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[Slashdot] - How Do We Stop People From Blinding Other Drivers With Aftermarket LEDs?


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An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: It might be stating the obvious, but your car's headlights are a safety device, and not all headlights are created equal. For a while, carmakers have been fitting powerful LED headlights to their high-end offerings, but more often than not, their cheaper cars -- and particularly cheaper trim levels -- get saddled with much-weaker illumination. But sometimes a commuter wants to see more of where they're going when the sun goes down. Eventually, they go looking for a solution, starting with their local automotive parts store. But stuffing aftermarket LED headlight bulbs into OEM housings designed for conventional halogen units results in dangerous glare for oncoming drivers. While LEDs can deliver more intense light at a higher end of the spectrum, most aftermarket units also create a hazardous condition. The major brick-and-mortar auto parts stores know this, which is why they tend to shy away from aftermarket H11 LED bulbs, other than ones clearly marked for use in fog lamps or "for off-road use only." It's a different world online, with off-brand H11 LED bulb listings on Amazon, eBay, and Walmart websites failing to carry the same prominent warnings. [...] Do your lighting research before you make your next vehicle purchase. Headlamp technology has typically been bundled with the trim level. The base model would get fitted with reflector headlamps, with projectors offered in the mid-range and higher trim levels. Adaptive headlights have been the preserve of the top trim levels. All that means that less-expensive vehicles are often stuck with reflectors across the range in America. (IIHS recently changed its testing rules and will now only give its coveted Top Safety Pick+ to models that offer the best headlights across all trim levels.) "While halogen filaments deliver 360-degree illumination, LED bulbs typically emit light with a pair of back-to-back 180-degree planes," writes Daniel Gray for Ars Technica. "When LED alignment gets skipped, oncoming drivers are blinded, as are drivers ahead of them in traffic. Poorly aimed headlamps are especially bothersome with pickup trucks and SUVs due to the vehicle height." Make sure to do your homework if you choose to install aftermarket LEDs. "Find a reputable manufacturer and domestic retailer. Buy based on quality, not price. The optimal LED replacement bulbs mimic OEM halogen filament bulbs as closely as possible. The worst bulbs are a stab in the eyes. And don't skip alignment -- take your time and do it right."

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