F430 LED Tail Lights Comparison and Review - Ferrari Life
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post #1 of 797 Old 01-20-2012, 12:39 PM Thread Starter
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LED Tail Lights Comparison and Review

As I transformed my tail lights in such way that they work all 4 together in position light or brake light (all 8 halves), I had to reduce the current drained of 8 x 5W/21W light bulbs. It is impossible to power 168W (up to a theoretic 14 Amp) with the existing wire harnesses and fuses.


That’s how I started my research several months ago in hope to find the best LED light. The objective was to resolve 2 main issues with incandescent light bulbs :
  • important power consumption and current drain
  • high level of permanent heat in position (5W) and extreme heat in brake (21W)
  • short life time
The problem is that I wanted the LED’s to be at least as bright as the incandescent light bulbs. And that’s a real challenge especially if you want to keep the power consumption and heat at the lowest level. They must be also fit the tail lights which is quite tight. They can’t be larger than the standard light bulbs but there is a margin in the length.


Here are all the details of the best LED’s I found. I eliminated many of them which are not ever worth to be mentioned. Unfortunately, most of the LED’s you can find online or on Ebay fall in this category. Despite the commercials announcing “The brightest LED” etc, in reality, they are totally useless, and are even dangerous to be used as brake/stop lights at daylight. Many cheap LED lights failed also on my test bench after being permanently powered during a couple of hours in the brake/stop light position. That was far from the often announced 50.000 hours life time.


The LED technology has been evolving a lot during these last years and will continue to do so. Today, we’re far away of the classical 5mm LED. Most of the LED bulbs use the SMD technology which is quite cheap, runs at a reasonable current and heat but are still limited in terms of brightness. Most of the LED bulbs uses SMD LED’s. Hyperflex LED’s provide a much higher level of brightness but will heat easily. High power LED’s deliver an intense level of brightness but must be cooled by a serious heat sink.


Most of the LED lights are setup to run at exactly 12V. The problem is that most of the cars with a running engine will deliver a minimum of 14.5V. That means that the LED’s will be overpowered and will fail prematurely. This was the case with several SMD LED’s which failed after a couple of hours. Only the High Power LED’s have an integrated current driver. A current driver will deliver exactly the right current needed by the LED’s whatever the voltage is. Thus, they will never be overpowered.


All tested LED lights are standard dual contact S25/1157/BAY15D bulbs having a 15mm bayonet base. It’s essential that the bulbs have side LED’s in addition to the front LED’s to light up the entire tail light.


I truly tested the following LED’s during long periods of time. A couple of them failed immediately when shipped but have been replaced by the seller.


To compare the LED light brightness and effect with traditional 5/12 light bulbs, I took a picture of each of them under identical ambient light conditions. The left half of the taillight contains a 5/12 incandescent light bulb while the right half contains the tested LED light. It’s quite challenging to take a picture comparing both lights as a camera will flatten the light difference. The light difference in the pictures must be interpreted by at least doubling the difference you can observe to get closer to the real difference.


I measured also the maximum operation temperature reached after 2 minutes lighting up the position and stop lights with an ambient temperature of 17.4C / 63.3F. This measurement is important to know because it will tell how much heat the plastic tail light will have to deal with. This is especially the case when in some countries you have to use permanently the position lights as well as the time the stop lights will be used in traffic jams or at traffic lights (especially F1 cars).


Of course, such LED’s can not only be used on the F430 but in theory on any older Ferrari having the incandescent light bulbs.
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post #2 of 797 Old 01-20-2012, 12:43 PM Thread Starter
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Incandescent light bulb

Incandescent light bulb

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Number of LEDs : N/A
Front LEDs : N/A
Side LEDs : N/A
LED colour : N/A
Length : 45,8mm
Width Top : 26mm
Voltage : 12V
Power : 5 W / 21W
Current : 416mA / 1750mA
Approx price per bulb : 1$
Max Temperature position light : 180C / 356F
Max Temperature stop light : 107C / 225F

Comments : difficult to beat a filament light bulb with LEDs in terms of brightness and filling up the entire tail light with light. But such bulbs really do heat a lot and have a high power consumption. The power consumption will vary as well as the heat because the filament resistance has a tendency to change with time. They have also a limited life time which will be even shorten when switched on/off very often. I measured also a real current which was well higher than 1.7A and was closer to 1.9A.
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post #3 of 797 Old 01-20-2012, 12:48 PM Thread Starter
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Led 1 : 1157 BAY15D 36-LED LIGHT BULB

Led 1 : 1157 BAY15D 36-LED LIGHT BULB

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Number of LEDs : 36
Front LEDs : 9
Side LEDs : 27
LED colour : cold white (exists in red also)
Length : 45,8mm
Width Top : 26mm
Voltage : 12V 14.8V
Power : 2.7W
Current : 225mA
Approx price per bulb : 4$
Max Temperature position light : 17.4C / 63.3F
Max Temperature stop light : 36.5C / 97.7F


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Comments: This is a very reliable, cheap and low power LED light which can be universally found. This is the light I initially installed in my tail lights and they never failed. It supports also a higher voltage. Although, they are not bright enough at daylight as you can see in the picture comparison test. Even if the light fills up the entire tail light, the difference in brightness with an incandescent light bulb is important, especially the stop light. These lights will also require an addition resistor for the F1 cars as the power consumption is too low (add 100 Ohm). Without such resistor, you may have troubles to get into gear or get to neutral (credits to Anders for finding this out ).
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post #4 of 797 Old 01-20-2012, 12:51 PM Thread Starter
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Led 2 : 1157 WHITE 102 LED LIGHT BULB

Led 2 : 1157 WHITE 102 LED LIGHT BULB

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Number of LEDs : 102 SMD
Front LEDs : 12
Side LEDs : 90 (18x5 sides)
LED colour : bright white (6000K)
Length : 57mm
Width Top : 20mm
Voltage : 12V 14.8V
Power : 4.5W
Current : 375mA
Approx price per bulb : 12$
Max Temperature position light : 24.7C / 76.5F
Max Temperature stop light : 62.5C / 144.5F


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Comments: This is the brightest traditional SMD LED light I have tested. It is given for 408Lum which is not bad. The ad equation of power consumption/brightness is quite good. Although, it is still not as bright as a 5/21 bulb. The high level of brightness in addition to the 6000K colour range gives a yellowish/orange colour result once inside the tail light. Without a heat sink, such light is heating quite a bit.
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post #5 of 797 Old 01-20-2012, 12:55 PM Thread Starter
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Led 3 : CREE Q5 5W 1157 Bay15d LED High Power Light

Led 3 : CREE Q5 5W 1157 Bay15d LED High Power Light with projector lens

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Number of LED’s : 1 Cree Q5 High Power LED
Front LED’s : 1
Side LED’s : 0
LED colour : bright white (exists also in red)
Length : 52mm
Width Top : 25mm
Voltage : 12V - 24V
Power : 5W
Current : 415mA
Approx price per bulb : 15$
Max Temperature position light : 19.5C / 67.1F
Max Temperature stop light : 42.1C / 107.8F



Name:  LED 3 Pos Stop.jpg
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Comments: The High Power Cree Q5 LED is a very powerful LED used in different applications. It is given for 420Lum. The bulb integrates also a current driver in the base which will provide the right current to the LED whatever the input voltage is. High Power LED’s dissipate a lot of heat and they need a consistent heat sink. The red aluminium radiator around the LED is cooling the light in an efficient way. Although, despite the brightness of this light, the integrated lens projects the light in a very small angle through the tail light. I tried also a light with a diffuser lens but the results were identical. Such light isn’t appropriate for our tail lights as the light will be concentrated only in the centre and is not filling up the tail light. One light of the package I ordered didn’t work but has been replaced immediately by the seller. I still have doubts if this light is truly reliable because installed on my car, I was once followed by a friend who told me that the light brightness was permanently fading in and out between position and stop light. This light was a good try but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Last edited by StefVan; 01-20-2012 at 01:02 PM.
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post #6 of 797 Old 01-20-2012, 01:02 PM Thread Starter
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Led 4 : CREE Q5 5W 1157 + 12SMD

Led 4 : CREE Q5 5W 1157 + 12SMD Bay15d LED High Power Light with projector lens

Name:  LED 4.jpg
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Number of LEDs : 1 Cree Q5 High Power LED
Front LEDs : 1 Q5
Side LEDs : 12 x 5050 SMD
LED colour : bright white
Length : 53mm
Width Top : 20mm
Voltage : 12V - 24V
Power : 7W
Current : 585mA
Approx price per bulb : 18$
Max Temperature position light : 18.2C / 64.8F
Max Temperature stop light : 78.3C / 172.9F

Name:  LED 4 Pos Stop.jpg
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Comments: This light is using the same Cree Q5 LED and integrates also a current driver in the base. As LED 3, the brightness of this light is quite impressive. Grace to the side 5050 SMD LEDs, the light is less concentrated in the centre and light fills up also the area around the tail light. As a brake light, the brightness is quite good but still too much concentrated in the centre. Although in position, the brightness was deceiving. I found no technical issues with this light except that the small radiator isnt large enough (the available space is taken by the SMD LEDs). In brake, this light radiator is heating really a lot which would certainly reduce its overall life time. By the time Im writing this review, this light is now more difficult to find.
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post #7 of 797 Old 01-20-2012, 01:09 PM Thread Starter
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Led 5 : 3W High Power Light with 320 reflector lens

Led 5 : 3W High Power Light with 320 reflector lens

Name:  LED 5.jpg
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Number of LEDs : 1 High Power 3W LED
Front LEDs : 1
Side LEDs : 0
LED colour : red and white
Length : 52mm
Width Top : 18mm
Voltage : 12V - 24V
Power : 3W
Current : 65mA / 240mA
Approx price per bulb : 13$
Max Temperature position light : 24.6C / 76.3F
Max Temperature stop light : 35.6C / 96.1F



RED
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WHITE
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Comments: If tested this light in two variants : red and white. The difference between both colours is very interesting. Even if the red colour is less bright in terms of Luminous Flux, the result inside the tail light gives a perfect deep red colour. You can see very well this difference between both sets of pictures. The Red LED light is brighter than the incandescent light bulb in position light and equals in stop light. It doesnt heat at all and has a power consumption of only 3W. The 320 reflector lens is very efficient and distributed the light quite well in the tail light. It integrates also a current driver. Now we getting close to the ideal solution!
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post #8 of 797 Old 01-20-2012, 01:12 PM Thread Starter
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Led 6 : 6W High Power Light

Led 6 : 6W High Power Light

Name:  LED 6.jpg
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Number of LEDs : 8 High Power LEDs
Front LEDs : 2
Side LEDs : 6
LED colour : red
Length : 51mm
Width Top : 16mm
Voltage : 12V - 24V
Power : 6W
Current : 500mA
Approx price per bulb : 20$
Max Temperature position light : 22.1C / 71.8F
Max Temperature stop light : 33.4C / 92.1F




Name:  LED 6 Pos Stop.jpg
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Comments: This LED light is a bit more expensive but delivers the most impressive results despite its very compact size. In position light as well as in stop light, it largely overpasses the brightness of an incandescent light bulb! The side LEDs do give a very deep red colour to the tail light and the result is really beautiful. It enhances the esthetical aspect of the tail lights and brings them to a new dimension. The picture doesnt show it very well but now its the incandescent light bulb that seems to be yellowish! The LEDs are very well integrated in a strong and efficient aluminium heat sink and is even nicely shaped. It does look very well manufactured when you have it in your hands. Of course, it integrates also a current driver. Will I be satisfied now with this perfect LED light ?
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post #9 of 797 Old 01-20-2012, 01:17 PM Thread Starter
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Led 7 : 3W High Power Light with reflector lens

Led 7 : 3W High Power Light with reflector lens

Name:  LED 7.jpg
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Number of LEDs : 4 High Power LEDs
Front LEDs : 1
Side LEDs : 3
LED colour : red
Length : 44mm
Width Top : 25mm
Voltage : 12V
Power : 3W
Current : 250mA
Approx price per bulb : 6.5$
Max Temperature position light : 22.0C / 71.6F
Max Temperature stop light : 25.7C / 78.3F

Name:  LED 7 Pos Stop.jpg
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Comments: This LED light is very cheap compared to its capacities which overpasses largely any classical LED light. The overall length is only 44mm which can be a little too short as it wont go deep enough in the tail light. Despite the short length, the brightness is excellent. As you can see on the picture, in position light, it is much brighter than an incandescent light. Although, the brake light is slightly less bright with a strong light point in the centre but less light around. It has a strong golden plated aluminium heat sink which is very efficient as it does not heat at all. It integrates also a current driver in the base. With a consumption of only 3W, this light is a very good economical choice.
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post #10 of 797 Old 01-20-2012, 01:36 PM Thread Starter
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Now here are some pictures where I put all LED’s together in such way that they can be compared more easily

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Name:  ALL LEDs comparison1.jpg
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Last edited by StefVan; 01-20-2012 at 02:17 PM.
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post #11 of 797 Old 01-20-2012, 10:11 PM
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Completely blown away as always Stef!!! This is some crazy shit you've gone through. Sure you don't work for Ferrari?
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post #12 of 797 Old 01-21-2012, 02:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 430Addict View Post
Completely blown away as always Stef!!! This is some crazy shit you've gone through. Sure you don't work for Ferrari?
+1

Your an asset to the F430 community, thank you very much.

So conclusion is Led 6 : 6W High Power Light the best out of the lot?
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post #13 of 797 Old 01-21-2012, 04:05 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 430Addict View Post
Completely blown away as always Stef!!! This is some crazy shit you've gone through. Sure you don't work for Ferrari?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mo T View Post
+1

Your an asset to the F430 community, thank you very much.

So conclusion is Led 6 : 6W High Power Light the best out of the lot?
Thanks very much guys. Such test is worth doing because when you buy LED lights, whatever they advertise, once inside the tail light, the results can be very disappointing and a waste of money. It's only when you start comparing them that you'll see the differences and we want the best for ower Ferrari's

Led 6 is definitely the best. The other reason why I would choose Led 6 is that it has a higher power consumption of 6W. You may be surprised I'm saying that but for those who have F1 cars, a light having a too low power consumption may cause random issues with the F1 as Anders experienced when we did the LED 1 mod together, some time ago.
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post #14 of 797 Old 01-21-2012, 02:23 PM
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Nice study, idneed. Would you please indicate who is the manufacturer and where from it is possible to purchase the #6 LEDs.
Thanks.

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post #15 of 797 Old 01-21-2012, 02:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 430Addict View Post
Completely blown away as always Stef!!! This is some crazy shit you've gone through. Sure you don't work for Ferrari?
+1. Your attention to detail and thoroughness is second to none.

Ferrari's: 360 Modena, 550 Maranello
Ex's: Dino 308 GT4, 612 Scaglietti
The Rest: Rolls Royce Silver Shadow, Porsche 911 2.7s, Porsche 911 3.2 Carerra, Ducati 916... and the Land Rovers
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post #16 of 797 Old 01-22-2012, 12:45 AM
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This is an excellent research Stef!

To be completely honest, this is extremely useful for me, because I was actually looking into replacing my standard light bulbs with LEDs.
I wasn't aware of the low voltage issue with F1 cars, this is very valuable information!!!
Yes, is it possible to let us know the source that we can order the number 6 light please?

Thanks again!
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post #17 of 797 Old 01-22-2012, 02:04 AM
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Nice write up, thanks :-)

Ferrari 430 Scuderia 2008/12
(Ferrari 355 GTS F1 -99)
(Ferrari 355 GTS F1 -98)
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post #18 of 797 Old 01-22-2012, 04:15 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tio View Post
This is an excellent research Stef!

To be completely honest, this is extremely useful for me, because I was actually looking into replacing my standard light bulbs with LEDs.
I wasn't aware of the low voltage issue with F1 cars, this is very valuable information!!!
Yes, is it possible to let us know the source that we can order the number 6 light please?

Thanks again!
Thanks very much Harry . I found only one place where to get these 6W LED lights.

The seller "ac-rc" sells them on Ebay : Aquarium, Led Lamp Bulb items in ac-rc store on eBay!

I've exchanged many emails with the shop owner Alan and he's one of the best sellers I dealt with on Ebay or the Internet. Very fast replies, extremely helpful and very courteous.

The 6W LED lights can be found here :
2 x 1157 Red 6W Ultra Bright High Power LED Tail Brake Signal Light | eBay

Please keep in mind that it's now Chinese New Year so most of the shops and plants are closed.
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post #19 of 797 Old 01-22-2012, 05:34 AM
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Stef, do you have Before & After pics of the car's rear end with these #6 lights?
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post #20 of 797 Old 01-22-2012, 08:49 AM Thread Starter
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Not yet Mohammed, I'm waiting for the delivery of the remaining 6xLED lights as I initially ordered only 1 set of each tested LED light. I'll post some pics once I've installed all of them. But I will have to upgrade also my integrated wire harness relays (another DIY guide where all 4 tail lights are working together). The Reed relays won't be able to switch more than 5W while now I will have 2x6W. I'll make a separate thread on how to upgrade to Euro tail lights in such way that all 4 tail lights will work together (position and brake light) respecting the mandatory EURO fog rear lights (that's why we need a relay).
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