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LED Rear Light options


CBuff
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Hello all,

 

I am working out the final details on my 420R build. One of the last little things was some exterior lighting questions/ideas. I noticed these Caterham LED rear lighting units that incorporate the rear fog and reverse light (thus not needing them installed) https://caterhamparts.co.uk/rear-lights/7586-led-rear-lights.html . I was thinking of optioning these in the hopes that I can get the fog and reverse lights omitted (and maybe not have holes drilled into the rear). Does anyone have experience with these? Are there other options that accomplish the same thing but maybe have a more traditional look?

 

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I have the JAL LED rear lights in standard (clear) housings. When I ordered my 420R, it was ordered without holes for reverse/fog lights. I simply never mounted them. Certainly the new CC LED lights are slick and can help you be legal with a really clean look. They are a bit too modern looking for my tastes, however. If you plan on them, definitely ask for no holes in your back panel.

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My understanding is that starting sometime this Spring, all new cars are built with the LED lights as standard so this may not be a decision you need to make.  It might be worth asking your dealer to confirm if this is accurate.

 

I've been behind a Caterham with these new lights installed.  Although I don't care for them in the photos, they were a lot less objectionable to me in person, but YMMV.  However, I was unimpressed with the brake light output.  Strangely, very few of the LEDs are dedicated to the brakes vs. running lights and they really didn't jump out in traffic on a sunny day.  To be fair, this was on a red car which doesn't help, but if my car shows up with them, I plan to switch to the JAL LEDs.

 

John

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I will undoubtedly make some adjustments once I get it. And may add additional brake lights to the roll bar, either the single or double circular ones on JAL. Or maybe some of the mods others have done with the strip lights (with turn signal). Trying to focus on what to spec (or not to spec - IE reverse lights) that may by their omission later on leave holes in the body that I would have to repair/patch. 

 

Thanks again to everyone on the forum. All of your previous posts have given me great insights as to how many of these options are in the real world. 

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I never see it discussed, but the thing I don't like about LEDs is that they are fairly uni-directional.   When you get several degrees off center following LEDs, they show up poorly or not at all.  I see it all the time with turn signals on a cross street.  The front turn signal on V2 is not visible until they turn towards me, then I can se it.  First noticed on our transit buses' brake lights.  In the second lane over, the brake lights are not visible.  As an accident reconstructionist, this is not progress.  I hope the Caterham units are better.

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55 minutes ago, panamericano said:

I never see it discussed, but the thing I don't like about LEDs is that they are fairly uni-directional.   When you get several degrees off center following LEDs, they show up poorly or not at all.  I see it all the time with turn signals on a cross street.  The front turn signal on V2 is not visible until they turn towards me, then I can se it.  First noticed on our transit buses' brake lights.  In the second lane over, the brake lights are not visible.  As an accident reconstructionist, this is not progress.  I hope the Caterham units are better.

 

Can't speak for the new Caterham tails, but I'll be damned if there is a position where JAL aren't visible. They are open housing array of LED's in a plastic package that scatters the light in all directions while lighting itself up in the housing at the same time.

 

Very happy with the JAL's and I'm certain they make me more visible which made it a no brainer.

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6 hours ago, JohnCh said:

My understanding is that starting sometime this Spring, all new cars are built with the LED lights as standard so this may not be a decision you need to make.  It might be worth asking your dealer to confirm if this is accurate.

 

I've been behind a Caterham with these new lights installed.  Although I don't care for them in the photos, they were a lot less objectionable to me in person, but YMMV.  However, I was unimpressed with the brake light output.  Strangely, very few of the LEDs are dedicated to the brakes vs. running lights and they really didn't jump out in traffic on a sunny day.  To be fair, this was on a red car which doesn't help, but if my car shows up with them, I plan to switch to the JAL LEDs.

 

John

I installed them on my Westfield and agree with this as well. To address the low brake light output I wired the fog light section to light up when hitting the brakes as well since they are exactly the same light as the brakes just on the the other side of the turn signal. This essentially doubles the light output. They are much brighter than the original units and I had LED bulbs in those.

 

I like them a lot. They look modern while still looking like they belong on a Seven.   

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14 minutes ago, lg2k said:

To address the low brake light output I wired the fog light section to light up when hitting the brakes as well since they are exactly the same light as the brakes just on the the other side of the turn signal. This essentially doubles the light output.  

 

Good to know that's feasible.  I already have a set of the JAL LEDs with lenses ready to go on the car (just need the mounting blocks).  It will be interesting to compare the two with that wiring change in place. The priority for me is brightness, including from off axis.

 

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The problem with one-piece, led fixtures is the leds cannot be easily replaced unless you have some electronics and precision soldering skills (I do). Leds do fail individually and production quality varies. Most commercial trucks use leds now as a replacement for incandescent with same size and GA aircraft are allowed to direct fit / replace incandescent with leds in a same fitment bulb config (no wire gauge or fuse changes to match as the operator may need to refit an incandescent enroute in a pinch or simply following MX instruction, but I digress). I've noticed many commercial trucks with bad leds in a cluster. The fix is to wait until enough fail so the value for intended safety use is questionable or go ahead and replace the fixture; usually for a lot more than a led bulb.

I love leds in a bulb config for incandescent fixtures for shop lights, tail lights, interior lights, instrument clusters but have been disappointed in headlight performance short of a servo controlled projector; enough to go back to H4. I don't go for higher equivalent wattage out of consideration for other drivers despite loop hole provided by antiquated FMVSS.

Led bulbs in an incandescent fixture usually results in a better performing, higher quality assembly.

The led chips are arranged as needed to mimic the incandescent pattern they are designed to replace. The more lumens, the better but the additional heat at the board means a shorter life.

Fork lifts have very similar if not identical appearing lights to traditional Sevens. Each fork lift mfg has a little different design. There are some all led fixtures that have amber, clear, and red. I have some I bought for a project a few years ago but have not done more than test to see if they work. Not for sale, but let me know if anyone would like to see pics or want measurements. Just another consideration. We can talk about led headlights as well. I have box full of different designs I've tried.

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21 hours ago, CBuff said:

Are there other options that accomplish the same thing but maybe have a more traditional look?

 

 

 

If you're really looking for something traditional there are many forms of rear lighting that were used over the years for Lotus and Caterham Sevens. These included Lucas, Wingard, and Thorpe. When I ordered my Caterham I had hoped that that the ugly fog and reverse lights were not going to be installed. That was not to be, so I did some careful measuring and came up with a plan to install some traditional Lucas L594 'Beehive' lights that would cover up the existing holes in the rear body and fenders and would not preclude installing the original Caterham lights in case I wanted to go back. There was a fair bit of wiring involved to utilize the existing Caterham connectors (forgot the name of them, Econoseal maybe?). It was also similar to what Caterham was supplying with their Super Sprint model from a couple years back. I also changed out the black plastic license plate light cover to a chrome plated version that I had in my parts stash from my first car, a '61 Bugeye Sprite. Here's a photo showing what it ended up looking like. Not for everyone but I like it. Even put LED bulbs in to brighten them up.

Cat2 11-1-21.jpg

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