equals five times brighter.

If you are looking at Headlamp LED’s you will need at least 10 Watt LED’s to match a 55 Watt Halogen. Under 10 Watts they are cheap but dim – be warned!

You will want it to look white for good colour rendition so choose 4,500 – 6,000 Kelvin colour range (daylight to cool white).  6,000 – 8,000K will get you collared (Blue to Violet)

At 10 Watts the LED will be no brighter than a Halogen bulb so as Jezzer would say “More Power” is required.  Above 10 Watts they will look physically very different and tend to have a great fat knob on the back – consisting of a big heatsink and often an integral fan. 

Make sure there is room for the knob-end! 

There must be good air circulation to take the heat away – if not, your new LED would light as bright as the sun but will die within two seconds.

There are some stunners out there at 35 watts producing 3,600 lumens (about £37 per pair) which is close to a 500 Watt Halogen floodlamp - and that is just one headlamp.  These are so bright that is it possible to X-ray a tree! 

Of course nobody wants to do that but finding a white bra under a black blouse is always fascinating.  :D

20 – 25 watts is ample! (about £20 each) but you know you want more!

LED cons and baloney:

Normally the total Lumens for both bulbs are quoted in the advert.  Some Adverts promise 80 Watt LED’s – rubbish, no such thing.  At that power they are normally called lasers.  What they actually mean is these LEDS are as bright as 80W bulbs and about 1300 Lumens – they are actually about 15 Watts each.  But usually it is a con and they mean two LED’s each with less total luminous power than one 55W halogen. Dont buy these. >:(

If an LED just promises “brighter or whiter” – steer clear – you need to know the Lumens or Lumens per watt.  Today 100 Lumens per watt is readily available.  Anything over 900 Lumens is brighter than a Halogen 55 Watt bulb.

LED dipping

Dipping bulbs will be US/European dip down and not dip left – they might be an MOT problem. I have not seen one yet that promises a UK dip pattern.  BUT if you can swivel the reflector unit 5-10 degrees anticlockwise looking from the front I would guess that would be about right!

This whole series was about me making a choice and I did.  I just bought a pair of these but do not pay the price in this link.  I just got a pair for £38 and they will last for the life of the car.   How good are they? BRILLIANT in more ways than one.  Daylight driving is now possible!

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/PAIR-Of-Car-Super-Bright-H4-CREE-LED-Headlight-Bulbs-Hi-Lo-Beam-Plug-n-Play-/390740888395?_trksid=p2047675.l2557&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&nma=true&si=0dbnxvG5U42AKu0NVSUGXKbqtLs%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc
« Last Edit: 06, December, 2015, 08:25:32 PM by Iancider »


Offline Iancider

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Re: Headlights – What is legal and right?
« Reply #13 on: 06, December, 2015, 08:32:40 PM »
Gosh,

Next you will be telling me you have to stoke the ASBO!

Ian

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Re: Headlights – What is legal and right?
« Reply #14 on: 06, December, 2015, 10:33:54 PM »
A brilliant article Ian (no pun intended), a 'must keep' for future reference methinks.

A lot of work went into that and I am sure many of us are very grateful for the info.  8)

There may be more still to come of course???

Offline Iancider

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Re: Headlights – What is legal and right?
« Reply #15 on: 07, December, 2015, 10:54:05 PM »
Indeed there is.....

LET THERE BE LIGHT!

Offline Iancider

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Re: Headlights – What is legal and right?
« Reply #16 on: 09, December, 2015, 11:33:16 PM »
Well as you asked FHO.....

And this is it by the way - there is nothing more to say about headlights after this.

Headlights 11 – Lasers

Yes they have arrived but not for us poor people.  Laser lights produce a beam of white light about 3mm wide but scans it horizontally and vertically so fast that the eye sees a constant beam of light with a wide spread.  You will need a mortgage or a lottery win.  So just get real!

Headlights 12 – Reflectors

You may have heard the expression “get yourself a parabolics” or something similar. 

But it is not about manhood. 

Simply, a parabolic reflector has a focus point near the back where the bulb is and projects a near parallel beam.  The shape that does this is a parabola hence parabolic.

The traditional reflector is round and parabolic but modern lights tend to shape the light a little better.  There is no point in wasting light at the top of a round beam so the reflector is shaped to make it flatter at the top. 

They are called rectanguloid parabolics. 

So now you can talk ‘bolics with confidence!

THE END!

Offline damouk

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Re: Headlights – What is legal and right?
« Reply #17 on: 18, December, 2015, 07:16:33 AM »
Hi Ian, so have you received your led replacement bulbs, and if so how are they compared with the competition?

Offline Iancider

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Re: Headlights – What is legal and right?
« Reply #18 on: 18, December, 2015, 10:22:57 PM »
Good question. 

I do have them and they are fitted.  I am VERY pleased with them. 

They light instantly, they have a very good sharp beam cut-off, colour rendition is perfect, they are bright without any dazzling fringes, they fitted perfectly and my visual range has doubled. 

Apart from that they are pretty average!

Oh yes and there is a follow-on.  Another headlight bulb went on my Accord and as it is 4 hours to change a light bulb, I have gone for a last time buy.  This time it is H1 bulbs which is a harder challenge than H4's but I think I have found good ones.  A full set is six-off on the the tin-top so I am looking for some serious lighting power there.  With a bit of luck and a following wind all will be perfect at the end of the weekend.

If you look south from where you are at 19:00 on Sunday I'll flash my lights for you.

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Re: Headlights – What is legal and right?
« Reply #19 on: 18, December, 2015, 10:40:07 PM »
That all sounds very impressive, the projectors on the v-storm use h1's although not sure how they would look with the heatsink sticking out of the back. It's bizarre how manufacturers design cars that take so long to do simple jobs

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Re: Headlights – What is legal and right?
« Reply #20 on: 19, December, 2015, 03:43:45 PM »
It's bizarre how manufacturers design cars that take so long to do simple jobs

And yet others think it through and make it easy for you. I had a volvo V70, 59 reg, unbelievably easy to change the headlight bulbs - two retaining clips a bit like tent pegs simply pulled out and the whole headlight unit then pulls forward so you get dead easy access to the bulbs. 5 minute job and no skinned knuckles.

Offline Iancider

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Re: Headlights – What is legal and right?
« Reply #21 on: 19, December, 2015, 07:28:22 PM »
Quote
two retaining clips a bit like tent pegs simply pulled out and the whole headlight unit then pulls forward so you get dead easy access to the bulbs. 5 minute job and no skinned knuckles.

Okay I am jealous.  Last time I did the job I removed all of the special fasteners and got it down to one hour instead of four - tie wraps do a wonderful job!

Next I am thinks of explosive bolts for quick release.

Yo!

Offline Brandy Barrel

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Re: Headlights – What is legal and right?
« Reply #22 on: 31, December, 2015, 05:33:59 PM »
What is never realised/understood is that by changing a bulb for a higher wattage/output,
The original refector is designed for a specific wattage, changing the bulb has a direct impact on the reflector and will compromise the upgrade.
 So the 'potential gain' is not exactly true unless you also change the reflector and the performance will be less. That's one reason rally cars added lights rather than upgrade existing.

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Re: Headlights – What is legal and right?
« Reply #23 on: 31, December, 2015, 09:12:24 PM »
Trying not to be too complex....

You want added brightness and not just more power.  Halogens are about 20 Lumens per Watt.  LEDs are now up to 100 Lumens per watt so 5 times as bright per watt of power.

I have just switched to LED's at 35 Watts so 20 watts less and the brightness is four times as high as my previous Halogens - no change to the housing at all.

I recommended against rally halogens at 100 watts because they will overhead the headlamp housing.  Lenses are now typically polycarbonate and they could soften or burn brown with that heat.  Also if you have a silvered plastic reflector that will melt too. 

I came out a big fan of LED's and at 35 Watts there is still enough heat to defrost the lens on a cold day.  Oh yes and the LED's have a colour temperature of 6000 degrees Kelvin which is daylight white - the super bright halogens were only about 4,500 Kelvin - so a bit Yellow.  Take a look at Headlights 10 earlier for the full detail.

Ian

 


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